Religion Today Summaries - April 25, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 25, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Violent Islamist Takeover in Mali Forces Christians to Flee
  • Christian Student Group Told to Eliminate 'Personal Commitment to Jesus' in Bylaws
  • Mississippi Governor Signs Abortionist-Certification Bill
  • Muslim Assailants in Egypt Escape Prosecution


Violent Islamist Takeover in Mali Forces Christians to Flee

Christians in Mali are in a "desperate plight" following last month's military coup, which caused government forces in the country's three northern regions to collapse and allowed Islamist rebel groups to seize control, Christian Today reports. One of the Islamist groups, Ansar Dine, has links to al Qaeda and wants to turn Mali into an Islamic state by imposing sharia law. Around 215,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many of them fleeing to Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Many Christians have sought safety in Mali's capital, Bamako, where churches are feeding and sheltering them. According to aid organization Barnabas Fund, churches in the towns of Gao and Timbuktu were destroyed in the Islamic takeover, forcing the congregations to abandon their homes and flee south. "Horrible crimes have been made against the population -- massacres, rape of women, obligation to wear the veil, chasing Christians," a Barnabas Fund source reported. Compounding the plight of the refugees is a food crisis in the region which has caused the cost of basic foods to double. Barnabas Fund is providing corn and rice for hundreds of Christian refugees, and is also supplying medicine and covering the cost of housing for some families.

Christian Student Group Told to Eliminate 'Personal Commitment to Jesus' in Bylaws

A Christian student group at Vanderbilt University has been told by the administration that it will lose its recognized status on campus unless it removes its requirement that its leaders have a commitment to Jesus Christ, the Christian Post reports. Despite an earlier discussion with school officials that led members of the group to believe their bylaws were approved, the group -- which wants to remain anonymous -- received an email last Tuesday from the administration stating that in order for it to retain recognition it had to remove from its constitution the requirement that leaders have a "personal commitment to Jesus Christ" because of the university's new policy barring religious groups from selecting members and leaders based on faith requirements. Recently, Christian students at Vanderbilt organized a video campaign highlighting their concern for the "nondiscrimination" policy that they say actually discriminates against Christians, and 11 Christian groups have formed a coalition called Vanderbilt Solidarity in opposition to the policy. University officials continue to stand by the "all-comers" policy, arguing that it is not an issue of religious freedom.

Mississippi Governor Signs Abortionist-Certification Bill

Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill April 16 making Mississippi the first state to require abortionists to be board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists with admitting privileges at hospitals near their clinics, WORLD News Service reports. The state has only one abortion clinic -- the Jackson Women's Health Organization, where only one of the four doctors on staff has admitting privileges at a local hospital. It could be forced to close under the new law. "I believe that all human life is precious, and as governor, I will work to ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi," Bryant said when signing the bill, HB 1390. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization is run by Diane Derzis, who owns several abortion businesses in four states -- including the New Woman All Women clinic in Birmingham, Ala., which will close in mid-May after the Alabama Department of Public Health cited it for 76 deficiencies, including a series of botched abortions that resulted in multiple patients being hospitalized in one day this January. The law takes effect July 1, and Derzis said that if she can't comply with it, she intends to sue to stop it.

Muslim Assailants in Egypt Escape Prosecution

A recent "reconciliation meeting" between members of a Muslim mob that attacked a Christian-owned school in Egypt and school administrators was, according to the director of the school, nothing less than an attempt at legalized extortion, Compass Direct News reports. In exchange for peace, members of the sword-wielding mob that stormed the school last month without provocation -- and held two nuns hostage in a guesthouse for eight hours -- initially demanded in the meetings that the school sign over parcels of land that included the guesthouse the Muslims attacked. Magdy Melad, manager of the Notre Dame Language Schools in Aswan Province, said that despite the risk of more attacks, he refused the assailants' demand -- but out of fear of future violence he agreed not to prosecute any of the hundreds of Muslims who attacked his school. The school still owns the guesthouse, but it has essentially been stripped bare, and government officials have ordered Melad not to use it. "Reconciliation meetings" are held throughout Egypt after incidents of "sectarian" violence to "restore calm," but Coptic rights activists say the meetings are just a way to pressure powerless groups and people into giving away what little rights they have.

Publication date: April 25, 2012