Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- School Removes 'God' From 'God Bless the U.S.A.' Song
- Muslim Voters Could Swing Election, Report Finds
- Nigeria on Alert for Potential Easter Attacks
- Kenyan Church Leaders Seek Protection From Islamist Attacks
School Removes 'God' From 'God Bless the U.S.A.' Song
Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school are outraged after school officials first removed the word "God" from the popular Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the U.S.A." and then pulled the song altogether from an upcoming concert, Fox News reports. Students at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham were reportedly instructed to sing "We love the U.S.A." instead of "God bless the U.S.A." -- and after parents complained, the principal removed the song entirely from the school assembly concert, stating that the school hoped to "maintain the focus on the original objective of sharing students' knowledge of the U.S. states, and because of logistics, will not include any songs." Greenwood said in a statement: "The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word 'God,' which is also in the title. ... Maybe the school should have asked parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course, would have said you can't change the lyrics at all or any part of the song." He added, "If the song is good enough to be played and performed in its original setting [at military and naturalization ceremonies], it surely should be good enough for our children." A poll taken by a local TV station indicated more than 80 percent of viewers were outraged by removing God from the song.
Muslim Voters Could Swing Election, Report Finds
Although Muslims represent less than one in every 100 Americans, a new study shows their votes could sway the results of this year's presidential election, CNN reports. There are about 1.2 million registered Muslim voters in the United States, mostly concentrated in a number of key swing states, says Farid Senzai, the author of the study. Florida and Ohio -- two states that have been decided by tiny margins in recent years -- have enough Muslim voters to make a difference in the final result, and the next-largest Muslim populations are found in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia, all of which could also be key battleground states between President Obama and his Republican opponent. In Florida in 2000, Bush won by 537 votes -- while one get-out-the-vote phone bank contacted 23,000 Muslims in one day alone during elections in 2008 and 2010. Nauman Abbasi of Emerge USA, which ran the phone bank, said efforts like his were effective in increasing Muslim voter turnout. More religious Muslims and those more involved in their mosques are the most likely to vote, the study found. Most Muslims voted for Bush in 2000, Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008, and they are more likely than the population as a whole to approve of Obama's performance now.
Nigeria on Alert for Potential Easter Attacks
Nigerian authorities have boosted security for Easter weekend, fearing Muslim extremists will carry out attacks against Christians on the holiday, the Daily Star reports. On Tuesday night, Nigerian soldiers killed three suspected members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Kano, thwarting a plan by the suspects to attack the city, which was hit by coordinated bombings and shootings in January that left nearly 200 dead, said army lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi. "We have information that these terrorists are planning a major attack in Kano as they did in January," Ikedichi said. "They are planning attacks against this holy weekend, during Easter celebration, which is why we intensify our operations." Patrols, searches and checkpoints have been strengthened in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's majority-Muslim north, and other security arrangements are being put in place nationwide.
Kenyan Church Leaders Seek Protection From Islamist Attacks
After suspected Islamists threw a grenade into an outdoor Christian worship service near Mombasa earlier this week, killing two and wounding more than 30, Kenyan church leaders are pleading with the government for protection, International Christian Concern reports. Attacks toward Christians have become increasingly frequent in frequent months, and Christians "are not happy [with the protection given by the government]," said Patrick Muchiri, pastor of the Mombasa Pentecostal Church. "All the political leaders in the area are Muslims. Not a single Muslim leader came to show empathy. We are not considered as being part of the community. [Christians] are marginalized." In a personal message to the Kenyan government, Muchiri said: "It is important for [the Kenyan government] to uphold the freedom of worship. When people are attacked because of their religion, the government should take that seriously. Such attacks undermine the fundamental principles of freedom of worship and create fear among Christians about meeting [for worship]."
Publication date: April 6, 2012