Religion Today Summaries - December 8, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 8, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Atheists Who Go to Church: Doing It For the Kids
  • Clinton: Religious Objections Do Not Trump LGBT Rights
  • U.S. to Use Foreign Aid to Promote Gay Rights
  • Pakistanis Fear For the Life of Christian Accused of Blasphemy


Atheists Who Go to Church: Doing It For the Kids

A new Rice University study found that 17 percent of scientists who describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics actually go to church sometimes, but not for spiritual reasons -- most likely, it's for the kids, ABC News reports. According to sociologists Elaine Howard Ecklund and Kristen Schultz Lee, the authors of the study, many atheists want their children exposed to religion so they can make up their own minds about what to believe. Many also believe church can provide an understanding of morality and ethics. "Some actually see it as part of their scientific identity," Ecklund said. "They want to teach their children to be free thinkers ... so they take their children to religious organizations."

Clinton: Religious Objections Do Not Trump LGBT Rights

U.S. Secretary of State HIllary Clinton said Tuesday at a U.N. event for International Human Rights Day that religious convictions should not trump gay rights, the Religion News Service reports. "The obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural and religious beliefs," she said. "The ... perhaps most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. ... No practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us." LGBT activists called the speech historic; meanwhile, President Obama announced that U.S. foreign aid dollars would assist in protecting the rights of homosexuals abroad.

U.S. to Use Foreign Aid to Promote Gay Rights

The Obama administration announced an effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality and requiring U.S. agencies to protect gay and lesbian refugees and asylum-seekers, reports. "The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said. Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel Action said the policy was "frankly offensive," noting that the administration was apparently ignoring the sovereignty of foreign nations by forcing them to change their principles. He added, "What about nations where Christians are driven out of the nation or executed?"

Pakistanis Fear For the Life of Christian Accused of Blasphemy

Khurram Masih, 25, a Christian resident of Qazi, Pakistan, was accused of destroying a copy of the Qur'an while working as a brickmason in a Muslim's home and now faces charges of blasphemy, International Christian Concern reports. As Masih and fellow workers were burning trash after installing marble in Abdul Majeed's home, Majeed suddenly shouted that Masih had burned parts of a Qur'an, and the other workers assaulted Masih and took him to the police. Despite Pakistani religious leaders and human rights activists gathering at the police station, the police and local residents were unwilling to release Masih. "His life is in danger at the police station," said the Rev. Francis Xavier of the Catholic Diocese of Lahore. "Announcements have been made in the area about the incident; hatred toward the Christians is being spread. The authorities must step forward and take necessary action to safeguard the precious lives."

Publication date: December 8, 2011