Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Libya Situation 'Worse' Than TV Broadcasts Portray
- Obama Drops Defense of Marriage Law
- Salvation Army Breaks Red Kettle Record in 2010
- Christians Concerned about Defuct Conscience Clause
Libya Situation 'Worse' Than TV Broadcasts Portray
Open Doors reports that violence between pro-government forces and protesters in Libya is "much worse than what you see on the news," according to one contact who remains anonymous for security reasons. "There are no police in the streets and no safety and protection anymore," he said. Autocratic President Moammar Gaddafi has reportedly ordered military forces against his own people and thousands have confirmed dead despite government censors. Open Doors' source believes the situation could devolve even further. “Libya is a tribal society and that is affecting the situation for the worse. The tribe of Gaddafi will eventually turn against the other tribes and that will create civil war. The small indigenous church in Libya is very hard to contact, but Christians are under major pressure. Anything that is “different” is a cause for suspicion, and many believers are scared of what could happen to them. Libya is ranked No. 25 on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Obama Drops Defense of Marriage Law
The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a nearly 15-year-old law that defines marriage as heterosexual unions. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder said President Obama has determined the law, widely known as DOMA, is unconstitutional when applied to same-sex couples married legally under state law. Holder, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the decision came as he and the president reviewed the administration's role in current court challenges from legally married same-sex couples in New York and Connecticut. The attorney general said Obama considered a number of factors, including a "growing scientific consensus" that a person's sexual orientation cannot be changed. According to Religion News Service, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called the move "appalling" and urged Congress to defend DOMA.
Salvation Army Breaks Red Kettle Record in 2010
Americans don't carry as much cash as they have in the past, but that didn't stop donors from reaching a new record with the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign in 2010. The Christian Post reports that this is the sixth straight year the charity has broken the record, raising $142 million. “We’ve all witnessed the extreme demands the economic recession has placed on Americans during the past three years,” said Commissioner William Roberts, national commander of The Salvation Army. “This record-breaking year stands as a testament to the generosity of our neighbors, but more importantly it demonstrates the spirit of the One whose birth we celebrated.” The iconic red kettles showed up at about 25,000 locations during the Christmas season. People donating to kettles in front of Walmart and Sam's Clubs raised about 30 percent of the donations in 2010.
Christians Concerned about Defunct Conscience Clause
Catholic bishops and Christian medical groups are "disappointed" that the Obama administration has rescinded Bush-era conscience clauses for health care workers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 18 issued its new guidelines, Religion News Service reports, which govern medical staffers who object to procedures for religious or moral reasons. The debate over conscience regulations involves a range of ethical dilemmas, from a physician's refusal to prescribe birth control pills to patients who fear discrimination because of their sexual orientation. The new rule, which takes effect in 30 days, maintains protections for health care workers who do not want to take part in abortions. HHS also called for new initiatives to clarify the complaint process for medical professionals who feel coerced or discriminated against. But the Christian Medical Association harshly criticized the HHS action, saying it "diminishes the civil rights that protect conscientious physicians and other health care professionals against discrimination."