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Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 4, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 4, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Syria in Danger of Replicating Christian Exodus in Iraq
  • Planned Parenthood Lobbyist Champions Killing Babies Born Alive
  • Poll: 55 Percent of Blacks Say Gay Rights Not the Same as Civil Rights
  • 13 Attorneys General Push Obama on Contraception Mandate


Syria in Danger of Replicating Christian Exodus in Iraq

The World Evangelical Alliance's human rights ambassador has warned that Christians are being "chased from their homes" in Syria, the Christian Post reports. According to Dr. Thomas Shirrmacher, Syria is seeing a mass exodus of Christians, similar to that in Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. A decade ago, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, but around half the Christian population has since left due to hardship and persecution. Today, there are reportedly fewer than 60 churches left in the country. Schirrmacher said, "I know that many people in Syria are suffering, but Christians are seeing a repetition of the situation in Iraq, that they are largely wiped out between the opposing fronts, and once their survivors are driven out, they seldom have the opportunity to return." Of the previous 60,000 Christians in Homs, one of the areas worst affected by the Syrian conflict, fewer than 1,000 now remain. The WEA warns that churches are being destroyed and Christians are being killed, tortured, used as human shields and raped. Syrian rebels see Christians as supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, while Assad's loyalists do not trust Christians. Reports continue of people in green or black headbands beating up Christians and destroying their property, while threatening similar actions to any other Christians who do not leave the country.

Planned Parenthood Lobbyist Champions Killing Babies Born Alive

A Florida Planned Parenthood official made a case for post-birth abortions last week at a hearing for a state bill requiring abortionists to provide medical assistance to a baby born alive, WORLD Magazine reports. Republican state Rep. Jim Boyd asked Alisa Laport Snow, a lobbyist representing Florida's Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, what would happen if a baby was born as a result of a botched abortion. "We believe that any decision that's made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician," Snow responded. When asked what Planned Parenthood physicians would do if the baby was "alive, breathing on a table, moving," Snow said she didn't know because she was not a physician. She later reiterated her position that the decision should be "between the patient and the healthcare provider," but Rep. Jose Oliva asked, "I think that at the point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn't it?" Snow replied: "That's a very good question. I don't really know how to answer that." Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, abortionist Kermit Gosnell is currently on trial for doing exactly what Snow recommended -- killing babies after they were born alive. Gosnell faces murder charges in the death of a 41-year-old woman who suffered a botched abortion, as well as the deaths of seven babies who were born alive through induced labor, then killed by Gosnell or his untrained staff. The abortionist is accused of snipping the babies' spinal cords with scissors.

Poll: 55 Percent of Blacks Say Gay Rights Not the Same as Civil Rights

A new poll commissioned by Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson and conducted by Zogby shows that 55 percent of African-American adults do not agree with the LGBT community's claim that gay rights are the same as civil rights, CNSNews.com reports. In contrast, 28 percent said no when asked if equal rights for gays were the same as equal rights for African-Americans. "There weren't any real surprises," Johnson said when asked what findings surprised him the most. "On the issue of gay rights, African-Americans are far more conservative on that issue than I think the general population, so that wasn't a surprise." However, respondents were basically split on the issue of gay marriage. When asked, "Do you believe marriage should be restricted to between a man and a woman or do you believe that persons of the same sex should be allowed to marry and receive similar benefits as heterosexual couples?" 42 percent said marriage said should be between a man and a woman while 40 percent said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry with benefits. Respondents were also asked, "Do you believe ministers who oppose homosexuality, including the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, are right, wrong or no opinion?" Thirty-five percent had no opinion, but 34 percent said ministers were right to oppose homosexuality and gay marriage, and 31 percent said ministers were wrong.

13 Attorneys General Push Obama on Contraception Mandate

Thirteen state attorneys general are urging the federal government to broaden religious exemptions for private businesses under the White House's contraception mandate, claiming the policy violates religious freedoms. Put simply, the group -- the attorneys general of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia -- believes any employer who says he or she objects to contraception should not have to provide contraceptive coverage. The Department of Health and Human Services' latest proposal, unveiled Feb. 1, would require all employers to provide contraceptive coverage to workers; some nonprofit religious organizations -- primarily houses of worship -- that object to contraception on religious or moral grounds would be exempt. In a March 26 letter, the coalition asserted that the exclusion should be extended beyond religious institutions to include all conscientious objectors. At least two dozen suits by private businesses have been filed against the contraception mandate, and 16 have been granted a temporary injunction while the lawsuits are pending, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is spearheading much of the opposition to the mandate. In addition, 30 lawsuits by nonprofit religious groups have been filed against the mandate, although most have been rejected as premature because fines for noncompliance don't kick in until 2014.

Publication date: April 4, 2013