Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 8, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 8, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Judge Orders FDA to Make Morning-After Pill Available Over the Counter for All Ages
  • Egyptian Christians Face Increased Kidnappings
  • Pope Francis a Huge Hit With U.S. Catholics — For Now
  • Rick Warren's Son Takes Own Life After Lifelong Battle With Mental Illness


Judge Orders FDA to Make Morning-After Pill Available Over the Counter for All Ages

A federal judge has ruled that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger, the New York Times reports. The decision comes after a decade-long fight over who should have access to the pill and under what circumstances, and counteracts an unprecedented move by the Obama administration's Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, who in 2011 overruled a recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration to make the pill available for all ages without a prescription. In a decision in a lawsuit filed by advocates, judge Edward R. Korman ruled that the government's refusal to lift restrictions on access to the pill was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." Korman ordered the FDA to lift any age and sale restrictions on the pill, Plan B One-Step, and its generic versions, within 30 days. The FDA and HHS declined to comment on the ruling Friday morning or indicate whether the government would file an appeal, saying the decision was being reviewed.

Egyptian Christians Face Increased Kidnappings

Kidnappers are targeting Christians in Egypt's southern Minya province, and church leaders say the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood is partly to blame, CBN News reports. More than 150 Christians, including children, have been kidnapped for ransom during the past two years in Minya province, home to many Christians as well as some of Egypt's most radical Islamists. Christian leaders say criminals are emboldened by the preaching of Islamic clerics who declare Christians are second-class citizens, but Christians rarely report the kidnappings because they don't believe the police will help them. One priest says local officials don't prosecute Muslims accused of attacking Christian homes and churches, and that encourages more crime. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million people.

Pope Francis a Huge Hit With U.S. Catholics — For Now

He has been Pope Francis for less than a month, but the former archbishop of Buenos Aires is a hit with American Catholics -- at least for now, the Religion News Service reports. The tables may turn on Francis once media attention moves from his no-fuss style to his substantive actions, a Vatican expert said Wednesday, but he currently has an 84 percent favorable rating among U.S. Catholics, including 43 percent who hold a very favorable view of him, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It is significantly higher than U.S. Catholics' view of Pope Benedict XVI early in his papacy, though the ratings are not directly comparable. Francis' favorable score was measured just two weeks into his papacy, while views on Benedict were surveyed three months after he became pope in 2005. Just 67 percent of U.S. Catholics had a favorable view of Benedict in the Pew Forum's measure in July 2005, by which point he had already taken a widely publicized unpopular action by firing the editor of the Jesuit magazine America. Americans had their highest view of Benedict in 2008 when he visited New York and Washington, D.C., but he never reached the 91 to 93 percent favorable heights hit by Pope John Paul II between 1987 and 1996, in Pew Forum research.

Rick Warren's Son Takes Own Life After Lifelong Battle With Mental Illness

The 27-year-old son of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren has taken his own life after a lifelong struggle with mental illness, the Christian Post reports. Warren made the announcement about his son in an email sent to his staff early Saturday morning. "No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," Warren wrote. "Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today. Over the past 33 years we've been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I've been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us." Warren described Matthew as "an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate man" but "only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided." Warren went on: "Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life." In a statement from Saddleback, the church asked that everyone "join us in praying for the entire Warren family and that God's comfort and peace will be with them as they deal with this difficult situation."

Publication date: April 8, 2013