Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 9, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 9, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Syria: 'Bloody March' Marks Record High Death Toll
  • Arizona Town Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions
  • Christian Killed in Attack on Coptic Mourners in Egypt


Syria: 'Bloody March' Marks Record High Death Toll

Last month marked the deadliest month in Syria since protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began two years ago, CBN News reports. More than 6,000 people were killed in what is being called "Bloody March"; a third of those were civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Those killed include 291 women, nearly 300 children and more than 1,400 rebel fighters. The United Nations reports that 70,000 people have died since the uprising began, but Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory, said, "We estimate it is actually around 120,000 people." Efforts by foreign media and independent human rights organizations within the country have been curtailed, making the verification of casualty figures virtually impossible.

Arizona Town Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions

In a small, former mining town turned artist colony, the city council approved on Apr. 2 an ordinance recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples, WORLD News Service reports. The measure -- adopted with a vote of 5-2 following an emotional three-hour hearing -- makes Bisbee the first Arizona city to validate civil unions. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has promised to go to court to block the ordinance, calling it unconstitutional. The measure attempts to change state law on things such as community property, something only the state can do, he said. Under the measure, same-sex couples can enter a civil union and receive the same rights as married couples simply by walking into City Hall and paying $76 -- the same fee couples pay for a marriage license in the county, The Sierra Vista Herald reported. The city clerk would then issue the couple a certificate of the civil union. Earlier Tuesday, Bisbee City Attorney John MacKinnon said the ordinance's power would only apply to things within the city’s control, including city personnel policies and the city cemetery. How it applies at the local hospital, for example, would be up to those institutions. "We can’t as a small jurisdiction in southeastern Arizona change everything in Arizona," he said before the hearing. The conservative Christian advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy also spoke up before the meeting, saying the ordinance would violate Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage and would lead to a costly legal fight. MacKinnon wrote off the group’s concerns, saying it was equating civil unions with marriage. "I don't think that's necessarily the case," he said.

Christian Killed in Attack on Coptic Mourners in Egypt

Coptic Christians attending a funeral service in Cairo on Sunday for four Copts killed two days earlier in an anti-Christian rampage were in turn attacked themselves by at least 200 Muslim rioters, Morning Star News reports. The incident, which started with a few dozen men pelting the mourners with stones, quickly escalated into a massive attack against Christians at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia area of Cairo involving firearms, flash-bang grenades, tear gas, fire bombs and other improvised weapons, besides cars set ablaze. Police took more than an hour to respond, and when they arrived, they did nothing to stop the attack. Instead, most stood and watched men throw rocks at the Christians gathered at the gates of the cathedral compound or hurl stones over walls at the Christians trapped inside. Police also did nothing as the attackers scaled the walls of the cathedral compound. Almost three dozen Coptic Christians suffered injuries in the attack, and one was thought to have been killed; Mahrous Hanna Ibrahim reportedly died from gunshot wounds. Sunday’s funeral was held to remember the loss of four Christians killed Friday in a riot against Christians in Khusus, a poor section on the outskirts of Cairo. The attack on the funeral and cathedral marks a shocking new low in persecution of Christians in Egypt; the attack also shows the boldness with which Egyptian Christians are now being attacked.

Publication date: April 9, 2013