Religion Today Daily Headlines - December 12, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - December 12, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • British Boy Scouts Distance Themselves From God
  • North Carolina Pro-Life License Plate Ruled Unconstitutional
  • Ministry Helps 38 Workers Leave Abortion Clinics
  • Florida Atheist Installs 'Festivus' Sign Next to Nativity Scene


British Boy Scouts Distance Themselves From God

Prospective Boy Scouts in Britain could soon be allowed to join the organization without pledging to uphold their "duty to God," WORLD News Service reports. A group of atheists, joined by TV adventurer and self-proclaimed Christian Bear Grylls, has asked the Scouts of Britain to consider providing an alternative Scout Promise for children who don't believe in God -- and many British Scout leaders see removing God as a step forward for the organization. "We are a values-based organization and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme," Wayne Bulpitt, the association's chief commissioner, told the British newspaper The Hillingdon Times. "However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK." Alternative versions of the oath for other faith groups -- including Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists -- have already existed for more than 40 years, according to The Times. In 1991, UK Scout executives decided it was discriminatory for the Boy Scouts to deny membership to girls, and vice versa, allowing equal access for girls and boys into any of its programs.

North Carolina Pro-Life License Plate Ruled Unconstitutional

North Carolina drivers who wanted to display a pro-life message on their car's license plate may never get a chance to do so, CBN News reports. U.S. District Court Judge James Fox ruled Friday the state cannot sell plates reading "Choose Life" because "the state's offering of a 'Choose Life' license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment." After North Carolina's Planned Parenthood complained that sales from the plates would go to pro-life pregnancy centers in the state, the judge halted production of the plates in 2011 until the lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation. Chris Brook of ACLU-NCLF said it was a free speech victory for all residents of North Carolina regardless of their stance on abortion. State attorneys have not yet decided if they will appeal.

Ministry Helps 38 Workers Leave Abortion Clinics

A ministry started by a former Planned Parenthood center director is succeeding in helping abortion clinic workers leave the industry, Baptist Press reports. And Then There Were None (ATTWN), started by Abby Johnson after her departure from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, has helped 38 workers leave the abortion business, according to a report by Johnson said her organization was helping five workers leave the same clinic in Atlanta, and three already have jobs. It has also assisted three employees of a Houston clinic. "[W]hen a worker came to us from a late-term abortion clinic in Houston, we were thrilled," Johnson said. "But when she was able to reach out to two workers who were still inside the clinic ... and then was able to pull them out with our ministry's help ... we were beside ourselves." Johnson worked at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan for eight years, serving as its director for more than two years. She left her position and became a pro-life advocate in 2009 shortly after witnessing the destruction of a 13-week-old unborn baby as part of an ultrasound-guided abortion she assisted in.

Florida Atheist Installs 'Festivus' Sign Next to Nativity Scene

To protest a nativity scene that has been displayed every Christmas for the past 20 years in the South Florida town of Deerfield Beach, a local atheist has erected an 8-foot-tall "Festivus" pole with beer cans just six feet away from the manger, the Christian Post reports. "It's just 23 beer cans stacked eight feet high conveniently located six feet from Baby Jesus," the Sun Sentinel quoted atheist activist and blogger Chaz Stevens as saying. "Think of how many people have died over the years to give us our freedoms. So I've got to push back a little." Stevens' sign is based on the secular "Festivus" holiday featured in a 1997 Seinfeld episode, which was created by the father of Seinfeld writer Dan O'Keefe as an alternative to the commercial Christmas and is celebrated on Dec. 23. Stevens has been trying unsuccessfully for five years to get the city to stop the nativity scene, and this year he asked for permission to express his own non-religious beliefs. The Rev. Mark Luttio of Zion Lutheran Church and School in Deerfield Beach called the atheist's move "kind of silly." Luttio added: "It doesn't really represent a very big constituency, does it? But if there really was a strong group of people who feel a desire to express something about their identity as atheists, that would be absolutely OK for them to do so in a public forum."

Publication date: December 12, 2012