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Religion Today Daily Headlines - February 1, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - February 1, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Boy Scouts Pressured by Corporate Sponsors to Change Policy on Gays
  • Boy Scouts Urged to Lift Ban on Atheists
  • New Horrors in Syria Prompt Waves of Refugees to Flee
  • University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club Off Campus


Boy Scouts Pressured by Corporate Sponsors to Change Policy on Gays

Pressure from corporate sponsors may be the critical factor in a decision by the Boy Scouts of America to change its policy to allow homosexual scouts, volunteers and leaders, the Christian Post reports. When a BSA representative met with Frank Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to discuss the proposed policy change, Page was told that BSA is "wilting under pressure from some of their corporate sponsors." The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights advocacy organization, told BSA's corporate sponsors it would downgrade their "non-discrimination ratings" if they continued to give money to BSA, according to NBC News. According to a review of corporate giving to BSA in 2010 conducted by The American Independent last September, 23 of the top 50 corporate foundations -- including Bank of America, Intel, UPS, U.S. Bank, Verizon and Wells Fargo -- gave at least $10,000 to BSA. The largest donation in 2010 -- $700,000 -- came from Intel, which announced last September it would stop donations to the Scouts unless it stopped excluding gay scouts, volunteers and leaders. A month later, pharmaceutical giant Merck followed suit, and UPS announced last month it would no longer give to BSA because of its gay ban. BSA's national board includes two corporate CEOs -- Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young -- who have said they will try to end the ban on homosexuals.

Boy Scouts Urged to Lift Ban on Atheists

A top atheist wants the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on atheists as well as homosexuals, CBN News reports. As the BSA considers replacing its current ban on gays with a policy that would let individual troops make their own decisions, American Atheists president David Silverman says Scouting should also welcome boys who don't believe in God. But BSA spokesman Deron Smith said the Boy Scouts are not considering a new policy toward atheists and that the organization continues to view "duty to God" as one of its core principles.

New Horrors in Syria Prompt Waves of Refugees to Flee

The recent horrors of finding yet another mass grave in an Aleppo canal are part of what's driving more people toward Syria's borders, Mission Network News reports. After 22 months of civil war, the death toll now exceeds 60,000, and the United Nations can't keep up with the "unrelenting flow" of families fleeing violence. The number of documented refugees has topped 700,000 -- and more than 3,000 crossed into Jordan on Monday alone. "Food is scarce, children can't go to school, families can't live, for fear of their lives," says Jeff Palmer, CEO of Baptist Global Response. "So, now we have more people flooding outside the country. We have more internally displaced people inside the country and it's just chaos." If nothing changes, there will be over a million internally displaced people and over half a million scattered throughout the border countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. "When this started over a year ago, everybody thought it was going to be short-lived," Palmer said. "Here we are, well over a year into it, and it just continues to grow and escalate."

University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club Off Campus

The University of Michigan is accused of kicking an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter off campus because the group requires its leaders to be Christians -- an apparent violation of the university's nondiscrimination policy, reports Todd Starnes. Last December, members of Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship were summoned before university officials who told them there was an issue with the section of their club constitution related to leadership. In order for students to be InterVarsity leaders, they must sign a statement of faith, but the university said that requirement violated its nondiscrimination policy. InterVarsity member Sara Chang said the group was given the option of submitting a revised constitution, but she and the other students decided to stand firm in their faith. As a result, the university de-recognized the group -- forcing them to relocate off campus. InterVarsity has 10 chapters at Michigan and Greg Jao, InterVarsity's national field director, says he suspects the others will soon be called upon to make similar changes to their constitutions. "The university is sending the message that religious voices are suspect and should be marginalized," said Jao. "I think it sends the message that the university does not understand the nature of religious beliefs and the convictions of religious students."

Publication date: February 1, 2013