Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 18, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 18, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Obama Taking 23 Actions Aimed at Gun Violence
  • Egyptian Court Sentences Christian Family to 15 Years for Converting From Islam
  • New Jersey Substitute Teacher Fired for Giving Student a Bible
  • Even Amicable Divorces Result in Less Religious Kids


Obama Taking 23 Actions Aimed at Gun Violence

President Barack Obama is taking 23 executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence that don't require congressional action, including measures to encourage schools to hire police officers, increase research on gun violence and improve efforts to prosecute gun crime, reports. The executive actions, which come a month after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., are part of an overarching package assembled by a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. "This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe," said Obama, flanked by children who wrote him letters about gun violence in the weeks after the Newtown shooting. "This is how we will be judged." Several pro-life leaders took Obama to task following the press conference, including Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, who said: "I want to believe the president is sincere in his concern with children, but he's completely turning a blind eye to children in the womb. He was an opponent of laws that would require physicians to provide basic care to children who survive botched abortions. So even children born alive from an abortion procedure and who survive don't deserve to be cared for, according to Barack Obama." A complete list of Obama's executive actions on guns can be found here.

Egyptian Court Sentences Christian Family to 15 Years for Converting From Islam

The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say Egypt's Islamist government spells trouble for Christians, Fox News reports. A criminal court in the city of Beni Suef gave the shocking sentence last week to Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian but converted to Islam when she married her husband 23 years ago. After he died, she planned to convert her family back to Christianity to obtain an inheritance, and sought the help of the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. But when the conversion came to light under Egypt's new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison. Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom said conversions like Nadia's have been common in the past, but said Egypt's new sharia-based constitution "is a real disaster in terms of religious freedom." He added: "The cases will increase in the future. It will be much harder for people to return to Christianity."

New Jersey Substitute Teacher Fired for Giving Student a Bible

New Jersey's Phillipsburg School District Board has suspended a longtime middle school substitute teacher, Walter Tutka, for breaking two district policies -- handing out religious literature on campus and not being neutral when talking about religious material – when he gave a student a Bible, WORLD News Service reports. According to CitizenLink, the incident started last September when a student came to school late and Tutka, who was standing by the door of the building, said, "The first shall be last, but the last shall be first." When the student asked about the quote, Tutka said it came from the Bible. Later, the student asked more questions about the quote, and Tutka had his Bible with him, so he showed the student the verse. Then, after the student said he did not have a Bible, Tutka gave him his. The board made its decision on Monday, but Tutka and the Christian law firm Liberty Institute are considering an appeal or other action so he can keep his job.

Even Amicable Divorces Result in Less Religious Kids

A new analysis of data about children of divorce reveals that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably, Jim Liebelt reports. Researchers said they hoped the project would awaken pastors to a common oversight contributing to the decline in mainline Christian denominations and religious affiliation in general. "Mainline [Protestant Christianity] has done very little and has largely trusted that as long as everybody gets along and keeps their conflicts down, things will be OK," said the project's lead author, Lake Forest College professor Elizabeth Marquardt. "We're really trying to upend that view. Children of divorce are on the leading edge of the well-documented spiritual-but-not-religious movement. These are potential leaders. As we grapple with more and more people growing up without a married mom and dad, the church can make more sense of that."

Publication date: January 18, 2013