Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 22, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 22, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Belgian Twin Brothers Assisted in Suicide
  • Majority of Americans Think Religious Freedom is Fast Declining in U.S.
  • Vatican Welcomes Obama Gun Control Proposal
  • Russia Sends Mixed Signals on Adoption Ban


Belgian Twin Brothers Assisted in Suicide

Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were put to death by their doctor on Dec. 14, though the hospital that performed the euthanasia waited a month to announce the action, WORLD News Service reports. The 45-year-old men were legally put to death by lethal injection at the Brussels University Hospital in Jette; their names were not released. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and the number of cases has risen every year since. In 2011, more than 1,100 people engaged in assisted suicide, most of whom suffered from cancer. The men in this case were going blind, and said they did not want to face the world without being able to see each other. This incident is thought to be the first assisted killing involving people who were neither terminally ill nor in physical pain, but who simply wanted to die.

Majority of Americans Think Religious Freedom is Fast Declining in U.S.

Slightly more than half of American adults, particularly Protestants and evangelicals, feel religious freedoms have grown worse in the last decade in the United States and foresee further restrictions in the years to come, according to a new study by the Barna Group and the Clapham Group, the Christian Post reports. Twenty-nine percent say they are very concerned and 22 percent say they are somewhat concerned that religious freedom in the U.S. will become more restricted in the next five years. The survey found that 71 percent of evangelicals, 46 percent of practicing Protestants and 30 percent of practicing Catholics are "very concerned" about this prospect. Concerns are not only the future of religious freedom, but also about the current level of restraints: 48 percent of practicing Protestants say they perceive religious freedom to have grown worse in recent years, while 60 percent of evangelicals perceive religious freedom to have grown worse. 

Vatican Welcomes Obama Gun Control Proposal

The Vatican praised President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence, calling them a "step in a right direction," the Huffington Post reports. The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that 47 religious leaders had appealed to members of Congress "to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths," adding: "I am with them. The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction." Lombardi renewed Vatican appeals for disarmament and encouragement for measures to fight "the production, commerce and contraband of all types of arms." Obama, who is trying to rally support for reinstating a ban on assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun sales, faces stiff opposition in Congress and from pro-Second Amendment groups.

Russia Sends Mixed Signals on Adoption Ban

In the wake of Russia’s new law banning U.S. adoptions, parents who have poured years of time and thousands of dollars into the adoption process now wait with bated breath to learn whether they can bring their children home. Since December, they have continued to get conflicting information, but this month, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, reassured American parents that they would be allowed to leave with their children. Russian courts had approved adoptions for 52 U.S. families before Putin signed the ban into law, but many of these families say Russian authorities now refuse to turn over their children. The anti-adoption law, retaliation for U.S. sanctions against Russians identified as human rights violators, was rushed through parliament in December and sped to President Vladimir Putin's desk in less than 10 days. Last week, tens of thousands rallied in central Moscow to protest the law, which the demonstrators say victimizes children to make a political point. Astakhov vehemently defended the new law, saying it would not be revoked "however big the protests are." He also said Russia would honor the previous court decisions, but did not elaborate on a timeline. "All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.," he said.

Publication date: January 22, 2013