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Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 3, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 3, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Syria Rebels Behead Christian, Feed Him to Dogs as Fears Grow Over Islamist Atrocities
  • 15 Christians Have Throats Slit by Boko Haram Extremists in Northern Nigeria
  • Maryland Ushers in New Year With Same-Sex Ceremonies
  • Nigeria Leader: Islamists Won't Stop Christians From Worshiping


Syria Rebels Behead Christian, Feed Him to Dogs as Fears Grow Over Islamist Atrocities

Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists, ASSIST News Service reports. According to Britain's Daily Mail, Sister Agnes-Miriam de la Croix said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits. She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father. "His only crime was his brother criticized the rebels, accusing them of acting like bandits, which is what they are," Sister Agnes-Miriam said. According to the Daily Mail, there have been a growing number of accounts of atrocities carried out by rogue elements of the Syrian Free Army, which opposes Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and is recognized by the West as the legitimate leadership. "The free and democratic world is supporting extremists," Sister Agnes-Miriam said. "They want to impose sharia law and create an Islamic state in Syria. ... The uprising has been hijacked by Islamist mercenaries who are more interested in fighting a holy war than in changing the government. It has turned into a sectarian conflict -- one in which Christians are paying a high price." An estimated 300,000 Syrian Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs area alone. Many have fled abroad, raising fears that Syria's Christian community may vanish like others across the Middle East. Since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March 2011, some 60,000 have been killed.

15 Christians Have Throats Slit by Boko Haram Extremists in Northern Nigeria

At least 15 Christians were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria on Dec. 28 when the militants snuck into Musari, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Maiduguri, early in the morning and slit the throats of the Christians in their own homes, International Christian Concern reports. Nigerian military officials -- who often under-report the casualties in Boko Haram attacks -- put the death toll at five, but residents of Musari and other relief organizations put the number at 15. According to a resident, the militants were specifically targeting Christians because they broke into only Christian homes in an area of Musari that is predominantly Christian. A relief official added that the victims "were selected because they were all Christians, some of whom had moved into the neighborhood from other parts of [Maiduguri] hit by Boko Haram attacks." Since beginning its armed insurgency in 2009 in a campaign to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, Boko Haram has killed more than 3,000 people in Nigeria. Christians in the region continue to live in a constant state of fear amid an increasing number of bombings, shootings and violent attacks.

Maryland Ushers in New Year With Same-Sex Ceremonies

As the clock hit midnight on the East Coast and many celebrated the new year, homosexuals observed the occasion by hosting same-sex ceremonies in Baltimore's City Hall, the Christian News Network reports. Maryland's gay "marriage" law took effect Jan. 1 -- the last of three states to make the legislation official after approving the practice on Election Day -- and approximately 14 people arrived at City Hall at midnight to mark the occasion. Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated some of the ceremonies, as well as designee Jason Caton, and at the end of each ceremony, individuals were pronounced as "lawfully married" instead of "husband and wife." Homosexuals were able to obtain licenses beginning Dec. 6, though the law recognizing the relationships did not go into effect until Jan. 1. Maine officially began issuing licenses Dec. 29, and approximately 28 people turned out at midnight to be among the first. Washington state had already begun issuing licenses several weeks after Election Day.

Nigeria Leader: Islamists Won't Stop Christians From Worshiping

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan told Christians gathered at a church in Nigeria's capital on Sunday that "the church is one of the main targets" of terrorist attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, but "if the idea of Boko Haram is to stop Nigerians from worshiping God, they will not succeed." Boko Haram carried out several attacks over Christmas, including Christmas Eve attacks on two churches and the slaughter of 15 Christians in the village of Musari, but Nigerian security agencies suppressed other planned attacks on Christmas Day and during the Christmas holiday, Jonathan said. He added that the government would do everything possible to curtail the activities of Boko Haram in the new year. "With your persistent prayer we shall defeat them," he said. The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans has been urging the U.S. to label Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, a move that could hurt its funding and support.

Publication date: January 3, 2013