Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 20, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 20, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Report: 54 Percent of Americans Would Vote for Well-Qualified Atheist
  • Wheaton College Joins Suit Against Obamacare Over Abortion Drugs
  • U.S. Olympic Marathoner: God is My Coach
  • Judge Rules Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open for Now


Report: 54 Percent of Americans Would Vote for Well-Qualified Atheist

In 2011, for the first time since the question was first asked in 1958, a majority of Americans (54 percent) told Gallup they would vote for a generally well-qualified atheist for president, according to the July political report from the American Enterprise Institute. Forty-three percent said they would not. Still, the proportion of Americans willing to vote for an atheist is lower than for the other groups Gallup examined: black (96 percent), woman (95 percent), Catholic (94 percent), Hispanic (92 percent), Jewish (91 percent), Mormon (80 percent), gay or lesbian (68 percent) and Muslim (58 percent).

Wheaton College Joins Suit Against Obamacare Over Abortion Drugs

Illinois-based Wheaton College announced July 18 it had joined the Catholic University of America in suing the Obama administration over the so-called contraception mandate, Fox News reports. A wave of lawsuits against Obamacare has so far been dominated by Catholic organizations, who have vowed to continue their legal challenge against the requirement that employers provide access to contraceptive care after the Supreme Court upheld most of the federal health care overhaul last month. "In this case, we recognize we have common cause with the Catholic University of America and other Catholic institutions in defending religious liberty," said Wheaton College president Philip Graham Ryken. However, while the Catholic groups are opposed to the requirement regarding all contraceptive coverage, Wheaton is objecting only to the possibility that they would have to provide access to coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. "We're very clear on the sanctity of life, and this insurance mandate goes against our conscience," Ryken said, adding that the fact Catholic groups were teaming up with an evangelical college in this lawsuit could signal that "something really significant in terms of religious liberty is at stake."

U.S. Olympic Marathoner: God is My Coach

29-year-old Ryan Hall, the fastest American distance runner competing in the London Olympics, says he owes it all to his coach who has been with him every step of the way -- God. "I'll just be straightforward, my coach is God," Hall told CNN. Last year, after finishing second in the 2011 U.S. half-marathon championship, Hall filled in "God" as the name of his coach on a routine drug test form. "I saw the line, it said 'coach,' it was blank, and I said, 'Well, you know, I have to be honest,'" he said. "So I put 'God' down and it turned into a big controversial thing. Now whenever I see that line I just leave it blank. I'll just let it slide by." Hall, a self-professed Christian who attends the non-denominational evangelical Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., runs alone instead of with a trainer and prays while he runs, calling his method of training "faith-based coaching." He says he doesn't pay much attention to the reactions of his peers, but stays focused on what he's doing. "I love the skeptic and God loves the skeptics -- it's OK for people to disagree," he said. "Medals are things I would love to achieve, but it's all icing on the cake."

Judge Rules Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open for Now

A judge ruled July 13 that Mississippi's only abortion center can remain open while a court case requiring all abortion doctors to have hospital attending privileges proceeds, WORLD News Service reports. Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law earlier this year that also requires abortionists to be board-certified obstetrician/gynecologists. The bill was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, and would have made Mississippi the first state without a single abortion center. The sole remaining facility is run by Diane Derzis, who also runs abortion facilities in several other southeastern states. Recently, the Alabama Department of Public Health found 76 pages' worth of health code violations at the clinic she operates in Birmingham, and has said it can only remain open if it's run by someone with no ties to Derzis. Troy Newman, president of the pro-life organization Operation Rescue, called the decision "reprehensible" and said Derzis' facility will allow "fly-by-night" doctors to continue to endanger women's lives.

Publication date: July 20, 2012