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Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 14, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 14, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • After Launching Deadly Attacks, Nigeria Islamists Vow to Keep Killing Christians
  • Court: Saying 'You're Gay' is No Longer Slander
  • Lao Police Arrest Pastor for Spreading Faith
  • Supreme Court Tosses 'Christian Candy Cane' Case


After Launching Deadly Attacks, Nigeria Islamists Vow to Keep Killing Christians

In the wake of separate attacks on two churches during worship services June 10 in northern Nigeria by members of the radical Muslim group Boko Haram, the Islamists vowed to continue their killing campaign until they succeed in establishing an Islamic state in Nigeria, ASSIST News Service reports. "The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies, and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state," said Abul Qaqa, Boko Haram's spokesman, after the attacks. According to International Christian Concern, Boko Haram has been fighting to implement a strict version of sharia law across Nigeria, and has repeatedly said it wants to eradicate Christians from northern Nigeria. ICC's regional manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said: "We are deeply alarmed by the continuous killing of Christians in northern Nigeria. In my recent trip to Nigeria, I witnessed the unspeakable level of violence against Christians by Islamic jihad. The Nigerian government has failed to effectively protect its Christian citizens from jihad. We urge Nigeria to avert further devastation by stepping up measures to protect innocent civilians from attack."

Court: Saying 'You're Gay' is No Longer Slander

An increasing acceptance of homosexual lifestyles has led a New York state appellate court to join a growing list of courts that have ruled it's no longer defamatory to be falsely called "gay," Baptist Press reports. The New York court threw out a lawsuit filed by a man who said a false accusation of being gay led to a breakup with his longtime girlfriend and caused him emotional distress. Justice Thomas Mercure of the New York Appellate Division's Third Department wrote in the court's unanimous decision that the lawsuit was "based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual," reversing decades of rulings to the contrary. "These appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed," Mercure said, citing "the tremendous evolution in social attitudes regarding homosexuality" that excluded it from such defamation as "accusations of serious criminal conduct or insinuations that an individual has a loathsome disease." New York last year legalized gay marriage, which is now allowed in six states.

Lao Police Arrest Pastor for Spreading Faith

A 53-year-old Lao pastor remains behind bars today after Lao police arrested him June 6 for encouraging others to convert to Christianity, Compass Direct News reports. The arrest of Asa, identified by only a single name, took place around 4 p.m. at his home in Peeyeur village in Laos' Luang Namtha Province, according to the Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF). Police then drove Asa to the Luang Namtha provincial prison, about 31 miles away -- too far to allow visits from concerned family members and friends who have limited access to road transport. If normal procedure had been followed, HRWLRF said, police would have held Asa in a village or district prison for three days while they investigated charges against him. On June 7, Khamla, a prominent Christian leader in the province, met with police and discovered that Asa had been charged with leading people to Christ. Two years ago police forced Asa to sign documents agreeing that he would neither proclaim Christ nor lead people to Christianity. This year, however, many people in Peeyeur and surrounding villages, touched by Asa's life and testimony, have accepted Christ. Authorities in southern Laos have also continued to threaten, interrogate and arrest Christians.

Supreme Court Tosses 'Christian Candy Cane' Case

An appeal over Christmas sweets turned bitter June 11 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the so-called "Christian candy cane" case, the Religion News Service reports. Morgan v. Swanson, which had become a rallying point for Christians concerned about free religious expression in public schools and students' rights to distribute religious literature, began nine years ago in Texas' Plano Independent School District as principals prevented self-described evangelical students from distributing religious literature on school grounds. In one instance, principal Lynn Swanson stopped third-grader Jonathan Morgan from handing out candy-cane shaped pens along with a card purporting to explain the candy's Christian roots that read in part, "So, every time you see a candy cane, remember the message of the candy maker: Jesus is the Christ!" In another instance, principal Jackie Bomchill prevented second-grader Stephanie Versher from passing out Passion play tickets and pencils with the message "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so" on school grounds. Last year, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the principals were within their rights in stopping the candy canes, but also found restrictions on student speech unconstitutional. The principals were exempt under "qualified immunity," which protects government officials from violating a law that is not "clearly established." The Supreme Court's decision not to intervene means the ruling stands.

Publication date: June 14, 2012