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Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 20, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 20, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Rev. Fred Luter Elected First African-American Southern Baptist President
  • U.S. Tells Egypt's Military to Hand Over Power to Elected Muslim Brotherhood President
  • NYC Churches Fight On to Hold Services in Public Schools
  • Muslims File Suit Over NYPD Surveillance


Rev. Fred Luter Elected as First African-American Southern Baptist President

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 19, the first African-American to hold the post, Baptist Press reports. David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, nominated Luter and previously said the election would send "a great, hopeful, powerful message to our city, our culture, our convention and our country." Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue since 1986, became the SBC's first African-American first vice president in 2011 and in 2001 was the first African-American to preach the convention sermon. Some observers felt it was appropriate that Luter's election took place on the day many celebrate Juneteenth, the anniversary of slavery's end in the United States.

U.S. Tells Egypt's Military to Hand Over Power to Elected Muslim Brotherhood President

The Obama administration warned Egypt's military leaders Monday to hand over power to Mohammed Morsi -- the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who claimed victory in the presidential run-off election -- or risk losing billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid to the country, the Washington Post reports. Pentagon and State Department officials expressed concern with a last-minute decree by Egypt's interim military council to keep control of the country. "This is a critical moment in Egypt, and the world is watching closely," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "We are particularly concerned by decisions that appear to prolong the military's hold on power." Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. would urge Egypt's military rulers "to relinquish power to civilian elected authorities." However, according to Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood "want one and only one thing: to make Egypt Islamic and then go into all the other countries and to make a kind of caliphate and even go to the United States and Europe." Morsi vowed earlier this month that if elected, he would "achieve the Islamic conquest of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya [Islamic tax required of non-Muslims]."

NYC Churches Fight On to Hold Services in Public Schools

Churches in New York City brought their case to court Friday, fighting for the right to use public schools for Sunday services, CBN News reports. The NYC Department of Education evicted more than 60 congregations in February following a December 2011 Supreme Court decision not to hear an appeal in a case that began 16 years ago when the Bronx Household of Faith sued the city over a school policy preventing churches from holding worship services in public schools. After a federal injunction, the churches were allowed to return to the school buildings until June, and now city councilman Fernando Cabrera is working on a permanent solution. Cabrera has measures before the city council, the state House and the state Senate, and has received a "green light from my speaker that he's going to allow the vote to come to the floor," he said. "We're looking forward to passing it in the city council to send a very loud message to the state legislators that the city of New York of 9 million people that live here are in full support of this legislation." Many observers have wondered why the city would want to force churches out of public schools, but Pastor Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity Church in the Bronx says he believes homosexual activists are behind the push. Leaders from the gay community revealed their opposition during a hearing at a meeting at city hall, he said. "It was quite evident that the LGBT community stood up and said, 'You guys are preaching a doctrine that's against gay marriage and that's why we're coming against you guys.' ... Our hope and our prayer is that this would come to some permanent solution before the end of June so it doesn't have to be a court battle."

Muslims File Suit Over NYPD Surveillance

Eight Muslims, including several college students, are suing the New York Police Department (NYPD) over a surveillance program that targeted Muslims throughout the Northeast, investigations the plaintiffs claim violated their religious freedom, WORLD News Service reports. Last year, an Associated Press investigation revealed that the NYPD conducted wholesale surveillance of entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling details such as where people ate, prayed and got their hair cut. Police also infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds more. News of the surveillance program reignited the debate over the tension between freedom and national security. In announcing the suit on June 6, Glenn Katon of Muslim Advocates, the group that filed the legal challenge, accused the NYPD of violating the Constitution by basing its surveillance only on the Muslims' religion.

Publication date: June 20, 2012