Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 19, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 19, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Rob Bell Affirms Gay Marriage
  • Evangelical Leaders Back Universal Background Checks for Gun Buyers
  • Student Punished for Exposing Vandals of Pro-Life Display
  • North Dakota Second State to Pass Bill Criminalizing Abortions After Heartbeat is Detected


Rob Bell Affirms Gay Marriage

Rob Bell, controversial author and former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, affirmed and openly endorsed gay marriage Sunday at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, the Christian Research Network reports. Bell said: "I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs -- I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are." Bell went on to say that while it used to be fair to equate evangelicals with social conservatism, that assumption no longer holds true. "I think we're witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn't work," he said. " ... [W]e have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we've done it in the name of God and we need to repent." Bell is known for questioning, challenging and redefining the beliefs of orthodox Christianity. His book Love Wins caused a stir by discounting the existence of hell and his newest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, is said to "tackle misconceptions about God."

Evangelical Leaders Back Universal Background Checks for Gun Buyers

Two of the nation's leading evangelicals are throwing their weight behind President Barack Obama’s push for universal background checks for all gun buyers, a measure that faces stiff opposition in both the House and Senate, WORLD News Service reports. Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention told TIME Magazine they supported the proposal. "As ministers, we agreed together that we could stand on a united front for universal background checks," Graham said. "We think that’s reasonable and responsible." But their support come with conditions. Graham wants the president to tax violence in Hollywood films and use part of the money to help victims of gun violence. Land said President Obama should improve the nation's mental health system, and emphasized that his organization did not support the ban on assault weapons, which passed out of the Senate Judicial Committee last week. But critics say the types of gun laws the president advocates would not decrease gun violence. "It is not much satisfaction that criminals are going to have access [to these weapons] and we are going to give the American people a pea shooter," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told U.S. News. "Why would we turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal?"

Student Punished for Exposing Vandals of Pro-Life Display

The leader of DePaul University's Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter is fighting charges that he intimidated 13 students who vandalized a pro-life display, WORLD News Service reports. After the students confessed to the crime, Kristopher Del Campo released their names to the public. School officials charged Del Campo with "disorderly, violent, intimidating or dangerous behavior to self or others" and violating the school's judicial process by sending the names of the vandals to the national YAF organization, which posted the list on its blog. Del Campo is appealing the charges.

North Dakota Second State to Pass Bill Criminalizing Abortions After Heartbeat is Detected

Legislators in North Dakota have passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation, criminalizing any abortionist that kills a baby after a heartbeat is detected, the Christian News Network reports. Senators voted to approve the "Heartbeat Bill" Friday, sending the legislation to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple for signing. Dalrymple, who is pro-life, has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill into law. According to reports, the bill would require any abortionist in the state to check for a fetal heartbeat, which can be detected by medical equipment as early as 12 weeks -- though fetal development experts state that an infant's heart begins beating just 20-25 days after conception. If the abortionist performs an abortion despite the existence of a heartbeat, he or she would face felony charges and could spend up to five years in prison and/or pay up to $5,000 in fines. The mother would not face any criminal charges. The bill includes exceptions for the physical impairment or death of the mother, but no exceptions for rape or incest. "The images and heartbeat from the womb provide strong and overwhelming evidence of -- at the very least -- potential life," said Sen. Spencer Berry, a sponsor of the bill. "And we have been instructed by the Supreme Court to protect that very potential." North Dakota becomes the second state in the nation to pass the "Heartbeat Bill"; legislators in Arkansas voted the week prior to override the veto of their Democratic governor and make the bill state law.

Publication date: March 19, 2013