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Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 5, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 5, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • College Shuts Down Dorm Room Bible Study
  • Obama Says He'd Strike Down All Bans on Same-Sex Marriage
  • Libya: 48 More Foreign Christians Arrested in Benghazi
  • Methodist Men Join Calls Against Boy Scouts Change


College Shuts Down Dorm Room Bible Study

Officials at Florida's Rollins College ordered a group of students to shut down a Bible study they were holding in the privacy of a dorm room -- saying it violated the rules, Todd Starnes reports. The incident occurred in the midst of a campus battle over whether religious groups that require their leaders to follow specific religious beliefs are violating the school's nondiscrimination policy. Four students affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship were holding an informal Bible study in the common area of a dorm suite when a resident hall assistant entered the room and asked the student leading the study to step outside. "He was told they were no longer allowed inside the dorm -- even with the express consent of the students to do Bible studies," said Greg Jao, InterVarsity's national field director. "They said it was because InterVarsity was no longer a registered student group on campus." InterVarsity was de-recognized as an official campus organization after it refused to comply with the school's nondiscrimination policy. While InterVarsity welcomes all students and faculty, it requires its leaders to be Christians -- something the school maintains is a violation of its policy. A Rollins spokesperson, however, said the incident was simply a miscommunication: "No group is allowed to hold meetings in the common space of residence halls. A fraternity was recently in violation of this as well, and they were asked to meet elsewhere -- so it was not just InterVarsity." The Christian students have taken their concerns to Student Affairs.

Obama Says He'd Strike Down All Bans on Same-Sex Marriage

In an impromptu White House press conference on Friday, President Barack Obama spoke on his administration's recent decision to file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down California's Proposition 8, saying there was "no good reason" for a ban on same-sex marriage, the Christian Post reports. In response to a reporter who asked why he didn't "just argue that marriage is a right that should be available to all people of this country," Obama said: "What we've said is that same-sex couples are a group, a class that deserves heightened scrutiny. The Supreme Court needs to ask the state why it's doing it, and if the state doesn't have a good reason, it should be struck down. That's the core principle, as applied to this case. Now, what the court may decide that if it doesn't apply in this case, it probably can't apply in any case. There's no good reason for it. If I were on the court, that would probably be the view that I would put forward. But I'm not a judge, I'm the president. The basic principle, though, is let's treat everybody fairly, let's treat everybody equally, and ... I think that the brief that's been presented accurately reflects our views." Obama also said he felt it was important for his administration to become involved in the Proposition 8 case because he found the voter-approved amendment to be unconstitutional. The amendment, passed in 2008, defines marriage in California as between a man and a woman.

Libya: 48 More Foreign Christians Arrested in Benghazi

Libyan security officials arrested almost 50 more foreign Christians last week in Benghazi, Christianity Today reports. According to Agence France-Presse, 48 Egyptian Christians who worked as traders in a city marketplace are accused of attempting to evangelize Muslims, but were arrested on charges of illegal immigration. The Egyptians "were found in possession of a quantity of Bibles, texts encouraging conversion to Christianity, and images of Christ and the late Pope Shenouda of Egypt's Coptic Christians, none of which were for 'personal use,'" a security official told AFP. The Egyptian Human Rights Union Organisation, chaired by Coptic Christian Najib Gabriel, has appealed to the Arab League for help in releasing those arrested. "When arrested, they were not engaged in proselytism," he said. "They were just having pictures of the Christ and the [late Coptic] Pope Shenouda, things always carried by Christians to invoke blessings." On Thursday, Libya's prime minister urged militias, one of which is suspected to have arrested the Christians, to join government security forces. "Militias, however, often act with impunity, running their own prison cells, making arrests and taking confessions in total absence of state control and oversight," the Associated Press noted.

Methodist Men Join Calls Against Boy Scouts Change

The General Commission on United Methodist Men has joined conservative voices urging the Boy Scouts of America not to open its membership to homosexuals, Baptist Press reports. In February, GCUMM sent a letter to Wayne Brock, Boy Scouts of America chief Scout executive, calling on the group not to implement proposals being considered at the BSA's annual meeting in May to open Scouting leadership and membership to homosexuals. The Methodist organization also called on Scouting to revitalize its relationship with the faith community. More than 40 other faith denominations and conservative groups have voiced similar concerns, including the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, the American Family Association and the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

Publication date: March 5, 2013