Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 7, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 7, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • More Than 900 Christians Killed in Nigeria Last Year
  • No Early Warning for U.S. on Israeli Strikes in Syria
  • Morocco: Christian Converts Unsettled by Fatwa Calling for Execution of Those Who Leave Islam
  • Gay Teacher Fired by Catholic School Claims Discrimination


More Than 900 Christians Killed in Nigeria Last Year

More than 900 Christians were slaughtered in Nigeria last year, giving it the distinction of being the nation with the highest Christian death toll, the Washington Times reports. All were victims of the Boko Haram group and other Islamic militants. "They are so radical they don't even spare Muslims," said Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation. "If Muslims are sympathetic to any cause at all ... if they are sympathetic to the Christians' cause, or the minorities' cause, they are also termed as infidels." Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe warned that the country may be teetering on the brink of a full-fledged religious war. "Because of the massive Christian [and] Muslim population in Nigeria, there is no country on earth that is as rich and ready for a religious war," he said. "All the elements, all of the ingredients are there." Islamic radicals have already killed more than 120 Nigerians, most of them Christians, this year.

No Early Warning for U.S. on Israeli Strikes in Syria

The U.S. was not given any warning before air strikes in Syria against what Western and Israeli officials say were weapons headed for Hezbollah militants, Reuters reports. An intelligence official said Sunday that the U.S. was essentially told of the air raids "after the fact" and was notified as the bombs went off. Israeli jets bombed Syria on Sunday for the second time in 48 hours; while Israel does not confirm such missions explicitly, an Israeli official acknowledged that the strikes were carried out by its forces. "It would not be unusual for them to take aggressive steps when there was some chance that some sophisticated weapons system would fall into the hands of people like Hezbollah," the U.S. intelligence official said. While the air raids raised fears that America's main ally in the Middle East could be sucked into the Syrian conflict, Israel typically does not feel it has to ask for a green light from Washington for such attacks, and officials have indicated in the past that Israel sees a need only to inform the United States once such a mission is under way. U.S. president Barack Obama said Saturday that Israel has the right to guard against the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, an ally of both Syria and Iran.

Morocco: Christian Converts Unsettled by Fatwa Calling for Execution of Those Who Leave Islam

A Moroccan fatwa calling for the execution of those who leave Islam has left many Christian converts in turmoil, Morning Star News reports. There is still much debate over how the fatwa, which only recently came to light after the government’s top authority on Islam issued it last year, could change laws in Morocco. But a Moroccan Christian convert active in the house church movement said many former Muslims who are now Christians fear for their lives. "The fatwa showed us that our country is still living in the old centuries – no freedom, no democracy," he said. "Unfortunately, we feel that we aren’t protected. We can be arrested or now even killed any time and everywhere. ... The majority of the Christian Moroccan leaders have the same feeling. We are more followed now by the secret police than before. Only the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us courage and peace." The governmental High Council of Ulemas, the highest religious authority in Morocco, issued the ruling last year, but only released it in April upon request of the government’s Delegation for Human Rights of Morocco, according to Arabic-language daily Akhbar al-Youm. Whether the fatwa will have any effect on Moroccan criminal law remains to be seen: "The fatwa doesn’t all of the sudden become an amendment or an addendum to the penal code," said. a representative of Middle East Concern. "That’s why we don’t actually know what it’s going to look like in practice or principle." Still, the ruling could represent a major shift within the government, as apostasy currently isn't against the law in Morocco. Even if the ruling never becomes law, it sets a dangerous precedent for how converts and Christians in general will be treated in Morocco. If leaving Islam is seen as an act worthy of death, then "proselytizing" -- which is illegal -- could then be treated as a much more serious issue.

Gay Teacher Fired by Catholic School Claims Discrimination

Carla Hale, 59, a lesbian P.E. teacher, has filed a grievance against the diocese of the Ohio Catholic school where she worked for 19 years until administrators fired her for "violating moral law," WORLD reports. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Hale's sexual orientation became public when an obituary for her late mother published Hale's name along with the name of her female partner, Julie. An anonymous parent sent a letter to Hale's employer, Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, complaining about Hale’s presence on staff. The school fired Hale in March, explaining that by maintaining a homosexual relationship she had violated the diocesan policy requiring Catholic school personnel to be examples of moral behavior.  So far, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the local diocese have declined to comment.

Publication date: May 7, 2013