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Religion Today Daily Headlines - November 30, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - November 30, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • U.N. General Assembly Votes in Favor of Palestinian Statehood
  • Gay Marriage Comes to the Supreme Court Friday
  • Islamist-Led Assembly Votes on Egypt Constitution
  • Anti-Israel Activity Spikes on U.S. Campuses Following Gaza Conflict


U.N. General Assembly Votes in Favor of Palestinian Statehood

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to approve a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's observer status at the United Nations from "entity" to "non-member state," implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state, Reuters reports. There were 138 votes in favor, 41 abstentions and nine votes against the resolution. Granting Palestinians the title of "non-member observer state" falls short of full U.N. membership, but allows them access to the International Criminal Court, the World Bank and other international bodies. "The ICC issue is what the Israelis are really worried about," a U.N. official said on condition of anonymity. "They know this whole process isn’t really symbolic except for that." Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas led the campaign to win support for the resolution, which took place on the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s passage of the plan to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

Gay Marriage Comes to the Supreme Court Friday

The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Friday to decide whether to take up several cases that could lead to the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states, Baptist Press reports. The public won't find out what the court decided for several days -- as early as Monday -- but Friday's meeting is significant enough that both sides in the cultural debate are guessing what will happen. According to Baptist Press, if the court takes up the cases, "it could end up being the Roe v. Wade of gay marriage." At issue are two laws: the federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman, and the California constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8, which was approved by voters in 2008 and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It is not known when during the current term the court would hear oral arguments in the cases, although if they take the cases, a decision likely would be handed down in the spring or early summer.

Islamist-Led Assembly Votes on Egypt Constitution

The Islamist-dominated assembly drafting Egypt's new constitution began a fast-track vote on a final draft Thursday, pushing through the document despite opposition, reports Yahoo! News. The issue of the role of sharia (Islamic law) in the constitution had been the subject of a long dispute between hardline Islamists and liberals in the assembly, and the draft largely reflects the ultra-conservative vision of the Islamists, with articles that many fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities and civil liberties in general. Under sharia, non-Muslims and Muslim women face discrimination, and those who dishonor Islam can face "honor killings" by family members. Sharia also allows for women to be stoned to death for adultery, even if the woman is the victim of rape. As in past constitutions, the new draft says "principles of sharia" will be the main source of legislation, but a new article states that Egypt's most-respected Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, must be consulted on any matters related to sharia -- a measure critics fear will lead to oversight of legislation by Muslim clerics. Another article seeks to define "principles" of sharia -- a term long left intentionally vague -- which could vastly expand the reach of sharia in influencing society. Morsi is expected to call for a referendum on the draft as early as mid-December.

Anti-Israel Activity Spikes on U.S. Campuses Following Gaza Conflict

More than 100 anti-Israel demonstrations have been held in the United States following Israel's military operation in Gaza, with more than one-third on college campuses, the Times of Israel reports. The campus demonstrations have included comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and accusations that the Jewish state is trying to perpetrate "another Holocaust" in Gaza, according to the Anti-Defamation League. During the demonstrations and on social media, some students and professors openly expressed support for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and for terrorism targeting Israeli civilians. Many of the protests were organized by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Publication date: November 30, 2012