Religion Today Daily Headlines - October 12, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - October 12, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Massacre of 46 Nigerian Students Linked to Boko Haram
  • Romney Pledges to End Planned Parenthood Funding
  • As Refugees Continue to Flee Syria, Ministry Calls for Aid
  • Islam Wins a Growing Number of Followers in Haiti


Massacre of 46 Nigerian Students Linked to Boko Haram

Nigerian police have arrested the masterminds behind the deadly Oct. 1 massacre at a state university in the northwestern town of Mubi that killed 46 students, many of whom were Christians, Christianity Today reports. Police also confirmed the gunmen were members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect, though Boko Haram denied involvement. Nigerian officials reported that the four university students who allegedly devised the attack acted in response to recent student government elections, targeting Muslims and Christians alike who were either newly elected student leaders or students who voted for them. However, persecution watchdogs and the Christian Association of Nigeria insist the gunmen specifically targeted Christians in the attack, only killing Muslims on accident. "CAN rejects the theory of election dispute as responsible for the massacre ... considering the way it was reportedly carried out," CAN national secretary Musa Asake said; according to several students who escaped the massacre, the gunmen first asked victims if they were Christians before shooting or knifing them.

Romney Pledges to End Planned Parenthood Funding

After announcing this week that he had no plans to push for new anti-abortion legislation, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney clarified his stance by explaining that he would still take action as president to cut funding of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider, CBN News reports. "I think I've said time and time again: I'm a pro-life candidate," Romney said at a campaign stop in Ohio. "I'll be a pro-life president." Romney said he did intend to take pro-life action even if not pushing directly for legislation targeting abortion. "The actions I'll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood," he said. "It will not be part of my budget." He also said he would reinstate the Mexico City policy, which says no U.S. tax dollars can be used to pay for abortions in other countries. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama continues to tell women voters that Romney will try to overturn Roe v. Wade, accusing Romney of trying to "cloud" the issue by "hiding" a pro-life agenda.

As Refugees Continue to Flee Syria, Ministry Calls for Aid

More than 300,000 Syrians have now fled their homeland to neighboring countries to escape the ongoing civil war. According to Christian Aid Mission, Islamic extremists are succeeding in dividing up Syrian territory under various militias in order to help bring down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite Muslim who has protected the Christian minority. Salafi Muslim extremists, who insist on sharia law, are behind the efforts to cleanse Syria of Christians and moderate Muslims -- and are forcing the Christians to flee. "There are killings every day now that go unreported in the news media," Christian Aid says. Though ministries and NGOs have mobilized to help Syrian refugees through the winter, most currently lack basic supplies and shelter. Christian Aid has set up a special fund to aid Syrian Christians in Jordan, and is calling for Christians overseas to assist in sending emergency aid. Indigenous missionaries on the ground expect another million Syrian refugees to flee into Jordan in the next six months despite Jordan's official closure of its borders with Syria and threats from Salafi terrorists. Syrian refugees have also fled to Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, and aid is needed in every receiving state, Christian Aid says.

Islam Wins a Growing Number of Followers in Haiti

Islam has won a growing number of followers in the impoverished country of Haiti, especially after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed 300,000 people and left millions more homeless, reports. The disaster drew in aid groups from around the world, including Islamic Relief USA, which built 200 shelters and a secondary school with 20 classrooms. "After the earthquake we had a lot of people join," said Robert Dupuy, an imam (Islamic spiritual leader) in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. "We were organized. We had space in the mosques to receive people and food to feed them." Port-au-Prince now has at least five mosques, a Muslim parliament member and a nightly local television program devoted to Islam. Just as there are no reliable figures for many things in Haiti, including Port-au-Prince's exact population, there are no firm statistics on the number of Muslims there. A 2009 study by the Pew Research Center on the world's Muslim population estimated that Haiti had about 2,000 devotees, but Islamic leaders in the country insist the number is much higher and growing. However, the Haitian government doesn't recognize Islam as an official religion, nor does it honor Muslim marriages.

Publication date: October 12, 2012