Religion Today Daily Headlines - September 19, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - September 19, 2012

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

In today's edition:


Obama Campaign Unveils New Faith Initiative

In an effort to resonate with key faith groups, the Obama campaign has released a “People of Faith for Obama” initiative, which includes a Web video and faith platform.  The initiative seeks to show how faith plays a major role in the president’s decision-making process, CNN reports. In the Web video, Obama makes specific reference to religious liberty, a hot-button political issue in this campaign cycle. “In a changing world, my commitment to religious liberty is, and always will be unwavering,” the president says. The campaign is also releasing what it’s calling a “faith platform,” broken down into three categories: economic security for families, being our brothers and sisters’ keeper, and faith in public life. The platform will be hosted on the campaign website and sent out to campaign field offices. A campaign staffer close to the initiative said they thought the program would have specific resonance with key groups the campaign has been targeting: Catholics and young evangelicals. 

Family Facing Fines for Hosting Bible Study

A Florida family is facing a $250 per day fine for hosting a Friday night prayer and Bible study in their home- an act that city officials argue violates zoning codes, Todd Starnes reports. Shane and Marlen Roessiger of Venice, Fla. host weekly prayer and study gatherings, which are attended by as many as 10 people. The family is also facing fines for putting a small sign in their front yard that reads: “Need Prayer (941) 484-4915.” “It’s difficult to understand how it is illegal to have a prayer meeting on Friday night with a half dozen people but it is alright if I invited the same group on Monday evening to watch Monday Night Football,” Roessiger said.  The Pacific Justice Institute is representing the family. “They are having a specific problem with this family solely because they are having family and friends over to read the bible and pray,” Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice, said. “That may be fine in some tyrannical parts of the world. That is not okay in the United States of America.” Pam Johnson, a spokesperson for the city of Venice, sent a statement defending their actions to Fox News. She confirmed that the two cases against the family involve a code infraction regarding the use of a sign and a zoning infraction regarding using their home as a ‘house of worship.’ The Roessigers run a small ministry called “In Him Healing Touch Ministries.” Dacus believes the city used that to build a case against the family.

Survey Shows 74 Percent Increase in U.S. Mosques in Past Decade

A survey conducted earlier this year by a coalition of religious organizations shows the number of mosques in the United States has grown by 74 percent in the past 11 years -- up from 1,209 in 2001 to 2,106 in 2011, reports. The survey by Faith Communities Today, which is affiliated with the Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religious Research, also reveals where those mosques exist, including the 10 states with the largest number of mosques: New York (257), California (246), Texas (166), Florida (118), Illinois (109), New Jersey (109), Pennsylvania (99), Michigan (77), Georgia (69) and Virginia (62). Vermont has the least number of mosques, with only one located in that state. Most mosques are located in metropolitan areas, with Greater New York City ranked No. 1 (192 mosques). Southern California (120), Greater Chicago (90), Greater Philadelphia (63) and Greater Detroit (63) rounded out the top five metropolitan areas for mosque population.

Nation's First Transgender Camp Attracts Kids as Young as 8

Camp Aranu'tiq, the first transgender camp for kids in the nation, held its third annual week-long session in Connecticut in late August, WORLD News Service reports. According to a recent story in the Boston Globe, the 65 campers wear name tags "with the words '(HE)' or '(SHE)' under their names" so others will know how the child wants to be addressed. Programs at the camp, which is run by a 29-year-old transgender male named Nick Teich and now operates a branch in California, include discussions about "coming out," "transitioning," puberty blockers and bullying. Kids ages 8 through 15 attend the camp, and according to WORLD, concerns have been raised that encouraging children and adolescents that young to "come out" as transgender is abusive -- as even the liberal American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists transgenderism as a mental disorder.