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Religion Today Summaries - February 20, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 20, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Obama Budget Proposal Eliminates Family-Friendly Education Programs
  • British High Court Rules Against Prayer at Town Meetings
  • Iran: Church Elder Seized and Imprisoned
  • Parents Protest Radical Muslim Group Speaking to Students


Obama Budget Proposal Eliminates Family-Friendly Education Programs

Education advocates cried foul after the Obama administration this month revealed its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 -- one that cancels all federal funding for a popular school choice program in D.C. and abstinence education programs nationwide, WORLD News Service reports. Since 2003, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has given low-income children the opportunity to escape failing public schools in order to attend the private school of their parents' choice. The nation's first federally funded school choice program, it boasts a 91 percent high school graduation rate, compared to only 70 percent citywide among children with similar backgrounds. Meanwhile, the president took a 20:1 funding disparity between condom-based sex education programs and abstinence education programs and made it 100:0. "Why would the president want to censor information that helps teens make healthy choices?" said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association. "It just doesn't make sense!" Virginia Walden Ford, former executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, said Obama had "chosen to stand with special interest groups and not with the children who need him to stand for them."

British High Court Rules Against Prayer at Town Meetings

A British High Court justice has triggered dismay and anger with a recent decision that declares prayers at town hall meetings are against the law, the Religion News Service reports. Justice Duncan Ouseley ruled Feb. 10 that local government councils were violating a 40-year-old law if they conducted prayers as "part of a formal local government meeting," but added that prayers could be allowed if they were held before the town hall meeting officially began and if council members were "not formally summoned to attend." Some local councils suggested they intend to defy the decision; "We will find a way around it," said John Breeds, the mayor of Rye, England, including the possibility of praying before the meetings begin.

Iran: Church Elder Seized and Imprisoned

A prominent elder of Narmak's Assembly of God Church in Tehran was arrested at work by agents from the Islamic Republic's Ministry of State Security, ASSIST News Service reports. As of yet, Maasis Mosesian's family and friends have not been informed of charges against him or reasons for the sudden arrest. He was able to let church members know with a brief phone call where he was being detained, although he was not allowed to contact his family, and his wife and son were not allowed to see him upon arriving at the prison. According to the Farsi Christian News Network, "Unlike the civilized world, in the Islamic Republic burden of proof rests with the accused. However, accusations are only leveled after lengthy interrogations, frequently under torture." Sustained waves of arrests and detentions of Christians have increased in recent months, and Assembly of God churches in Tehran and other Islamic-ruled cities are being spied on and raided almost daily.

Parents Protest Radical Muslim Group Speaking to Students

Parents in Tampa, Fla., protested last week a decision by officials to invite a member of the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to speak to history students at a public high school last fall, FoxNews.com reports. At a Hillsborough County school board meeting, dozens of protesters cited CAIR's past connection to the terrorist group Hamas and other terror financing cases -- concerns Middle East experts say are not unfounded. "We do not have a problem with Islamic groups speaking with students, but we do have an issue with a group that has ties to terrorism speaking," said Randall McDaniels of the Jacksonville chapter of ACT for America, a group seeking to stop CAIR members from speaking at public schools. CAIR spokesman Corey Saylor dismissed the criticism as "fear-mongering," and Hassan Shibly, the CAIR member who spoke to the students, said the parents were reflecting "hatred and animosity."

Publication date: February 20, 2012