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Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Two Years After Haiti Quake, Ministry Enables Work of 30 Relief Agencies
  • Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq Claim Majority of Christian Martyrs in 2011
  • Divorce 'Significantly' Raises Risk of Early Death
  • Supreme Court Reaffirms Religious Liberty in Hiring Practices


Two Years After Haiti Quake, Ministry Enables Work of 30 Relief Agencies

Two years after Haiti was devastated by a deadly earthquake, relief organization Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) remains actively involved in the rebuilding process, supporting more than 30 other aid organizations by providing them with critical flights to 15 airstrips in the country, Mission Network News reports. "We have been encouraged by the progress made in Haiti over the past year, but we know there is still a long road ahead," said John Boyd, MAF president and CEO. MAF currently operates three planes in Haiti, providing daily flights for relief workers, medical personnel, churches and work teams and flying medical supplies to clinics and hospitals. The organization has also distributed micro-grants to help families and small businesses get back on their feet. "The country is optimistic right now about what is going on," program manager David Carwell said. "We've also seen many churches and mission organizations that have been strengthened and are moving forward."

Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq Claim Majority of Christian Martyrs in 2011

More Christians were killed for their faith in northern Nigeria, Egypt and Iraq in 2011 than anywhere else in the world, with 398 martyred in those three countries alone, Open Doors USA reports. The World Christian Encyclopedia defines martyrs as "believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility;" many Christians who die as a result of persecution are not counted as martyrs. Northern Nigeria had a total of 300 confirmed martyrs -- although the true total is thought to be much higher -- as Muslim extremists grew more routine and organized in their attacks. In Egypt, at least 60 Christians were killed, followed by Iraq with 38 confirmed deaths. Most were at the hands of Islamic extremists, but there were exceptions. Twenty-seven Egyptian Coptic Christian protesters lost their lives in one day alone in the Maspero Massacre in Cairo on Oct. 9, and in Iraq, at least 21 Christians were killed just in Baghdad at the hands of those who sought to ethnically cleanse Christian neighborhoods.

Divorce 'Significantly' Raises Risk of Early Death

A new review by the University of Arizona of more than 30 studies found divorced adults are 23 percent more likely to die early than married couples, USA Today reports. Researchers found the risks associated with divorce were similar to other public health risks such as smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, getting limited exercise, being overweight and drinking heavily, said the study's lead author, UA psychology professor David Sbarra. He said he was surprised by the results: "We thought there was some risk. But we didn't think the risk elevation would be as substantial as some other very serious public-health risks."

Supreme Court Reaffirms Religious Liberty in Hiring Practices

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the right of churches to make employment decisions without government interference, according to the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOCthe court ruled that religious groups have a "ministerial exception" from the application of discrimination laws, and that the exception applied to clergy as well as church employees in ministerial positions. NRB president and CEO Dr. Frank Wright said: "[The Supreme Court] has affirmed the constitutional rights of autonomy for religious organizations regarding the employment of their leaders, a reminder that government must refrain from interfering with leadership decisions made by churches. ... Second, it did so in a unanimous decision, a rarity in Washington."

Publication date: January 12, 2012