Religion Today Summaries - January 18, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 18, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Supreme Court Upholds Restrictions on 'Jesus' Prayers at Public Meetings
  • Muslim Brotherhood Gets Leadership Role in Egypt's Parliament
  • Florida Pro-Life Advocate Wins Battle to Counsel Outside Abortion Clinic
  • Use of Sharia Law Rising in UK


Supreme Court Upholds Restrictions on 'Jesus' Prayers at Public Meetings

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a North Carolina county commission over Christian prayers before its public meetings, leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling that the prayers were in violation of the First Amendment, the Washington Post reports. Although the Forsyth County commission said its doors were open to religious leaders of any faith, the appeals court found that more than three-fourths of the 33 invocations given before meetings in 2007 and 2008 referred to "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "Christ" or "Savior." The ruling doesn't ban prayers altogether, but requires that the county not favor one religion over another. David Cortman, an attorney representing Forsyth County, said the ruling made Christians second-class citizens: "America's founders never shied away from referencing the God to whom they were praying when offering public invocations," he said. "The citizens of Forsyth County should have this same opportunity."

Muslim Brotherhood Gets Leadership Role in Egypt's Parliament

Newly elected members of Egypt's parliament announced this week a power-sharing plan to install a Muslim Brotherhood leader as speaker, the Washington Post reports. The agreement among six political parties all but guarantees that the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party will lead Egypt's first elected governing body since former president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February, and the Islamist party is expected to control as many as half the seats. A new constitution still is yet to be written, and Egypt's interim military rulers have made it clear that they will oversee the process and possibly influence the selection of the constituent assembly.

Florida Pro-Life Advocate Wins Battle to Counsel Outside Abortion Clinic

A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Fla., recently ended a two-year saga in which Attorney General Eric Holder sought repeatedly to fine a pro-life educator and ban her from counseling women on the public sidewalk outside an abortion clinic, the Christian Post reports. Mary Susan Pine, founder of a pro-life organization and a 10-year veteran of ministering to women outside the clinic, was accused in 2009 by a police officer and the Department of Justice of obstructing the entrance and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, but the Liberty Counsel was successful in defending her case. Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp stated the government lacked evidence to prove Pine violated the law, criticized Holder's efforts as unconstitutional, and said the court could not understand why the government chose to prosecute Pine in the first place.

Use of Sharia Law Rising in UK

The BBC reports that the use of sharia -- Islamic law -- is growing in Britain, with thousands of Muslims using it to settle family, financial and commercial disputes each year. The principles of sharia, derived from the Quran, the Hadith (Muhammad's writings) and fatwas (rulings of Islamic scholars), govern all aspects of a Muslim's life, and sharia has been operating in the UK in parallel to the British legal system since 1982. There are thought to be as many as 85 sharia councils in Britain, and now some British law firms are beginning to tap into the growing market as well, launching sharia departments to satisfy both the British and Islamic legal systems "all under one place," according to Muslim lawyer Aina Khan. However, some groups are objecting, arguing that the practice of sharia discriminates against women. Male-dominated sharia councils are "not providing [women] with the justice they seek," said Diana Nammi of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organization (IKWRO). A bill has been introduced in the House of Lords to begin regulating sharia organizations in the UK, but groups like IKWRO don't think the bill goes far enough. "We think there shouldn't be any religious law practicing in Britain," Nammi said. "All sharia bodies should be banned."

Publication date: January 18, 2012