Religion Today Summaries - January 27, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 27, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Former Obama Faith Adviser: 'I, Frankly, Am Glad American Civil Religion is Dying'
  • Airline Stops Giving Prayer Cards With Meals
  • Muslim Father Arrested After Sons Convert to Christianity
  • Iraq Falling Back Into 'Authoritarianism'


Former Obama Faith Adviser: 'I, Frankly, Am Glad American Civil Religion is Dying'

Shaun Casey, the religious affairs adviser to President Obama during his 2008 campaign, said this week at a panel discussion on "God and Politics" that the demise of religious society in America was a good thing, reports. "I, frankly, am glad American civil religion is dying," said Casey, an associate professor of Christian ethics at D.C.'s Wesley Theological Seminary. "But it does raise the practical question, what does bind us together in some way as a country? We need some substitute for that and I don't think we've found it yet." Casey was hired by Obama's campaign in June 2008 to "focus on outreach to evangelical voters," although he had been informally advising the campaign for a year prior.

Airline Stops Giving Prayer Cards With Meals

According to CBN News, Alaska Airlines will soon stop its 30-year tradition of giving prayer cards to passengers with their flight meals. The prayer cards featured verses from the Old Testament book of Psalms, and were started as a way to distinguish the airline from competitors, but "some [customers] didn't feel religion was appropriate on the plane and preferred not to receive one," said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. "Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice," CEO Bill Ayer and president Brad Tilden said. Alaska Airlines stopped serving meals in coach class in 2006, and since then, only passengers in first class received the Bible messages.

Muslim Father Arrested After Sons Convert to Christianity

Somali Islamists arrested a Muslim father Jan. 14 after two of his teenage sons converted to Christianity late last year, International Christian Concern reports. Members of the radical Islamic group al Shabaab accused Mo'alim Mohamud Aw-Omar of "failing to raise his sons as good Muslims" because "good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity." Aw-Omar, who is still a Muslim, said he should not be accused of failing his duties because his sons -- who fled home after their conversion -- had memorized the Qur'an, fasted and prayed regularly. The Islamists have reportedly refused to release Aw-Omar until his sons return home, which is unlikely since leaving Islam is a crime punishable by death in Somalia. Islamic extremists have killed many Christian converts in Somalia, but this is the first confirmed case of a parent being arrested for the conversion of children.

Iraq Falling Back Into 'Authoritarianism'

Human Rights Watch said last week that Iraq is reverting into authoritarianism and becoming a police state since the complete U.S. withdrawal of troops, despite U.S. claims of establishing a functioning democracy there, USA TODAY reports. "Iraq cracked down harshly during 2011 on freedom of expression and assembly,"HRW said in a statement. Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director, said, "Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism as its security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists and torture detainees." HRW added that Iraq remained dangerous for journalists and civilians alike, as well as extremely restrictive on women's rights. "Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy, the reality is that it left behind a budding police state," Whitson said.

Publication date: January 27, 2012