Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Boko Haram Threatens to Kidnap Christian Women in Nigeria
- Atheists Likely to Outnumber Christians in England in 20 Years
- Utah Legislature Passes Abstinence Education Bill
- Oregon Library Bans Christian Group
Boko Haram Threatens to Kidnap Christian Women in Nigeria
The African militant Islamist group Boko Haram has followed up its declaration of "war" on Nigerian Christians with a threat to kidnap Christian women as part of its latest campaign of terror, Barnabas Fund reports. On March 6, two days after a Boko Haram spokesman said the group was planning coordinated attacks to "eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country," the same spokesman said, "We are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women." He said they would not harm or sexually assault the women but would "demand as ransom that the families leave our Islamic areas." Boko Haram, which has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria since 2009, has stepped up its attempts to drive Christians out of the area in recent months with increasingly violent and frequent attacks.
Atheists Likely to Outnumber Christians in England in 20 Years
According to a new study, Christianity is waning in England and could be outnumbered by nonbelievers within 20 years, the Religion News Service reports. The study, conducted by the British Parliament, showed there were 41 million Christians in Britain, down nearly 8 percent since 2004. Meanwhile, the number of nonbelievers was 13.4 million, up 49 percent over the same period. Researchers at the House of Commons Library concluded Christianity had declined to 69 percent of the population while atheists had increased to 22 percent. "If these populations continue to shrink and grow by the same number of people each year, the number of people with no religion will overtake the number of Christians in Great Britain in 20 years," the study said. It also found that from 2004-2010, the number of Muslims in England grew by 37 percent, to 2.6 million. The Hindu and Buddhist populations also grew substantially, and the number of Jews slightly decreased.
Utah Legislature Passes Abstinence Education Bill
A bill mandating that schools teach abstinence education or nothing at all is one step away from becoming law in Utah after the state Senate passed it on a 19-10 vote March 6, WORLD News Service reports. Under HB 363, schools that choose to teach sex education are not allowed to give detailed instructions on intercourse, homosexuality, contraception or sex outside of marriage, but rather must teach children that sexual abstinence until marriage is the healthiest choice. State Rep. Bill Wright based the bill on the premise that parents -- not teachers or representatives from Planned Parenthood -- are best suited to teach children the things they feel they need to know. The state House of Representatives passed it on a 45-28-2 vote in late February; Gov. Gary Herbert has not indicated whether he will sign the law when it reaches his desk.
Oregon Library Bans Christian Group
It's not unusual for religious-liberty law firms to get involved when people are told their Christian faith can't be expressed in public, but in a new federal lawsuit, it was none other than a religious-liberty law firm that found itself denied access to a meeting room in a public library in Oregon because its members would be discussing issues from a biblical perspective. WORLD News Service reports that Liberty Counsel was hoping to hold a biblical education seminar for employees and volunteers at the Seaside Public Library in late 2010, but was denied by the board of trustees who cited a policy against allowing "religious services or proselytizing" on its property. When Liberty Counsel tried again last December, it was told the same thing and informed there was no point in making further requests. "Of all places, a public library is supposed to welcome multiple viewpoints," said Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver. Since Liberty Counsel wasn't trying to hold a worship service, Staver said the library's policy violated the U.S. Constitution. "They picked the wrong organization to discriminate against," he said.
Publication date: March 12, 2012