Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Egyptian Parliament: Break Ties With Israel
  • Poll: Most Americans Back Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate
  • Pastor Injured in Violent Attack in Cuba
  • China Restricts Foreign Aid to Religious Charities


Egyptian Parliament: Break Ties With Israel

The Egyptian parliament voted unanimously Monday to support a document declaring Israel its number one enemy, CBN News reports. The document, prepared by the Committee on Arab Affairs, calls for a complete overhaul of Egypt's policies with Israel -- including demanding a total cessation of natural gas exports to Israel, activating an Arab boycott against Israel and all international companies that do business with Israel, and calling for the immediate deportation of Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai and the recall of Egypt's ambassador to Israel. "Egypt after the revolution will never be a friend of the Zionist entity, the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation," the statement read. Since the fall of the Mubarak regime last year, an interim military government has been in place in Egypt, which still maintains diplomatic relations with Israel based on the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. However, as the document indicates, Egypt's new Islamist-dominated parliament is eager to cut ties with the Jewish state.

Poll: Most Americans Back Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate

According to a new poll, a majority of Americans say religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals and universities, should be exempt from the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate, Baptist Press reports. The survey, conducted by CBS News and the New York Times, found that by a 57-36 percent margin, U.S. adults believe religious organizations should have the right to "opt out" of covering birth control for their female employees. The poll did not use the word "abortion," although Christian leaders say the mandate would require employers to cover contraceptives that can cause chemical abortions after fertilization, such as Plan B and "ella." The poll also found that 51 percent of adults believe that any employer -- not just religious ones -- should be able to opt out if they find such coverage objectionable based on religious or moral beliefs. Forty percent disagreed.

Pastor Injured in Violent Attack in Cuba

A Pentecostal pastor in Cuba is recovering from brain damage after he was assaulted while trying to challenge the confiscation of a church truck by Communist authorities, International Christian Concern reports. Pastor Reutilio Columbie, 41, of the Shalom Christian Centre congregation in the city of Moa was attacked Feb. 6 while traveling to the capital of Holguin Province to file a complaint against the confiscation of the vehicle, which he used to transport church members. He was found unconscious in a nearby street several hours after leaving his home and was taken to the hospital with severe brain inflammation. Columbie, who is still dizzy and struggling with speech and memory, says he doesn't remember anything about the attack, but the only missing from his possession were the papers related to the vehicle. "It is believed that the assault was the result of the pastor's decision to challenge the arbitrary confiscation of a church vehicle by the authorities," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a rights group investigating the case.

China Restricts Foreign Aid to Religious Charities

Chinese religious charity groups must now do their work without the help of foreign donations, Christianity Today reports. China's State Administration for Religious Affairs recently endorsed new regulations stating that non-government-affiliated religious charities "should stick to the principle of self-financing, and be free from the influence of external forces." In addition, religious groups "are not allowed to spread their beliefs or undermine national interests" through charitable activities. According to AsiaNews, the aim of the new restrictions "is to stop the flow of money to the Islamic groups and the Tibetans: these groups ... have a strong political aspect that the government wants to slow down at all costs."

Publication date: March 15, 2012