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Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 23, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 23, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Unborn Children Counted for White House Tours
  • Court: Town Didn't Try Hard Enough to Find Non-Christian Prayers
  • Egyptian Court Gives Life Sentences to 12 Christians
  • New York Senate Passes Bill Closing Child Porn Loophole


Unborn Children Counted for White House Tours

Unborn children receive security clearances at the White House, even if they have no protection elsewhere in  D.C., Baptist Press reports. In an email newsletter sent May 7 to members of Congress and other recipients, the White House Visitors Office outlined the process of registering unborn babies for tours. "We have received a number of calls regarding how to enter security information for a baby that has not yet been born," wrote Ellie Schafer, director of the Visitors Office. "Crazy as it may sound, you MUST include the baby in the overall count of guests in the tour. It's an easy process." The email went on to describe the process of entering the unborn child's security information, and stated that "once the baby is born, you should send an email to the [Visitors Office] with the tour request ID number, the baby's given name, their actual birthday and gender." Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee said it was "ironic that President Obama's staff recognizes the existence of unborn babies for purposes of providing security within the White House -- yet there is no indication that President Obama has any problem with the fact that throughout the District of Columbia, abortion is now legal for any reason up to the moment of birth. Notably, the newsletter provides no guidance on what the staff should do if an unborn baby is first registered for security purposes, but then aborted."

Court: Town Didn't Try Hard Enough to Find Non-Christian Prayers

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a New York town board's practice of opening its monthly meetings with prayer was unconstitutional because the town didn't try hard enough to find non-Christian speakers -- even if that meant going outside its borders to recruit them, Christianity Today reports. The town of Greece has opened its board meetings with prayer since 1999, and all the prayers were offered by Christians until 2008, when two residents complained about the tradition. The town had representatives of other religions offer four of the next 12 prayers, but the residents filed suit once the prayers went back to being Christian-only in 2009 and 2010. A lower court sided with the town, but three Second Circuit judges reversed its ruling, stating that "an objective, reasonable person would believe that the town's prayer practice had the effect of affiliating the town with Christianity" and that the town's "process for selecting prayer-givers virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint" because it didn't actively solicit non-Christian speakers or -- given that the town has no non-Christian congregations within its borders -- go elsewhere to recruit them.

Egyptian Court Gives Life Sentences to 12 Christians

Egypt's State Security Court sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison Monday while acquitting eight Muslims for their roles in an April 2011 fight in Minya that killed two Muslims and destroyed Christian homes and businesses, CBN News reports. The Christians were found guilty of possessing illegal weapons, sowing public discord and shooting two Muslims to death, while the Muslims were freed of charges of possessing illegal weapons and burning down Christian homes and businesses. "The fact that the Muslims were acquitted means that the attorney general's investigation from the beginning was faulty and unfair because there was evidence to prove these men had burned Christian property," said human rights researcher Ishak Ibrahim. The violence began when a Muslim minibus driver, angered by a speed bump in front of a Christian-owned villa, got into a fight with security guards, then rounded up a mob to protest the beating he received. Christians, fearing for their safety, fired from their rooftops at the mob, killing two Muslims and wounding two others. The convicted men have no recourse for appeal from the State Security Court outside of the military ruling council, which has done little to protect Christians from Islamist attacks since Egypt's January 2011 revolution.

New York Senate Passes Bill Closing Child Porn Loophole

The New York State Senate passed a bill May 15 making it illegal to view child pornography, in response to a recent court ruling that said simply looking at such content -- but not printing or saving it -- was legal, WORLD News Service reports. The bill makes it a felony to "knowingly access with intent to view any obscene performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than sixteen years of age." The bill now moves to the General Assembly, where it is expected to gain approval. In its May 8 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals tossed out two child-pornography counts against a former college professor because the judges didn't consider viewing such content on a computer to be the same as possession. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 15 states have made viewing child pornography a crime after similar court decisions.

Publication date: May 23, 2012