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Religion Today Summaries - November 9, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 9, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Obama, Sarkozy Rip Israeli Prime Minister in Open Mic Blunder
  • Poll: Most Democrats Seldom or Never Attend Church
  • 'It's a Christmas Tree,' Not a Holiday Tree
  • Muslim Radicals Kill 150 in Nigeria, Goal is Sharia


Obama, Sarkozy Rip Israeli Prime Minister in Open Mic Blunder

Israeli news agency Ynetnews reports that microphones accidentally left on after the G20 summit in France last week picked up a private conversation between U.S. president Barack Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy in which both men badmouthed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sarkozy told Obama that Netanyahu was a "liar" and that he "can't stand" him, and Obama responded: "You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day." According to a report, journalists present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep quiet about the comments, but the French website Arrêt sur images broke the story Tuesday. A Reuters reporter who was present at G20 confirmed the veracity of the remarks.

Poll: Most Democrats Seldom or Never Attend Church

A majority of Democrats -- 52 percent -- say they seldom or never go to church, according to Gallup data published this week, CNSNews.com reports. Twenty percent of Democrats said they went to church nearly weekly or monthly, while 27 percent said they went every week. As for Republicans, 38 percent said they seldom or never went, while 21 percent said they went nearly weekly or monthly and 40 percent said they went every week. According to the data, Democrats are less religious than the typical American and Republicans are more religious, Gallup says. A related study shows that self-professed conservatives now outnumber self-professed liberals in the United States, 42 percent to 21 percent.

It's Not a Holiday Tree, 'It's a Christmas Tree'

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday that the 30-foot-tall evergreen in Wisconsin's Capitol Rotunda is a Christmas tree, not a "holiday tree" as it's been referred to for the past 25 years, the Chicago Tribune reports. It was called a Christmas tree from its first display in 1916 until 1985, when politicians conceded to concerns about government endorsing religion and started calling it a holiday tree instead. The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which opposes the term "Christmas tree," called Walker's decision rude and insensitive to non-Christians, saying it would imply that "the governor chooses one religion over another;" Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, confirmed that the designation and change from past practices was intentional. "It's a Christmas tree," Werwie said. "In all honesty, I don't know what more to say about it." In past years, displays from a variety of religions have been set up in the Capitol rotunda, including a menorah and a sign from the Freedom From Religion Foundation which calls religion "superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Muslim Radicals Kill 150 in Nigeria, Goal is Sharia

At least 150 people have been killed in northern Nigeria by Muslim extremists from the Boko Haram terrorist group, and the group has warned of more attacks to come, International Christian Concern reports. The Islamic group, which has centered its attacks on churches, police stations and mosques, "has repeatedly said that it wants to establish a new Nigeria, where a strict version of sharia law will be the law of the land," said Jonathan Racho of ICC. A spokesman of Boko Haram said the extremists would continue attacking until security forces left them alone, and local police have responded by strengthening security around the cities where the attacks have occurred. Christians in the city of Damaturu, despite their church buildings being bombed and burnt, defied the security panic Sunday and held their services in open air at the premises; one member reported that everything "went on hitch-free."

Publication date: November 9, 2011