3 - Unsettling days for Egypt's Christians
The first round of voting in Egypt's election for President has concluded, and two candidates will be vying for the title later this month. The two candidates are: Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammed Morsi and independent candidate Ahmad Shafik, who was former president Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. His candidacy may have been damaged by the announcement on Saturday that Mubarak, who resigned under pressure last year, was sentenced to life in prison as a result of deaths of some of the protestors in that uprising, one of the series of "Arab Spring" instances.
According to Crosswalk's ReligionToday.com: ASSIST News Service reports that many Islamists, fearing Shafik if he comes to power, are blaming Coptic Christians for voting for him and bringing him into the runoff. Copts have been accused of being "traitors" and "anti-revolutionary" for voting to bring back the old regime. Coptic human rights lawyer Athanasious Williams is quoted as saying that regardless of who wins the election, persecution of Christians will continue in Egypt -- the question is just how bad it will be.
The website also reports that Morsi has declared that he will "achieve the Islamic conquest of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya [Islamic tax required of non-Muslims]," according to the Gatestone Institute. Morsi is quoted as saying that, "The second Muslim conqueror will be Muhammad Morsi, and history will record it." When asked what he thought about many Coptic Christians voting for his opponent, Morsi reportedly said, "They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate."
And, the Christian Examiner reports that an Egyptian judge has sentenced 12 Coptic Christians to life in prison for their alleged part in a riot that left two Muslims and one Christian dead in the village of Abu-Qurgas. Eight Muslims charged with the same crimes in the same riot were acquitted. That May 21st ruling has added to fears that justice will continue to elude the country's Christian minority. A second, lesser-known ruling, however, may be a cause for hope. In that ruling, an Egyptian court upheld a death sentence against a police officer who, in 2011, boarded a train, attacked a group of Christians and shot one dead. Samia Sidhom, managing editor of Watani newspaper in Cairo, said the ruling went against "an unwritten rule" that judges cannot give the death penalty to a Muslim who kills a Christian.
Coptic Christians didn't have it so well when Hosni Mubarak was in power, and so voting for his surrogate would no doubt have been a difficult exercise. But, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood majority in the Egyptian Parliament are likely to implement Sharia, or Islamic, Law, which would make life even more challenging for these brave believers. We're reminded that living the Christian life in many Middle Eastern countries is an invitation to persecution, and that we need to be in prayer for the believers in that region.
2 - Appeals court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional
On Thursday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found a way, or created a way, to declare a portion of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. By rejecting traditional arguments, the court in essence crafted a new path to grant the same benefits to same-sex partners that spouses in traditional marriage receive. According to Liberty Counsel, the ruling dealt with Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law and federal benefits, specifically joint federal tax returns, Social Security survivor benefits, and federal employee health insurance and medical benefits.
The U.S. House of Representatives now has the responsibility to defend DOMA, as the result of the Obama Administration saying that it would no longer defend the act, that was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. The House, and its attorney Paul Clement, are likely to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Christian legal advocacy organizations were swift to weigh in on the ruling. Mat Staver, the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said:
“This ruling makes no sense. A state cannot dictate the kind of benefits the federal government must provide...If a state recognizes polygamy, does that mean that the federal government must also recognize multiple spouses? Absolutely not! This decision is the proverbial tail wagging the dog.”Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt stated:
“Society should protect and strengthen marriage, not undermine it. The federal Defense of Marriage Act provides that type of protection, and we trust the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse the 1st Circuit’s erroneous decision.”And, Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, commented:
"Liberal federal judges in Massachusetts and California have resorted to making up legal standards in order to justify redefining marriage...They realize the legal precedent doesn't allow them to redefine marriage, so they are making up new standards to justify imposing their values on the rest of the nation. It is clear that the US Supreme Court is going to have to resolve this issue once and for all."There is seemingly growing opposition to the traditional, Biblical view of marriage, but the sociological research shows that marriage is an essential building block of a stable society, so the government should be interested in protecting it. From a moral and spiritual standpoint, stable marriages contribute to the preservation of the family, the general happiness of the couples, and an environment best-suited for the raising of children.
1 - House fails to get enough votes to ban sex-selection abortion
The U.S. House of Representatives had a unique opportunity this past week to outlaw an entire category of abortion - for the purpose of gender selection. Even though a sizable majority of the House voted in favor of the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA), a 2/3-majority was necessary under the rules, and the vote fell short of passage, with a 246-168 margin. The bill faced rejection in the Senate and a Presidential veto, but it does get lawmakers on record regarding their position on terminating a human life just because the unborn child is female. Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio said, according to LifeNews.com: "Abortion is wrong at any level, but to condone someone wanting to end a life based solely on the sex of their child is horrendous. This is an assault on women. This is gendercide."
This bill came to a vote the same week that the pro-life invesigative media group Live Action released 2 undercover videos shot at a Planned Parenthood center in Austin, Texas, in which a Planned Parenthood employee counsels a woman to have an abortion because it would be born as a girl. According to LiveAction.com:
The Planned Parenthood staffer suggests that the woman get on Medicaid in order to pay for an ultrasound to determine the gender of her baby, even though she plans to use the knowledge for an elective abortion. She also tells the woman to “just continue and try again” for the desired gender after aborting a girl, and adds, “Good luck, and I hope that you do get your boy.”
“The search-and-destroy targeting of baby girls through prenatal testing and abortion is a pandemic that is spreading across the globe,” notes Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action. “Research proves that sex-selective abortion has now come to America. The abortion industry, led by Planned Parenthood, is a willing participant.”According to Live Action, there are thousands of missing girls in various nations around the world due to sex-selection abortions. But, in the name of preserving a "woman's right to choose", a significant number of lawmakers have stood in solidarity with those who accept the termination of a life because she is female. Opponents of the bill said that the supporters were carrying on a "war on women", but doesn't that ring hollow when you are discussing actually taking the lives of females?