News Update-12/24/12


Egyptians Take to the Streets to Reject Islamist Constitution
Egypt's opposition is leading mass protests to reject the Islamist-backed draft constitution, days after President Morsi claimed victory in the first round of voting amid allegations of polling violations, International Christian Concern reports.

The National Salvation Front, a coalition led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed El Baradei, called for mass demonstrations Tuesday to urge rejection of the constitution, which was finalized by the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly after Christians and secular parties had pulled out of it, alleging marginalization.

Ten of Egypt's 27 districts cast ballots Saturday, Dec. 15-following which the Muslim Brotherhood claimed the constitution was approved by 57 percent of those who voted-and voting in the remaining governorates is scheduled for this coming weekend. The constitution must be approved by more than 50 percent of voters who cast ballots.

According to rights groups, irregularities and violations marred Saturday's voting-including the presence of Muslim Brotherhood members at the polls, women being prevented from voting because they weren't wearing Islamic veils, and Christians being denied entry to polling stations.

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Christian Radio Host Frank Pastore Dies
Christian radio talk show host Frank Pastore died December 17 from injuries suffered Nov. 19 in a motorcycle accident on the I-210 freeway in southern California, the Orange County Register reports.

Pastore, 55, suffered head trauma after being thrown from his motorcycle, and was flown by helicopter to the hospital, where he remained in a coma. Pastore's three-hour daily afternoon program, "The Frank Pastore Show," had aired on KKLA/99.5 FM since 2004, focusing on social and political issues from a Christian perspective. The show received the prestigious National Religious Broadcasters "Long Form Radio Program of the Year" award in 2011.

Pastore, who tells his life story in his book, Shattered: Struck Down but Not Destroyed, was a professional baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds (1979-85) and the Minnesota Twins in 1986, and his testimony about becoming a Christian includes how he was transformed from a "practical atheist" and "evolutionist." Pastore leaves behind a wife and two children.

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Atheist Billboard in Times Square Dubs Jesus a ‘Myth'
The group American Atheists has put up a billboard in Times Square with an anti-Christian message, WORLD News Service reports. The billboard features a picture of Santa Claus and the caption "Keep The Merry!" above a picture of Jesus with the caption "Dump the Myth!"

American Atheists' David Silverman told Fox News: "Most Christians are really atheists who feel trapped in their family's religion. They need not be Christian to enjoy the holiday season." Silverman said a private donor paid more than $25,000 to have the billboard posted above a nightclub in the crossroads of the world for one month, ending Jan. 10, 2013.

"We chose Times Square because it is a place where people go to shop and be festive, which has nothing to do with religion," Silverman said. Lamar Outdoor, the advertising giant that leased the space to Silverman's group, said it wasn't the company's place to censor the message.

Religion Today Summaries

27 Dead, Including 20 Children, in Connecticut Elementary Shooting
Twenty-seven people, including 20 children, were killed Friday when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Associated Press reports. It is the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.

Eighteen children-all between the ages of 5 and 10-and six adults died at the scene. Two more children died at an area hospital. The shooter's mother was also killed at her home before he entered the school.

According to officials, the shooter, Adam Lanza, walked into the school shortly after 9 a.m.; the first 911 calls started ringing in the Newtown emergency service department around 9:30, and local officials quickly requested help from state police. Witnesses described hearing loud popping noises as he fired at students, teachers and administrators, and adults cowering in nearby classrooms counted as many as 100 shots. Lanza took his own life before police could apprehend him.

Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance confirmed all of the shooting took place in two rooms, in one section of the school. "This is a tragedy of unspeakable terms," Gov. Dan Malloy said. "You can never be prepared for this kind of incident. What happened will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted." Sandy Hook Elementary School has around 600 students between kindergarten and fourth grade.

Religion Today Summaries

Nigerian Christians Ask for Prayer at Christmas Amid Attacks
Nigerian Christians are asking American churches to pray they will be safe from attacks this Christmas, CBN News reports. The radical Islamic group Boko Haram is carrying out a war to drive Christians from northern Nigeria, and dozens of Christians have died in bombing attacks during Christmas services the past two years.

Rev. Musa Asake, general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, says he's "very, very worried"-but he says that won't stop Nigerian Christians from going to church on Christmas. He is asking Christians in America to pray that "the Lord will intervene to protect churches."

More than 770 people have been killed in Boko Haram attacks so far this year, making 2012 the worst year of violence attributed to the group.

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Ministry Helps 38 Workers Leave Abortion Clinics
A ministry started by a former Planned Parenthood center director is succeeding in helping abortion clinic workers leave the industry, Baptist Press reports.

And Then There Were None (ATTWN), started by Abby Johnson after her departure from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, has helped 38 workers leave the abortion business, according to a report by Johnson said her organization was helping five workers leave the same clinic in Atlanta, and three already have jobs. It has also assisted three employees of a Houston clinic.

"[W]hen a worker came to us from a late-term abortion clinic in Houston, we were thrilled," Johnson said. "But when she was able to reach out to two workers who were still inside the clinic...and then was able to pull them out with our ministry's help...we were beside ourselves."

Johnson worked at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan for eight years, serving as its director for more than two years. She left her position and became a pro-life advocate in 2009 shortly after witnessing the destruction of a 13-week-old unborn baby as part of an ultrasound-guided abortion she assisted in.

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