Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Pope Warns against Excluding God from Science
Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday cautioned against excluding God from the pursuit of knowledge, saying that without God discoveries can become problematic and dangerous. The pope strayed from his prepared remarks to underline the theme of his speech - God's relationship with mankind as expressed in Psalms 143. "It is important in our time that we do not forget God, with all the other discoveries which we have gleaned in the meantime, which are many. But they can all become problematic, even dangerous if the fundamental knowledge is lacking, that which gives us meaning and orientation for everything, the knowledge of God the creator," Benedict said. The pope's remarks in November that the universe was made by an "intelligent project" were hailed by advocates of "intelligent design," who hold that the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power. Proponents of the theory are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism - a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation - camouflaged in scientific language and does not belong in science curriculum.
Pakistani Drops ‘Blasphemy’ Charge in Sangla Hill Case
A Compass Direct release reports that a Pakistani Muslim in the Punjabi town of Sangla Hill dropped formal charges last week against a Christian he had accused of setting fire to pages of the Quran. Mohammed Saleem’s accusation last November triggered a violent reprisal from local Muslims, destroying four churches and landing Yousaf Masih in jail for allegedly desecrating the Quran. As part of a reconciliation agreement reached by local Muslim and Christian leaders on January 5, Saleem signed an affidavit declaring Masih innocent. Local Christian leaders agreed not to press charges against the mob of 2,000 Muslims who attacked the town’s Christian community. Police have held 88 rioters in custody since the assault. It is not yet clear how the agreement will affect legal proceedings. Bail has been denied to the 88 rioters, and Masih also remains under arrest.
Study: SmallChristian CollegesBecoming More Popular Choice
An Agape Press article states a growing number of students are opting to attend small Christian colleges and universities instead of large public institutions. Enrollment at the more than 100 evangelical schools belonging to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) has increased 71 percent since 1990. During that same time frame, public college enrollment increased by only 13 percent. Council spokesman Nate Mouttet says students are looking for "a spiritual and academic greenhouse" that embraces their faith and offers it a place to grow. According to a UCLA study, college students cite as important the quality of the campuses; academic freedom; and “the unique aspect that our campuses embrace Christian faith,” Mouttet said. The combination works together for students in that “they can honestly challenge themselves to think about evolution in a science classroom and… about foreign affairs or world policy from several different perspectives rather than… [having to concede] this is the way it is, and if you don't agree with it you're not academically sound or up to snuff." In order to become a member of CCCU, schools must be intentional about making the connection between faith and learning, and they must have hiring practices that require their faculty and staff to be Christians.
Surveys Show Pastors Claim Congregants Are Committed to God, but Congregants Deny It
How committed to God are Americans? Two new national surveys conducted by The Barna Group indicate that there is a huge gap between the perception of pastors and the reality of people’s devotion to God. While interviewing 627 Protestant pastors, the Barna study discovered that pastors believe a large majority of their congregants deem their faith in God to be the highest priority in their life. On average, pastors contend that 70% of the adults in their church consider their personal faith in God to transcend all other priorities. In contrast, 1002 adults were asked the same question about their top priority in life, but only 15% placed their faith in God at the top of their priority list. To make an apples-to-apples comparison, the survey isolated those who attend Protestant churches and found that even among that segment of adults, not quite one out of every four (23%) named their faith in God as their top priority in life.