Religion Today Summaries - May 10, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 10, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Christian Groups Provide Relief to Thousands in Africa
  • Science and Faith: Allies Not Enemies
  • New Jersey Parish Forms 'Peace Cell,' Prays for End to Terrorism, War
  • Most Americans Believe Bible over 'Da Vinci,' Poll Shows

Christian Groups Provide Relief to Thousands in Africa

Christian relief groups are offering aid to thousands of drought victims throughout Africa who continue to suffer despite recent rain. The Christian Post reports that in Ethiopia alone, there are an estimated 2.6 million people in need of emergency relief assistance due to lack of rain. World Vision plans to begin providing relief to communities in Ethiopia this week with preliminary food distribution taking place in Boset. Some 20,000 Ethiopians affected by the drought will receive food relief this week as well as non-food interventions such as health, water and sanitation in these areas. Other groups working in concert to aid the situation include: Action by Churches Together, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Melane Yesus, Christian Aid, DanChurchAid, and Norwegian Church Aid.

Science and Faith: Allies Not Enemies

Science and faith are not necessarily enemies, which is not news to the folks at Reasons To Believe (RTB), says a release from Christian Wire Service. Astronomer Hugh Ross, founder and president of RTB, explains, “Attempts by both public educators and church ministers to keep science and religion in separate compartments ends up castrating both the scientific and theological enterprises." Fuz Rana, a biochemist at RTB adds, “Science is a powerful tool for testing different religious and scientific ideas and models. Instead of holding seminars to help teachers know what to say when challenged by their students about evolution, we should be giving them the scientific tools they need to help students dig deeper and put the different models to the test.” RTB scientists are not in favor of teaching intelligent design because it doesn't "identify the designer and consequently cannot produce an adequate explanation for the record of nature,” contends Ross. RTB has spent the past twenty years building a testable creation model, parts of which have been published in several books that have been widely acclaimed by scientists and theologians both inside and outside the Christian community.

New Jersey Parish Forms 'Peace Cell,' Prays for End to Terrorism, War

According to a Catholic News Service story, a group of parishioners at St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln Park, NJ is trying to turn the term "terror cell" inside out by forming a "peace cell" and using prayer to promote peace. Led by four Franciscan Sisters of Peace, about 20 parishioners meet on Sundays to spend 24 minutes praying for an end to violence around the world and close to home. Franciscan Sister Ellen Byrnes said, "We want to counter the terror cells, which people are concerned about. Our focus is to pray for peace and to trust in the power of prayer. In this time of fear and terror, the sisters believe that prayer is an untapped source needed in our world." Father Philip LeBeau, St. Joseph's pastor, called the peace cell "a great idea. To get 20 people out on a Sunday is great. It's short, and people come when they can. They get together and pray for peace the way they want to." Originally, the Sisters had planned to devote themselves by praying in their convent. Instead, they decided to extend an invitation to the parish.

Most Americans Believe Bible over 'Da Vinci,' Poll Shows

Despite sensational reports to the contrary, most Americans are not buying the key theological premises of The Da Vinci Code says a poll commissioned by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Baptist Press reports that NAMB commissioned Zogby International to conduct the poll, which involved a sample of 1,200 adults surveyed by telephone in March. 23% of Americans have read the novel, while 43% said they were familiar with the content. Among those who had read it, more than 60% believed that the Bible is closer to the truth, while only 10% believed Dan Brown's novel is more truthful. Among the entire sample, 72% believed that the Bible was closer to the truth. “The most striking result from the survey is that after either reading or hearing about The Da Vinci Code, 44% of respondents were more likely to seek the truth by studying the Bible, while only 20% were less likely to study the Bible,” said Ed Stetzer, missiologist and director of NAMB’s Center for Missional Research.