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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 21, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 21, 2007

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

  • Numerous Nativity Scenes Vandalized Nationwide
  • College is a Spiritual Quest for Many Students
  • Islamic Bloc Scores 'Defamation of Religions' Resolution at UN
  • Plan for Creationist Theme Park Draws Fire


Numerous Nativity Scenes Vandalized Nationwide
With Dec. 25 only days away, CNSNews.com reports a central image in the celebration of Christmas - the manger scene featuring replicas of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus - has become the focus of attacks by vandals and leaders of "the secular Left," Christian groups charged on Wednesday. While the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights was erecting a nativity scene in New York City's Central Park, the group issued a news release condemning three dozen instances in which manger scenes were vandalized or stolen from Antioch, Calif., to Leesburg, Va., this Christmas season. "In perhaps the sickest incident, a public school coach in Marietta, Ga., drove students around the area in his pickup truck, instructing them to thrash Christmas displays after dark," League said. During their Dec. 8 vandalism spree, 46-year-old John Hayes and several middle school students damaged a number of Christmas displays, let the air out of inflatable figures and rearranged plastic reindeer into X-rated sexual positions. According to the WGCL TV, Hayes has been charged with trespassing, contributing to the delinquency of minors and reckless conduct.

College is a Spiritual Quest for Many Students
Assist News Service reports that a new study confirms what a ministry to students on college campuses has known for some time. New research by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) of the University of California, Los Angeles shows an increase in interest in spiritual issues among college students as they move from their freshman to junior years in school. The information released by HERI confirms the experiences of InterVarsity staff working on 580 college campuses around the U.S.  The results of the HERI 2007 study of college juniors, compared with results of a 2004 survey of college freshmen, found 50% of the juniors saying, “integrating spirituality into my life” was an important goal, compared with 42% three years ago. Juniors who said “attaining inner harmony” was an important goal jumped to 63%, up from 49% three years ago. However, the increase in spirituality doesn’t automatically translate into compliance with traditional religious practices. The proportion of students who believe in God, though high, dropped from 77% of the freshmen to 74% of the juniors. And regular church attendance among freshman, 44%, dropped to 24% among juniors.

Islamic Bloc Scores 'Defamation of Religions' Resolution at UN
Alongside a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly this week calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, the world body passed a raft of other human rights-related motions. One of them, introduced by Islamic nations, focuses on combating the "defamation of religions." Resolutions on the human rights situation in North Korea and Iran also passed says CNSNew.com, although dozens of countries -- including human rights violators Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe -- voted against the motions. An annual resolution on "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" also passed by an overwhelming margin, with only the United States, Israel, and three small Pacific island nations voting "no." There were four abstentions. The motion on defamation of religions has been a priority for the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) since 9/11. It took on new impetus following a Danish newspaper's publication in 2005 of cartoons satirizing Mohammed.

Plan for Creationist Theme Park Draws Fire
According to CNSNews.com, a British charity has drawn national attention -- and come under attack -- over plans to build a theme park, including a television studio, to promote creationism. The AH Trust said in its annual report that it wants to build a $7-million interactive studio to produce Christian films and television shows, partly to draw British teenagers away from anti-social behavior, including binge drinking. The charity said its members, several of whom are drawn from the media sector, had become disgusted at the sex and violence available on British television, along with the decline in churchgoing in society. In fighting that trend, the planned studio is projected to attract 5,000 people nightly for tapings of Christian-oriented shows, as well as give teenagers a chance to learn TV production skills.