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Religion Today Summaries - December 22, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 22, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:

At Christian Colleges, Science Takes on Faith in Classroom

Tribune News Services


As the battle over the teaching of biological evolution buffets public high schools, a more delicate challenge faces many of the nation's Christian colleges and universities: helping students bridge the growing gap between modern science and fundamentalist faith. Christian schools of all types find that many of their students come from a creationist tradition, meaning they tend to see the assertion of the common ancestry of all life and the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection as faith-threatening concepts. Some extremely conservative colleges and universities, such as Patrick Henry College in Virginia and Bob Jones University in South Carolina, approach all studies from a strict biblical perspective. But many Christ-centered institutions have invested in cutting-edge science programs and facilities. "Imagine telling a very devout creationist that evolution is real, but it doesn't endanger their faith," said Richard Colling, a biology professor at Olivet Nazarene University. "That's exactly the journey many of our college students begin when they come into my class." Toni Moran, 21, a senior biology major, said, "Personally, I think there's such a divide among Christians that we're forced to choose evolution or creationism. I think so many Christians are afraid that if they even look at the scientific evidence, they'll lose their faith," noting that "'evolution' is a taboo word in my church and in my home." But several of the students said that Christians who support evolution are sometimes derided as being weak in faith and bound for hell.


Navy Chaplain Begins Hunger Strike

Christian Wire Service


Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt made his announcement in front of the White House at a Tuesday morning news conference. Admirals from the Pentagon have stripped Rev. Klingenschmitt of his uniform and forbid him to pray in the name of Jesus in public unless he is wearing civilian clothes. Chaplain Klingenschmitt is asking President Bush to issue an Executive Order allowing for military chaplains to pray according to their individual faith traditions. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also announced today that he is joining Rev. Klingenschmitt in his hunger strike to support religious freedom. Chaplain Klingenschmitt, states, "Today I'm beginning a hunger strike, and this communion bread will be my last meal, as I call upon the President to protect religious freedom and issue an executive order allowing chaplains to pray according to their faith traditions. All this week I will praying in front of the White House at 6:00 p.m. for President Bush to have the courage to sign this order."


Russian Religious Repression “Similar to that of a Previous Era”

ASSIST News Service


Russia is currently experiencing a resurgence of religious repression similar to that of an earlier period in that country's history. "Our country, Russia experiences a very difficult time now. In many respects it is very similar to the 1920-1930 period in Russian history," writes Isabel Du Toit, Head of Prayer Ministry for the Association of Christian Churches. "During that time Secret Services were trying to destroy churches in Russia. Their main tactics was to divide the Church trough its special agents inside the Church and to slander against the leaders of the Church," DuToit says. "Today we face a new wave of slander against Christian leaders in Russia. There are waves of gossip to discredit Russian main Christian leaders. Du Toit says the U.S. Congress in its resolution #190 "…urged the Russian Federation to ensure full protection of freedoms for all religious communities without distinction, where registered and unregistered, and end the harassment of unregistered religious groups by the security apparatus and other governmental agencies." DuToit asks concerned Christians in the United States to "please stand with us in prayer to end this tendency and prevent the repetition of these happenings."


Prayers Make Better Presents for Priests than Most Items

Catholic News Service


How many rosaries, crucifixes and Bibles does a priest receive for Christmas? Answer: enough to open a Catholic book and gift shop. Priests do not need any more sacramentals as gifts; prayers from the faithful are the only gifts they need. "Your prayers for us are always welcome," said Dominican Father Andre Joseph LaCasse of Columbus. Father Homer Blubaugh, a diocesan priest, also especially appreciates it when he receives prayers. "I get Christmas cards or intention cards that let me know a family has gotten together and prayed for me. I really like that." Office administrator Mary Souder offered one considerate idea -- parishioners inviting their parish priest to spend the holiday with them. "Most priests are often assigned far from family and loved ones," Souder said. Personal items, such as shaving and grooming items, are always welcome, and even a gift certificate for a car wash is a good idea, said Carolyn Smith, parish administrator. Another favorite is giving a donation in a priest's name to a favorite charity or a parish's building fund. But the best gift of all is to pray for vocations to the priesthood, said Amy Rohyas. "Our priests are exhausted," she said. "We really need more priests."