Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 10, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 10, 2008

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

  • Christian Sites Targeted in Mosul, Iraq
  • Notre Dame Launches New Ph.D. in Peace Studies
  • Indonesian Muslims Remain Tolerant, Former President Says
  • Pro-Evolution Book Says Science and God Compatible

Christian Sites Targeted in Mosul, Iraq

ASSIST News Service reports that Iraq's minority Christian population has been targeted in a series of apparently coordinated attacks in Mosul. According to the BBC, bombs exploded outside three churches and a monastery in the northern Iraqi city on Sunday, wounding four people. “The explosions struck on Epiphany Sunday - an important date in the Eastern Christian calendar,” said the BBC story. “Christians form around 3% of the Iraqi population although many have left, fleeing religious persecution." Additonally, four people were wounded in a bomb attack outside Mosul's Assyrian church of the Virgin Mary, and “the third explosion was outside a monastery in the centre of Mosul. Two hours later, two bombs exploded outside the Chaldean church of Maskanta.” Mosul is traditionally a religiously mixed city.

Notre Dame Launches New Ph.D. in Peace Studies

According to a release from Religion News Service, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame has established a Ph.D. program in peace studies. One of the few of its kind in the world, the program welcomes applications from scholars of all religious and secular traditions for its first doctoral class in fall 2008. Students can pursue a Ph.D. in history and peace studies, political science and peace studies, psychology and peace studies, or sociology and peace studies. "The program responds to the acute need for more rigorous interdisciplinary study of peace and war," said Robert C. Johansen, director of doctoral studies at the Kroc Institute. "By preparing leading scholars committed to finding solutions to the armed conflict and political violence that cause so much suffering worldwide, Notre Dame will set the agenda for path-breaking academic work in building peace."

Indonesian Muslims Remain Tolerant, Former President Says

According to ASSIST News Service, a news report carried on states Muslims in Indonesia are generally tolerant in spite of emerging radical groups espousing violence, former president Abdurrahman Wahid said. Wahid told UCA News, “Muslims in Indonesia put mutual interest ahead of their own interest.” He pointed out that even though 88 percent of the country's 218 million people are Muslims, Indonesians did not build their country as an Islamic state. The national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity), reflects this, he said. Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, headed Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, before serving as the country's president 1999-2001. Wahid noted that a May survey conducted by Wahid Institute, a socio-religious research and advocacy group he established, found 95.4 percent of Muslims see inter-religious tolerance as important for a peaceful Indonesia. Of the 1,047 Muslims in 33 provinces surveyed, 84.4 percent agreed they need to offer peace and tolerance to believers of other religions. 'Only' 10.6 percent disagreed.

Pro-Evolution Book Says Science and God Compatible

The Christian Post reports that a new book produced by scientific advisers to the government in support of evolution says science and religion can be compatible as two separate ways of human understanding, and it is possible for one person to embrace both. "Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience," reads Science, Evolution and Creationism, published by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. The former is empirical and the latter is not. "Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist,” states the book, asserting that one does not have to abandon belief in God to accept evolution. It is the third pro-evolution book put forth by the scientific organization but the first where the panel of authors addressed the religion question for an intended lay public audience.