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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 3, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 3, 2011

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

  • Iraqi Christians Face an Uncertain New Year
  • Poll: Most Americans Believe Religious Influence Waning
  • Religiously Motivated Attacks Leave Great Need in Nigeria
  • Poll: Many Americans Still Reject Evolution

Iraqi Christians Face an Uncertain New Year

Christians in Iraq recieved a violence-free Christmas, but they are not relaxing yet, Christian Today reports. Dozens of Iraqi Christians have been killed in recent months, some even targeted in their homes. The international director of Barnabas Fund, Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, said, "It is like living in a prison camp. You could leave the house but you don't know what is going to happen. Because of the targeted attacks, there is a chance that Christians venturing out to work or onto the streets will be attacked or killed. The fear is effectively leaving Christians stranded in their homes." Barnabus Fund is providing physical assistance to Christians who have left Iraq for places such as Syria and Lebanon, but Sookhdeo says that doesn't make their choices easier. "I don't think we can say to Christians in situations where they are facing kidnapping and death that you've got to stay. If they think it is right for them to leave then we've got to help them. Equally we've got to say to those who want to stay, we will continue to assist and provide for you and argue your case."

Poll: Most Americans Believe Religious Influence Waning

Seven in 10 Americans believe that religion is losing its influence on American culture and life, according to a Gallup poll. This is the largest percentage to agree with that statement since Gallup began the poll 53 years ago. The findings show a surprising reversal from nine years ago, when seven in 10 Americans said they thought religious influence was actually on the rise in America. Today, just 18 percent of those polled agreed with that statement. More than half of Americans still rank religion as "very important" in their lives, but are less likely to attend church than Americans were when polling began in 1950s. Sixty-one percent of Americans today hold a church or synagogue membership.

Religiously Motivated Attacks Leave Great Need in Nigeria

Christians in Nigeria acknowledge their country's history of violence is complicated, but say the Christmas Eve bombings were simply religious. "There are always disputes over land," said Rae Burnett, vice president and Africa director of Christian Aid Mission, according to The Christian Post. But the situation is "political in the sense that Muslims wand to take over Nigeria," she stated. "They want their way. They want more Sharia (Islamic law)." Nigeria is divided evenly between the North and South, Muslim and Christian. At least 80 people were killed in the bombings inside the city of Jos, Plateau state's densely populated capital. The city lies on the faultline between the two ethnic and religious groups. The radical Muslim group Boko Haram, which has a history of violence against Christians, has claimed responsibility for the bombings in Jos and the church attacks.

Poll: Many Americans Still Reject Evolution

A new poll shows that a sizable percentage of Americans don't believe in evolution, Baptist Press reports, despite its widespread acceptance asfact in the mainstream media and the academic realm. The Gallup poll of 1,019 adults found that 40 percent of Americans agree that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" -- a statement in direct conflict with evolutionary theory and one that closely mirrors a conservative interpretation of the Genesis creation account. Another 38 percent believe "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life" but that God guided the process, and 16 percent believe humans developed over millions of years without God playing a role.