Religion Today Summaries - January 5, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 5, 2006

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


In today's edition:

Judge Orders Priest to Prove Jesus' Existence



A dispute between an Italian priest and a militant atheist has led to a court order that the priest show proof of Jesus Christ's historical existence. Luigi Cascioli is a retired agronomist who argues that early Christian writers confused Jesus with John of Gamala, an anti-Roman insurgent. His legal dispute with Father Enrico Righi began three years ago when the priest denounced him in a parish newsletter, the Times of London reported. Cascioli retaliated by charging Righi with "abuse of popular credulity" and "impersonation," which are offenses in Italy. The latter charge comes from his John of Gamala claim. While a judge in Viterbo north of Rome originally declined to hear the case, Cascioli won a legal victory recently when an appeals panel found that the "abusing popular credulity" claim has a reasonable basis. Cascioli argues that, aside from the Christian Gospels, no contemporary histories mention Jesus Christ. He does appear briefly in the works of Tacitus and Suetonius and the Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote decades later. Josephus called him a "wise man" and a "doer of wonderful works."


Passion '06 Kicks Off

The Christian Post


Passion kicked off their anticipated four-day 2006 conference today at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville Tuesday. The sold-out event is expected to draw 18,000 college students from around the nation, who will spend four days learning, "what it means to live all of life for the glory of God." Featured speakers at the event include Passion founder Louie Giglio, prolific author and pastor John Piper, and founder of Living Proof Ministries Beth Moore, with recording artists Charlie Hall, David Crowder Band, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Shane and Shane, and Nathan and Christy Nockels scheduled to lead worship. As in previous Passion conferences, attendees will also have an opportunity to connect with each other through smaller "Community" and "Family" groups as well as "hang outs" in Nashville's downtown area during the event's "Late Nights." Last year’s Passion conference, which was also held in Music City, drew nearly 11,000 college-age students from every state, 1,100 campuses and eight foreign countries.


'Professor of the Year' Challenges Christians Academes to Support One Another



A conservative, pro-life college professor and bioethicist has won a national award that some say is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Former Goodwin College Science Department chairman Lawrence Roberge was recently named the "2005 Connecticut Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Roberge developed the science program at Goodwin by organizing the construction of science labs and setting up the entire curriculum. The professor, a lifelong Catholic and a pro-life advocate, says he was "stunned but pleasantly surprised" to be named "Professor of the Year" for 2005 in his state. "When I was down there in Washington, DC, to receive the award," Roberge notes, "there wasn't a lot known of many -- and to my knowledge, any -- other Christian Conservatives or Christians, period, that were receiving awards. The sad thing is that even on the Christian and the conservative side, they haven't really appreciated this." As the winner of the 2005 Connecticut Professor of the Year award, Roberge challenges his fellow Christians "out there" to give their full support to "those who are really endeavoring" in their various fields, despite an atmosphere rife with hostility and viewpoint discrimination.


Teen Inventors Hope to Ease Burden in Third World

Catholic News Service


10 seniors at Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis came up with an idea that earned them a grant from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams program. "It's a water transport/treatment apparatus" that would make hauling and purifying water easier for people in undeveloped countries, said Julie Sutfin, physics teacher at Nerinx Hall, an all-girls school sponsored by the Sisters of Loretto. The students' proposal resulted in a $7,800 grant to support development of the project. Once the students started brainstorming about what to invent, "we talked about all kinds of things," from a better hair-straightening product to a sign-language translator. Then personal experience came into play. Kevin Budd, chairman of the science department, told the students that, worldwide, hauling water was one of the jobs women hated most. Mary Kate Hogan and Katie Kollef had taken part in a service trip to Mexico, and saw first-hand while working with rural poor people in the village of La Chinantla how much trouble it was to get water. "It was probably the hardest physical labor I've ever done," Hogan said. The water wasn't clean either. So the Nerinx seniors decided this would be their project. "When we thought about it, we realized this was so consistent with the Loretto values taught at Nerinx," said Molly Fitzgerald. Now, the apparatus is being designed for use by people in La Chinantla. The prototype is a three-wheeled cart, which will carry about 25 gallons of water. While the cart is pulled, the water will pass through something to filter it. O'Brien summed up the team's feelings on being awarded the grant and being given the opportunity to develop an idea into something concrete that could benefit many people. "We've already won," she said.