Religion Today Summaries - May 13, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 13, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Egypt Steps Up Security around Churches
  • 6 in 10 Say It's Wrong to Celebrate Death of bin Laden
  • Religious Belief Is Human Nature, Huge New Study Claims
  • Evangelist Billy Graham Hospitalized with Pneumonia


Egypt Steps Up Security around Churches

Egypt's interim government has taken official notice of the violence against Christians, promising to beef up security outside places of worship. At least 15 people were killed in Christian-Muslim clashes last week, and two churches were set on fire by fundamentalist Muslims. According to Christian Today, the cabinet’s justice committee said in a statement that it would “decisively stand against incitement to hatred and sectarianism," and promised to try around 190 people arrested in the violence in military court. The committee also instituted a ban on demonstrations outside places of worship and on religious slogans in the parliamentary elections. Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza said the police must follow up on these promises, saying, “The police need to say clearly to those who have done this: ‘You cannot do this. It is not allowed.’ Without action from the police and army, it will be chaos, complete anarchy.” He added, “We cannot make peace and reconciliation without first bringing people to justice. Otherwise, the reconciliation is just theatre and the problems will remain.”

6 in 10 Say It's Wrong to Celebrate Death of bin Laden

Despite the public celebrations in U.S. cities, six in 10 Americans don't think the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is something to celebrate. Respondents agree that the Bible verse Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,” applies to the death of bin Laden, according to the Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service survey released on Wednesday. In line with that, 62 percent of Americans completely or mostly agree with the statement that it is “immoral to celebrate the death of another human being, no matter how bad that person was.” Americans were more divided on the morality and efficacy of torture to extract information. Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans agree that the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information is never justified, compared to 43 percent who disagree. Less than three in 10 Americans believe harsh interrogation methods provided "critical" information leading to bin Laden's capture.

Religious Belief Is Human Nature, Huge New Study Claims

When researchers at Oxford University combined more than 40 different studies from around the world on religious thinking, they found that religion is almost instinctive for all human beings. "We tend to see purpose in the world," Oxford University professor Roger Trigg said Thursday, according to CNN. "We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can't see it. ... All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking." The studies came up with similar findings, including widespread belief in some kind of afterlife and an instinctive tendency to suggest that natural phenomena happen for a purpose. Trigg said the study showed children and adults alike both settling on explanations that implied an unseen agent at work in the world. He says the study does not take a stance on whether or not a deity exists, but does underscore the importance of religious freedom. "If you've got something so deep-rooted in human nature, thwarting it is in some sense not enabling humans to fulfill their basic interests," Trigg said.

Evangelist Billy Graham Hospitalized with Pneumonia

ASSIST News Service reports that famed evangelist Billy Graham, 92, was admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday morning for observation. The preacher, who has been a spiritual advisor to every president since Harry Truman, is doing well despite a diagnosis of pneumonia. “Appropriate antibiotics are being administered, and he is clinically stable at this time,” pulmonologist Shaw C. Henderson, MD, said early Wednesday afternoon. Though no date has been set for his release, Mr. Graham’s primary physician confirmed his condition with a positive report. “He is resting comfortably and is fully alert,” said Lucian Rice, MD. Spokesman A. Larry Ross said the aging evangelist remains in fairly good health, but continues to be involved in writing projects, including completing a manuscript for a new book on aging.