Religion Today Summaries - May 9, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 9, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Study: 2 in 10 Atheist Scientists Are 'Spiritual'
  • 16 Killed in Christian Village in Northern Nigeria
  • Iran: 11 Christians Await Verdict after Rushed Trial 
  • Christian Groups Busy Responding to Tornado Devastation


Study: 2 in 10 Atheist Scientists Are 'Spiritual'

More than 20 percent of atheist scientists consider themselves to be "spiritual," according to a Rice University study. The findings, to be published in the June issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, are based on in-depth interviews with 275 natural and social scientists from 21 of the nation's top research universities. Religion News Service reports that Elaine Howard Ecklund, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at the Houston university, said the research shows that spirituality is not solely a pursuit of religious people. "Spirituality pervades both the religious and atheist thought," she said. "This challenges the idea that scientists, and other groups we typically deem as secular, are devoid of those big 'Why am I here?' questions. They too have these basic human questions and a desire to find meaning."

16 Killed in Christian Village in Northern Nigeria

Agence France-Presse reports that post-election violence continued in Nigeria on Friday, when at least 16 people were killed in a pre-dawn attack on a Christian village in the northern state of Bauchi. "There was an attack on Kurum village by unknown gunmen and from reports reaching me 16 people have been killed and 20 houses burnt in the attack," said Amama Abakasanga, Bauchi state police commissioner. The area has been a flashpoint for ethnic and sectarian unrest. Police have deployed in the area to prevent escalation of violence in this region, notorious for clashes pitting predominantly Christian farmers and Fulani Muslim nomads. "We are yet to identify the attackers but the problem of the people in the area is that they are not willing to live in peace," Abakasanga said.

Iran: 11 Christians Await Verdict after Rushed Trial

Eleven members of the Church of Iran who face charges of "activities against the Order" were suddenly brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal on May 1. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the charges against the group relate to their involvement in a house church meeting and to taking communion wine. During what was described as a very brief hearing they were asked to present its defense. Their lawyer, Seyyed Mohammed-Ali Dadkhah, only had time to draft a hastily written statement declaring that their meeting was a religious gathering. He said there had been no violation of Shari’a law or the constitution, and reminding the court of constitutional provisions for the rights of Christians and minorities. The group was told to expect an answer from the court within 10 days.

Christian Groups Busy Responding to Tornado Devastation

Dozens of tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system wiped out entire towns across a wide swath of the South, killing more than 248 people, and officials said they expect the death toll to rise. WORLD News Service reports that the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team had staff on the ground in Birmingham within hours of the tornado hits. Chaplains were addressing the emotional and spiritual needs of tornado survivors in and around Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. The Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi (ALM) Division of The Salvation Army has mobilized 10 feeding units and a communications unit.  Another 22 mobile feeding units including catering trucks, mobile kitchens, and a 20,000 meal per day full service field kitchen have been placed on standby.