MH News March 21, 2019

The 2019 Templeton Prize for scholarly work at the intersection of science and spirituality has been awarded to Marcelo Gleiser, Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. A native of Brazil with a doctorate in theoretical physics from King’s College London, Gleiser has written and spoken extensively on the limits of scientific knowledge and assertion. He has been especially critical of the persistent claim of some that God does not exist. He was born into a Jewish family, educated in a Catholic university, but now describes himself as agnostic.


Washington DC
The Supreme Court let stand a decision by a lower court that found a business owner in Hawaii in violation of local anti-discrimination laws for refusing to rent bed and breakfast space to a lesbian couple. This permits the local authorities to assess the proprietor penalties for her action. Elsewhere in the legal system, a three-judge panel of an appeals court overturned a ruling that would have declared unconstitutional the IRS regulation that allows clergy to claim tax exemption for their housing.


The Religion News Foundation, associated with the Religion News Service of Columbia, Missouri, has announced the annual awards for excellence in covering the American Muslim community. Winners include Leila Fadel, for “Muslims in America: A New Generation”, a six-part series on National Public Radio; Hannah Allam, for a series on BuzzFeed News on the internal debates among U.S. Muslims; Aymann Ismail, for” Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?”, a video series for Slate Magazine; and Sana Ullah, for “Places You’ll Pray”, a collection of vibrant images of young American Muslims praying in public spaces outside of a mosque. The awards are made through the Center for the Study of Jewish, Christian, Muslim relations at Merrimack College near Boston, Massachusetts. The prize is named for Ignác Goldziher (1850-1921), a Hungarian Jew who was among the first university scholars in Europe to study and admire the laws, poetry, and practices of Islam.


Lifeway Christian Resources, the publishing and marketing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has announced that it will close all of its 170 stores by the end of this year. This follows a strong trend in the retail sector, with the largest of the Christian booksellers, Family Christian, closing their stores two years ago. Acting Lifeway president Brad Waggoner reported online that the declining foot traffic in the stores and the increasing use of their online resources has made this decision prudent.


New York
Fresh analysis of research on the political attitudes of the religious public published this week by the Pew Research Center reveals white Evangelical support of President Donald Trump has dropped very little since 2017 and remains very high at 69% and, contrary to some earlier reports, includes those most likely to attend church. Mormon support comes in at just over 50% but considerably below that if just Mormon women are polled. In a parallel story, the National Christian Foundation has funneled more than $56 million over the last two years to Religious Right groups, particularly those that labor politically and legally to overturn current laws allowing abortion and civil rights for homosexuals. The Foundation is the largest Christian charity and the 8th largest charity of any sort in America. The Foundation is a donor-advisory operation and received $1.5 billion in 2017.