Religion

Scientists applaud Ball State president's position on intelligent design

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After investigation of professor accused of promoting religious views in a science course, Ball State U.'s president says intelligent design shouldn't be taught in such classes.

Age change for Mormon missionaries means financial and cultural changes for Utah institutions

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A lowered age of eligibility for Mormon missionaries is likely to ripple through higher education, pressuring the finances of LDS-heavy institutions and reshaping undergraduate culture for those of the faith. 

Catholic college reverses course on covering contraception

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The Catholic college, which made headlines by eliminating the coverage for employees, changes course.

Shorter University faculty leaving over new 'lifestyle' statements

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Facing a new "lifestyle statement" at Shorter University, many faculty and staff have chosen to resign instead. One has spoken out publicly.

Final rule expected soon on student health insurance plans

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Regulations are expected soon on student health plans under the new health care law -- including whether contraceptives will be covered.

College officials discuss religious pluralism at AACU meeting

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Many faculty and staff are clearly interested in promoting religious pluralism. The question is, how? Some colleges are trying to figure it out.

Benedictine College to Rebrand Yoga Classes

Benedictine College, a small private Catholic institution in Atchison, Kans., delayed the debut of its recreational yoga classes this spring after some at the college expressed concerns over the spiritual and cultural influences present in yoga teachings.

The college planned to roll out the yoga sessions alongside the opening of a new student recreation center earlier this year, according to Steve Johnson, spokesperson for Benedictine.

“It was meant to be a breathing and stretching exercise class for the health benefits and the stress relief,” Johnson said. “We never had any intent of it to be a religious class.”

However, some factions within the college worried that the yoga teachings would be tinged with “Eastern mysticism,” Johnson said. Still others felt that by excluding the spiritual aspects of yoga and stripping it down to a strictly physical exercise class, it could no longer be called yoga.

Benedictine did begin offering other fitness classes at the recreation center this spring, but the college decided not to offer the yoga class until they could get a better idea of how it should function.

It will be available to students this fall.

“What we’ve done is just kind of clarify that this is a class that is about exercise and doesn’t contain any spiritually or culturally sensitive material,” Johnson said.

Benedictine had already been offering a stretching and breathing academic course through the health education department. The substance of that course will not change, Johnson said, but the course will be renamed to reflect the absence of spiritual, religious or cultural associations.

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An Orthodox Jew describes his positive experience at a Christian university (essay)

Michael A. Helfand, an Orthodox Jew, describes how his experience at a Christian university has given him a window into how faith-based institutions successfully promote religious diversity.

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Stauffer Chapel at Pepperdine University
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Anti-Semitic Fliers at U of Illinois Chicago

At least 100 anti-Semitic fliers were distributed across the University of Illinois at Chicago campus last week, according to The Chicago Sun-Times, adding to the litany of anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred on college campuses in recent months.

The fliers suggested that Jews control a disproportionate amount of wealth in the country -- it says Jews make up 2 percent of the population, but that 44 percent of them are among the top 1 percent of Americans.

The creators of the flier appear to be citing two Pew Research Center studies, with links provided at the bottom of the page, but the numbers used do not match the data on Pew’s website.

In large font, the flier also says, “Ending White Privilege Starts With Ending Jewish Privilege.”

Eva Zeltser, a UIC student and president of a Jewish organization on campus, said she found about 100 fliers strewn throughout the library and student centers.

She posted a picture of one of the fliers to her Facebook page, and as of Sunday, it had been shared over 4,000 times.

“My heart is broken,” she wrote in the post. “These are acts of pure hatred and intolerance.”

The university also released a statement condemning the fliers.

“Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community,” the statement said. “As we investigate this recent event, we strongly encourage all members of our university to exercise their right to free speech in a manner that recognizes these principles and avoids prejudice or stereotypes.”

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Student Body President Under Scrutiny for Tweets

The student body president at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota is under scrutiny for anti-Semitic tweets he posted almost three years ago, The Star-Tribune reported.

The student, Mayzer Muhammad, who is Muslim, has apologized for the language he used on Twitter in 2014 and said he regrets having been so careless.

The tweets were unearthed about a year ago by Canary Mission, a website that keeps a record of any individuals or groups it says use hateful rhetoric about the United States, Israel and Jews. Muhammad has a full profile on the site with several screenshots from his social media accounts, which he deactivated in response to angry comments.

The president of St. Thomas, a private, Catholic liberal arts college in St. Paul, rejected Muhammad’s anti-Semitic comments in a statement last week and said the university would not tolerate hate speech.

“It is deeply disappointing that the president of our student government or any other member of the St. Thomas community would be accused of anti-Semitic discourse,” President Julie Sullivan said.

Among the comments posted on Muhammad’s Canary Mission profile is one tweet that says, “If you support Israel in any way, shape or form, please unfollow me right now ’cause those people are the scum of the earth.”

Another reads, “The yahood [Jews] will get what [sic] coming for them Insha’Allah.”

“I am absolutely sorry and regret that I chose my words so poorly,” Muhammad told The Star-Tribune. “What these organizations are portraying me to be is an anti-Semite, and that is something that I am not.”

Muhammad remains in his post as president of the undergraduate student body. He has made efforts to repair his relationship with the Jewish community, including by meeting with the university’s rabbi in residence last week.

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