Prominent English biochemist and Anglican priest Arthur R. Peacocke,76, has won the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. The annual award ($1 million this year) is given to an individual whose work has deepened the world's understanding of God and who has shown a commitment to spiritual life and public service. An Oxford professor with doctorates in both science and theology, Peacocke is the founder of the Society of Ordained Scientists—an international ecumenical organization that aims to bridge the gap between science and religion and to foster spirituality among scientists. Peacocke, who describes his theologically liberal Christianity as "critical realism," is the third scientist in a row to win the Templeton Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in religion.
Kenneth Ragoonath has been appointed president of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean. He replaces A. Wingrove Taylor, who was president for eight years. A Trinidadian, Ragoonath served for more than 25 years as regional promoter of the Hospital Christian Fellowship.
Yahya Jammeh, president of Gambia, has announced plans to institute Shari'ah law in the tiny West African nation, which is surrounded by Senegal. Muslims make up about 90 percent of Gambia's 1.3 million people. The proposed social and penal code calls for strict enforcement of Islamic law, such as beheading apostates and segregating men and women. Gambia's Christians, mostly Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Anglican, fear that the church's small gains will be eroded and that the Gambian Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, will be discarded.
The Dalai Lama has disappointed Christians in India by rebuking both Muslim and Christian attempts to spread their religions. "I always believe it's safer and better and reasonable to keep one's own tradition or belief," he said at a Hindu festival in January while sharing the platform with the radical Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Christians later expressed frustration with the peacemaker for associating with a group dedicated to persecuting Christians and Muslims.
In Thailand, a contemporary translation of the Gospel of John is now available. Staff members at the World Bible Translation Center (Fort Worth, Texas) recently completed the first translation in everyday Thai instead of the formal royal language. The center distributed 10,000 copies of the translation in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The center plans to publish the New Testament later this year.
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