Faculty in the News – July 2015

In July, Prof. Yahya Michot participated in the Summer Institute 2015 of Ligue d’Entraide Islamique – Mosquée Alkhalil in Brussels, Belgium (the most important and active Islamic Centre in the capital of Europe). He offered in French, to some hundred students, five two-hour courses on Islamic History: (i) The two first Hijra centuries. (ii) Shî‘isms. (iii) The Crusades. (iv) The Mongols. (v) North Africa & Andalousia.

An essay by Prof. Najib Awad has been published in an anthology in Germany. “Unmasking Leviathan: Theology, the Public Square and the Issue of Human Rights” has been published in Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Beiträge dialogischer Existenz, Claudia Rammelt; Cornelia Schlarb and Egbert Schlarb (eds.), Berlin: LIT Verlag, pp. 504-516.

Prof. Scott Thumma was cited not once, but twice, in the Washington Post on July 24. How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps and charts offers a look at the global megachurch phenomenon, about which Prof. Thumma is an expert. He is quoted several times in the article, including: “The spread of the megachurch model will continue in the developing regions of the globe. I expect the most rapid growth to be in Asian countries as they continue to develop and populations concentrate in massive urban areas from rural communities.”

In another article also published on July 24, Prof. Thumma was quoted in regard to churches using facial recognition software. Skipping church? Facial recognition software could be tracking you describes the services of a company called Churchix, which videotapes church members coming and going and keeps track of attendance. Prof. Thumma said most churches use some kind of attendance software, but the facial recognition service may take it a step too far for many. “I don’t think that kind of facial recognition software would play well at all with members because it strikes as ‘Big Brother,’” Thumma said. “While God sees everything, we’re not sure we want our pastor to be omniscient.”

Prof. Yehezkel Landau is one of the diverse group of faith leaders supporting this fundraising effort for the military families affected by the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga, TN, that killed five servicemen. The Faith and Culture Center | Our Muslim Neighbor initiative, in coordination with the Muslim community in Chattanooga, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and other interfaith partners, is leading efforts to raise $20,000 for the families of the five victims by July 31.

Prof. Landau made this statement: “As a human being, as an American citizen, and as a Jew, I am appalled by the murderous attacks on the two military facilities in Chattanooga.  If this horrible crime was motivated by a hateful religious ideology, it underscores the need for members of all faith communities to unequivocally condemn such actions as sinful and criminal.  It also challenges all people of faith to teach and practice compassion, mutual respect, and, above all, reverence for every human life created in the Divine Image.  The vicious actions of any individual cannot be seen as representing the views or convictions of an entire faith community.  In this case, Muslims generally cannot be blamed for these heinous acts of murder perpetrated by one person who misunderstood the true teachings of Islam. To counter negative stereotypes and prejudice, public education efforts like OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBOR are essential to promote mutual understanding and solidarity among religious communities.  All of us have a stake in ensuring the success of these efforts, for we all suffer when communities are estranged.  May the One God of us all help us turn our fears to trust, our resentments to forgiveness, and our grief to compassion for the suffering of others.”  

Prof. Najib Awad‘s essay was published in a peer-reviewed journal from the Pontifical Institute for the Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome. “Is Secularity by any Means Imaginable? A Reading of the Idea of ‘Civil State’ in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s Contemporary Political Project for the Syria of the Future,” appears in IslamChristiana, Rome 40(2015), pp. 105-124.

Prof. Scott Thumma‘s research was cited on the website Perspectives: Baptist News Global: “In all the hand-wringing about the statistical decline of Baptist congregations in America — which follows similar declines before in the mainline Protestant churches — one important shift seldom gets mentioned. That is the rise of the nondenominational church within the last 40 years. Here’s a surprising fact reported by Scott Thumma of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research: If the nation’s independent and nondenominational churches today were combined into a single group, they would represent the third-largest cluster of religious adherents in the country, behind only the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. And the nondenominationals and independents would rank second nationwide in the number of churches — second only to Southern Baptists.”

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