Crime stoppers: Black church significant deterrent to violence

A new study analyzing data from 733 U.S. counties encompassing more than 80 percent of the black population revealed that homicide, robbery, burglary and larceny rates all decreased the more people in the county were active in black Protestant churches. And where it can do the most good, in areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment, the black church is doing the most good, the study found.

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A profile in intellectual humility: Templeton Prize winner builds place for God in philosophy

Alvin Plantinga started out at a time when much of the academic community in philosophy was hostile to the idea of belief in God. Yet he became a leading figure in making belief in a divine reality an option to take seriously. More than a half-century later, his work in such areas as free will and evil, the role of God in the universe and the compatibility of science and religion continues to be a major influence in philosophy.

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Study: Americans more likely to vote for highly religious candidates. A challenge for Democrats with growing secular base

A new study finds Americans, with the notable exception of strong Democrats with little or no religious commitments, are significantly less likely to vote for a secular candidate. Instead, U.S. voters, including independents, are far more disposed to cast ballots for candidates who are members of worshipping communities and describe themselves as people of faith.

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GlobalPlus: The nonreligious in the world today

Who are the nonreligious? Depending on how they are counted, the nonreligious today may be considered the world's third largest 'religion,' trailing only Christianity and Islam. They exercise an increasingly influential voice on issues from the immigration crisis in Europe to secular-religious tensions in Asia Pacific. Now a developing body of research is shedding critical light on the diversity and complexity of this group in an age when the makeup and balance of religious and nonreligious populations, along with their shared history, matters in ways both small and large.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and death

Across the world, billions of worshippers this weekend will be going to mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship hearing messages declaring that the choices they make in this life can affect their eternal destiny. How each of them, and secular individuals, face the great existential question of the meaning of life in the face of mortality can make a major difference in areas from mental health to preventing terrorism and promoting more generous, compassionate societies less likely to experience civil strife, new research shows.

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GlobalPlus: Humility

In a series of scientific advances, researchers are developing a body of evidence challenging old stereotypes of humility as the province of weak-willed, stoop-shouldered individuals of low self-worth. The reality, research shows, is that it takes a strong will and courage to celebrate the gifts of others, while being honest about one’s own shortcomings. But it pays off. Just as a lack of humility can lead to a downward spiral of suspicion, distrust and violence, so, too, can the practice of humility reinforce other virtues and contribute to a more generous, inclusive, caring society.

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About The Author
David Briggs, a former national writer for The Associated Press who holds a master's degree from Yale Divinity School, is consistently honored among the Top 10 secular religion writers and reporters in North America.