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Religious freedom, civility are at heart of struggle for democracy in Asia

Political appeals to religious and secular constituencies have roiled democracies across Asia and the world, prominent journalists, scholars, analysts and religious leaders revealed at a conference in Jakarta. But that does not mean Islam or other major religions are incompatible with democracy, participants noted. What does matter is that the religious freedoms and dignity of all groups are protected and respected.

Not just a joke: Studies find religious humor can break through prejudice, build social ties

Jokes about religion should be left to the professionals, not the politicians, a comprehensive new survey of religion and humor finds. The research is part of a larger project involving several Scandinavian studies on religion and humor that indicate support for a less hostile, more nuanced approach to religious humor that has the potential to break through the polarization in the West over perceived threats from immigrants and religious minorities.

Culture matters: Reconciling faith and homosexuality across borders

No one factor tells the whole story of why attitudes toward homosexuality vary widely across national borders. But new research is helping to unravel why, despite the fact most world religions have proscriptions against homosexual practices, some nations are much more tolerant than others.

Studies: How clergy can help believers die a 'good death'

Two new studies find that many clergy are both ill-prepared and reluctant to fully engage in end-of-life conversations with terminally ill congregation members and their families. The result, the studies suggest, is that more believers may be spending their final days enduring painful treatments with little chance of success.

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.

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.

Left behind? Evangelical Christians and campus diversity

As inclusivity becomes a priority on campuses, the door is opening for greater sensitivity for all religious groups, including evangelical Christians, new research indicates. One major study found that getting to know evangelicals in settings from general spiritual activities on campus to classroom discussions on diversity led to greater appreciation even among groups that included their harshest critics.

Study: Many physicians don't keep faith in their doctor's bag

In this era of increasing patient-centered care, many doctors still are reluctant to talk to their patients about religion. But physicians who are both spiritual and religious are more likely to believe that faith can be medically relevant.

Demonic influences: Beware the devil you know

Belief in the existence of powerful supernatural evil beings was one of the strongest predictors of poor mental health in young adults, according to a new study. Yet having poor mental health did not lead to greater belief in demonic forces.

It's the faith talking: How religion may reduce alcohol abuse

More than a few New Year’s resolutions for 2017 will involve reducing alcohol use or stopping drinking altogether. A lot of people will not succeed. What may give them a better chance, however, is having a strong faith, research suggests. A new wave of studies provides insights into the myriad ways religion appears to protect against alcohol abuse.

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