Monday, May 14, 2007


Religious Interest and Practices Gaining Ground on US Campuses

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, May 8, 2007: Peter J. Gomes has been at Harvard University for 37 years, and says he remembers when religious people on campus felt under siege. To be seen as religious often meant being dismissed as not very bright, he said. No longer. At Harvard these days, said Gomes, the university preacher, "There is probably more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years." Across the country, on secular campuses as varied as Colgate University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley, chaplains, professors and administrators say students are drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervor than at any time they can remember. More students are enrolling in religion courses, even majoring in religion; more are living in dormitories or houses where matters of faith and spirituality are a part of daily conversation; and discussion groups are being created for students to grapple with questions like what happens after death, dozens of university officials said in interviews.

A survey on the spiritual lives of college students, the first of its kind, showed in 2004 that more than two-thirds of 112,000 freshmen surveyed said they prayed, and that almost 80 percent believed in God. Nearly half of the freshmen said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually, according to the survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Compared with 10 or 15 years ago, "there is a greater interest in religion on campus, both intellectually and spiritually," said Charles L. Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who for a number of ye ars ran an interdisciplinary major in religious studies. The program was created seven years ago and has 70 to 75 majors each year. University officials explained the surge of interest in religion as partly a result of the rise of the religious right in politics, which they said has made questions of faith more talked about generally. In addition, they said, the attacks of Sept. 11 underscored for many the influence of religion on world affairs. Moreover, an influx of evangelical students at secular universities, along with an increasing number of international students, has meant that students arrive with a broader array of religious experiences.
3. Government Has Power To Ban Books

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 6, 2007: The Supreme Court has ruled that the government has the power to ban or forfeit any publication that endangers public order even if it means restricting the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. "It is true that forfeiture of a newspaper or book or a document is a serious encroachment on the right of a citizen, but if forfeiture is called for in the public interest it must without a doubt have pre-eminence over any individual interest," a bench of Justices B. P. Singh and H. S. Bedi observed while upholding the Karnataka government's
decision to ban a vernacular novel.

The novel Dharmakaarana on 12th century saint Basaveshwara, also known as Basvanna, contained alleged derogatory references to the sage and was banned in 1995 by the state government following a public outcry. It was banned by invoking section 95 of CrPC under which the government can ban any book or publication that contains objectionable matter that is intended to promote feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of citizens. Author P. V. Narayana and others challenged the ban in the Karnataka High Court, which upheld the government's decision. Following this, an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.


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