Violence Swells in Nigeria: News Roundup

In the news this week: increasing violence erupts in Nigeria, republican candidates utilize religious language, prejudice against atheists, and other stories.

A series of Christmas Day church bombings rocked Nigeria on Sunday in what appeared to be a coordinated assault by a radical Islamist sect with suspected training links to Al Qaeda, raising the sect’s violent antigovernment struggle to a new and more dangerous level that the Nigerian authorities seem powerless to contain. At least 25 people were killed. NY Times
 
Muslim organizations worldwide have condemned bomb attacks on three Nigerian churches during a Christmas Mass, saying the attackers do not represent true Islam.
 
“We condemn the unconscionable and inexcusable attacks on Nigerian churches and offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a press release obtained by OnIslam.net on Monday, December 26. International Islamic News Agency
 
If you’re North American, there is a high statistical likelihood you already “love someone of another faith,” as Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam puts it.
 
In fact, Putnam’s studies suggest each one of us, on average, has at least two friends, as well as one extended family member, of another religion (including atheist). Vancouver Sun
 
In more overt ways than ever, Republican candidates vying for support from Iowa caucusgoers are turning to religious language and imagery in their advertisements, seeking to appeal to the Christian conservative base that will play a pivotal role in determining the victor here. NY Times
 
Naama Margolese is a ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing "immodestly."
 
Her plight has drawn new attention to the simmering issue of religious coercion in Israel, and the increasing brazenness of extremists in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. CBS
 
If you took time to name a group that is still stigmatized but overlooked in the movement for mutual respect, are there any you would choose?
 
One that comes to mind is the non-religious, a group often referred to as atheists. Huffington Post
 
Catholics who have pushed back against a White House policy that would require many religious insurers to cover contraception are getting a high-profile assist from dozens of evangelical leaders.
 
“We write in solidarity, but separately — to stress that religious organizations and leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption,” the leaders wrote Wednesday (Dec. 21) in a letter to President Obama. Washington Post