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New Peacemakers in Action Announced!

al-Marwani_byKarimBenKhelifa-OeilPublic-forTIME

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Marwani| Credit: Karim Ben Khelifa, Oeil Public for TIME

Around the world, extraordinary yet unknown women and men work tirelessly to build peace in conflict and post-conflict zones. Driven by faith, they dare to do the work that others are afraid to take on. At Tanenbaum, we are honored to recognize two of these inspiring peace activists, Yemen’s Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Marwani, a Sufi Muslim, and the Philippine’s Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento, a Catholic, as our newest Peacemakers in Action.

Yemen’s Sheikh Al-Marwani negotiates peace between tribal leaders and works to counter calls for extremism. In the Philippines, Deng Giguiento is a teacher and has worked in the Mindanao conflict, creating alliances among conflicting Christian, Muslim and indigenous groups. Both Peacemakers have been threatened as a result of their work yet they persevere, deeply motivated by their faith and a vision of a peaceful future.

Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines)

Maria Ida “Deng” Giguiento (Philippines)

Sheikh Al-Marwani and Ms. Giguiento join 28 Peacemakers from 22 conflict zones. Click here to read their exciting bios – along with the inspiring bios of this year’s finalists.

Calls for Gun Control in Wake of Colorado Shooting: News Roundup

In the news this week:  Religious leaders call for gun control, “Nones” on the rise, Bachmann and Co.  under fire for statements about American Muslims, and other stories.

President Obama and his likely GOP challenger Mitt Romney called for prayers and reflection after a deadly shooting at a Colorado movie theater, while liberal religious leaders called for stricter gun control laws.
 
Religious leaders urged wounded victims and relatives of the deceased to put their faith in a higher power. “As Catholic bishops, we ‘weep with those who weep,’ said Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver, citing, like Romney, the Apostle Paul.
 
“But in Aurora, which means ‘the dawn, the sun rose this morning,” the bishops continued. “In a city whose name evokes the light, people of hope know that the darkness may be overcome.”
 
The Catholic bishops also prayed for the perpetrator of the shooting, and for his conversion. “Evil ruled his heart last night,” said Aquila and Conley in a statement. “Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.” Other religious leaders argued that the U.S. needs tougher gun control laws. Washington Post
 
Unbelief is on the uptick. People who check "None" for their religious affiliation are now nearly one in five Americans (19%), the highest ever documented, according to the Pew Center for the People and the Press.
 
The rapid rise of Nones — including atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe "nothing in particular" — defies the usually glacial rate of change in spiritual identity.
 
Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification Surveys, theorizes why None has become the "default category." He says, "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before." USA Today
 
Forty-two religious and secular organizations united on Thursday in condemning conservative lawmakers' allegations that Muslim-American individuals connected to the U.S. government may be trying to spread the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
They directed their criticisms at Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), who recently wrote to various government agencies and asked them to investigate the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In their letters, the lawmakers targeted top State Department official Huma Abedin and several advisers to the Department of Homeland Security.
 
"[W]e write to raise our voices in protest of your recent letters regarding prominent American Muslim individuals and organizations," the 42 organizations wrote in a letter to the lawmakers on Thursday. "These letters question the loyalty of faithful Americans based on nothing more than their religious affiliations and what is at best tenuous evidence of their associations. As such, your actions have serious implications for religious freedom and the health of our democracy." Huffington Post
 
Voters want their leaders to have a firm rooting in religious morals but they don’t care if that religion is Mormonism or Christianity, according to findings released Thursday from a recent poll of voters around the country.
 
Being Muslim, on the other hand, creates discomfort for about a fifth of registered voters, according to a national survey conducted earlier this month by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
 
Among nearly 2,400 registered voters polled for the survey, 60 percent of voters know that Mitt Romney is Mormon. Of the ones who do, four out of five are either okay with it or say they don’t care, according to a news release about the survey.
 
Meanwhile, the country remains divided on President Obama’s religious affiliation. A full 17 percent of people polled believe the president is Muslim; about half say he is Christian; and nearly one-third say they don’t know. Washington Post
 
For the second time in less than a year, the Gallup poll reports that a majority of Americans would vote for an atheist for president.
The latest survey, from June, found that 54 percent of those asked said they would vote a "well- qualified" atheist into the Oval Office— the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1958, when only 18 percent said they would back a nonbeliever.
 
On the other hand, the survey showed that those who do not believe in God still come in behind every other group polled for, including gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Muslims (58 percent).
 
Still, an imaginary atheist candidate passed the 50 percent threshold for the first time when Gallup asked the question in August 2011, so the trend is upward. USA Today