Templeton Prize announced; The God Factor; and Scrushy Ministries

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A British astronomer has won the Templeton Prize, reports Chris Herlinger: John D. Barrow, a British cosmologist and astronomer whose work has helped scientists and theologians find common understanding about the nature of life and the universe, was awarded the 2006 Templeton Prize on Wednesday (March 15). The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities was founded in 1972 by philanthropist and global financier Sir John Templeton and is perhaps the most prestigious award in the field of religion. At $1.4 million, the award is the largest annual monetary prize given to an individual. Barrow, 53, a professor at the University of Cambridge, has been acclaimed for reaching a wide audience not only through books and lectures but also through the theater.

The Chicago Sun Times’ religion writer discusses God with 32 celebrities in her new book reports Bob Smietana: Cathleen Falsani has a few rules when it comes to religion reporting. They include no finger pointing. Never turn your tape recorder off. Listen intently rather than worrying about the next question. And remember all truth is God’s truth-whether it comes from a church pulpit or the Playboy Mansion. The religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times had a surprising conversation with Hugh Hefner about the meaning of life. It was, Falsani recalls in her new book, “The God Factor,” something she could “never have imagined in a million years.” The book features conversations on spirituality with an eclectic group of 32 public figures. Some-like Bono, Sen. Barack Obama, novelist Anne Rice and White House speechwriter Michael Gerson-have been outspoken about their faith. Others-like Cubs manager Dusty Baker, singer Annie Lennox, actor John Mahoney and economist Jeffrey Sachs-had rarely been asked about it before.

Michael Tomberlin reports on Richard Schrushy, a CEO acquitted of $2.6 billion fraud who has started his own ministry: Less than a year after being acquitted of charges he masterminded a $2.6 billion fraud, Richard Scrushy has traded his HealthSouth chief executive title for that of pastor as he launches a number of religious initiatives. A new Web site, scrushy-ministries.com, details his new role as a televangelist and head of Kingdom Builders International, an organization seeking to pool the resources of nondenominational Christian churches. Scrushy and his wife, Leslie, the daughter of a Methodist minister, are newly ordained pastors of Grace and Purpose Church.

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