Century Marks

Century Marks


American Christians did worse on an exam when told that it was a test of scientific knowledge than when told it was a test of intuitive ability. This research comports with other research on “stereotype threats.” When people are aware of a stereotype about them, they become concerned that their behavior will demonstrate that stereotype, and that very recognition adversely affects their performance. Most of this research has been done on minority groups, but stereotype threat apparently affects majority groups as well. In this case, bringing to mind the notion that American Christians are at odds with science leads to Christians doing more poorly in science (NPR, January 14).


Satellite images show that Islamic State militants have completely destroyed a 1,400-year-old monastery, St. Elijah’s—the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. The jihadist group has destroyed other ancient sites in their attempt to establish a caliphate in Iraqi and Syrian territory. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” said Paul Thabit Habib, an Iraq-based Catholic priest. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.” The monastery was taken over by U.S. troops during the Iraq War. It had been partially restored before the ISIS demolition (Newsweek, January 20).

Church accident

A man accidentally shot himself in the foot with a gun he was carrying while attending a Wednesday evening service at a Baptist church in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Police were called to the church. The wound was minor, and no one else was hurt (Longview News-Journal, January 22).


Rock singer David Bowie, who died last month, was a religious seeker whose quest for faith was filled with moral anguish, says Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. “I am not quite an atheist and it worries me, but give me a couple of months!” Bowie said in 2003. On human nature he said, “As animals we have not changed: we kill and seek to survive.” His lyrics were peppered with spiritual questions and ponderings, as in “Bus Stop,” on his 1989 album, Tin Machine: “I’m a young man at odds / With the bible / But I don’t pretend faith never works / When we’re down on our knees / Prayin’ at the bus stop” (Tablet, January 13).

Prayer breaks

Over 50 Muslim employees walked off the job at an Ariens manufacturing plant in Wisconsin after being told they no longer could take prayer breaks during the work day. Ariens, which manufactures lawn mowers and snowblowers, said they want Muslims to pray only during the usual ten-minute breaks that all employees get. “Nobody complained to us about our prayers,” one of the Muslims said. “People take breaks to go to the bathroom and nobody says anything about that.” A company spokes­person said the Muslims’ prayer breaks were disruptive on the assembly line (Daily Mail, January 20).