Century Marks

Century Marks

Ora et labora

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is aiming to win the evangelical vote in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. But Heath W. Carter, who teaches history at Valparaiso University, says that if they support Walker, who is known for his union-busting efforts, evangelicals will be ignoring some of their own history. Evangelicals have played a key role in union history, says Carter. In the 19th century, Scottish immigrant Andrew Cameron, a devout believer, campaigned for an eight-hour work day, believing that workers didn’t receive a fair wage for their labor. Evangelical figures were also involved in labor efforts in the early part of the 20th century and during the Depression. Walker’s own congregation was deeply divided over his attack on public unions (New Republic, July 12).

Paper trail

A study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in July reveals that a coalition of fossil fuel companies and trade groups in the 1990s were told by scientific experts that heat-trapping gases were causing global warming. Nevertheless, these companies funded a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort to try to discredit climate change science. One of the researchers they backed is Wei-Hock (Willie) Soon, an aerospace engineer, who has made the discredited claim that the sun is the cause of global warming. Soon’s research has been funded by ExxonMobil, the coal utility Southern Company, and the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch.

Friendly enemies

On the day the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal, Iowans Bob Vander Plaats and Donna Red Wing had a chance meeting and hugged one another—even though they are culture warriors on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Vander Plaats heads Family Leader, which supports traditional marriage; he believes Red Wing’s lesbian marriage is unnatural. Red Wing, head of One Iowa, an LGBT rights group, has called Vander Plaats “bigoted” and “cruel.” But a few years ago, at Red Wing’s initiative, the two met for coffee and struck up a friendship. Since then they have been trying to soften the rhetoric of their organizations while still sticking to their principles (Washington Post, July 4).

Majors and marriage

When college students choose a major, they may also be choosing the pool of people from which they’ll find a spouse. Marrying someone with the same major is most common for theology and religion majors—21 percent married someone with the same major. Among science majors, the figure was 18 percent. Most likely to find a mate in the same field are those who represent a gender minority in that field, such as male nurses and female engineers (Wonkblog, Washington Post, July 10).

Safety check

Gun possession does not deter crime or reduce homicides. Research at the Harvard Injury Control Center shows that states with the most amount of firearms have 6.8 times more firearm assaults than states with the fewest guns. Firearm homicides are 2.8 times more likely in states with the most guns compared to those with the least. The researchers caution against associating correlation with cause but say that a higher level of gun ownership leads to more crime, not the other way around (Live Science, July 6).