Century Marks

Century Marks

Live from Jerusalem

Two Amer­ican religious broadcast networks are poised to cover the second coming, should Jesus return to the Mount of Olives as they expect. Daystar Television Network already has a 24-hour-a-day live webcam beamed from a building it owns on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. Trinity Broad­casting Network, its competitor, has bought the building next to Daystar in order to set up its own studio. Israeli critics say the real intent of these evangelical broadcast networks is to proselytize Jews in Israel. Daystar already has 24-hour programming on two Israeli channels, and TBN is negotiating to get its own TV outlet in Israel (Chicago Tribune, October 1).

Resistance movement

Calling the church hierarchy corrupt, Catholic theologian Hans Küng says “the only way for reform is from the bottom up.” He sees hope in resistance movements among priests in his native Switzerland and in Austria. Up to 400 Austrian and about 150 Swiss priests have joined the movement. Initiatives taken in opposition to church teaching include serving communion to divorced and remarried people, letting unordained persons lead services and putting women in important positions in the hierarchy. Early in his teaching career, Küng was a colleague of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI (Guardian, October 5).

Caste in or out

The Hindu priesthood has been traditionally limited to upper-caste Brahmins. A few years ago the government in a southern India state, which owns most of the temples, began training priests regardless of their caste, including the lowest caste, the Dalits. In reaction, Brahmin groups filed  suit, claiming that the government has no right to impose itself on priest selection or training. There is a shortage of Hindu priests. Critics of the Brahmin suit believe it’s intended to maintain Brahmin privilege and keep in place a 4,000-year-old caste system (Los Angeles Times, October 1).

Anti-Jewish record

Perry Brickman was mystified in 1952 when he was told he had flunked out of Emory University’s dental school after his first year. He had been a B-plus biology student at Emory and received early admission to its dental school. Now the university is acknowledging for the first time that between 1948 and 1961 the school’s dean was engaged in systematic discrimination against Jewish students. During those years, 65 percent of Jewish students were told they had flunked out or were forced to retake a whole year of classes. Brickman has tracked down and interviewed many of these students who, many years later, feel a sense of shame and anger. A documentary film, From Silence to Recognition, is being made based on Brickman’s interviews (New York Times, October 6).

Religious hate

The recent celebration of Ramadan sparked one of the largest increases of anti-Muslim incidents in more than a decade. In Joplin, Missouri, the Islamic Society’s building was destroyed by fire under suspicious conditions. A bottle of acid was thrown at a Muslim school in Lombard, Illinois, while worshipers were saying evening prayers. A mosque in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was desecrated with anti-Muslim graffiti. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled from 2010 to 2011. Forty-three percent of Muslims experienced some kind of harassment during 2010–11 (Center for American Progress, September 26).