Century Marks

Century Marks

Religious diplomacy

The State Department has just created an office to reach out to faith communities and religious leaders around the world. It will be headed by Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theo­logical Seminary in Washington, D.C. Casey expects to focus on three areas: religion and development, international religious freedom, and conflict prevention and resolution. “I think we ignore the political impact of religion at our peril,” Casey said about the new State Department office. He was ap­pointed by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, for whom Casey worked when Kerry was a U.S. senator (Washington Post, July 26).

Campus presence

Fuller Theological Seminary is the first evangelical seminary in the country to accept an on-campus group for LGBT students. Called OneTable, it was started by Nick Palacios, an openly gay student from a conservative Pentecostal background. The seminary expects gay students to be celibate and to not challenge the seminary’s stance that homosexual activity is inconsistent with scripture (USA Today, July 13).

Questioning a pope

When Pope Francis met recently with thousands of Italian and Albanian schoolchildren, he threw aside his prepared speech and invited the children to ask questions. One young girl, no more than six, asked if he wanted to be pope. He first said that only someone who hated himself would want that job. More seriously, he responded: “I didn’t want to be pope.” When asked about his decision not to live in the luxurious papal apartments, he said it was a matter of personality. “I need to live among people.” He concluded the 30 minutes of banter with the children by saying to them: “Don’t let anyone rob you of hope” (Huffington Post, June 7).

Kosher no more

The Polish parliament has rejected a bill backed by the prime minister that would allow slaughterhouses to kill animals using Jewish kosher and Muslim hallal methods. The procedure was stopped last year by court action, which deemed the practice of slitting an animal’s throat and letting it bleed to death a form of animal cruelty. Some observers believe that anti-Semitism lurks beneath this decision, a sensitive matter in a country where millions of Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation of Poland (Reuters).

Airport security

When people fly they are more anxious than usual, especially after a crash like the one involving an Asiana flight in San Francisco last month, which killed three. The anxiety of flying can help point people toward God, says Michael Zaniolo, a Roman Catholic priest who oversees the airport ministries at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago. Huts Hertzberg, an evangelical pastor who oversees Protes­tant ministries in Chicago’s airports, notes that 68 million passengers fly through O’Hare annually, and the airport has 40,000 badged employees. “It’s a city and we’re the only church in the city,” he says (Chicago Tribune).