Century Marks

Century Marks

Evangelical politics

At least since the 1980s American evangelicalism has increasingly associated itself with conservative, often Republican, politics. Comparing evangelicals in the U.S. with those in Brazil, Erin McAdams and Justin Earl Lance found that evangelicals in Brazil are not as conservative. In response to the statement, “The government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep,” 96 percent of Brazilian evangelicals agreed but only 67 percent of Americans did. Brazilian evangelicals are no less theologically orthodox than their American counterparts. One reason for the difference is that no political party in Brazil endorses abortion, which takes that issue off the table. Brazil has a multiparty system and only in 2002 did one party target evangelicals (Boston Globe, April 1).

Best sellers

Fiction was not highly regarded by Americans in the 19th century. The country, says Randall Fuller, was focused on industry, success and salvation, not artistic achievement. Many were taken by surprise, then, by how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin drew people into its antislavery narrative and moved them emotionally—sometimes to the point of embarrassment. Her novel, which she claimed she didn’t write (“God wrote it. I merely did His dictation”), was outsold in the 19th century only by the Bible (Humanities, March/April).

Gun violence

A study conducted by the Center for American Progress indicates that states with the weakest gun laws have the highest rates of gun violence. The ten states with the highest rates of gun violence are Louisiana, Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia. Eight of these states are among the 25 states with the weakest gun laws. New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut have the lowest levels of gun violence, and they all are among the ten states with the strongest gun laws (Progress Report, April 3).

Reservations

Kimberly Ritter is a professional meeting manager, but before organizing a conference for the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph she had never worried about how hotels are used for sex trafficking. The Sisters insisted on using a hotel that had taken a pledge not to tolerate child sex trafficking. Ritter has since become an activist on the issue. The first step is to make hotels aware of the problem and then to get them to train staff to look for the signs of trafficking (Chicago Tribune, April 7).

Natural believers

Muslims and Hindus have the notion that children come into the world already knowing God. A growing body of research suggests that children do have an innate propensity to believe that a God or gods exist. Deborah Keleman’s research team has shown that children naturally believe that the natural world has a purpose and that someone must have created it. Other research has demonstrated that it is natural for a child to believe there is a deity who watches over them and serves as a moral police to make them behave better (Big Questions Online, March 5).