Century Marks

Century Marks

Batters out

A church had to leave the church softball league in St. Clair, Missouri, after it became known that its pastor is openly bisexual. The pastors at three Baptist churches said their teams could no longer play against the team from St. John United Church of Christ, whose new pastor, James S. Darnell, is bisexual. Rather than ruin things for the rest of the league, his church dropped out of the league. “It’s frustrating,” said Darnell, “because this is who is representing Christianity in our community, and this is the message youths in our community are getting” (RNS).

Taking the stand

Blake Allison’s wife, Anna, a software consultant, was on her way to visit a client in Los Angeles when the plane she was in crashed into World Trade Center Tower 1 on Sep­tember 11, 2001. Allison has met clandestinely with the lawyers for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of 9/11, to tell them he is willing to argue in the military tribunal against the use of the death penalty. Allison knows that his wife’s family doesn’t agree with him, nor do other families who lost loved ones on 9/11. He also knows that Mohammed would do it all over again if given the chance. “First and foremost, I don’t think it’s right to take a life,” Allison said. “It’s grounded in my faith. The New Testa­ment is very clear about this” (New York Post, May 14).

Gender gap

It’s no wonder that Saudi Arabia ranks 131 out of 135 nations in the World Economic Forum’s report on the global gender gap. It is a country where child marriage is still practiced and where women are treated like minors their whole lives regardless of age or education. Women far outnumber men on university campuses, yet they still can’t run in elections or vote. A woman who broke the ban on female drivers was sentenced to ten lashes and needed a royal pardon. Saudi Arabia “is unabashed in its worship of a misogynistic God and never suffers any consequences for it, thanks to its . . . having oil and being home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina,” says Egyptian-American columnist Mona Eltahawy (Foreign Policy, May/June).

Proper punishment?

Gay advocates across the country argued that Dharun Ravi should not be scapegoated for the death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Clementi took his life after Ravi secretly videotaped him kissing an older man in their Rutgers University dorm room and posted the video on social media. Ravi, a student from India, could have been sentenced up to ten years for his conviction on hate crime laws. Instead, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison, three years probation, mandatory counseling and a $10,000 fine, an amount that will go to victims of hate-based crimes. Aaron Hicklin, editor of Out magazine, E. J. Graff, lesbian columnist for the American Prospect, Jim McGreevey, the gay former governor of New Jersey, and sex columnist Dan Savage were among those who said that while Ravi’s behavior was wrong, he didn’t deserve a lengthy prison term (Reuters and AP).

Change or else

Due to declining enrollments and budget crunches, many seminaries are rethinking their future. Katherine M. Douglass and Jason Bruner, doctoral students at Princeton Theological Seminary, think there are other reasons why seminaries need to think fresh thoughts about their role in the churches. One has to do with a changing demographic, which includes more minority and immigrant congregations. Another has to do with the increasing challenge of interfaith relationships and dialogue. Established seminaries could learn from the model of some immigrant churches whose leaders are trained to work in other fields. Seminaries should recruit local immigrant pastors to provide on-the-job training. The old model of apprenticeships is worth another look, too (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13).