Century Marks

Century Marks

Good motives

In a conversation with the Dali Lama, an Indian politician suggested that politicians don't need religion. The Dalai Lama responded: "Politicians need religion even more than a hermit in retreat. If the hermit acts inspired by bad motivation, he'll harm only himself. But if a politician, who can directly influence an entire society, acts with bad motivation, a large number of people will experience the negative consequences." The Dalai Lama regards "every action carried out with good motivation as religious" (My Spiritual Journey, HarperOne).

Tibetan succession

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, plans to turn over political power to the elected prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile. This move is designed to ensure that there isn't a political vacuum after the Dalai Lama dies and that there is an effective response to Chinese crackdowns against the Tibetans. A spokesperson for the Chinese government said the move is designed to fool the international community. The Chinese fear that the Dalai Lama will return to Tibet, which one Chinese official said would be a greater threat than a "vast army" (Los Angeles Times, March 10).

Oppressive Christians?

The University of California at Davis has decided that Christians may not be oppressors after all. A university policy document, "The Principles of Com­munity," defined religious and spiritual discrimination as "the loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture's religion." It claimed that in the U.S. there is institutionalized oppression of those who aren't Christian. When the pro-Christian law firm Alliance Defense Fund objected to this claim, a university executive said the definition would be removed from the document (beliefnet.com).

News cycle

A blogger at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America pointed out that some lines of Paul-Gordon Chandler's article on events in Egypt are unusually close to lines in a February 19 article in the New York Times—and charges that Chandler lifted them from the Times. However, reporters often make use of the frequent informal e-mail updates from Cairo that Chandler sends to friends and churches—which is what appears to have happened in this case. Says Chandler, an Anglican priest in Cairo: "We are happy to help all those trying to get information out."

Special welcome

More than two dozen Houston-area churches sponsored a "Bring Your Gay Teen to Church Day." Organized by the Houston Clergy Council, the event was a response to an area teenager's suicide after years of being bullied. Meanwhile, megachurch pastor Joel Osteen of Houston told CNN that he believes homosexuality is a sin. Osteen acknowledged that some gays attend his church but said he doesn't preach on the subject (Houston Chronicle, February 19).