Century Marks

Century Marks


Blake Page decided to quit the U.S. Military Academy only six months before graduation because he said he could no longer be part of a culture that promoted prayer and religious activities. In a Huffington Post column, Page charged that prayers were routinely included at mandatory school events and that nonreligious cadets were jokingly referred to as heathen (Chris­tian Science Monitor, December 7).


Social scientists from University of Southern California, the University of Virginia and New York University investigated the moral stereotypes that political liberals and conservatives have of each other. Not surprisingly, they discovered that liberals and conservatives tend to exaggerate the tendencies of their polar opposites. Each extreme tends to exaggerate their own moral commitments. Surprisingly, their study showed that liberals are less accurate in describing both themselves and their conservative opposites than conservatives are. Liberals, for example, tended to underemphasize conservatives’ commitment to the protection and fair treatment of individuals (PLOS One, December).

Voices of 2012

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” —President Obama in a May ABC-TV interview, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to endorse same-sex marriage

“These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” —California governor Jerry Brown, on signing a bill that outlawed so-called reparative therapies that claim to turn gay minors into heterosexuals

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” —Todd Aiken, U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, trying to explain why he would prohibit abortion in cases of rape

“Rape is rape. Period. End of Story.” —Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate, responding to Todd Aiken’s reference to “legitimate” rape

“Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” —Elizabeth Warren, consumer advocate and U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts, speaking at the Democratic Convention

“The worst decision by the Supreme Court in the 21st century. Uninformed, arrogant, naive.” —Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), maintaining that the Citizens United decision, which prohibits the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions, is tainting U.S. elections

“If you are a Latter-day Saint, a member of the fourth-largest [denomination] in the country, you shouldn’t have to go hat in hand for acceptance while acceptance of other minorities—Jews or Muslims or Presbyterians—is taken at face value.” —Michael Otterson, chief spokesman for the LDS Church, responding to reactions about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith

“Through resolve, through respect, we will overcome. This is a gift that Sikhs can give to all Americans.” —Sartaj Singh Dhami, codirector of RestoringThePride.com, a Sikh advocacy group, in response to the August killings of Sikhs by a lone gunman at a temple near Milwaukee

“The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls.” —Judge John Cleland, who sentenced former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to 30 to 60 years after he was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse

“We need to educate people that morally, you can’t simply say, ‘I’m not going.’ It’s not simply a matter of choice. It’s actually a matter of responsibility to the common good.” —James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College, on the debate after Hurricane Sandy about whether people are morally obligated to obey a mandatory evacuation order so as not to put first responders at risk

“We’re not looking for a candidate that can walk on water, we’re looking for a candidate who doesn’t sink under the weight of their own baggage.” —Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, on what conservative Christians were looking for in a presidential candidate

“Want to win this election, candidate Romney and candidate Obama? Recruit the vote of 46 million poor Americans.” —Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby Network and leader of Nuns on the Bus, a tour that drew attention to the impact of cutting the social safety net

“Twenty years ago our church voted to ordain women. We have arrived at the point when all the indications are that the current theological anomaly of priests who cannot by definition be bishops has become an unacceptable skandalon to the church’s life.” —Sarah Coakley, Cambridge University theologian, on the Church of England’s decision not to allow women priests to become bishops

“The door may be closing, for good.” —UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, warning that continued Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories undermine efforts toward a peaceful solution

“God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship.” —Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian president, responding to protests over his seizing of unchecked authority

“We know many Christians have left. But we love this country and will stay until death.” —Mounir Ramsis, Coptic Christian, on the suppression of Christians since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and the Muslim Brotherhood assumed leadership in Egypt

“We have become a nation rife with domestic terrorism—moving from a land of hospitality and freedom to a land of the fearful and the besieged, with gun violence being the driving force behind this change.” —Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., in a resolution calling for a ban on assault weapons, adopted at its annual session in Memphis

“He won’t follow anyone for now. He will be followed.” —Spokesperson for Pope Benedict XVI, who started a Twitter account with the handle @pontifex and within hours had 250,000 followers

The teaching life

The American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature report that teaching positions in religion experienced a modest yet steady growth from 2000 until 2008 but declined from 2008 to 2010. The number of tenure-track positions has declined. The fields of Islam, New Testament and early Christianity, and theology have the most openings (InsideHigherEd.com, November 13).

Home and away

On the basis of a survey of emerging adults, two Presbyterian ministers concluded that church attendance in college years follows earlier habits. This finding underscores the need for establishing habits of worship participation during youths’ junior and senior years of high school. The authors suggest that high school seniors should be helped to think about how to find a congregation after leaving home. This cohort is spiritually hungry and often finds nourishment at a parachurch ministry. Congregations could also help their youth think about what kind of religious groups to connect with on campus. Staying in touch with them after they leave home is important too (Presbyterian Outlook, November 12).