Century Marks

Century Marks

The Wounded Right

Jon Meacham says the religious right has attacked Mitt Romney's Mormonism because it has already lost some culture war arguments, such as prayer in school and abortion, and is likely to lose the battle over gay marriage. "A wounded foe is always more dangerous than a healthy one," he says. Meacham believes that "American believers may have to step up" to oppose religious tests for office in order "to save religion from the religious." The separation of church and state protects the church from the corruption of the state as much or more than it protects the state from the church's influence (Time, October 24).

Beyond the three Rs

In his composition class for college freshmen, teacher-writer Erik Reece asks students to evaluate their high school education. Students report that their high school teachers lacked passion and didn't know their subject matter very well. Teachers seemed to have low expectations of students, the students say, and were afraid to engage students in critical thinking. What was taught seemed irrelevant to the lives of the students, and the teachers mostly taught to the tests. School reform, Reece concludes, will have to address three major areas: quality of teaching, what is expected of students and the relevance of subject matter to "real life" (Orion, September-October).

Sex and faith

In her just-­published book See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity (Beacon), Century correspondent Amy Frykholm recounts the stories of nine individuals who have struggled to make sense of the relationship between their sexuality and religious faith. The stories involve anorexia, sex addiction and prostitution, and they explore the theological framework for a conversation about sex and faith that isn't about who is "doing it right."

Trim beards

Five Amish men from a renegade group in eastern Ohio have been charged with burglary and the kidnapping of Raymond Hershberger, a 74-year-old Amish bishop. The group entered Hershberger's house by saying they wanted to discuss religious matters. They held the bishop down in a chair and used scissors and battery-operated clippers to shear off his beard. The men were ac­cused of another beard cutting the same night. In an Associated Press interview, Sam Mullet, bishop of the breakaway group to which these men belong, said the beard cuttings were to send a message to Amish people that they should be ashamed of themselves for calling the community he leads a cult (RNS).

Liberal document

It's often assumed that Bible reading is linked to conservative political and moral attitudes. But a Baylor Religion Survey indicates that frequent Bible reading, especially when people do it on their own, leads to a liberal attitude on some issues. While reading the Bible increases opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage, frequent Bible readers are more likely to agree that it is important "to actively seek social and economic justice in order to be a good person" and are more inclined to agree that we should consume or use fewer goods. Frequent Bible reading, according to this research, also erodes support for the death penalty and the Patriot Act and leads readers to believe that science and religion are compatible (Christianity Today, October).