Century Marks

Century Marks

Unauthorized wars

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, but it has exercised that power only five times, the last being in the case of World War II. Since the signing of the Constitution in 1787, American presidents have put military forces into action hundreds of times without congressional action. To counteract the executive office's actions in Vietnam, the War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973, calling for an authorization letter and giving the president a two-month deadline. This law has been toothless. No president, Democrat or Republican, has wanted to have his powers as commander in chief curtailed by Congress (Time, July 4).

Financing wars

The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University estimates that the total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, plus operations in Pakistan, will exceed $4 trillion. This is more than three times the amount Congress has actually authorized. The total cost is already between $2.3 and $2.7 trillion. These wars could cost more than World War II, which at today's dollars would be about $4.1 trillion. Unlike previous American wars, the current ones have been largely financed with borrowed money (Independent, June 30).


With two Mormons running for the U.S. presidency, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a statement prohibiting full-time leaders of the church from engaging in politics. The ban, which includes leaders' spouses, proscribes making political contributions and endorsing candidates. Part-time officials are permitted political activity so long as it isn't focused on their congregations and it is made clear that they are speaking for themselves, not the church (UPI).

Gone to the dogs

When Arise Church, a United Methodist congregation in Pinckney, Michigan, built a new church on 20 acres of land, the pastor suggested using part of the space for a dog park. He got the idea when he noticed how his normally shy spouse opened up to strangers when they were at a dog park. Some church members were skeptical about the need and concerned about liability issues. But funds for the dog park were raised in the community, and the church's insurance company agreed to insure the park at no additional cost. About 150 people visit the dog park each week. After a year, about ten of the 110 regular attendees at the church said they found out about the church by way of the dog park (UM Portal, June 20).

The good and the bad

Amish have done much better during this recession than most other Americans because they live simply and frugally. Unemployment is nowhere near 9 percent in the Amish community. Lorilee Craker, author of Money Secrets of the Amish, discovered one Amish man with 14 children who over 20 years of working on a rented farm accumulated $400,000, which he used as a down payment to buy a $1.3 million farm of his own. "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" is a favorite Amish slogan. Most Amish don't use credit cards, and when they do it is only for business transactions, with balances paid off each month (Chicago Tribune, June 24).

A 21-year-old Amish man was arrested in Indiana for sexting a 12-year-old girl and trying to solicit her outside a restaurant. The young man had told the girl that he would be meeting her in a horse and buggy. The police set up a sting operation and arrested him. While many Amish don't have phones in their homes, cell phones have been accepted by some, especially for business purposes (CNN.com, June 21).