Century Marks

Century Marks

At Mitt’s table

Despite uneasy relations with evangelicals, the Romney camp has been reaching out to them at least since 2006 when the Romneys invited evangelical leaders to a meeting in New Hampshire. The group included Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer. After these leaders got back home they received a chair from the Romneys with a plaque on the back that read, “You will always have a seat at my table.” Evangelicals are hoping that Romney chooses a vice-presidential candidate to their liking and that he’ll give a Rick Santorum–like stump speech supporting their understanding of family values (interview with David Brody on PBS Newshour about his book The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party Are Taking Back America, Zondervan).

Getting his goat

A new missionary on an Indian reservation saw an elder standing in his yard with a goat in his arms. Occasionally the goat would stretch its neck and take a bite of the bushes in the yard. When the missionary asked what the man was doing, he replied, “I’m trimming the hedges.” Incredulously, the missionary said, “Don’t you know that could take all day?” The man said, “What’s time to the goat?” (Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, Eerdmans).

Lay leader

Philanthropist Melinda Gates has declared that she wants to devote the rest of her life to making contraception more accessible globally. Her efforts put her in direct opposition to the Vatican. Gates, a Catholic, says that since her declaration she’s gotten a multitude of supportive responses from Catholic women, including nuns. She argues that women in Africa and Asia need to make decisions on their own about contraception. She points out that 82 percent of American Catholics believe that contraception is acceptable—and that African and Asian women will likely follow them (Sydney Morning Herald, July 13).

Accommodating the faithful

Summer tends to thin out pews on Sunday mornings, as churchgoers take off for vacations. Some churches are rediscovering Wednesday p.m.—a traditional midweek church night—as a prime time to gather the flock for casual worship in the summer. Early adopters report improved attendance, slightly fatter coffers and invigorated spirituality as curious newcomers drop by and join in. For some, the shift to Wednesdays brings variety to a familiar weekly rhythm, but it’s not an easy sell for all church folk (RNS).

Hindus & Christians together?

A Christian human rights group in Pakistan has called for an exclusive region for religious minorities whose numbers have been on a steady decline in the Muslim majority nation. The group has demanded abolition of constitutional provisions that declare Islam to be the state religion. Pakistani laws also say that only a Muslim can head the government. The law forbidding blasphemy against Islam is often used to harass religious minorities. Since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the percentage of minorities has shrunk from 40 to about 4 percent, Hindus and Christians being the largest minorities (ENI).