Century Marks

Century Marks

Which faith?

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is known for his public expressions of faith and his come-from-behind (some say miraculous) victories. After Saturday Night Live lampooned Tebow, Pat Robertson said it was an example of anti-Christian bigotry. Marcus Cederstrom asks: "What if Tebow were Muslim?" Would he then be revered by many and tolerated by most others? Cederstrom points to two examples: Chris Jackson's Mississippi home was burned after he converted to Islam and changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf; when Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) resisted the draft during the Vietnam War because of his newfound faith, his championship belt was taken away, and for four years he was not allowed to fight (Salon, January 12).

The Sufi and Qaddafi

In 1969 Libya's Colonel Muammar Qaddafi deposed King Idris, leader of Sanusi, a Sufi Islamic order, in a bloodless coup. The modern state of Libya was born after World War II with the aid of the British government. The chief negotiator for the British was Norman Anderson, an evangelical missionary with impeccable skills in Arabic. Anderson had a deep respect for Islam that was not typical of conservative Christians in his era. He developed a relationship with King Idris and helped him forge modern-day Libya (History Today, December).

Politics in the pulpit

Randall Balmer, a historian of American religion, spent his high school years in Des Moines, Iowa. His father was a staunch Republican and pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in the state—but he was resolutely apolitical in the pulpit. Beginning in the late 1970s, however, the issue of abortion galvanized evangelical political activism in Iowa, and the state became a harbinger of movements on the religious right. Evangelicals formed megachurches and homeschooling became popular. Iowa's long tradition of progressivism has been blunted, as is evident in the 2010 recall of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage (Religion Dispatches, December 31).

What they’re reading

Mitt Romney, when asked what book he's read recently, mentioned George W. Bush's Decision Points. Michelle Bachman touted J. Steven Wilkin's Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee (Wilkins is a leading proponent of the notion that the South was an orthodox Christian nation attacked unjustly by the godless North). Rick Perry said he likes W. Cleon Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap: Twenty-eight Ideas That Changed the World (it's a book promoted by Glenn Beck and written by a figure the conservative National Review called a "nutjob") (The Daily Beast, December 19).

Woman of the year?

In late December, Verizon Wireless announced that it would charge customers a $2 fee for online or telephone payments. Molly Katchpole launched an online petition opposing this move. One day after the petition was launched, Verizon said it was withdrawing the fee. Katchpole started an online petition earlier in the year against Bank of America's $5 debit card fee. Bank of America reversed that action after Katchpole collected more than 300,000 signatures (New Mexico Business Weekly, December 30)