Century Marks

Century Marks

Religious profiling

In late 2007 officers in the New York Police Department's secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region's Syrian population. They kept records on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans because the owners were Muslims. Most of the Syrians in the region are Jewish, and they were excluded from the clandestine investigations. Similarly, when the NYPD unit investigated Egyptian businesses, they excluded Coptic Christian-owned ones (AP).

Leaving Iraq

Iraqi Christians who fled to the northern Kurdish provinces to escape attacks and intimidations are starting to leave that area too. Dis­couraged by unemployment, non-Arabic-speaking schools and a deteriorating security situation, they are making a quiet exodus to Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the United States. Kurdish officials had welcomed them, offering them land, free fuel and other assistance. The Christian population in Iraq is thought to be less than half of its pre-war level (New York Times, March 10).

Bible trumped

Fifty percent of Americans would choose Donald Trump as their financial adviser, despite his history of bankruptcies. Only 32 percent would look to the Bible for financial advice, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Bible Society and Compass—Finances God's Way. The survey also found that 86 percent of Americans do not follow what the Bible says about managing money, and 24 percent of those think they would have more money if they did follow that advice. The two nonprofits sponsoring the survey recently released The Financial Stewardship Bible, an integrated study guide that highlights more than 2,000 Bible verses that discuss money and finances (RNS).

Home church

Although Rick Santorum frequently speaks about his faith, he rarely talks or writes about his parish, St. Catherine of Siena, in the Washington suburb of Great Falls, Virginia. Since the Santorums live outside parish boundaries, they had to get special permission to make it their home church. St. Catherine's, known as a conservative congregation with ties to Opus Dei, is attended by other well-known conservative Catholics, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. St. Catherine's has one Latin mass each Sunday (New Republic, March 6).

Not a rat race

Empathy and compassion have long been considered exclusive human traits and some of the loftiest of religious values. But an experiment at the University of Chicago has demonstrated that even rats can show empathy and altruism toward their comrades. Strange rats, unrelated to each other, were put together in a cage. After two weeks some of the rats were placed in a very small cell within larger cages. In a week's time three-fourths of the free rats learned how to free the caged rats. And one half of the free rats would save one or two chocolate chips for the trapped rats, demonstrating both empathy and altruism ("Science on religion," Patheos, March 9).