Century Marks

Century Marks

Here we stand

In anticipation of the 500-year celebration of the Protes­tant Reformation, a “Luther Reading Challenge” is being launched by the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France. Writings of Martin Luther are being made available online. Persons who sign up for a free account can engage in online discussion groups with people around the world in English and other languages, including Hungarian, Chinese, and Portuguese.

Sundown town

In Goshen City, a small city in northern Indiana, the city council recently passed a resolution recognizing that it once systematically ex­cluded minorities. The city was mentioned in historian James Loewen’s book Sun­down Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, about communities where black people were expected to leave town by sundown. The Goshen resolution also called for working toward greater equality and justice in the future. “Goshen needs to take steps to hire black teachers, black police officers, and even garbage collectors and to house them in the city,” Loewen said. Goshen has a substantial Hispanic population (Elkhart Truth, March 17).

No holy days

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced recently that the city’s public school system would add two Islamic holy days to the number of religious holidays recognized. Why stop there? asked Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University. Why not mark the winter solstice for Wiccans or celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights? Adding more religious holidays would recognize the nation’s diversity, but it would not be practical, said Prothero. He urged a move in the other direction: no religious holidays on the school calendar (Wall Street Journal, March 10).

Flight delay

Prosperity gospel preacher Creflo Dollar has apparently changed his mind about soliciting money to purchase a luxury jet priced at over $65 million. An online video urged his “existing partners” to give $300 each, an amount large enough to buy the plane of his dreams. The video has been taken down, and his publicist says there is no longer a campaign for the Gulfstream G650 jet. The popular pastor from Atlanta is using commercial flights instead (AP).

English only

A school district 65 miles northwest of New York City arranged to have the Pledge of Allegiance recited in five different languages during National Foreign Language Week. When an Arabic-speaking student recited the pledge in Arabic, some students responded with angry catcalls, and the Pine Bush High School superintendent received complaints from Jews and from residents who had lost loved ones in the war in Afghan­istan. The school district said the intent was to show that people who speak other languages could pledge allegiance to the United States in their native language. It promised that only English would be used in the future (Independent, March 29).