Century Marks

Century Marks

Preemptive action

An Alcohol­ics Anonymous group that has been meeting in a Baptist church in Keithville, Louisiana, for more than five years was told that it can no longer meet there. The church is forcing the group out for fear that if it lets nonchurch groups use the building, it could be forced to let it be used for the marriage of gays or lesbians. The pastor said the church was acting on the advice of an article in the Louisiana Baptist Church Message. A spokesperson for People Acting for Change and Equality said the church’s action is misguided. “Even if we have legalized gay marriage throughout the country, no church will be forced to marry gay people if they don’t want to,” she said (KSLA News, September 25).

Women in gray

Fighting for the poor and disadvantaged isn’t an aberration for the nuns on the Nuns on the Bus tour, led by Sister Simone Campbell. Their order, the Sisters of Social Service, was founded in Hungary in 1923 with a commitment to social justice. Their founder was the first woman elected to the Hungarian parliament. Another member was executed by the Nazis for hiding Jews in her hostel and was beatified by Pope Benedict in 2006. The order is credited with having spared the lives of at least 1,000 Jews during the Hitler era. From their beginning they’ve worn a simple gray suit that ordinary women might wear, not a habit (Harper’s, August).

Last choice?

Compassion & Choices, a death with dignity group, recently polled a representative group of likely California voters, asking how they’d vote on a measure to give terminally ill people who are of sound mind the right to request a life-ending medication. Nearly two-thirds said they’d vote in favor of it, including 53 percent of Republicans. Ignacia Castuera, a United Methodist minister and a Compassion & Choices board member, believes baby boomers are going to want that choice when they reach the end of life. Previous death with dignity efforts in California have been defeated with the help of religious groups, including the Catholic Church. Five states now have provisions for assisted suicide or assisted dying (Los Angeles Times, September 30).

Without a prayer

Nearly half of Americans claim they pray every day and about a third say they pray several times a day, according to research by LifeWay. Of those who pray, 82 percent pray for family and friends. Despite the fact that the New Testament admonishes believers to pray for those in authority, only about 12 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for government leaders. About 40 percent say they pray for their enemies or those who have mis­treated them, as instructed by Jesus (RNS)

Top 100

Time magazine has come up with a list of the 100 most significant people in history. The top ten are Jesus, Napoleon, Muhammad, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Adolf Hitler, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and Thomas Jefferson. A quarter of those chosen are philosophers or religious figures. Not many women are included. Queen Elizabeth I is the woman highest on the list (13). Time admits that its sources and methods have a Western bias (Time, October 12).