Century Marks

Century Marks

Office chaplain

Marketplace Ministries, based in Plano, Texas, is the nation’s largest provider of workplace chaplains, a growing service industry. It has an annual budget of $14 million and sends thousands of chaplains into workplaces around the world. Although almost all workplace chaplains are Christian, their job is not to proselytize, and they relate to employees of any or no faith. Their job is more to listen than to speak. Company executives are discovering that productivity goes up when stress goes down (NPR, December 11).

Voices of 2014

“Churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries—holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God. In this nation of ours, they have seldom been the locations where violence has disrupted the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. Yet even those occasions—rare as they may be—are not sufficient reasons to allow people to bring more weapons into God’s house.” 
—Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, announcing that he will not allow guns in Catholic churches under a new Georgia law


“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” —Federal judge John E. Jones III, striking down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage 


“It’s chaotic, really chaotic. People are not just worried and afraid, but they are really depressed about what will be the future, if there is a future.” —Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil in Iraq, speaking to Vatican Radio about the Sunni-led insurgency


“While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the answer . . . There are better, more effective, more healthy and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict.” —Letter to President Obama signed by 53 religious leaders, academics, and ministers urging alternatives to U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria


“If you don’t look like Michael Brown, or have a son or grandson or cousin who looks like Michael Brown, you will never understand why we feel the way we feel tonight.” —Markel Hutchins, an African-American minister in Atlanta protesting against the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, who shot the unarmed Michael Brown


“Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s.” —Michelle Beadle, host of ESPN’s SportsNation, after fellow anchor Stephen A. Smith warned women about provoking violent actions by males. He was commenting on the suspension of NFL player Ray Rice for domestic violence. Rice was later reinstated.


“‘I was hungry. And you asked for my papers. I was thirsty. And you wanted to see my visa.’ Not what Jesus ever said.”—A church sign at College Avenue Presbyterian Church in Oakland, California


“Who does the government work for? Does it work just for millionaires, just for the billionaires, just for those who have armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does it work for the people?” —Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from Massachusetts


“The people who work at Walmart cannot feed their families. The Waltons [Walmart owners] are on the list of the top ten richest Americans.” —Harriet Applegate, head of the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor in Ohio during a Black Friday demonstration against Walmart’s treatment of its workers


“When contagion breaks out, fear invariably spreads faster than the virus. This isn’t reason to relax, but it is reason for a calm, deliberate focus on containment.” —USAToday.com, commenting on the Ebola virus crisis in West Africa


“The formulators of the [Israeli] Declaration of Independence, with much wisdom, insisted the Arab communities in Israel, as well as other groups, should not feel as the Jews had felt in exile.” —Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, reacting to a bill promoted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would declare Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people


“Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free.” —Economist Paul Krugman, commenting on several studies that conclude that strict carbon legislation wouldn’t hurt the economy but could actually help it by leading to faster growth through the investments in renewable energy


“How can humanity survive tomorrow when it is severed today by diverse divisions,conflicts and animosities, frequently even in the name of God?” —Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Eastern Orthodox churches, in a joint session with Pope Francis during Francis’s November trip to Istanbul

Grooming exemptions

The American Civil Liberties Union and the United Sikhs are suing the U.S. Army for rejecting efforts by a Sikh student at Hofstra University to enlist. Iknoor Singh’s religion requires that he have a beard and wear a turban, both forbidden in military grooming and dress codes. The Department of Defense sometimes grants religious exemptions, but not for Singh’s beard and headdress. Over 105 members of Congress sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in March urging the Defense Department to give Sikhs opportunities to serve (Time, November 12).

Backing Obama

The American Catholic bishops support President Obama’s intention to take executive action on immigration. “It would be derelict not to support the administrative actions . . . which would provide immigrants and their families legal protection,” said Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Committee on Migration. In the past the bishops have been critical of the president on gay marriage and the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Now they are under pressure to follow Pope Francis’s lead in making social justice issues a priority (RNS).

Proof text

Amazon says that the most highlighted Bible passage on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is Philippians 4:6–7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Atlantic, November 2).