Century Marks

Century Marks

Spoils of war

Human Rights Watch says that the so-called Islamic State is holding hundreds of the members of the Yazidi sect captive in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State defends this practice in Dabiq, its slick online English-language newspaper. IS claims it is reviving an old Muslim practice of claiming women and children as spoils of war and denies that they have separated mothers from their children. By forcing these people to become Muslims, they argue, they are saving them from idolatry, and by selling women to IS soldiers they are keeping the soldiers from the temptation of adultery (Reuters).

Mass attendance

A group of Catholics in the Detroit area is sponsoring “mass mobs” one Sunday a month at churches where attendance is typically sparse. On a designated mass Sunday, attendance swells—up to 2,000 at one church, which netted an offering of more than $19,000, ten times the usual amount. One parishioner said she hoped the movement would encourage more Catholics to attend mass. Similar movements have been started in Catholic churches in other cities (NPR, October 9).

Room for the dead

Cemetery crowding, especially in large cities or among religious groups that forbid cremation, is becoming a problem worldwide, forcing some creative solutions. Residents of Mexico City must exhume and remove their relatives’ remains after a number of years. A Tower for the Dead project is in the works there: it will include a vertical necropolis along with a subterranean complex 820 feet deep. A simpler solution is to stack graves on top of each other and to share tombstones. Other options being considered are stacking the dead above the ground in niches built into a wall or housing the dead in buildings with each floor resembling a traditional cemetery (AP).

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).

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).