Century Marks

Century Marks

Coming out Christian

When the liberal political pundit Ana Marie Cox decided to come out as a Christian, she was worried less about the response from her secular colleagues than about that of Christians. She worried that they wouldn’t approve of a “progressive, feminist, tattooed, pro-choice, graduate-educated believer.” When people ask her why she now seems happier and freer, she’s tempted to say it’s because she moved out of Washington, D.C. But the honest answer is: “I try, every day, to give my will and my life over to God. I try to be like Christ. I get down on my knees and pray.” Cox said, “I am saved not because of who I am or what I have done (or didn’t do), but simply because I have accepted the infinite grace that was always offered to me” (Daily Beast, February 28).

Dialing up doubt

A hotline was launched by Recovering from Religion to respond to questions from people wrestling with religion, suffering from loss of faith, or concerned about a relative embracing atheism. The hotline aims to help them find their own answers. Those running the hotline are not therapists, but volunteers who have been given training. “If churches suddenly started welcoming doubters to their potlucks, the hotline project wouldn’t be necessary,” said Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion (CNN.com, February 28).

What Jesus said

Randy Beckum, chaplain and vice-president of community formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was relieved of some of his duties for a “controversial sermon” he preached in chapel at the Olathe, Kansas, school. His audience was riled by the suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and by his questioning of Christians’ use of violence. MNU’s president issued a statement intended to protect academic freedom, but which had the effect of distancing the college from the teachings of Jesus: “At MidAmerica Nazarene University we encourage the exchange of ideas and individuals are free to express their individual perspective and opinions, even when those opinions may not reflect the official policy or practices of our university, our core values or our affiliations” (Patheos, March 6).

Cut up

Under the sway of the multimillionaire religious guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 400 men in India cut off their own testicles to “bring them closer to God.” Although this happened in 2000 at a hospital run by Ram Rahim, the facts are just now coming to light. Only one castration victim has come forward so far. His lawyer says he thought he’d become a social outcast if he didn’t follow the guru’s teaching. Ram Rahim, who has also been accused of assault by some female followers, is under investigation by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. He has an estimated following of 50 million people worldwide (International Business Times, March 1).

Catholic consensus?

Four U.S. Catholic publications published a joint editorial calling for the end of capital punishment. The editorial had in view an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case out of Oklahoma that raises the question of whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. The editors of National Catholic Reporter, America, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor point out that citizens, acting through their government, are the moral agent in these executions (National Catholic Reporter, March 5).