I’m sure it’s only a coincidence, but nearly every time I’ve shoehorned a brief lecture on Scientology into my survey of religion in North America course—brief because I’m not at all sure it merits being classified as a religion—I’ve received a phone call or e-mail from some Scientology entity or another offering to send a representative or materials so my students will be properly informed.
After the Senate refused to take up several gun-control proposals Wednesday, I checked in with faith-based activists on the legislative process. (See my earlier Century article.) Many expressed frustration but also tentative hope for future prospects. "I'm deeply disappointed and very angry at the vise grip the NRA has on this issue," says Katherine Willis Pershey of the #ItIsEnough campaign.
Many activists weren't thrilled with the legislation to begin with.
At a conference on theology and politics at Wheaton College earlier this month, a speaker described a world run by economic elites who pursue their own interests. These elites dominate both political parties in the United States, he noted.
In the question-and-answer period, a student at the evangelical college asked what then should be done, given such an oppressive system. The speaker advised the student not to put much hope in electoral politics.
On July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey—just across the Hudson River from Manhattan—two longtime political adversaries faced off in a duel. The result: Vice President Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded the former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. (No, Dick Cheney was not the first vice president to shoot someone!)
Dueling, which Benjamin Franklin characterized as a “murderous practice,” was technically illegal in most states.
Jay Stooksberry argues that the way to reduce gun-related homicides in the United States is to halt the war on drugs. Nearly half of homicides involving guns today are drug-related. He notes that during the Prohibition era, gun deaths increased, as did alcoholism, which Prohibition was meant to prevent. Gangs then controlled the black market, just as they control the distribution and sale of illegal drugs today. Prohibition was a failure, and for similar reasons the war on drugs hasn’t worked—but it has led to the killing of innocents in gang warfare and the militarization of law enforcement, at the cost of a trillion dollars spent over the past four decades (Newsweek, August 16).