The politics of fear has hardly abated since 9/11, or since last fall’s election, which was largely a contest of convincing voters about who could best “kill the terrorists.” A simple spin down the radio dial shows how fear is alive and well.
Mainline or liberal Protestants need a better term to describe themselves. Mainline implies cultural and social dominance, which is hard to assert given the numerical realities. Only three mainline churches rank among the ten largest church bodies in the U.S. Only six make it into the top 25.
This summer the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on several cases involving the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government property. Public opinion is fairly clear on this question: according to a Gallup poll, 76 percent say state governments should be allowed to display the Ten Commandments, and only 21 percent disagree.
The Terri Schiavo case highlighted our worst fears: the loss of autonomy, the burden of care put on family members, a painful private decision splayed before the press and the public, and, most profoundly, seemingly needless suffering. Whatever else it does, the case should impel Christians to reexamine fundamental beliefs about care for the severely disabled and those at the end of life.
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).