A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that Americans are quite accepting of religions other than their own. Seventy percent of those with a religious affiliation agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Among mainline Protestants that figure jumped to 83 percent, and among Catholics, to 79 percent.
Observers of American life have long wondered what it would take to disrupt our love affair with cars. It turns out that $4-a-gallon gasoline might do the trick. Last year for the first time in 28 years, Americans drove fewer miles than the year before. Automakers can no longer sell their highly profitable but gas-guzzling SUVs.
It’s been an odd season for pastors and would-be presidents. The latter have been renouncing the former faster than you can say “damage control.” Barack Obama quit his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago after Catholic priest Michael Pfleger delivered a sermon there in which he mocked Hillary Clinton for her alleged racism.
A report emerged from President Bush’s visit to Israel saying that Bush told Israeli leaders he intends to launch a military strike against Iran before he leaves office. The president is reported to have said that Hezbollah’s recent show of military strength in Lebanon proves that Iran’s influence in the Middle East is growing and that “the disease must be treated—not the symptoms.”
Prophets do not always have a balanced view of reality. They are not people who have made a pragmatic adjustment to the status quo. Rather, prophets are people seized by a vision of God’s justice. They speak poetically and act dramatically, trying to move people to face truths that they’d rather not face.
The 35 people executed in the United States in 2014 represent the fewest number in two decades, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The decline is driven in part by continuing legal disputes related to drugs used in lethal injection and by state moratoriums on the death penalty. The center, which opposes the death penalty, also found that the 72 death sentences issued in 2014 represents the fewest in 40 years. Perhaps most striking about the 2014 report was the fact that Texas, the perennial leader in carrying out the death penalty, was no longer alone at the top (as it has been for 17 years). It was tied with Missouri for the most executions, with ten (RNS).