Century Marks

Century Marks

Generosity

A survey by ICM, a London-based polling agency, shows that the United Kingdom’s estimated 280,000 Muslims give more money annually to charity than do Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs. The ICM survey showed that Muslims say they donate about $567 per person per year, with Jews (also numbering around 280,000 in the UK) in second place, giving $412 per person annually. Christians gave considerably less—just over $300 per person—and atheists give the least, $177 (RNS).

Turnabout

Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, converted to Christianity when he was a university student at Trinity College, Cambridge. Before that, he “vaguely assumed there was a God,” he said. “But I didn’t believe. I wasn’t interested at all.” Although his conversion changed him deeply, at the time he was embarrassed by it; he told the Christian friend who had prayed with him not to tell anyone about it. He doesn’t think everyone needs to have the same experience. “There is an incredible range of ways in which the Spirit works,” he says. Welby’s spiritual director is a Catholic priest and hermit who started a community especially for people in long-term psychiatric care (Telegraph, July 12).

Captives

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Half of the people in federal prisons were convicted on nonviolent drug charges. The number of nonviolent drug offenders in jails in the U.S. has increased 1,100 percent since 1980. Even though only 14 to 15 percent of drug users in the U.S. are African Americans, they account for 59 percent of those convicted for drug offenses and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for drug convictions. The U.S. incarcerates African Americans at a rate six times that of South Africa during apartheid (Guardian, July 23).

Giving it away

Sam Simon, co-creator of the TV show The Simpsons, was diagnosed with colon cancer and given three to six months. He’s decided to give his assets away, especially to organizations that work on animal rights and on hunger. “The truth is, I have more money than I’m interested in spending,” Simon said. “Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this” (New York Daily News, July 27).

Without a ladder

“Where you grow up matters,” says Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, author of a new study on economic mobility and geography. Location doesn’t matter much for the children of the well-to-do, who tend to do well regardless. But if you’re poor and from the Southeast or the industrial Midwest, your chances of climbing the economic ladder are poor, and especially low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indiana­polis, Cinncinnati and Columbus. Chances of climbing the economic ladder are best in the Northwest, Great Plains and the West, especially in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and much of California and Minnesota (BillMoyers.com, July 23).