Century Marks

Century Marks

Scared of America

Following the killing of an Australian man studying in Oklahoma, Tim Fischer, the former deputy prime minister of Australia, suggested that Australians should avoid traveling to the United States. “Yes, people [who] are thinking of going to the USA on business, vacation, trips, should think carefully about it given the statistical facts you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people,” Fischer said. He had championed gun control reforms in Australia nearly two decades ago. Gun control laws have virtually eliminated firearms crimes in Australia (CNN.com, August 20).


As a child, Deirdre Sullivan’s parents took her and her siblings to funerals. “Always go to the funeral,” her father would say. She heard him also saying: do the right thing, even when you don’t feel like it; it might inconvenience you, but it could mean the world to someone else. This message came back to her after her father died and his funeral was held in the middle of the workweek. “The most human, powerful and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral,” she said (NPR).


Sean Gastonguay, his wife, their two small children and his father left the United States by private boat to get away from what they considered government interference in religion. They attempted to reach the island nation of Kiribati, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. A storm severely damaged their boat, leaving them adrift on the ocean for weeks. Rescued by a fishing boat, they were transferred to a cargo ship that took them to Chile. Now back in the U.S., they owe the State Depart­ment $10,000 for the flight home (AP).

Religion in the house

Of the 435 members in the U.S. House of Representa­tives, 136 are Roman Catholic. Among the other leigislators are
66 Baptists, 45 Methodists, 35 Anglicans/  Episcopalians, 28 Presbyterians, 22 Jews and 8 Mor­mons. All but one of the Jewish representatives are Democrats; all but one of the Mormons are Republicans. There is only one self-proclaimed atheist (Huffington Post, August 20).

Size factor?

Christians who worship in “very large” congregations see racial inequalities differently from those who attend smaller churches, a joint Baylor University and University of Southern California study has found. Members of the bigger institutions “do not tend to attribute social divisions between blacks and whites to discrimination or lack of quality education, but to something other than structural failings in society,” according to a summary of the report posted on the Texas school’s website. “Size of the congregation matters above and beyond denominational affiliations, religious traditions and political beliefs.” More research is needed to ascertain the reasons for this difference (ABPnews).