Watching the World
Religion at the Inauguration
◆ Religion’s influence was clearly evident at Richard M. Nixon’s second inauguration as U.S. President. Nixon, 60, was sworn in on two family Bibles turned to Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares . . . neither shall they learn war any more.” This fit Nixon’s inaugural address reference to “a peace that will endure for generations,” apparently still his primary goal. There were Baptist, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox prayers. The Jewish prayer by a rabbi who had campaigned for Nixon was one ordinarily reserved for kings. A final ecumenical service was held the next day. It included evangelist Billy Graham and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Catholics Reject Church Teachings
◆ A report published in Science magazine reveals that 68 percent of over 1,000 U.S. Catholic women interviewed use birth-control methods forbidden by their church. Authors of the study, Drs. C. Westhoff and L. Bumpass, say: “It seems abundantly clear that U.S. Catholics have rejected the 1968 papal encyclical’s statement on birth control and that there exists a wide gulf between the behavior of most Catholic women . . . and the official stand of the church itself.” Monsignor J. T. McHugh in Washington, D.C., refers to the report as “generally quite accurate.” Another study was commissioned by the archbishop of Toronto, Canada. It reveals, says the Toronto Star, that “a ‘disturbing’ number of Roman Catholics . . . consider the church to be irrelevant in setting the moral and social tone for modern-day living.” For many, the report says, their religion “might be likened to an artificial flower—they find it beautiful, but lifeless.” Priests interviewed unanimously agreed that churchgoers do not sufficiently support the church financially.
Spaceman “Convinced of God”
◆ Recent Apollo trips into space prompted interesting expressions from astronauts about the earth and the universe. C. M. Duke observed: “The earth is the most beautiful sight in space, with all its colors of land, seas, and clouds.” Spaceman E. A. Cernan said that from space “the earth looks big and beautiful . . . The earth looks so perfect. There are no strings to hold it up, no fulcrum upon which it rests. . . . I am convinced of God by the order out in space. I know it didn’t happen by accident.”
One in Three Robbed
◆ An early December Gallup Poll shows that one person in three living in heavily populated U.S. cities has been mugged, robbed or suffered property loss in the last year. The figure for the suburbs is one in five. Four persons in ten said they were afraid to walk alone at night in their neighborhood. One in six now says he does not feel secure in his own home at night. The poll’s figures were based on interviews with over 1,500 adults. Crime is now considered the major concern of persons living in cities of over 500,000 population.
◆ Not only is gonorrhea increasing but new evidence indicates it Is much more dangerous than has been believed. Some males do not develop gonorrhea symptoms, yet unknowingly remain carriers for more than six months. Infected women suffer about 120,000 hysterectomies a year in the U.S. Further, the bacteria causing the disease are increasingly difficult to combat. In 1966, gonorrhea germs were killed 85 percent of the time with tetracycline; in 1971, only 40 percent. It now takes eight times as much penicillin to cure gonorrhea as it did in the years after World War II.
◆ Twenty of the twenty-six professional American football teams have religious services before each game. The Washington Redskins hold a thirty-minute session, attended by about 80 percent of the athletes and coaches and presided over by Baptist preacher T. Skinner. Says Skinner: “I always thank God for our wins.” A Presbyterian minister, Billy Zeoli, has served ten professional clubs. Dallas Cowboy coach T. Landry calls Zeoli “one of the greatest assets to our team.” Yet, both the Washington and Dallas teams failed to win the championship this year.
New Hijacking Laws
◆ New hijacking laws in the U.S. require that all bags or parcels carried aboard airplanes must be examined; electronic weapons-detecting devices screen every passenger. An armed guard is required at the departure gate for all 15,000 daily flights. Movement of friends meeting or bidding farewell to passengers is also limited. At airports in the Soviet Union, new measures are not as restrictive. However, stiff penalties, including capital punishment if death or injury results, are to accompany hijack attempts in that country.
◆ More private guards are being hired to fight rising crime. Expenditures for private security in the U.S. increased more than 150 percent since 1960, while spending for law enforcement was up 90 percent. The 3,500 private-guard companies in the country can point to some successes of their guards in preventing crime. However, the Rand Corporation’s sixteen-month study of the private-police industry says: “The typical private guard is an aging white male, poorly educated, usually untrained and very poorly paid.” Most guards have less than two days of training for their job, according to the study.
More ‘Cold-blooded Murder’
◆ Medical examiner Dr. J. H. Davis of Dade County, Florida, notes a rise in ‘cold-blooded murder’ in the U.S.: “There’s been a fantastic upsurge in armed-robbery type killings here and probably across the country.” He blames this increase on the virtual abolition of the death penalty. Courts outlawing capital punishment, he says, fail to distinguish between ‘hot’ and ‘cold-blooded murder.’ A ‘hot-blooded murder’ is one of passion, perhaps brought on by alcohol or a domestic quarrel. Davis reasons that fear of punishment will likely affect only the deliberate, ‘cold-blooded’ killer. Another medical examiner, Dr. J. L. Luke of Washington, D.C., points to television crime dramas as being behind many ruthless murders.
◆ The year 1972 was good for American farmers. The U.S. gross farm income rose about 10 percent. Farmers realized unusually high prices on wheat, soybeans and cattle; high grain prices were largely due to Russia’s big orders. In turn, U.S. and Canadian farmers purchased about $3.6 billion worth of farm equipment, up some 20 percent from 1971.
◆ Thirty-three billion dollars was spent on advertising world wide in 1970, according to the International Advertising Association and International Research Associates. Over 80 percent of this amount was spent in the U.S., West Germany, United Kingdom, Canada and France. American advertisers alone paid out almost twenty billion dollars.
◆ Children are changing. An increase in obesity by as much as 50 percent has occurred among American youngsters in the past twenty years, according to a recent report. Harvard’s Dr. J. Mayer blames this on high calorie food and on “a drastic decrease in spontaneous physical activity” due to watching television. Mental changes are equally pronounced. Today some high school students study what their parents learned in college; elementary grade students are getting material once used in higher grades. A 1958 U.N. report said that young people’s interests were changing so fast that those about seven years apart in age were as removed in their thinking as two generations once were. However, by the mid-sixties, a current Guardian review notes, “there were generation-gaps between young people two or three years apart in age.” Is it any wonder that a recent government report says 10 to 12 percent of American children need regular mental health treatment?
◆ In an attempt to save the peregrine falcon, a special breeding project is being carried on around the world. Though these falcons were once among the most numerous of America’s birds of prey, they have now all but disappeared. There are only about 150 to 200 falcon pairs left in the forty-eight states of the mainland. It is similarly threatened elsewhere. Large-scale use of DDT and trigger-happy hunters are blamed for the bird’s endangered state. The falcon is valuable in controlling the number of smaller birds.
Classical Music’s Decline
◆ Current figures reveal how few Americans prefer “classical” music. Last year about fifteen million attended symphony performances. This was half the number who saw the movie “The Godfather” within the first nine months of its showing and about one third as many as attended auto races. Classical records account only for about 4 percent of total record sales in the U.S. Of 1,131 “gold records” awarded performers for a record selling more than a million copies, only one has gone to a classical musician. “As soon as you call something classical,” says Henry Brief of the Recording Industry Association of America, “you frighten off a good portion of the population.”
Balanced Environmental View
◆ Conserving Life on Earth is a newly published book by D. Ehrenfeld, associate professor of biology at Columbia University. He blames “the rise of western Christianity” and its wrong concept of “progress” for the ecological disaster in which man finds himself. He notes, however: “Among contemporary Judeo-Christian religious groups, few besides the Jehovah’s Witnesses would appear to have formulated a holistic [whole] and balanced philosophy of man in relation to his environment (see Awake!, April 22, 1971).”
Why Pollution Continues
◆ Reaction to the recent “Club of Rome Report,” that man will have to check growth and pollution or perish, has not been entirely favorable. Why? Says Science World magazine: “Most people, companies, and countries want to grow richer and stronger. We all want more things: cars, TV sets, records, books, food and so on. World leaders worry about increasing pollution and increasing demands on nature. But at the same time, they call for greater economic growth. Why? That’s what their people want! Nobody wants to be told to stop wanting the things they’ve always wanted.”
An Accurate Press?
◆ Truth is a prerequisite of good journalism. But just how accurate is the public press? Recently, F. Mann of the LTV Corporation, in an address, referred to a visit to France by England’s Queen Elizabeth: “She too was shocked to learn of her image, as projected in the press. It seems that the French media, in this case, had over the years reported her as being pregnant on 92 separate occasions, having suffered 149 accidents and having nine miscarriages. Further, she had abdicated 63 times, been on the verge of breaking up with Prince Philip 73 times, been on the edge of a nervous breakdown on 32 occasions and had endured fully 27 attempts on her life.”
◆ It happens only once in forty million births! A 26-year-old woman in Illinois gave birth to quintuplets in early January. She was only thirty-two weeks pregnant; all five babies were delivered within twenty-five minutes, with no sedation. Within five days all were reported performing normal, spontaneous activities. The mother had been taking a fertility drug.