In The World—August 9, 2015

August 9, 2015 No Comments »
In The World—August 9, 2015

By Melissa Wuske

Conflict over Campus Student Leaders

Colleges and universities around the country have created “all-comers” policies that state student organizations must welcome any student as a member and a leader in the group. These policies have proved especially tricky for religious student groups. 

“I don’t feel there is any way you can fulfill the mission of a group if you don’t believe in the mission,” said E. Scott Martin, national director for Chi Alpha, a campus ministry that’s faced opposition. Allowing leaders who don’t agree with the faith that defines a group “undermines the identity of the group,” added Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

So what does the public think? About 48 percent of those surveyed by LifeWay believe that religious student groups at public universities should be allowed to dictate the beliefs of their student leaders; 51 percent of evangelicals agreed.

Educated Women Having More Children

Highly educated women have more children than similar groups had in the past, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. In 1994, 30 percent of women ages 40 to 44 with a master’s degree or higher had no children. Now U.S. Census data shows that only 22 percent of this group have no children. The trend is even more pronounced among women with MDs and PhDs—35 percent had no children in 1994, now 20 percent have no children. These trends reflect the changing culture that allows women in particular to pursue and attain a work/life balance.

Overall family size is also changing, Pew found. Among women between age 40 and 44, one- and two-child households have risen since 1976 (from 10 to 18 percent and 22 to 35 percent, respectively), and four-child households have dropped from 36 to 12 percent.

Where’s Natalie Portman’s Oscar?

Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her role in Black Swan. Recently The Hollywood Reporter asked her where she displayed her valuable award. 

“I don’t know where it is,” she said. “I think it’s in the safe or something. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in a while.” She explained her lack of interest this way: “I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is literally worshipping gold idols—if you worship it. That’s why it’s not displayed on the wall. It’s a false idol.”

Sick and Elderly Prisoners

The U.S. Department of Justice released a report on a growing segment of the prison population: the elderly and infirm.

Older inmates cost 8 percent more to incarcerate, due to increased medical needs. Additionally, limited medical staff, training for nonmedical staff, and access to lower bunks and handicapped showers creates poor and even dangerous conditions. And the problem is anticipated to worsen, as inmates over age 50 are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.

The report suggested a solution: many of these inmates are eligible for early release, citing older inmates’ lower instance of misconduct and lower rate of getting arrested again after release. Earlier calls for compassionate release have had little result, but the Department of Justice is again urging the Bureau of Prisons to expand eligibility for release and improve living conditions for prisoners.

Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (

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