By Melissa Wuske
Religious Restrictions Around the World
Pew Research released its annual study on global religious restrictions, covering 2014. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the 198 countries examined had high or very high levels of government control over religion. That number is down from the recent high of 29 percent in 2012. The percentage of countries with high or very high social hostilities involving religion also fell from 33 percent in 2012 to 23 percent in 2014. Regionally the Middle East and North Africa had the highest rates of government and social hostility.
The study also found that the number of countries with religion-related terrorism rose in 2014: 82 countries had terrorism related to religion (up from 73 in 2013) and 60 countries had injuries and deaths from the terrorism (up from 51 in 2013). Middle East and North Africa again had the highest rates, but the Asia-Pacific region had the greatest rise in religion-related terrorism.
Pakistanis Cross Religious Boundaries
While Christians throughout Pakistan face violence and persecution, one village outside the city of Gorja—a city that faced extensive anti-Christian violence in 2009—is living differently. Muslim members of the community are helping Christians build a church. “By building this church, we want to show that we are united as a community,” said Ijaz Farooq, a Muslim resident.
“Since my childhood, we have all lived together in this one place,” said local Christian Faryal Masih. “We live with love—attend each other’s weddings and festivals. We are together in times of happiness and grief. I pray that we never have to go through what happened in Gorja, ever.”
A local priest emphasized the significance of this partnership across religious lines: “This church being built in a small village by the Muslims, it is very significant. It shows that people have love in their hearts. They want to stay together. If there are those who fuel the fire, there are also those who douse the flames.”
Cab Ride Reward
Jose Lopez hopped in an unforgettable cab ride this summer in the Bronx. Lopez and the driver, Mody Camara, soon realized they used to work together in construction. Camara let Lopez know that he, and others from a construction job the men had worked on a decade earlier, were owed money. The men had earned $60 a day, but according to the city comptroller, they should’ve received $45 an hour. This discovery resulted in $200,000 for Lopez and two other friends. “[Camara] didn’t even charge me for the ride!” Lopez said.
Subconscious Bias Against Temptation
A new study by Rutgers University suggests that people in happy relationships are less likely to be tempted to cheat on their partner because they subconsciously see people who are a threat to their relationship as less attractive.
The researchers told 131 undergraduates that they’d be getting a new lab partner of the opposite sex. After meeting the new partner, participants were shown 11 photos—one accurate, five altered to be more attractive, and five altered to be less attractive—and asked to select the most accurate picture of the new lab partner. Those in happy relationships consistently chose photos altered to include less attractive traits. The results were even more pronounced when participants were told that the new lab partner was interested in dating.
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).