Weekly Review

Divorce Rates, Greek Elections, Border Chaos, Teen Suicide, and L’affaire Lambert

Divorce, American Style. Americans are getting divorced less often than we were 50 years ago. That’s the good news. The bad news? We are also getting married less and cohabitating more. In 2017, the divorce rate among married women ages 15 and older dropped to 16.1 divorces per 1,000 married women, down from 16.7 the previous year. In demographic terms, that’s a pretty massive one-year change, and it’s dramatically lower than the divorce rate’s peak of 22.8 in 1979. These statistics come from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. In a related study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 8.2 new marriages per 1,000 people in 2000, but by 2017 that number had dropped to 6.9 marriages per 1,000 people. We’re also making fewer babies. 2017 witnessed the lowest birthrate in 32 years.

Worldview Shift. The same conservative-populist wave that swept Donald Trump into office here in the United States is breaking on other shores as well. Greek conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis became the country’s new prime minister Monday after his New Democracy party won a weekend parliamentary election. Mitsotakis’ party received the largest share of the vote and will hold 158 seats in the 300-member Parliament.  But it’s important to note that the most extreme right-wing party in Greece, the Golden Dawn party, failed to win a single seat. Most of the remaining seats in the Greek parliament went to the Syriza party, a Democratic Socialist party formed in 2004 from progressive and radical left factions.

Border Shocked. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was “deeply shocked” by the treatment of migrant children at U.S. border detention facilities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a July 2 report calling the situation “urgent” and advised the federal government to “take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults.”

Withdrawing Life Support. Euthanasia is illegal in France.Despite that, and despite appeals by family members and church leaders, including Pope Francis, doctors have withdrawn life support (including food and water) from quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, 42, who has been in a semi-conscious state for 10 years. “L’affaire Lambert” has focused attention on protecting disabled persons through international law.

Promoting Suicide. A new HBO documentary debuting this week is the latest pop culture artifact to portray suicide in a positive light. The two-part HBO doc features Michelle Carter, who at age 17 was charged with involuntary manslaughter for sending her suicidal boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, texts urging him to kill himself. He ultimately did. According to a review in WORLD, “In ‘I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter,’ director Erin Lee Carr puts viewers in the jury box, presenting a more sympathetic narrative of Roy’s suicide, with special emphasis on his and Carter’s struggle with mental health. Carter, now 22, is serving a 15-month prison sentence, and her lawyers are expected to appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court this month.” Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents. A recent study suggests that such shows as this one and Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” have contributed to the phenomenon. WORLD’s Mary Jackson concludes, “Indeed, parents should be aware of these plotlines, their lack of positive parental role models, and the possibility that their teens may be exposed to them. Better yet: The stark contrast the Christian worldview presents—that every human derives value as image-bearers of God.”

Milestones. Economist Henry Hazlitt, whose book Economics in One Lesson should be required reading, died this week (July 8), 1993…. Reformation theologian John Calvin was born on this date in 1509…. Also born this week (July 10) in 1723 was the jurist William Blackstone. Knowledge of his Commentaries on the English Law were, for a century or more, about all a young lawyer needed to become a member of the bar.

 

Warren Cole Smith is the Vice-President of Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.


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