Ford, GM to make safer large vans
Faced with government criticism and civil lawsuits, American auto companies have promised to add stability control to their large vans, which are very popular among church groups.
General Motors says it will offer electronic stability control on its 12-passenger vans starting with its 2005 models. It is already keeping its vow to make the stability control a standard feature on 15-passenger vans in 2004 and subsequent models.
Ford is jumping in, too, promising to add stability control standard in 15-passenger vans starting with its 2006 models (it's not clear from news reports whether this will be a standard feature or an option).
"Ford dominates the large van segment," notes The Detroit News, with 53 percent of the market for 15-passenger vans belonging to its Club Wagon models.
But market competition may not be the only reason the auto companies are adding anti-rollover technology. Late last month, Ford settled a hefty lawsuit over a 2002 van rollover crash that killed three American missionaries in Mexico. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but a similar case in 1999 that went to the jury ended up with a $20 million judgment.
Since then, large vans have only come under increasing scrutiny. Most devastating were two consumer warnings issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board that the vans be retrofitted with stability control or additional wheels.
In introducing the new features, the automakers are emphasizing their belief that the vans are safe as they are. "We remain confident that this is a very safe vehicle," Ford said in a written statement. Similarly, GM's vehicle line executive for commercial trucks and vans told The Detroit News that the new stability controls are a way to "take what we believe is already a safe vehicle and make it even safer."
The more than 700 people killed in large van rollover crashes over past 20 years may have had something to say about that—if they weren't dead. But surely this is good news for churches wanting to keep their youth groups safe in their travels.
Still, Public Citizen, an advocacy group that has been leading the charge on 15-passenger van safety, says the automakers aren't going far enough. The stability control system "is no substitute for a full redesign of these deathtraps," Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook says in a press release. "This system won't fix the fundamental hazards that are designed into these vans and are evident in crashes. The vehicles have extremely weak roofs that crush in a rollover, jeopardizing the heads and spines of passengers and opening large portals for ejection. They also have weak doors and poor safety belt systems that fail to keep passengers in place during a crash."
Southern Baptist workers killed in Iraq:
- Missionary slain in Iraq mourned | In a letter Karen Watson wrote to her church, she penned her own epitaph (Los Angeles Times)
- 4 slain missionaries wanted to help Iraqis | Only survivor of Monday's attack is airlifted to Germany for more treatment (Knight Ridder)
- U.S. missionaries knew the risks of helping Iraqis | Baptist missionaries Carrie and David McDonnall had been married less than a year before they decided to help Iraqis rebuild from the destruction of the war (CNN)
- Missionaries in Iraq had accepted the risks | Friends remember slain Rowlett man, injured wife for their desire to help Iraqis (The Dallas Morning News)
- For slain missionaries, Iraq was just another place to help | Friends worried about Larry and Jean Elliott, but they simply would not hear of it (The Washington Post)
- Radical Georgian ex-priest held | Georgian police have raided a church to detain a radical ex-Orthodox priest after a clash with his supporters (BBC)
- Madrid and the devil's comeback | We are not contending against flesh and blood (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)
- Preaching violence | Ibrahim Hooper's claims are somewhere between disingenuous and just plain dishonest (Joel Mowbray, The Washington Times)
- Utah mom accused of murder pleads innocent | The mother accused of homicide for not getting a Caesarean section that could have saved her unborn twin's life also faces a child-endangerment charge for the twin that survived (Associated Press)
- Ruling made in Gaines's death | Catholic priest accused of serving alcohol to University of Pittsburgh wide receiver can be tried for involuntary manslaughter (The Washington Post)
- Nun faces jail for drunk tractor driving | Polish Benedictine nun is facing jail for driving a tractor into a car while drunk outside her convent in southwestern Poland, police said on Friday (Reuters)
- Church stands by convicted member | The prosecution of an ex-policeman convicted of coercing sex from women has brought attention to an unlikely place: a large, liberal and feminist church congregation that offered to oversee his punishment so he could avoid going to prison (The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.)
- 'No crime' seen in man nailing himself to cross | The 23-year-old man apparently was attempting to commit suicide, but hadn't seen The Passion of The Christ (Bangor Daily News, Me.)
Euthanasia trial in New Zealand:
- Euthanasia trial opens in New Zealand | The trial of a former nurse charged with twice trying to kill her cancer-stricken mother opened in a New Zealand court Monday (Associated Press)
- Accused should not have cared for her own mother, court told | A former nurse on trial for attempting to murder her mother should not have been left to look after a terminally ill relative, the High Court in Wanganui was told yesterday (NZPA, New Zealand)
- Martin's surgeon admits deficiencies | The surgeon who operated on Lesley Martin's mother believed she had between six and 18 months to live, he told the High Court at Wanganui yesterday (New Zealand Herald)
- Lesley Martin murder trial to start today | Nearly five years after her mother's death, euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin faces a jury today in the High Court at Wanganui as she stands trial for attempted murder (New Zealand Herald)
- NZ euthanasia advocate on trial (BBC)
- Vatican condemns fertility treatments | The Vatican issued a broad condemnation Tuesday of fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization, calling the destruction of embryos in the process a "massacre of the innocents" (Associated Press)
- ACLU can pursue suit over 'Choose Life' tags | Organization can proceed with legal fight, judge says (The Tennesseean)
- Also: Tennessee officials lose bid to quash 'Choose Life' lawsuit | Federal judge refuses to throw out case, ruling ACLU has right to challenge specialty license plate (Associated Press)
- Abortion debate rides the nation's roads | "Choose Life" license plates are cruising along highways in 10 states—including Arkansas—and a dozen other state legislatures are considering them (Gannett News Service)
- Opera 'pro-life', not 'anti-abortion' | A Los Angeles Times music critic who wrote that a Richard Strauss opera was "pro-life"—meaning a celebration of life—was stunned to pick up the paper and find his review changed by a literal-minded copy editor to read "anti-abortion" (Reuters)
Abortion and free speech:
- City can't shush Oklahoma man's anti-abortion speech | Federal judge finds Tulsa's noise ordinance unconstitutionally vague, grants Gary Bowman's request for preliminary injunction (Associated Press)
- Invocation before abortion debate concerns senators | Minister's prayer shocks some; he says he meant no attack (The Tennessean, Nashville)
- Antiabortion poster too much for University of Alberta | The University of Alberta won't allow a student anti-abortion organization to use a high-traffic area on campus to display graphic billboards likening abortion to Nazi and Rwandan genocide (The Edmonton Journal)
Religion and politics:
- In God we trust | Evangelism and American politics (Vijay Prashad, Frontline, India)
- Proclamation bedevils town | Two years ago, the mayor of Inglis banned Satan from the town, stirring up a flood of media and legal interest (Associated Press)
- Escalating fight rivets, divides nation | Both sides claim the advantage as watershed issue engulfs politics and personalities (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Archbishop: Council appointment could help | The leader of America's Greek Orthodox Christians said he hoped his historic appointment to the Turkey-based council governing the church would ease an escalating power struggle (Associated Press)
- Second coming | Ralph Reed, now born again as a political strategist, has moved on from doing God's work to doing George W. Bush's (The Atlantic Monthly)
- Judicial statesmanship and the culture war | Some judges' approach to decisionmaking not only situates the judiciary at the front of cultural or social change, but undercuts its role as the principal protector of the dignity and stability of the law in the United States (David Marion, The Washington Times)
- Pullman may give Jesus a novel role | Philip Pullman, the children's author and prominent atheist, disclosed last night that he might introduce the figure of Jesus into his next book (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Related: Bless the archbishop for his bookish tendencies | Dr Williams is a rarity - a leader who reads (Editorial, The Observer, London)
- 'Da Vinci' called heavy lifter | Dan Brown, the author of last year's best-selling "The Da Vinci Code," is nothing but a plagiarist, charges the author of two novels that are strikingly similar to Brown's (New York Post)
- Cultural icons and alternative religions | Recent books on religion and spirituality (The Washington Post)
- On a twisted spiritual path | I don't want to get all mushy about it, but I'm honored to be reviewing Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase (Carolyn See, The Washington Post)
- Faith, hope, and Dr. Seuss too | A retired quadriplegic minister compiles his sermons into 'The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss' (Religion News Service)
- Professor Keith Hopkins dies at 69 | Hopkins was probably best known to a wider readership for his 1999 controversial and experimental study of early Christianity, A World Full of Gods (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- The best-selling artist of all time? | Her illustrations have graced the pages of a worldwide best-seller - and with a new edition out, she is set to sell more in 2004. But who is she? (BBC)
- Bible-zine for boys set for Easter launch | The smashing success of Revolve, a one-time magazine that went on sale in July for $14.99, has led to the planned Easter launch of Refuel, a Bible-zine aimed at teen-age boys (Reuters)
- Akron exhibit offers historical glimpse at Bible, early defenders | The old Bibles featured in a monthlong exhibition opening today in Akron offer little testament to their sometimes gruesome origins (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- LifeWay to unveil expanded Bible school line in August | Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources is adding a second line of vacation Bible school curriculum materials to be available in 2005 (Nashville Business Journal)
- The cardinal's stone wall | Mahony sets the pace in protecting priests—not victims—in the church sex abuse scandal. His latest tool is a 'privilege' that might not apply (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)
- In Albany, sexual accusations raise a bishop's high profile | So far, the tale involves two suicides, a priest's recanted accusation against the bishop, and an assertion by a former male prostitute that Hubbard paid him for sex decades ago in an Albany park (The Boston Globe)
- Ex-priest gets 8 years for abuse | The former cleric had pleaded guilty to molesting two brothers in Santa Paula more than 10 years ago and faces them in court (Los Angeles Times)
- No let-up in sex-abuse scandal | The clergy sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church refuses to go away. (World)
- A novel tack by cardinal | To keep accused priests' files secret, Mahony is asserting a type of confidentiality privilege that one scholar says 'just doesn't exist. (Los Angeles Times)
Federal Marriage Amendment:
- Evangelicals gird for gay debate | Springs event brings faithful together as battle for marriage amendment looms (The Denver Post)
- Contemporary consensus amendment | The U.S. Constitution needs amending to prevent state court judges from usurping legislative power to ordain same-sex "marriages" through exotic interpretations of state constitutions or statutes (Bruce Fein, The Washington Times)
Gay marriages in Oregon:
- Gay 'weddings' go on in Oregon | Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers yesterday said state law prohibits same-sex "marriage," but he did not forbid the practice, leaving if for the state supreme court, which does not have any related cases pending (The Washington Times)
- Benton County okays gay marriage | Defying the state's nonbinding opinion, Benton County says it will join Multnomah County and issue licenses next week (The Oregonian)
- Second Oregon county to marry gays | A second Oregon county has decided to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, a decision legal experts say will likely press the state's highest court to settle the issue soon (Associated Press)
- A 'stunning obliviousness' to constitutional law | Acting with a hysterical dispatch so utterly foreign to local government, Multnomah County unilaterally pronounced a state law—not, mind you, merely a county ordinance—"unconstitutional" and, worse still, decided to not just ignore it but to authorize governmental conduct squarely contrary to the law (Barry Adamson, The Oregonian)
- Civility 101 for gay marriage | Trashing the governor and shrugging off all who disagree may be fun, but won't help the county's credibility (Editorial, The Oregonian)
- County builds a lawsuit factory | Commissioners keep ignoring state marriage laws and making their best guess about the Oregon Constitution (Editorial, The Oregonian)
- A civil path for marriage | Treading unfamiliar territory of gay marriage in Oregon requires a careful look at government's fair, proper role (Editorial, The Oregonian)
Gay marriage (news):
- State of the union | In Boston, opponents in the same-sex marriage debate are never joined (The Washington Post)
- Leading foe of gay marriage shows mettle | Conservative activists say the first-term House member was the perfect choice to push a ban (Los Angeles Times)
- For gays, Toronto is the marrying kind | Across the rapidly changing gay-marriage landscape, Toronto is a standout among the handful of locales in North America permitting ceremonies (The Washington Post)
- Action in state laws on gay marriage | In most cases, lawmakers have been considering proposed amendments to their state constitutions that would tighten existing bans on same-sex marriage and deny recognition to such unions allowed in other states (Associated Press)
- In tiny, Catholic Belgium, gay marriage no big deal | Law has spurred few protests since it took effect in June (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Bans on interracial unions offer perspective on gay ones | Until the Supreme Court struck down all laws banning interracial marriage in 1967, the nation lived with a patchwork of laws on the question (The New York Times)
- Gay marriage producing legal chaos in U.S. | In courtrooms and state capitols nationwide, opponents and supporters of gay marriage have embarked on a collision course, pursuing lawsuits and legislation so deeply at odds that prolonged legal chaos is likely (Associated Press)
- Groups hail halt to gay 'marriages' | Traditional-values groups say they are relieved that judges and attorneys general in California, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York have ordered local officials to stop issuing "marriage" licenses to homosexual couples (The Washington Times)
- Black caucus resists comparison of gay 'marriage' to civil rights | Congressional black Democrats said comparisons shouldn't be made between the struggle by homosexuals to legalize same-sex "marriage" and the civil rights movement of the 1960s (The Washington Times)
- Also: Blacks, gays in struggle of values | Same-sex marriage issue challenges religious, political ties (The Washington Post)
- San Francisco sees tide shift in the battle over marriage | On the 29th day, the opponents of same-sex marriage finally rejoiced (The New York Times)
- Uniforms mix with wedding finery at same-sex nuptials | The legality of the marriages in New Paltz will likely be determined by the courts, and those officiating - all of them Unitarian clergywomen - may face the same misdemeanor charges as the mayor (The New York Times)
Gay marriage (opinion):
- Family matters | Marriage is based on procreation, a fact no claim of gay 'equality' can avoid (Douglas R. Kmiec, Los Angeles Times)
- 'Marriage' confusion | Few issues have produced as much confused thinking as the "gay marriage" issue (Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times)
Gay marriage and religion:
- Religious groups on common ground | Many faiths oppose same-sex marriages (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Gay marriage debate includes questions of religious liberty | As Massachusetts weighs amending its constitution to allow civil unions, some say churches may face pressure (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Gay bishop says he'd like to marry | Gene Robinson, who became the ninth bishop of New Hampshire last week, said he and partner Mark Andrew hoped they could wed someday, but they did not plan to go to parts of Canada or to Massachusetts—if same-sex marriage became legal there—to get married (Reuters)
Copyright © 2004 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to email@example.com
Check out Books & Culture's weblog, Content & Context.
See our past Weblog updates:
March 16 | 15
March 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8
March 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
February 27 | 26 | 25b | 25a | 24 | 23
February 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16
February 13 | 11 | 10 | 9
and more, back to November 1999
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Read These Next
- TrendingEvangelicals Are the Most Beloved US Faith Group Among EvangelicalsAnd among the worst-rated by everybody else.
- From the MagazineIs It Time to Quit ‘Quiet Time’?Effective biblical engagement must be about more than one’s personal experience with Scripture.
- RelatedNew Program Offers Accreditation for Child Safety StandardsAn 80-point checklist provides churches with opportunities for accountability, awareness, and conversation.
- Editor's PickTim Keller and Beth Moore, On and Off the StageBoth leaders have huge followings. But how well do we really know them?