to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
Johnson. This week:
listen to music from the Four Tops, whose lead singer, Levi Stubbs, died
a listener question about the electoral college in the United States …
report about how everyday Americans can perform weddings.
Online Wedding Officiants
in America are often big, complex and costly events. Usually a religious leader
or judge performs the marriage ceremony.
But now people can choose a friend or family member to perform the
ceremony. That person can become an official marriage officiant online through some unusual Web sites. Faith Lapidus tells us more.
One Web site is called Church of the
Latter-Day Dude. It is named for a
character called the Dude in the movie "The Big Lebowski." The Church of the Latter-Day Dude appeals to
visitors to "join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism."
do not believe in telling people what to do.
In fact, they do not believe in doing much at all. But they are happy to provide people with a
"certificate of ordination." The Web site says the document legally permits a
person to perform a wedding ceremony in most states. But it also says a person should check with the local government
to see if this is permitted.
Other Web sites offering free and
immediate ordination services include the Universal Life Church Monastery and
the Church of Spiritual Humanism. The
Universal Life Church says it welcomes all people who show interest in becoming
ministers, whether they are religious or not.
The church claims to have ordained more than twenty million ministers
online around the world.
of those people is writer George Estreich of Corvallis, Oregon. Exactly five months ago, he performed his
first wedding ceremony. The groom was
Michael Filtz, the younger brother of his wife. The bride was Mallika Good.
Filtz and Miz Good said they thought about asking Mister Estreich to be their
officiant early in the planning process. George Estreich was almost fifteen
years older than Michael Filtz and they were very close. The bride and groom knew that, as a writer,
Mister Estreich would be good with words.
So they went online and found the Universal Life Church. They asked Mister Estreich if he would
become a Universal Life Church minister and marry them. He agreed.
the evening of May thirty-first, George Estreich performed the marriage
ceremony of Michael Filtz and Mallika Good.
It took place in the garden of the Newton White Mansion in
Mitchellville, Maryland. He spoke to
the guests about Mike as a child and about Mike and Mallika as a couple. The two hundred guests enjoyed the ceremony
and the party that included cultural traditions of both families.
Our question this week comes from listeners in Italy and
Nigeria. Mariella and Idris want to
know about the Electoral College. Is it
true that this system could elect a president who was not chosen by popular
The answer is yes. It has happened four times. The most recent was in two thousand when
George W. Bush was elected to his first term in office as president. Five hundred thousand more Americans voted
for Senator Al Gore for president. But
more electoral votes went to Mister Bush.
This is because forty-eight of the fifty
states have a winner-take-all electoral votes policy. The candidate who wins
the highest number of popular votes in a state receives all of that state's
Electoral College is made up of representatives from all fifty states and the
District of Columbia. Electors are appointed representatives who promise to
vote as the people of the state guide them.
Different states have different laws on the appointment of the
electors. But political parties often
nominate people to recognize their service to their party. In some states, the names of the electors
appear on the ballot, below the names of the candidates.
number of electoral votes in each state equals the number of representatives
and senators in Congress from that state.
This depends on population. So,
states with more people have more electoral votes. In all, there are five hundred thirty-eight electoral votes. To become president, a candidate must win a
simple majority, at least two hundred seventy.
of the Electoral College system call it undemocratic, difficult to understand
and dangerous to the political system.
Supporters say it helps to guarantee the rights of states with small
populations. They say it also requires
candidates to campaign in many states, not just those with large populations.
have been hundreds of proposals in Congress to end or reform the Electoral
College. But amending the Constitution
is a difficult process.
This year the electors will meet
in their state capitals on December fifteenth to cast their votes for president
of the United States. But we hope to know
the answer to that question just hours after voting ends on November fourth.
You can learn more about the presidential candidates and
issues on the Special English program This is America on Monday, November
Stubbs, lead singer of the famous pop singing group, the Four Tops, died
earlier this month. He was seventy-two.
Barabara Klein tells us about the popular singer who helped define the
"Motown" sound and build Motown Records into a hit machine.
Four Tops released that song, "Baby I Need Your Loving," in nineteen
sixty-four. It was the group's first hit on the popular record ratings
charts. It was also their first song to
sell one million copies.
group's lead singer was born Levi Stubbles in Detroit, Michigan, in nineteen
thirty-six. He and three friends formed
a singing group while in high school, called the Four Aims. It was clear early on that Levi with his
deep, pure voice would lead the singing.
group became the Four Tops and signed with Chess Records in nineteen
fifty-six. The singers were more
interested in jazz music than pop. They
left Detroit for New York City. Motown
Records leader Berry Gordy saw them perform one night and asked them to join
his record company. Many pop hits followed.
Stubbs had suffered health problems following a series of strokes that ended
his career in two thousand. We leave you
with another Four Tops hit, "Reach Out,
I'll Be There."
Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
written and produced by Caty Weaver. To read the text of this program and
download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
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