Equality Matters

(HT: The Daily Dish)

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Breaking with the past…..

From today’s NYT:

President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.

The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.

And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.

(HT: Daily Dish)

Shane Claiborne Brings It

This is a fascinating moment where Shane Claiborne leads an arena full of evangelical church leaders in a confession for a complicity in violent empire making and a profession to the allegiance to God’s redemptive love. It’s a powerful moment. I can only imagine that many in that room were uncomfortable and even angry with what Shane was leading them to say. Speaking truth to power often is a dangerous enterprise and thank God for Shane’s courage in this moment.

You can check out some books Shane has written here.

(HT: Tad Delay)

Kristof is on a roll……

Here’s another column by Kristof that is worth the read. He highlights the turning tide of what Evangelicals are focusing on these days. Here’s a tidbit:

Look, I don’t agree with evangelicals on theology or on their typically conservative views on taxes, health care or Iraq. Self-righteous zealots like Pat Robertson have been a plague upon our country, and their initial smugness about AIDS (which Jerry Falwell described as “God’s judgment against promiscuity”) constituted far grosser immorality than anything that ever happened in a bathhouse. Moralizing blowhards showed more compassion for embryonic stem cells than for the poor or the sick, and as recently as the 1990s, evangelicals were mostly a constituency against foreign aid.

Yet that has turned almost 180 degrees. Today, many evangelicals are powerful internationalists and humanitarians — and liberals haven’t awakened to the transformation. The new face of evangelicals is somebody like the Rev. Rick Warren, the California pastor who wrote “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Mr. Warren acknowledges that for most of his life he wasn’t much concerned with issues of poverty or disease. But on a visit to South Africa in 2003, he came across a tiny church operating from a dilapidated tent — yet sheltering 25 children orphaned by AIDS.

“I realized they were doing more for the poor than my entire megachurch,” Mr. Warren said, with cheerful exaggeration. “It was like a knife in the heart.” So Mr. Warren mobilized his vast Saddleback Church to fight AIDS, malaria and poverty in 68 countries. Since then, more than 7,500 members of his church have paid their own way to volunteer in poor countries — and once they see the poverty, they immediately want to do more.

“Almost all of my work is in the third world,” Mr. Warren said. “I couldn’t care less about politics, the culture wars. My only interest is to get people to care about Darfurs and Rwandas.”

It’s nice to see Warren use his evangelical jujitsu on the blind critics (maybe me included) of Mega-Churches. On one hand, I question the first sentence in Warren’s book, a Purpose Driven Life, which claims “It’s not about you.”. I find that an interesting way to begin his book seeing that his mega-church model of stadium seating, pristine facilities, and customized worship services sends the opposite message to his churchgoers. In that context, everything around you would suggest that it is indeed ALL about you.

But on the other hand, it’s evident that Warren’s experience with the developing world has truly shuffled his priorities and it’s great to see him inspire so many to open their eyes to what’s going on in the third world. Getting 7,500 folks from his church to pay their way to serve in Africa is an amazing accomplishment and it should not be overlooked. As Ali G would say, “Respect!”

Real Change

Nicholas Kristof’s column in yesterday’s edition of the NY Times is a worthwhile read about social entrepreneurs. I like the idea of making a world a better place through socially minded business projects. Kiva comes to mind. Here’s a quote from the story:

Today the most remarkable young people are the social entrepreneurs, those who see a problem in society and roll up their sleeves to address it in new ways. Bill Drayton, the chief executive of an organization called Ashoka that supports social entrepreneurs, likes to say that such people neither hand out fish nor teach people to fish; their aim is to revolutionize the fishing industry. If that sounds insanely ambitious, it is. John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan title their new book on social entrepreneurs “The Power of Unreasonable People.”

“The Power of Unreasonable People”…..I like the sound of that.