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Who Does the Time?
To Die For
Recently the world looked on in horror as 22 Rwandans were executed for their roles in the African nation’s 1994 massacres that killed at least 500,000. Even more disturbing to the international community was the dancing, clapping, and whooping of the nearly 10,000 onlookers who turned out for the spectacle. The United States was among the nations speaking out against the punishment.
That same week the U.N. Human Rights Commission issued a stinging report that called for the United States to suspend all executions, saying, "A significant degree of unfairness and arbitrariness in the administration of the death penalty...still prevails." The report rebukes the United States for executing people for crimes committed as juveniles and people who are mentally retarded. It also found that race and economics play a major role in determining the severity of sentences. Religious leaders and human rights activists who have long called for doing away with capital punishment hailed the report.
Last year 74 executions were carried out in the United States. Consider this:
- Recently in Virginia the execution of a Paraguayan man was carried out in spite of the protests of the World Court, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and appeals from around the world. At the time of his arrest the man had been denied his right to counsel from his embassy.
- In an Arizona case, a Honduran man who had been denied similar rights was executed despite appeals from the president of Honduras.
- A Texas state legislator has introduced legislation that would make children as young as 11 death-penalty eligible. In Pontiac, Michigan, a 12-year-old boy is being tried as an adult for a murder he committed at age 11.
- In Denver, a local radio station called for listeners to drive by the station and honk if they wanted to "fry" Timothy McVeigh. Twenty-four thousand Coloradans did so. A Detroit News columnist hoped he’d catch fire in the chair, writing that "nothing smells better than a well-done mass murderer."
Building Common Ground
One of the most important goals of the Call to Renewal is to unite Christians who traditionally have not worked together, on the issue of poverty. We are using the metaphor of a "roundtable" to describe a new partnership. These local roundtables are not a new organization, but a table that can bring people together for common action.
Organizing these local roundtables is a central part of the development of the Call to Renewal network. It is an opportunity to build new relationships and connections, to engage in vital discussion about the church’s responsibility to the poor. It is a chance to discover new ideas, to explore common ground, and to profile some of the best faith-based programs in the community. An active roundtable can strengthen the voice and impact of the churches in the debate and process of welfare reform in their community and in the deeper biblical mission of overcoming poverty in our society.
Bringing together the right people for planning a roundtable is critical to its success. Representatives from the key Call to Renewal constituency groups—evangelicals, Catholics, historic black churches, Pentecostal, and mainline Protestant—should form the core of the table. Service providers, advocacy groups, local officials, and the business community then round it out.
In many communities, some of these groups already meet together; in very few are they all together. Call to Renewal is becoming the opportunity and the catalyst to bring together a full table. These new multisector partnerships working together can make a significant difference in most communities.
Keeping Service in the Zone
Making Crime Pay
Pray, Teach, and Share
You Call This Democracy?
Those Who Can, Teach
A passion for education.
My Friend Buddy
If I had to choose one word to describe my friend Buddy Gray, it would be relentless. He was an advocate on behalf of homeless people in Cincinnati.