Human Rights

Jayme Cloninger 07-23-2012
Photo by Fidel Bafilemba of Enough Project.

Spokesperson for M23, Bishop Jean Marie Runiga, gives press conference. Bunagana, DR Congo. Fidel Bafilemba of Enough Project.

Faith, for many in eastern Congo, is a source of hope in an environment where optimism is often in short supply. Many Congolese consider faith communities to be among the few trusted institutions in a society (and a government) rife with corruption.

As the situation in eastern Congo has markedly worsened in recent weeks, the church and faith communities have been at the center of efforts to end violence and create space for peace.  

Violence has rapidly escalated in eastern Congo since a new rebel movement known as M23 emerged in April. M23 is composed of several hundred Congolese soldiers, loyal to the former Rwandan backed rebel movement — the CNDP — who were subsumed into the Congolese army in 2009 as part of an opaque peace agreement between the rebels and the governments of Congo and Rwanda.

Sexual Harassment definition image, Todd Taulman /

Sexual Harassment definition image, Todd Taulman /

Nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.

The debate has had two major impacts — a call for cooler tempers and the immediate implementation of sexual harassment policies by all of the major nontheist organizations, both national and regional.

No one is suggesting that all nontheist events are unsafe for women. But the controversy has members of the nontheist community, which prides itself on its embrace of rational thinking, asking whether they have a sexual harassment problem. And if so, what should be done? 

Jeannie Choi 07-01-2012

A new, more civil conversation is emerging with gays and lesbians on evangelical campuses.

Timothy King 07-01-2012

Chicago's North Park offers a model for honest conversation.

The Editors 07-01-2012

Between 2003 and 2006, the Pentagon database TALON kept tabs on thousands of “potential threats.”

Seth Kershner 07-01-2012

Is surveillance of churches and peace groups on the rise again?

Jeremy Courtney 06-29-2012
Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GettyImages

President Jimmy Carter in Egypt last month. Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GettyImages

Earlier this week, former President Jimmy Carter critiqued the United States for its (read: our) deteriorating record on human rights and rule of law in the last decade.

But those responding to Carter's New York Times Op-Ed (“A Cruel and Unusual Record”) have largely missed his main point. In the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Carter wants to lead America in removing the log from our own eye in hopes of honoring God and regaining our position as champions of human rights and rule of law.

During his visit to Cairo for the Egyptian elections, Carter met with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar — the most authoritative voice in Sunni Islam. Discussing human rights, religion, and the historic election that was taking place outside, Carter exhibited a rare humility in articulating his convictions. I feel that a whole range of human interactions might be improved if we would each remove the log from our own eye before trying to remove the speck from our neighbor’s.

Sitting with women’s rights activists and top Christian leadership; in private briefings and press conferences, this self-critique proved central to Carter’s efforts to build trust and advance human rights in Egypt and around the world.

After decades of lectures from the White House and U.S. State Department, much of the world has grown tired of the West’s wagging finger and “holier than thou” attitude. There may have been an era when this posture had a greater effect, but the U.S. has lost too much of its moral credibility in the wake of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and drone strikes carried out against the President Obama's “Hit List”.

Duane Shank 06-25-2012

Former President Jimmy Carter writes in the New York Times this morning of how far the U.S. has gone in abandoning human rights:

"Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times."

Sandi Villarreal 06-20-2012
 from THE INVISIBLE WAR, a Cinedigm/Docurama Films release.

Lieutenant Elle Helmer at the Vietnam War Memorial, US Marine Corps, from THE INVISIBLE WAR, a Cinedigm/Docurama Films release.

Men and women in the military face numerous challenges when they return from combat—whether post-traumatic stress disorder, economic struggles, traumatic brain injury. A glimpse at the headlines tells us the grim statistics of active-duty suicides tied to these issues.

But a new film, The Invisible War, brings to light another staggering reality: a female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to be raped by another soldier than killed in enemy fire.

The Invisible War, which opens in some markets on June 22, takes on the military culture that has failed to address the problem.

Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering collected stories from sexual assault survivors across the country and show how hauntingly similar their the accounts are—from harassment to assault to lack of follow-up, and for some, blatant cover up. The powerful documentary pairs the survivors’ heartbreaking stories with alarming statistics illustrating the scope of the epidemic. 

According to the Department of Defense, service members reported nearly 3,200 incidents of sexual assault in 2011.

the Web Editors 06-18-2012

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1991 for her work for democracy and human rights in Burma. But at the time of her award, she was under house arrest by Burma’s military; her husband and sons traveled to Norway to accept the prize on her behalf. Now, 21 years later, she is able to travel freely and finally, give the acceptance speech for her award.

Carrie Adams 06-15-2012
Sleeping Beauty's castle, Eurodisney, Terry Why / Getty Images

Sleeping Beauty's castle, Eurodisney, Terry Why / Getty Images


I’m a child of the 90s—the true height of Disney mania. Little MermaidAladdinLion King.

But have you ever gone back and watched a childhood movie as an adult? And what about after tapping into social justice? Well, you missed a lot the first time around. Your little toddler brain had no idea that things could be so complex. So—the ten ways the social justice movement changed how I look at Disney movies: 

(In no particular order of severity or hilarity.)  

10. Learn the Humanity of the Poor — Let’s learn from Aladdin and not be the snooty prince with the weirdo facial hair pattern (who, as we learn later wears the classic red heart boxers). When we push the poor aside, we deny their God-given humanity.

Aladdin, that handsome be-vested “street urchin,” sang it best.

QR Blog Editor 06-14-2012

The Hill reports:

"A Senate panel on Tuesday will move human-rights legislation that lawmakers of both parties say is critical to gaining their support for establishing normal trade ties with Russia.

The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on the so-called Magnitsky bill, named after a whistleblowing Russian lawyer who died in police custody, along with a number of other bills and ambassador nominations. The news comes after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday announced his intention to pair the human-rights bill with the trade legislation, which must clear his committee.
The Magnitsky legislation targets human-rights violators in Russia with financial and travel sanctions. The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill last week.
Without it, several lawmakers say, they cannot support establishing normal permanent trade relations with Russia, which would put U.S. companies at a disadvantage when Russia joins the World Trade Organization this summer. The Obama administration's top trade negotiator has called for a clean vote on the trade issue."
Read more here
Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Pedestrian walks past the Archdiocese of Philadelphia headquarters. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Ten years ago, the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal dominated the headlines with horrific stories of priests preying on vulnerable youths and a church hierarchy more concerned with protecting clergy instead of kids.

Now, it's back. A Philadelphia jury is deliberating whether, for the first time, a high-ranking church official will be held criminally accountable.

However the jury rules, the case carries symbolic freight far heavier than the grim details in the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It revives the breadth and depth of the abuse crisis, its extraordinary costs and unending frustrations.

Elaina Ramsey 06-08-2012

Resources to deepen your understanding of Christianity and homosexuality.

QR Blog Editor 06-06-2012

Yesterday, the Paycheck Fairness Act came before the senate, seeking to close the wage gap between men and women. And as expected, the bill failed to pass, resulting in only 52 supporters, short of the 60 needed. All Republicans voted against the measure and none discussed it on the Senate floor before yesterday’s vote.

“In 1963 we made 59 cents for every dollar that men made. Now it’s 77 cents,” says Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, chief sponsor of the proposed bill. “What does that mean? It means every five years we make an advancement of one penny. Oh no. No more. We’re not just going to take it anymore.”

See more in The Washington Post

Emilie Teresa Smith 06-01-2012

In Guatemala, 44,000 people were "disappeared" during decades of war. Now workers there seek to resurrect a buried history and human dignity.

Maria Riley 06-01-2012

Women's Concerns

A Southern Baptist leader who works on gay outreach has criticized recent anti-gay comments by two Baptist pastors in North Carolina, saying they “show a complete lack of understanding of how to minister to those struggling with this particular temptation.”

Though the Southern Baptist Convention has long condemned homosexuality, Bob Stith, the SBC’s national strategist for gender issues, said the remarks – made by pastors who are not affiliated with his denomination – lacked compassion.

Joshua Witchger 05-22-2012
Bust of Harvey Milk. By Son of Groucho/Wylio

Bust of Harvey Milk. By Son of Groucho/Wylio

Today, the political and social activist is remembered for his contributions to transform the world into a more inclusive, affirming environment for all people. As the first openly gay person to serve in an elected position, Milk’s 1977 ascent into public office has been instrumental in paving the way for LGBT people to authentically wield roles of power, consciousness, and change.

Sadly, Milk’s life was cut short at age 48 when he was tragically assassinated. Though he served less than a full year in public office (San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors), he has left behind a powerful  vision of a better world. His commitments to  justice has inspired countless people to construct programs and organizations that organize, lobby, write and prophesize a habitat that is all just and peaceable for all, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or age.