Human Rights

Ellen F. Davis 05-01-2012

Psalm 65 — translation by Ellen F. Davis

Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-2012

From Mississippi to Kentucky coal-mining country, churches are taking on the public health crisis of obesity.

Julie Polter 05-01-2012

Books on food and farming.

Brooke Adams 04-27-2012
Warehouse image J.A.Astor/ Shutterstock.

Warehouse image J.A.Astor/ Shutterstock.

SALT LAKE CITY — At the new Utah Bishops' Central Storehouse, pallets loaded with food wait to be ferried to locales near and far, their destinations handwritten in black marker on plastic wrap covers: Lindon, Ely, Mesa, San Diego, St. George.

Storehouse manager Richard Humpherys stops a golf cart next to one steel storage rack, slits open a cardboard box with a pocket knife and pulls out a can of peaches made with fruit grown at a Mormon church-owned orchard and processed at its cannery in Lindon, Utah. The can's label is stamped "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and "Welfare Services, Salt Lake City, Utah."

Lisa Sharon Harper 04-25-2012

I was asked recently, is there really any hope for Israel? The answer is yes, there is.

First, the state of Israel has lived its entire existence in the foxhole of the war paradigm. It is time to come out of the foxhole. It is time for Israel to exercise profound concern, not only for its own security and its own peace, but also for the security and peace of its neighbors—the Palestinians.

Second, It is time for Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to be secure. Israeli mothers should never have to worry if their daughters and sons will return from a walk to the market. Every Israeli should not have to live in extreme fear and the ever present threat of war.

 
the Web Editors 04-23-2012
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and Elie Wiesel reflected in a wall in the Hall of Remembrance. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to crack down on Iran and Syria and promised to "never again" allow atrocities like those seen during the Holocaust. Speaking from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Obama first toured the facility with Holocaust survivor and Elie Weisel. 

Following is the transcript from Obama's remarks. 

 
Stacey Schwenker 04-19-2012
Woman praying, Smirnof/Shutterstock.com

Woman praying, Smirnof/Shutterstock.com

This morning I prayed naked. This exercise is part of a 50 Day Challenge I am doing.  Some friends of mine created 50 Suggestions to Embrace Healthy Sexuality and one of them is strip off one’s clothes and prostrate oneself. For me it looked more like huddling under my covers to stay warm (my bedroom is in a basement and my sensitive body doesn’t much care for its constant 65 degrees).

As I sat there praying, naturally I thought about my body. At first I began to consider all of its shapes and sizes—the feel of my skin and hair and curves underneath my palms. I thought about its beauty and how uniquely it was created. There are few other things that have skin similar to us humans. And we each have our own and only attributes: fingerprints that will never have a match; the unique combination of height, hair color, facial composition, and idiosyncrasies.

I am the only me. You are the only you. Ever. Period.

Aimee Kang 04-06-2012
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

Amnesty International members protest human trafficking, 2008. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images.

Here I am meditating on the broken body that holds the divine and the human in the mysterious way that only the Omniscient understands.

Today, I reflect on this body of Christ. It beckons me and I’m reminded once again that the violence and death that happened on that dark day lingers still. 

It lingers still because we all are created in the image of God.

Dianna Ortiz 04-01-2012

The U.S. government continues to claim the authority to detain and kill without trial.

Kimberly Burge 04-01-2012

There are many reasons to abolish the death penalty. Innocents on death row may be the most compelling.

Annalisa Musarra 03-30-2012
Stan Wiechers, Flickr

Stan Wiechers, Flickr

Religious leaders on Thursday (March 29) delivered more than 230,000 signatures to the office of Village Voice Media, demanding the company shut down the adult advertising section on its website, Backpage.com, where advertisements for sex with underage minors have appeared.

"As a mother and as a member of the clergy, I am outraged by Village Voice Media's continued refusal to shut down Backpage.com's adult section, even after being confronted with evidence that girls and teens have been advertised for sex on the site," said the Rev. Katharine Henderson, president of Auburn Seminary and a leader of the petition.
Debra Dean Murphy 03-21-2012
Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images

Lynndie England in 2005 during her courts-martial. Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images

You remember Abu Ghraib: the correctional facility in Baghdad where such atrocities took place that the prison’s very name is now synonymous with and shorthand for torture, degradation, military scandal, and unchecked American hubris.

A young army reservist named Lynndie England came to represent the horror of that dark chapter (one of several, as it turned out) of the war in Iraq. Photographs of England posing with abused Iraqi detainees led to a dishonorable discharge, a felony conviction, and a two-year prison sentence. Also revealed during and after the shame of Abu Ghraib was England’s own status as both a co-conspirator and an unwitting casualty. She was not a victim in the same way that the Iraqi prisoners were but, given her rank, gender, background, and the weird sexual dynamics she shared with the scandal’s ringleader (and father of the baby she would give birth to a few months later), England’s culpability, like that of many who commit heinous acts, was not separable from her own troubled life.

In the tidy way we like these narratives to play out, England was supposed to pay her dues for the evil she had done and, with time for reflection and introspection, own her guilt and express her sorrow. Or at least, for public consumption, she was supposed to voice regret for the tragic choices she made back in 2003 and offer an apology to those whom she had wronged. But in a recent interview, England was unrepentant. Her only regret, it turns out, is that her actions at Abu Ghraib may have directly caused American casualties.

Benjamin McNutt 03-16-2012
(Image by ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock.com)

(Image by ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock.com)

When police from the 115th Precinct raided a brothel a few blocks from Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, N.Y., in January 2011, one of the prostitutes leapt from a second-story window, breaking her leg.

The Korean-born woman, along with others in the apartment, was arrested on charges of prostitution. It was a heartbreaking story, even to JudgeToko Serita, who has heard many of them. “This is the saddest case I’ve seen,” she said.

This desperate act might seem to be an isolated, arbitrary event in the life of a single woman, a misfortune created by a series of bad choices she could have avoided.

But her situation wasn’t simply a result of individual choice; this woman was the product of expansive, organized networks of international crime that enslave women into a life of prostitution, robbing them of all dignity — physical, social, psychological, emotional, spiritual — and even their vocational sense of worth.

“She was so ashamed, she’d rather risk the jump than the public humiliation,” said Stella, the woman’s counselor from RestoreNYC — a four-year-old nonprofit that seeks to help sex-trafficked women in New York City escape and establish new lives. (In order to insure the safety of their clients, Restore staff are identified only by first name.)

Cathleen Falsani 03-14-2012
An undated photo of Pastor Nadarkhani in prison.

An undated photo of Pastor Nadarkhani in prison.

Last fall on God's Politics, we ran a few posts on the plight of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Muslim convert to Christianity who was arrested, charged with apostasy, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Iran in 2010. We asked for continued prayer for the pastor and his family, and for people of conscience to speak out on his behalf.

Fast-forward five months...

As I was browsing through Facebook last night, I noticed a post on my news feed with the photo of a blindfolded man standing next to the executioner's noose and a headline that read, "Youcef Nadarkhani Executed."

My heart stopped for a moment. Please, no, I thought. And the guilt began to flood in: How could I have dropped the ball? If we had continued to sound the alarm on his behalf, would he have been hanged? Could we have helped save him if we'd done more?

I quickly went to Google to look for news reports of Nadarkhani's execution, reportedly on March 3. But I couldn't find any. Nothing on CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR.

After searching for a while, I found a post by the American Center for Law and Justice that confirmed what had become my hope: Reports of Nadarkhani's execution were false.

the Web Editors 03-13-2012
Birth control photo, Melissa King, Shutterstock.com

Birth control photo, Melissa King, Shutterstock.com

Since Rush Limbaugh’s tirade, calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying for free access to birth control, the actual subject of debate seems like a distant memory. What were we talking about again? Paying for sex? Wait …

As religion journalist Nicole Neroulias points out in a recent piece, “I Was a Virgin on Birth Control,” and as others have attempted to testify, doctors prescribe birth control to remedy a number of real, physical ailments. These include ovarian cysts (think kidney stone-style pain, guys), endometriosis(which can lead to infertility) and a variety of other conditions that we know all-male panels probably don’t want to hear details about.

Tom Getman 03-09-2012
Key members of the SA Kairos Committee with two senior ANC representatives. (Pho

Key members of the SA Kairos Committee with senior ANC representatives. (Photo courtesy Tom Getman)

In 1985 the South African writers of the Kairos Document declared the Dutch Reformed Church’s “state church” theology to be heretical because of its justification of apartheid. In the months following, Desmond Tutu and many other anti-apartheid leaders risked their lives for change.

On the 2012 Centenary Celebrations of the African National Congress, 21 years after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the Kairos Southern Africa theologians have released, “A Word to the ANC in These Times.” The document boldly calls attention to the “certain contradictions [that] continue to militate against … fully achieving the dream that the injustice … meted out to black South Africans by the colonizers would come to an end.”

The document raised other critical issues, such as diminishing diversity, party factionalism and inappropriate security measures. The authors clearly declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Matthew12:25)

The Kairos steering committee met with the ANC executive in a closed meeting February 8. The discussion focused on poor standards of education, unsustainability of an “opulent ‘American dream’ lifestyle, respecting the Constitution of the Republic, and closing the gap between the richest and poorest.

Jayme Cloninger 03-09-2012
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Boy sorts through minerals looking for gold at a mine in Congo, 2006. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.



Here it is, the “resolutionary” iPad3, with breakthrough retina display, quad-core processor and 4G LTE wireless connectivity. This next-generation technology is captivating and if you’re an Apple fan, as I am, you’re going to want to trade in your iPad2 and put your name on the waiting list for the iPad3.



And yet, as a human rights activist, it gives me pause. With the innovation of the iPad 3, comes some critical missing features — including conflict free minerals from eastern Congo. To date, Apple has been a leader on this issue, but I know they can do more.

the Web Editors 03-07-2012
Joseph Kony, Kony 2012, Invisible Children

Joseph Kony, Kony 2012, Invisible Children

Invisible Children released a short film Wednesday with the aim to make Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, famous--not for acclaim, but to bring awareness to his alleged crimes in abducting children and forcing them to be child soldiers.

According to the YouTube video, "KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice."

"It's obvious that Kony should be stopped. The problem is that 99 percent of the planet doesn't know who he is. If they knew, Kony would have been stopped long ago," the half-hour film narrates.

 

Michelle Alexander 03-01-2012

The fight against mass incarceration is joined by an emerging faith-based movement.

Elizabeth Palmberg 03-01-2012

Clergy to Village Voice: It's not okay to help the sex traffickers.

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