Tag Archives: Human Rights

NOT LIVING WITH IT

We have just gone through an awful couple of weeks. There was a mass shooting at a mall in the Chicago area and then at a University in Illinois another mass shooting.

If that were not enough a 15 year old boy was shot in the head and killed by a 14 year old boy because he was gay.

Then I came across this:

States with the largest number of nuclear weapons (in 1999): New Mexico (2,450), Georgia (2,000), Washington (1,685), Nevada (1,350), and North Dakota (1,140)

(you know these are the devices that we don’t want Iran to have because it will cause untold danger to us)

William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Joshua Handler, Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998 (Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, March 1998)

Then I came across this concerning the war in Iraq:

The costs…
$275 million per day
$4,100 per household
Almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed and more than 60,000 wounded (don’t even get me started on the medical and mental health treatment they are getting when they finally get back home!)
700,000 Iraqis killed and 4 million refugees

Then I came across this piece concerning “Capital Punishment”:

“Wrongful execution” is a miscarriage of justice occurring when an innocent person is put to death by capital punishment.[27] Many people have been heralded as innocent victims of the death penalty.[28][29][30] At least 39 executions have been carried out in the U.S. in face of compelling evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.[31] Newly-available DNA evidence has allowed the exoneration of more than 15 death row inmates since 1992 in the U.S.,[32] but DNA evidence is only available in a fraction of capital cases. In the UK, reviews prompted by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have resulted in one pardon and three exonerations for people executed between 1950 and 1953 (when the execution rate in England and Wales averaged 17 per year), with compensation being paid.

Then just for the fun of it I came across this:

Money Spent on the War On Drugs this Year
Federal $2,595,017,000.00
State $3,983,398,000.00
Total $6,578,415,000.00

The number of drug deaths in the US in a typical year is as follows:
Tobacco kills about 390,000.
Alcohol kills about 80,000.
Sidestream smoke from tobacco kills about 50,000.
Cocaine kills about 2,200.
Heroin kills about 2,000.
Aspirin kills about 2,000.
Marijuana kills 0. There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana at any time in US history.

All illegal drugs combined kill about 4,500 people per year, or about one percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco kills more people each year than all of the people killed by all of the illegal drugs in the last century. More people have been killed by fighting the drug war than drugs themselves have ever killed.

Source: NIDA Research Monographs

Then earlier this week I get a call from the Questing Parson, who tells me I need to get a copy of Atlantic Magazine the March issue. It apparently is going to have a story concerning Archbishop Akinola primate of the Church of Nigeria, the second biggest church in the Anglican Communion, numbering about 18 million members.

It will among other things have this tidbit:

“In response to the Muslim rioting, Akinola issued a statement in his capacity as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria: “May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation.” … inciting Christian counter-riots against Muslim targets in Nigeria (for example, Christian mobs in Onitsha retaliated against Muslims, killing 80 persons,[14], burned a Muslim district with 100 homes[15], defaced mosques[16] and burned the corpses of those they had killed in the streets[17], forcing hundreds of Muslims were forced to flee the city [18]).

This is the guy for whom some of the Anglican Church is going to because of the consecration of a gay Bishop? These people don’t like gay folks so they are going to line up with a cold-blooded killer?

I am sorry but this little journey of reflection during this Lenten season has caused me to be in anguish and mourning for my faith which seems more set on destroying, excluding, ignoring, denying basic human rights to those who don’t toe the creedal line and if all else fails kill them.

If you start adding up all the money spent in all the afore mentioned quotes how many hungry could we have fed? How many people could we have clothed? How many could we have given drink to? How many of the sick would not be sick? How many of the addicted would be on the road to recovery?

My friends it is really not about money, it is about our attitude. We have become the sin of the “garden of Eden”. We have decided that we can be God, and when so moved kill whoever we don’t like or agree with. Oh we come up with all kinds of justifications for the killing but conveniently forget that Jesus said, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” Let us not be fooled, this is not about original sin. This is now the 21st century when we should know better for we have the teachings of the Christ.

How can someone be pro-life and yet be in favor of capital punishment. After all is that not a person who is a late term abortionist?

How can we have a President who calls himself a “born again” Christian telling us we have to kill them before they kill us? I mean seriously does that not go against Jesus’ one and only command to us “love one another as I have loved you”?

I got to say we have got it wrong, terribly wrong. They say if you tell a lie often enough that you will begin to believe it…well damn we are there. If you don’t think so read the first part of this blog again. We have made it far easier to kill then to save, far easier to destroy rather then cultivate a sense of dignity, respect…ah hell to even have a modicum of common courtesy.

Read the Questing Parson’s blog called “Please, Do Not Drop Me” posted 02-12-2008.

Or consider this snippet:

“I am a child of the earth.

Please do not drop me.

Two days after the celebration of the birth of the Christ child last year the ethnic cleansing began in Kenya. While some children rode their Christmas bikes and listened to their bright iPod my sister was driven with her mama into the famine and drought stricken wilderness. Thousands of our cousins were driven away with her.

I am a child of the earth.

Please do not drop me.

Ten million of my cousins under five die every year.

Two million of my cousins die every year on the same day they are born.

My cousin is now scavenging through rotting garbage to find something to eat; another is neglected in her own shanty because her mother and father lie on their cots dying of AIDS.

Some of my brothers and sisters did not go to school today. For thousands and thousands there is no school to attend if they had the energy to do so. For thousands and thousands of others they stayed home to avoid others seeing their swollen battered faces after another night on being a punching bag.”

How can we continue to allow our resources to go to blood thirsty, selfish, power hungry despots both religious and secular? How can we not be outraged? How can we not cry out at the injustice of our so-called leaders? How can we not demand something better?

We make the words of Jesus in Matthew 23 truer today then when he spoke them.

We have forgotten that Jesus made it clear how God would view things-Matthew 25:31-40. Honestly this is where our efforts should begin.

It is estimated that two million people per year are homeless in the United States.

A report issued by the Urban Institute in 2000 stated that 2.3 million adults and children in the United States are likely to experience homelessness at least once in a year.

Here is the response, which I am afraid, is far more common then we want to admit.

By REAL TALK

Jan 25, 2008 9:07 AM
“The people need to be locked up or disposed of. They offer nothing to society but a black eye. Many of the “homeless” choose to be so and want to rely on us to pay for everything. This is not what America was built on. This country needs new ideas on how to deal with the homeless. One idea is to euthanize them like dogs. Why not. I went to Georgia State and had to deal everyday with the homeless. They are Terrible. All they offer society is disease, crime, and drugs. Either you have a home, or you go to Jail.”

Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.) said, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” He might be on to something there…how thick is the Methodist Discipline? Have you tried to read the Book of Roman Catholic Cathecism? This is true in each and every denomination; we have become more concerned about rules then God. And when was the last time you walked into a law library?

I was told by a friend this week to whom I gave a sampling of my blog, “you are really naïve and you are too idealistic, this is the way of the world you need to learn to live with it.”

Now in this moment of reflection I say, “That may be the way of the world but it is not the way of Jesus.” It is not the way of God.

So in the days to come I will not “live with it” instead I will do my best live out my life in the manner of my Savior’s proclamation: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO GOOD…

I am going to share an e-mail that I got from the Questing Parson

If you can help or know someone that can please click on the Questing Parson and help get this done. It is an opportunity to be a “follower of Christ”

Thursday, September 6, I drove past a church here in Calhoun that was for sale. It’s a former Church of Christ and they have moved out to a much larger facility. As I drove by I suddenly had a flash — Women With Children Homeless Shelter.

I went home and called the real estate agent. He met me that afternoon at the church. I walked through and was amazed. It is PERFECT for a facility that would host up to nine homeless women with up to three children each, in a small efficiency living area. There would be a living room / lounge for the adults that is connected to a indoor play room for the kids. There are rooms to set up a computer lab, study area, etc., for the kids. There’s a large kitchen / fellowship hall area (probably a little bigger than Epworth’s).

There is no women’s shelter from Cartersville (23 miles south of my house) to Chattanooga.

On Friday, September 7, I passed the pastor of First United Methodist at a gathering and just said, “I need to talk to you.”

He called me Saturday and arranged to meet Monday. I called the agent and arranged for him to meet us at the church at 11:00 a.m. Note: As of yet I have said nothing to Brian Clark, the First Church pastor, about the purpose of our meeting. I picked him up at his church at 10:30. As we pulled out of the parking lot he said, “I don’t know what you wanted to talk about, but do you mind if I share something with you first?” I told him to go ahead. He said, “I have this powerful feeling I cannot shake that a women’s shelter needs to be build here.”

Okay, so we talk to the real estate broker. He says the owner is asking $1.5 million. (fair price, by the way). He also tells us there’s an offer on the table, but he thinks we might have time to try and put something together. Brian and I leave with him drawing up a list of money people in the community we can approach and me to work on a prospectus to present to them.

This past Friday I got a call from the broker. The owner of the building had been in Egypt. He was coming back to Calhoun that day, but he would only be in town four hours. He wanted to talk to me and Brian. I called Brian and he was out-of-town. I went by myself to meet with him.

Turns out some businessmen have presented him with a legitimate offer for the building, meeting his price. They want to turn the building into a storage facility. The owner then told me that for us he would drop the price of the property to $900,000 if we didn’t include the parking lot. He then stated that he would retain ownership of the parking lot and would put in writing that he would develop that into a professional building property or such that would not in any way interfere with the operation of a shelter. He said the businessmen were under the impression that he was not going to be back in town until next Tuesday. So — here it comes!

He says if Brian and I can come up with $10,000 by Monday as earnest money, he will inform the businessmen the property is already under contract. He will then give us sixty days to come up with our organization and he will personally finance the purchase of the property below the prime rate on a five year contract with payments at what we needed and with a balloon payment at the end if necessary.

So, I said, “Ten thousand by Monday?”

He said, “Yes.” And then he added. “Look, I’m not going to help you purchase my property, but if you do I guarantee you that the mills I own will make a substantial contribution annually to the operation of the shelter.”

“Ten thousand?” I repeated.

The real estate broker said, “Actually, you don’t need ten thousand. Just raise $7500. I’ll give $2500.

I have $2000 to go.

If you need a specif name for which to pray, if this comes together I’m thinking of calling it, “My Mama’s Place.”

contributions can be made to:

The Farmville Church
6906 Fairmount Highway
Calhoun, GA 30701

We’ve set up an account until the shelter can be organized business wise. This will allow the person’s contribution to be tax deductible.

And keep praying. Whew! What a project.
God is good.

Thanks
Guy

We don’t often get a chance to really help something good to happen…but here is the opportunity.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

IN CASE WE FORGET

Most folks my age or older lived through a horrific part of our history in the USA during the 50’s and 60’s. A time when our cities burned both physically and with emotional hatred. A time that is burned deep into our hearts and souls. A time that even today has scars that go deep and the healing is still slow and at times becomes horribly infected.

The cost of racism in this country has been high and the cost of human life is ridicules for a country where the “religious zealots” call us a “Christian Country”.

So when a member of our Church had a chance to remember, he took that opportunity to journey, remember and pay honor to a person who truly “walked the talk” of Jesus.

Lance is a deeply spiritual man and I now give you a part of his journey so that we don’t forget…

On Saturday August 11th I participated in the 9th Annual Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Martyrs of Alabma pilgrimage in Hayneville, Alabama. Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian from New Hampshire who was martyred at Varner’s Grocery Store in Hayneville on August 20, 1965, when he caught the full blast of a shotgun aimed at 17-year-old Ruby Sales, an African-American girl at whom a shotgun had been leveled by Tom Coleman, who was later found not guilty by a local court. Myrick’s death helped galvanize support for the civil rights movement within the Episcopal Church.

My connection to Daniels is that I was baptized and experienced my early Christian formation in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, where in my home parish we prayed every Sunday for “Blessed Jonathan Daniels of New Hampshire”. When I saw that a pilgrimage in honor of this Episcopal martyr was to take place, I was drawn to participate.

What I experienced was a powerful remembrance of the life and works of a singular man who gave his life while discerning a calling for the priesthood — and following that, a call for justice that took him to a part of the country that is my home now and that is the land of my birth and upbringing. What we all experienced in Hayneville was a call to honor the life, works and death of Jonathan Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama by continuing to work for a just and equal society and a compassionate world.

The pilgrimage involved a procession from the central square in Hayneville to the building that was the jail where Daniels and his compañeros endured inhumane conditions after having been arrested for picketing a whites-only store in Fort Deposit, Alabama. All of the protestors were arrested and taken to jail in Hayneville. They were held for six days and refused to accept bail unless everyone was bailed. When the prisoners were released without transport back to Fort Deposit, Daniels and three others — a white Roman Catholic priest and two African-American protestors — went down the street to get a cold soft drink at Varner’s Grocery Store, one of the few local stores that would serve nonwhites. They were met at the front by Tom Coleman, an engineer for the state highway department and unpaid special deputy, who wielded a shotgun and yelled an obscenity at them. When the man threatened the group and finally leveled his shotgun at Ruby Sales, Daniels pushed Sales to the ground, caught the full blast of the gun and was killed instantly.

Coleman was acquitted by a jury of 12 white men, on the grounds of self-defense, and in spite of the testimony of Ruby Sales.

In 1991 Daniels was designated a martyr of the Episcopal Church, one of 15 modern-day martyrs, and August 14th was designated as a day of remembrance for the sacrifice of Daniels and all the martyrs of the civil rights movement.

Our pilgrimage ended in the courthouse where Coleman was acquitted.
The bench where the judge sat was converted to an altar, and we celebrated a Eucharist where the hymns we sang were accompanied by singers who sat in the part of the courtroom where the jury that acquitted Coleman had sat. At the start of the Eucharist we were addressed by the mayor of Hayneville, an African-American woman. The law enforcement officers who had guarded our procession were African- American. Lowndes County, of which Hayneville is the seat, is 73% African-American.

I’m sure the world in which we live today, with its outward and visible signs of racial equality (to set aside for a moment the truth of the invisible racism that now permeates it), was just as hard for many of the people of 1960’s Lowndes County to imagine as it is for us to imagine the amount of hatred and violence that once found a home there.

What I gained from Saturday’s pilgrimage was a great sense of having participated in a healing of that chasm of history, circumstance and understanding. We know from the Holocaust and from 9/11 just how great is our human capacity to move beyond shocking historical events — and then, eventually, to underestimate their significance — without truly integrating their lessons.

It’s a collective forgetting that is truly regrettable and that violates one of the principle axioms of human collective behavior: Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. Saturday’s pilgrimage, the ones preceding it and the ones to follow, are a small but powerful effort to turn back that tide of forgetting and replace it with healing.

Amen my brother Amen!

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.