Crosses and Sweatshops

November 26, 2007, 4:02 pm | Posted by

The National Labor Committee (NLB) reports that US-based Christian retailers are selling crosses made in Chinese sweat shops. Charles Kernaghan, director of the NLB, said “the factory’s mostly young, female employees work from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week and are paid 26 cents an hour with no sick days or vacation. Workers live in filthy dormitories and are fed a watery ‘slop.’”

The Association of Christian Retail denied the claims in the AP story. Association president Bill Anderson’s statement downplayed the sweat-shop issue entirely:

While we occasionally hear this issue raised, and believe there are factories in China where human rights are violated, we believe claims that products sold through CBA member stores are made in these shops are irresponsible and unfounded.

His statement leads one to think that there may be a few human rights violations here and there, but that talking about them is somehow uncivil.

These workers, and millions like them, are left exhausted and dehumanized at the end of their work day. With one poor soul at the end of a 19 hour shift, crying out, “Jesus, take pity on me! I’m going to die of exhaustion.” Shouldn’t the primary consideration be finding the truth and remedying such horrible abuses? It’s irresponsible to dismiss these charges, not to make them.

These sweatshop crosses, most likely, were to be purchased as gifts. As we purchase gifts for our loved ones this holiday season, let’s support products from businesses that offer fair wages and livable, humane, working conditions.

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Religion-Based Bigotry: Shouldn’t this be an oxymoron?

November 19, 2007, 1:56 pm | Posted by

Hate crimes were up 8% in 2006. Religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents; sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin for 12.7 percent. Explicit religious bias is shown at close to 20%. Certainly there is a link between the homophobic stances of many religious groups and the atmosphere of intolerance that gives space for violent actions taken towards the GLBTQ community.

It is heartening, then, to hear of Faith In America’s newly launched “Call to Courage” campaign, which is being run in early Presidential primary and caucus states to engage and educate citizens about religious teachings and practices that foster discrimination and oppression against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. In an interview with Bob Abernathy of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Rev. Jimmy Creech, Faith in America’s Director said, “We really do believe that conversation, that dialogue, that being together in a civil, neutral setting will make it possible for us, first of all, to understand one another better, and then secondly to begin to recognize the need for change.”

The debate over homosexuality centers on scriptural interpretation, but disagreements over theology and doctrine need not lead to discrimination and disrespect. That is something that all people of faith should be able to agree on.

UPDATE: A Washington Post Article Today focused on the geographical disparities in hate crime reporting. Alabama, for example, does not consider crimes connected to sexual orientation to be hate crimes.

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Lessons from Islamo-fascism awareness week

November 14, 2007, 2:09 pm | Posted by

Note: FPL intern Nouf Bazaz recently led an interfaith response to Islamo-fascism Awareness Week. Below is her reflection on the meaning of the event.

David Horowitz’s Islamo-fascism Awareness Week, hosted by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) recently concluded at universities across the nation. At George Washington University, the Peace not Prejudice campaign simultaneously launched as a peaceful alternative similarly came to a close. In the aftermath, one thing has become painfully clear: the entire campus, including YAF, played right into the hands of the political machine that will continue to churn out hate long after Islamo-fascism Awareness Week is forgotten. Several other key lessons can be drawn from the highly politicized sequence of events that divided our campus.

On Thursday, October 25th, Peace not Prejudice and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week met in a climactic fashion. A speech by David Horowitz was juxtaposed to an interfaith prayer vigil titled “Pray for Peace,” headlined by six prominent religious figures and Ambassador Edward Gnehm.

When David Horowitz stepped on stage he began shouting at the GWU administration and student body in a fit of rage. He accused the president of the University of heading a “lynch mob” against conservative white students and further shrieked about the treachery of the American Left. If it was not evident enough before, it now rang crystal clear: The purpose of Islamo-fascism Awareness Week had nothing to with Islam. Muslims were merely the latest in a long line of victims carved up at the political chopping block. Horowitz serves only as the overzealous errand boy behind the knife, dutifully obliging the system for paycheck after paycheck. In typical fashion, he went on to depict Muslims as violent and merciless henchmen that would bring about the destruction of the West. At the end of his diatribe he dramatically stated, “You have to understand who your enemy is” or else you are “defenseless.”

Lesson 1: Hate is the greatest weapon of war.

By accurately equating Horowitz’s words with hate speech, one serves only to strengthen Horowitz’s claims of being victimized. With this coveted “victim card” tucked safely in his pocket, he adroitly avoided and twisted every question he was asked. There was no room for dialogue.

The ending of Horowitz’s speech pushed the prayer vigil off to a late start. As a modest-sized crowd settled in their seats, the speakers made their way to the podium. Immediately hope permeated the room as they exclaimed that equipped with the message of “Peace on Earth,” we will move forward united. Each speaker expounded on the idea that if we truly live our lives with the understanding that all of mankind is created in the likeness of God, all outward differences, and thus sources of prejudice, fade away. Ambassador Edward Gnehm related that same sentiment to his tenure in the Middle East: Behind the deceptive veil of politics, we are one and the same.

Lesson 2: Division is merely a political artifice

As the vigil drew to a close, one of the speakers posed a question to the few dozen people in the audience: Who believes that if we were talking about hate rather than love, and division rather than unity, that this room would be full? Every single hand immediately went up.

It was undeniable that the peaceful vigil failed to draw close to the same numbers that Horowitz’s hateful speech did. Playing right into the hands of the political demon, hate conquered love. The division of our campus not only formed the crux of Horowitz’s speech but attracted reporters from across the globe. It is amid this sea of shouting voices and empty words that truth ceases to exist. Within this vacuum, the mainstream media had their story long before George Washington University heard anything about Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

It is our responsibility to break the cycle of hate that has trickled down from the political juggernaut to our own universities. Through the darkness of the storm that inundated our campus, the prayer vigil stood as a beacon of light. In order to truly eliminate the ignorance that breeds prejudice and division, we must strengthen interfaith and cultural bridges. If you say that you love God, then you must prove it by embracing the simultaneous diversity and unity of creation.

Lesson 3: It is often the few that bring about the liberation of the many.

Nouf Bazaz

Islamic Alliance for Justice, President

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Mukasey: What is this torture you speak of?

November 1, 2007, 1:32 pm | Posted by

Michael Mukasey stands to become the chief law enforcement officer of United States, so his opinion on the legality of various interrogation techniques is more than an abstract or academic concern. Mukasey can say with great certainty that torture is unconstitutional, but that’s not so meaningful if you don’t quite know what torture is. He’s not so sure about waterboarding (which was used in the Spanish Inquisition):

Sen. Whitehouse called Mukasey’s answer “purely semantic” and “a massive hedge.” I’d also add “absurd.” If it’s hard for him to make up his mind about whether waterboarding is torture, it should be easy for us to make up our minds about him.

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Support for the silenced and brutalized people of Myanmar

September 28, 2007, 3:10 pm | Posted by

CNN is reporting that Myanmar’s military junta is cutting off its people’s communication with the outside world in order to suppress reports of government brutality:

The Internet connection in Myanmar was cut Friday, limiting the free flow of information the nation’s citizens were sharing with the world depicting the violent crackdown on monks and other peaceful demonstrators.

Myanmar-based blogs went dark suddenly. But London-based blogger Ko Htike — who has been one of the most prominent bloggers posting information about the violence — has vowed to keep up the fight, saying where “there is a will, there is a way.”

“I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the Internet connection throughout the country,” he said on his blog Friday. “I, therefore, would not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the brutal Burmese military junta.”

You can do several things to stand with the Burmese people who are currently under attack by the government that has oppressed them for decades.

Sign the petition holding the UN Security Council and the government of China accountable for the bloodshed.

Email their American embassy at and

Tell your friends, family, networks and constituencies to get involved.

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