Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LAWG says: Tell your friends to lend a helping hand to Haiti

Tell your friends to lend a helping hand to Haiti. This excellent message is from the Latin America Working Group (LAWG).

LAWG's Lisa Haugard writes:

"Many walk the streets, some barefoot, balancing on their heads bags containing what belongings they could grab before they fled and clutching plastic containers for water," says Oxfam's Catherine Gluck from Port au Prince, Haiti. "Large numbers are also wearing masks to stop inhaling the thick grey smoke that lingered long after the quake. The masks also offered some protection from the thick stench of dead bodies that lined the streets in the immediate aftermath of the quake and are still turning up wrapped in sheets or pieces of clothing." (Oxfam:

Please share this message, with a list of organizations supporting relief efforts, to your friends and family!

I went searching for words like these that would convey the scope of the damage. But sometimes only photos can convey the scope of the horror, like this photo essay in the Boston Globe -

And then there are the mind-numbing numbers:
50,000 to 200,000 dead
300,000 living homeless in the streets of Port au Prince

Like us, we know you are asking, What can I do to help? We're glad the Obama Administration has taken first steps, such as immediately pledging $100 million in emergency relief and extending Temporary Protective Status for Haitians in the United States, halting deportations for 18 months.

In the weeks to come, we will ask you to urge the White House and Congress to provide generous, well-directed emergency and long-term reconstruction aid that will truly help Haitians rebuild their lives. It will be important to ensure aid is provided in an empowering way. This call for Haiti relief to be grounded in transparency, human rights principles and respect for the dignity of Haitian people by Partners in Health/ Zanmi Lasante and other groups is a good place to start -

But right now, the most important action is to give, and to encourage your friends and family to give. (But in this case, not to LAWG: we do not provide direct relief!) Below is a list of partners in the LAWG coalition who are acceptiong donations for Haiti relief efforts -

Also, please forward this message and direct your friends and family to the list below, or other good effective relief groups, and encourage them to give. In my neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland, there are many people with families in Haiti. My heart goes out to them and to all those in affected by this devastating disaster.

Best, Lisa Haugaard

Here are some of our partners who participate in the LAWG coalition who are providing relief. Please donate to them or to any other effective organization of your choice supporting relief efforts in Haiti.

American Jewish World Service
Catholic Relief Services
Church World Service
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Action by Churches Together
Jesuit Refugee Service USA
Lutheran World Relief
Mennonite Central Committee
Oxfam America
Quixote Center
United Methodist Church
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee/UUA
United Church of Christ

In addition, these are two effective organizations providing emergency medical relief: Partners in Health
Doctors Without Borders

Latin America Working Group
424 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 546-7010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NCC leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Egypt

National Council of Churches leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Egypt

New York, January 15, 2010 --

The National Council of Churches USA has sent messages of solidarity and support to leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church following attacks on Christians in Egypt.

In Egypt, where the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas on January 7 (following the old Julian and Coptic calendars), seven people were murdered following a midnight Divine Liturgy in Nag Hamadi, Qena in Upper Egypt. According to press reports, riots then erupted during the funeral processions for six of the seven victims of the massacre. Six of the seven victims were Coptic Christians; the seventh victim was a Muslim.

In a message sent to H.G. Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, Coptic Orthodox Church, and to Subdeacon Bishoy M. Mikhail, Ecumenical Officer of the Church, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon wrote: "On behalf of your brothers and sisters in the National Council of Churches, I want to assure you of our prayers following the death of Coptic Orthodox Christians this week in Egypt. May God receive them into glory, and may God grant peace to our violent and fragmented world." Kinnamon also lamented the death of the Muslim victim.

Other church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, also condemned the violence against Christians in Egypt.

Kinnamon condemned the attacks as a flagrant denial of the love of God as testified to in the New Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures and the Qur'an. "Violence in God's name is not only an obvious corruption of Scripture, it demonstrates an appalling disregard for the loving and just God who commands us to live together in peace," Kinnamon said. "What is especially painful is that this recent violence took place during a celebration of the birth of the one who Christians call the Prince of Peace and who Muslims call a holy prophet."

NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jim Wall points to `Avatar' and a teachable moment

Jim Wall writes about Avatar and a teachable moment:

At a special morning New Year’s Eve screening in Hawaii, President Obama took his family to the mall to see the new 3-D movie, Avatar. Whose idea was that?

Did the leader of the Free World realize he was going to experience a “teachable moment”? Along with millions of movie-going families from Kansas to Qatar to Quebec, the Obama family found itself in Pandora, a lush jungle on a distant moon where the Na’vi tribes live in harmony with all living things.

The time is the future, 2154 to be precise, and the Na’vi live on land coveted by outsiders who have the military might to take their land from them.

Oh boy. Who among the Chicago nerds and political operatives who help the president organize his day, understood that Avatar could become a Teachable Moment for Obama, and the world.

The president likes Teachable Moments, when he recognizes them. Remember how effectively he turned all that negative publicity about his pastor into a serious discussion of race in America?
And remember how badly he missed another Teachable Moment when President Jimmy Carter came to his defense and described right-wing attacks on him as “racist”, which they were? Obama had his White House issue a statement disassociating the president from Carter’s defense.

Avatar now offers him the same opportunity. This is a Teachable Moment he should not reject. Maybe a special screening in the White House with some kind words for director James Cameron?

What viewers of Avatar discover is that the film immediately suggests the oppression of Native Americans by the US government, because the Na’vi and the land on which they live share a spiritual bond. The film also evokes the Vietnam War because the setting of the military struggle is a lush jungle.

Gaza, Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, are mountainous; there are no jungles. The dominant indigenous religion of Gaza and Af-Pak is Muslim, but like the Na’vi, the inhabitants live on land the outside invaders wish to control.

For the full commentary, go to Jim's Blog: