Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis Hope

Global Ministries Update - A common witness of the Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ

The Rev. John Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, and the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), sent an important interfaith message to the President on the need for a comprehensive Middle East peace by signing a document entitled: “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis Hope”

On December 12, 2006, 35 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national figures, all leaders of faith communities frequently seen as at odds on issues of Middle East policy, proclaimed in unity that they held more in common than different in their conviction of what must make for peace between Israel and Palestine. This National Interreligious Leaders Initiative (NILI) is a Jewish-Christian-Muslim coalition that has come together since its beginning in 2003 around the basic idea that peace in the Holy Land is essential.

Global Ministries Co-Executive, Cally Rogers-Witte played an important role in helping shape the contours of the NILI document during a leaders’ consultation on the message hosted by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington last September. Peter Makari, Global Ministries Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe, and Derek Duncan, Program Associate for Education and Advocacy for Global Ministries, also contributed to the writing of this timely document.

To read the full text Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From crisis to hope, click here

Friday, February 16, 2007


Earth Day Sunday 22 April, 2007
This year's theme is "The Food that Sustains Us." For more information and resources visit www.nccecojustice.org/faithharvestworship. Also, check out www.SimpleLiving.org (New Resources) where you will find a cookbook for children that focuses on eating seasonal and local foods and practical help selecting food and products that are Earth-friendly and healthy.

Lent Alert! Ash Wednesday is Feb 21st.
Want a 40-Day Guide to help you travel through Lent and prepare for Easter? Get one free at www.SimpleLiving.org where you will find other Lent and Easter resources to use in your church.

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Note: ALTERNATIVES for Simple Living has been providing Christian resources for responsible living and celebrating since 1973.
Alternatives@SimpleLiving.org * www.SimpleLiving.org

Thursday, February 15, 2007


An excerpt from TEAR AUSTRALIA's most recent "Changemakers: Advocacy & Action" Newsletter:

Climate Change has been hitting the news a lot recently, particularly with the release on the weekend of the first part of the authoritative report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis . The report makes it abundantly clear that the world is warming at an unprecedented rate, and that the burning of fossil fuels is the chief cause.

As the Stern report (among many others) has demonstrated, "the most vulnerable - the poorest countries and populations - will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change." Because climate change is a justice issue, and one of the greatest challenges posed to sustainable development, TEAR Australia will be working with other groups - through Make Poverty History and through the Climate Change and Development Roundtable - to take action on this critical issue.

Responding To Climate Change - Brisbane

Friday evening 16 March - all day Saturday 17 March
St James' College, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Cost: $50 / $30 concession

Organised by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, this conference provides people of faith a chance to consider the impacts of climate change, explore the biblical, theological and spiritual dimensions of a Christian response, and learn about practical ways to take action.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Clyde Wild, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Innovative Conservation Strategies, Griffith University
  • Col Brown, Executive Officer of Catholic Earthcare Australia

To register, or for further information, contact:

Alana Emerick
07 3336 9351
CJPC, GPO Box 282, Brisbane, 4001


This is a recently discovered website that " is a great source of faith-based justice proclamation and calls to action...USA focused, but still helpful to see what the church is saying and doing.


we are a progressive, inclusive, and responsive interfaith electronic advocacy community dedicated to providing a powerful collective voice to help advance the cause of compassion and justice in public policy.

Faithful Americans include Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Baha’is, to name a few. Many express their faiths in individual ways. Yet all of us share a common bond - when it comes to government, we believe our faith does matter. Our voices are needed. Our values must be reflected in our nation’s public policies

A program of the National Council of Churches, USA, FaithfulAmerica.org is made up of persons who believe that one’s faith - however broadly or uniquely expressed - has a word to say about our nation’s government and its priorities.


CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration's fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA) is an international, non-denominational ministry of believers dedicated to respectfully promoting healthy, Christ-centered and God-honoring living among Christians.

We advocate nutritious plant-based diets in the global Christian community. Through publications, websites, and related public information campaigns, we educate people about the distinct health, environmental, and animal-related advantages of plant-based eating. Click on the link HERE or under the "New Social Justice Links - Feb 07" Menu on the sidebar to check out this website and resource.

As excerpt from their most recent newsletter....

Article by Fr. Peter Mihalic [to be published in his Diocesan Newspaper, "The Universe Bulletin"]

Fran Lebowitz once quipped, "Food is an important part of a balanced diet." What we eat is also is part of a balanced life. We eat to live and live to eat. And what we consume says a lot about who we are. We are far more health conscious today than ever before. Ecological concerns have questioned the mass production of some foods and products through factory farming. Not only animal activists, but even church leaders including Pope Benedict XVI and popes before him have had their say about our need to consume with a conscience. Therefore many today for different reasons have embraced a change in their eating habits.

Change is very difficult when it touches aspects of our lives that are so common and ingrained. Today losing weight is not the only reason for avoiding some foods and consuming others. I myself am a vegetarian (no meat, little dairy), leaning at present toward becoming vegan (no meat or dairy of any kind) for many reasons. From my experience people have a difficult time understanding this, though they eventually seem to accept it and respect it. Some, however, do feel threatened by the change. They seem to concur with Sir Robert Hutchison who said, "Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness." I certainly do not intend to be self-righteous and will always be accused of having a little too much wind. But at the same time I feel obligated to see a picture of this world wider than what is on my plate. Respecting the issues at hand, I feel the personal need to adjust my intake of food, not to mention the purchasing of certain products. The question then becomes what should I consume. Luckily, we live in a society that provides a wonderful array of choices, some of which are far healthier and more in tune with issues of ecology and justice than others.


Summary of “Report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China” written by David Matas and David Kilgour. July 2006.

Recently the Social Justice Network was given a report by a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ called “Report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China” and asked to provide a summary document. The report is disturbing reading. It alleges that the Chinese Government is willingly using detained Falun Gong members to harvest their body parts for transplants. It sounds like Science Fiction and my initial reaction was this was perhaps an exaggerated story but the evidence seems compelling. I’ll let you decide.

The report was written by David Matas and David Kilgour. David Matas is an immigration, refugee and international human rights lawyers in private practice in Winnipeg Canada. David Kilgour is a former Crown prosecutor and former member of parliament and a former Secretary of State of the Government of Canada for the Asia Pacific Region.

While neither writers visited China (they were denied entry) they have gathered a large amount of evidence to suggest that the Government approved practice of harvesting body parts from detained Falun Gong followers exists and exists in a significant way. They have put forward the following evidence and state that while each piece of evidence does not prove conclusively that the practice occurs, as seen as a whole it suggests that this practice is unfortunately occurring.

Who are Falun Gong?

You may have heard of the group but no sure what exactly the group is. Put simply Falun Gong refers to a set of five meditations and spiritual teachings.

Falun Gong has been the focus of international controversy since the government of the People's Republic of China began a nationwide suppression of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999. The Chinese government claims to have banned the group for its illegal activities. The Falun Gong claims the ban was a result of President of the People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin’s personal jealousy of the group’s popularity. The suppression of Falun Gong is considered a human rights violation mainly by western human rights groups and politicians.

The exact number of Falun Gong practitioners is not known. A figure of 70 million practitioners was quoted in a New York Times article published April 27, 1999. According to the article, this figure was the estimate of Chinese government. According to a statement posted on November 1, 1999 the membership estimated by Beijing was 2.1 million. A main Falun Gong website states a figure of 100 million practitioners worldwide, including 70 million in China.

  • There have been some very strong policy statement by the Government of China and the Communist Party Of China calling for the persecution of the Falun Gong including physical persecution.
  • There is continued evidence that a large number of deaths of Falun Gong are counted as suicide and cremated immediately to avoid the chance of autopsies.
  • Since 1999, Falun Gong members who are arrested (and it is estimated to be over 830,000) and detained in labour camps are later subjected to weeks of “brainwashing”.
  • After arrest and/or detention (often for attending demonstrations in Beijing) many members are returned to their communities but their families would be implicated in their Falun Gong activities and pressured to join in the effort to get their practitioners to renounce Falun Gong. Their workplace leaders, their co-workers, their local government leaders would be held responsible and penalized for the fact that these individuals had demonstrated.
  • Many Falun gong members therefore decide not to divulge their identities and therefore remain in custody as anonymous people. They are however, then treated especially badly. As well they are moved around within the Chinese prison system.
  • It is suggested that this anonymous group are the group that are primarily being used to harvest organs.
  • At least 98% of the organs for transplants come from someone other than family donors. According to public records, there were 30,000 transplants in total done in China before 1999 and about 18,500 in the 6 year period 1994 to 1999 and then 41,500 transplants between 2000 and 2005.
  • The increase in organ transplants in China parallels the increase in the persecution of the Falun Gong.
  • There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that practitioners in detention are systemically blood tested. The practitioners themselves are not told the reason for this. Blood testing is a pre-requisite for organ transplants and the matching of organs.
  • A number of family members of Falun Gong practitioners who died in detention reported seeing the corpses of their loved ones with surgical incisions and body parts missing.
  • The report offers a number of recorded conversations of doctors and other administrators admitting that they use prisoners for organ harvesting.
  • A number of hospitals which conduct organ transplants advertise that waiting times for operations are approximately one week. The average wait time in Canada is 32.5 months in 2003.
  • The report comes to the conclusion that based on the evidence they have gathered, the practice of large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners exists.


  • That this report be returned and the summary be forwarded to the National Council of Churches of Christ.
  • That a letter expressing our grave concerns be sent to the Australian and Chinese Governments.

The Social Justice Network have forwarded the summary to the Australian Christian for publication.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stop the Construction of the Christmas Island Detention Centre

To the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives and Senators of the Parliament of Australia We, the undersigned, are alarmed at the recently released plans for the new immigration detention centre currently being built on Christmas Island. In particular we are deeply concerned that the plans:
  1. are for a maximum security prison facility — including electric fences, 24-hour surveillance, microwave detectors and individual surveillance of all detainees — intended to house people who have not been charged with any crime;
  2. provide for children to be imprisoned in this maximum security facility, in direct contravention of a commitment made by this Parliament in 2005 that children will only be detained as an absolute last resort; and
  3. are inconsistent with the findings of numerous Parliamentary Inquiries, the opinions of medical professionals, mental health experts, international human rights bodies, lawyers, scholars, refugees and members of the community about the negative impact of such detention facilities on the lives of everyone who is held in them.

Therefore, we call all Members of the House and Senators to:

  1. affirm the commitment of the Australian Government to:
    1. transparency and accountability in governance; and to
    2. the rule of law; and the recognition of human rights and the inviolable right of every individual to be treated with dignity and respect;
  2. demand an immediate halt to the construction of the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre;
  3. demand accurate information from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and his Department, and from the Prime Minister, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, about why construction has begun on this Detention Centre, and who can or will be interred there;
  4. demand an immediate end to the mandatory, indefinite and judicially non-reviewable detention of refugees and asylum seekers;
  5. re-affirm the Parliament's commitment to ensuring that Australia's immigration system will not permit the detention of children.This petition can be downloaded from the Refugee Action Committee Website