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UCCtruths

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The olympics, Darfur and our idiotic sense of justice

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This doesn't directly relate to the United Church of Christ - but it should. Today, China has blocked the visa for gold winning speed skater Joey Cheek:

Olympic gold medalist and outspoken Darfur activist Joey Cheek has had his visa revoked by the Chinese embassy, hours before the speedskating champion was set to fly to China. And he wasn't even planning on wearing a mask when he got
there.

Chinese officials don't need a reason to revoke anyone's visa but, in their eyes, they had plenty of reasons to snatch Cheek's. He is the founder of Team Darfur, a group of 70 athletes whose goal it is to raise global awareness of the human-rights violations taking part in the Darfur region of Sudan. China's military, economic and diplomatic ties to Sudan have been well-publicized in the lead-up to the Games.
China has been the single biggest obstacle in stopping the genocide in Darfur - a fact regularly missed by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. Instead, JWM is promoting the incredibly stupid and completely ineffective "Tents of Action" which is intended to raise awareness about an issue where awareness isn't the problem - it's a distraction. What's worse, JWM tried to turn the issue into a political football. The way the United Church of Christ has addressed the genocide in Darfur not only exemplifies ineptness, it demonstrates a real lack of leadership and courage within the UCC to do what is right, not just what is politically expedient.

In April, 2004, it was the U.S. that raised global awareness of the crisis in Sudan before the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission in Geneva. It was nearly 6 months before the UCC had any formal reaction. In October of 2006, the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries exploited the crisis with an email campaign suggesting that the White House wasn't taking a leadership role on the crisis... two weeks before the mid-term elections. It's worth noting that during this period, the U.S. was the only country submitting resolutions to the U.N. security council.

It can be said without doubt that the UCC's efforts (and all mainline churches) have not done a single thing to help end the crisis and if anything, used the crisis as a political football. This does not, however, suggest that the church has all the right answers all the time to every crisis in the world. This crisis, which the UCC called the worst humanitarian crisis in decades, deserved a better response from the church than was given.

So why didn't we?

While Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. to "ensure that any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a U.N. force for Darfur calls for U.N. forces to use all necessary means to protect civilians", the UCC couldn't bring itself to back it. I believe this is because of our theological identity as a "Just Peace" church. We choose instead to build tents and pretend in our self-righteousness that we are making a difference.

Don't kid yourself - we are not making a bit of difference to stop this genocide.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, August 06, 2008

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