(June 1, 2007) — The Brethren Witness/Washington Office has sent a letter to President Bush regarding funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The letter dated April 20 was signed by Phil Jones as director of the office, which is a ministry of the General Board.
The letter described the fund as “an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man, and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity,” and said the fund supports countries in “using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.”
Referring to the action of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals, the letter stated in part, “One of the most critical concerns of our church today is the inadequate healthcare and support of women in our world. Repeated studies have shown that due to inadequate healthcare, poor nourishment, lack of education, and other conditions and situations brought on by poverty and hunger that millions of women are at risk in regards to their health, and most often the health of their children.”
The Millennium Development Goals recognize the specific goals of education and empowerment of women, reduction of child mortality, and care for the maternal health of women.
In other news from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, an action alert on May 31 invited Brethren to support efforts against the use of torture. The office has joined ecumenical partners and other communities of faith and faith-based organizations in endorsing a statement by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture: “Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved–policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed? Let America abolish torture now–without exceptions.”
“Brethren have long understood from scripture that all individuals are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and therefore worthy of honor and respect by other human beings (1 John 4:20); and that Jesus calls us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27) and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12),” said the action alert. “From the earliest Brethren statements we read, ‘We find no freedom in giving, or doing, or assisting in any thing by which men’s [and women’s] lives are destroyed or hurt’ (Pennsylvania Assembly 1775).”
The office is encouraging attendance at a June 26 “Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice” in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and the Leadership Council on Civil Rights. Some 2,000 people are expected at an 11:30 a.m. rally on Capitol Hill, and in the afternoon will lobby members of Congress to end torture and secret prisons, restore due process and fairness to treatment of detainees, and reform the abuses of the Military Commissions Act by enacting the Restoring the Constitution Act. Two or three representatives from participating organizations will be invited to take part in a debriefing of the day at 5:30 p.m., and clergy who attend are invited to be present for a press conference. Find information about the rally and lobby day at http://action.aclu.org/site/DocServer/flyer-v2_sm_a.pdf?docID=1361. Participants should register at http://www.tortureisamoralissue.org/. Free bus transportation is being offered by the ACLU from some points along the east coast and from several cities in the midwest, see http://www.juneaction.org/.
Another upcoming event receiving support is the Jubilee USA Conference in Chicago on June 15-17. Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups, including the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, working for the cancellation of crushing debts to fight poverty and injustice in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The conference will be at Loyola University’s downtown campus, and will feature speakers from Senegal, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ecuador, along with workshops, music, poetry, dance performances, and food. A special screening features “Bamako,” the latest film by acclaimed Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, which depicts a fictional trial of the IMF and World Bank for policies in Africa. The Grassroots Conference opening event on June 15 at 7 p.m. features Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Tanzanian political cartoonist Godfrey “Gado” Mwampembwa, and is free and open to the public. A limited number of travel scholarships are available, as is free housing with local Jubilee supporters. For more information, visit http://www.jubileeusa.org/.
Contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 337 N. Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; 800-785-3246; firstname.lastname@example.org.