Archive for the tag “BreakPoint”

Indifference toward prisoners puts our souls at risk

youth prison hearingEric Metaxas writes at BreakPoint:

Three years ago, Michael McIntosh went to visit his son, a juvenile offender at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility near Jackson, Mississippi. When he arrived he was told that his son, Mike, wasn’t there.

Since Mike hadn’t been released from custody, something was very wrong. It took six weeks and a tip from a prison nurse to find Mike, who was in a hospital in Greenwood several hours from Jackson. It’s as if prison officials were trying to hide Mike.

And for good reason: Mike “could barely move, let alone sit up.” He couldn’t see or talk; he had a “baseball-size knot on the back of his head;” and he was covered in cuts, bruises and stab wounds.

As a result of his injuries, Mike sustained brain damage that left his cognitive abilities resembling that of a two-year-old. Mike suffered these injuries as the result of a “youth melee” at the facility, and “no one bothered to tell his father.” …

[Now] Mississippi faces another lawsuit over prison conditions: in May, the ACLU sued the state on behalf of residents at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility. The ACLU alleges that conditions at the facility have “cost many prisoners their health, and their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.”

The complaint alleges that “solitary confinement zones house dozens of seriously mentally ill prisoners who are locked down in filthy cells for days, weeks, or even years at a time.” The plaintiffs say that “rapes, stabbings, beatings, and … acts of violence are rampant.” …

These violations persist because the vast majority of Americans practice their own brand of “deliberate indifference” when it comes to the treatment of prisoners.

But we don’t have that option. Jesus made it clear that deliberate indifference to their plight puts our souls at risk. In addition, if we remain silent in the face of these offenses against human dignity, then we will deserve it when people tune us out when we talk about matters like religious freedom and marriage. We will be just another special interest in a nation full of them.

To make a difference in the juvenile justice system, visit JusticeFellowship.org.
Read more about this case by clicking here.

Labor camps instead of justice

chinaDavid McKenzie writes at CNN.com:

Liu Xiuzhi’s story begins, like many legal battles in China, over a property dispute with a powerful neighbor.

She says that when she won a civil case against the neighbor, he sent thugs to beat her up. They left her unconscious, several teeth knocked out of her lower jaw. At first, complaints to the local police were met with indifference, she says. Then anger.

So Liu started to petition. Following a centuries old tradition that started in dynastic China, Liu tried to take her grievances to local and national authorities. She says all she received was more beatings and humiliations.

“We are powerless people in China,” she says. “Either you have money in China and you have power or you are poor and you have none. I followed the law and I had to suffer.”

Over time, her petitioning became more overtly political. She started to display signs with slogans like “power and money rules in China” and “in China there is no justice and no equality.”

McKenzie goes on to say that China’s state security finally lost its patience with Liu’s campaigning and charged her under a provision for “hooliganism, prostitution, theft and fraud” that landed her in the Xi An Re-education Through Labor Jail in southern Beijing. The “re-education” system allows state security agents to arrest offenders for up to four years without trial. The government admits tens of thousands of prisoners are held in those centers. At least some of them are political dissidents.

Ben Booker points out at BreakPoint that those dissidents include Christian prisoners of conscience and that a movement to reform China’s labor camps is growing:

Christianity can be a major boon to this effort. By advocating the self-worth of individuals and the importance of love and justice, the Church can be a boon to humanitarian efforts to correct for this grave injustice. The prospect is terrifying though. Chinese Christians face daily persecutions for their beliefs and may even find themselves in these re-education camps. On strict political terms, the advantage lies with the government. They hold political authority and the backing of the police and military establishment. That does not mean Christians should shy away from engaging in the political discussion, but it does present its own set of challenges that are not faced as readily by people in Western states. However, the Church is not limited to political confrontation to rectify these grave injustices brought forth on China. Rather, ministry is an avenue to social change.

Chinese Christians (I should say Christians in general) can combat injustices through evangelizing and spreading the gospel to others. The fields of social justice and evangelism can too often be separated in the minds of Christians (myself included) but where can true, lasting social justice come from beside the life-giving power of the gospel? The gospel changes the mindset from one focused on self-aggrandizement typified through the lust for power and control that the Chinese government has exhibited through its labor camps to one of sacrificial service in the name of Jesus’ glorification. Through this, real change can take hold as the principles that have shaped law and policy come to reflect Jesus’ ideas of grace and peace. These changes can be slow because it is a person by person effort, but it is rewarding since it imparts lasting change to individuals. These spiritually touched people can reform the content, character, and, most importantly, practice of the law.

This all seems far off to Christians here in the U.S., but the body of Christ must grieve with those who suffer, especially fellow Christians. This is not something to glibly sweep under the rug and believe it does not exist. It is happening, it is wrong, and something must be done.

Read the full text of McKenzie’s article by clicking here.
Read the full text of Booker’s article  by clicking here.

A better path to justice than liberalism and conservatism

mk_fbMark Kelly writes at kainos:

There is a better path to justice than relativistic liberalism and subjective conservatism can offer. Jesus’ values are not mere opinion, nor are they only revelation. Most liberal Christians wink knowingly and fall in behind the unbelieving culture. Most conservative evangelicals cry “Outrage!” at the compromises, but can’t prove how they know their own values are true. Conservative Christians keep looking to a Republican party whose elites are as liberal in their morals as the Democratic leadership. Followers of either party who claim Christ are being led down the primrose path toward a social collapse that will inevitably require the State to enforce order. In this world, anarchy is answered only by tyranny. …

Jesus calls on us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He requires us to help “the least of these.” He gives no impression that Caesar offers any hope for creating justice. Jesus speaks with the authority of the God of Abraham who requires his people to do justice, with the power of one raised by God from the dead to prove he told the Truth.

In the United States, we are witnessing the rapid degeneration of a society that will become increasingly hostile to the truth and values Jesus requires his disciples to declare. Many who claim Christ will slide off into the abyss with everyone else — both those who are trying to channel the culture and those who don’t understand Jesus well enough to know they should be loving their neighbors more than fighting a culture war.

Yes, the political issues are critical — government spending, abortion as birth control, same-sex marriage, religious liberty — and Christians on each “side” understand a crucial part of the truth. But no victory in the political arena will resolve any of those issues. The only path to justice — pressing toward God’s will on earth as it is in heaven — requires us to unapologetically declare Jesus’ message: that we all are broken, that God loves each of us, that only God’s grace can bring us healing, that the Kingdom is right under our noses — trust Jesus and he will give you new life!

We don’t need to become relevant; the Gospel is already relevant. We don’t need to condemn a sinful society; it is already condemned. What we need to be doing is proclaiming — and living out — the full, free, and forever life only Jesus can give.

It’s no mystery, folks: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Help the least of these. Seek the Kingdom first and foremost. Make disciples.  When the branches bear much fruit, the Vine receives the glory he deserves.

Read the full post by clicking here.

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