Archive for the tag “CNN”

On religious freedom, at CNN it’s still 1984

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

orwell 1984 2Do not take a press release at face value, nor press releases regurgitated by “news” organizations.

Dan Merica and Kevin Bohn report for CNN, in a post RealClearReligion styled as “White House Caves on Mandate” that the Obama administration has finalized rules on the HHS abortifacient mandate that “appropriately balance” religious liberty and contraception coverage. Yet the article goes on to point out that those rules “have undergone only minor changes” and you have to read 13 paragraphs before you find out  the very serious conscience issues faced by Christians in for-profit business like Hobby Lobby have not been resolved. Five administration voices — named and unnamed — are quoted glowingly that justice has been done, contrasted with only one opposing voice speaking directly to the finalized rules.

In stark contrast, Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s article for RNS got straight to the real news in an article headlined “White House denies contraception exemption to private businesses.” The article lead plainly says what the CNN presser did its best to ignore: “The Obama administration on Friday (June 28) issued final rules for religious groups for its controversial contraception mandate, maintaining its position on who qualifies for religious exemption and allowing no carve-outs for private business owners.”

I’m supposing someone at RCR rewrites the headlines. CNN’s said “Finalized rules let religious groups opt out of contraception mandate.” But that’s only marginally more accurate than the RCR head, and the CNN piece goes to great lengths to bury the still-serious concerns about religious liberty and completely ignores recent developments like Hobby Lobby’ssuccessful appeal against the mandate.

Only in 1984 would news media portray an administration’s determined opposition to religious freedom as listening to the people’s voice and allowing conscientious objection.

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.

Toddlers among 149 freed from slavery at brick kiln in India

toddler brickThe CNN Freedom Project has worked for more than two years on the illegal yet widespread practice of bonded labor in India and now has published a story about the rescue of 149 slaves from a brick kiln — some of whom were as young as 3 years old.

As the article notes, “slavery today exists for two reasons: greed and desperation. It’s greed on the part of landowners and illegal recruiters. And its desperation for the tens of millions of people who are willing to take a risk to improve their lives, no matter how long the odds.”

CNN’s Leif Coorlim, Mallika Kapur and Sara Sidner report:

(CNN) – A flaring furnace blasts another wave of searing heat on the faces of workers hauling bricks under a southern Indian sun.

They work up to 22 hours a day propping heavy stacks of bricks on their heads. None expects to be paid for this labor. None knows how long they’ll be kept here. Some are as young as three years old.

Manoj Singh was one of 149 people rescued this year from a brick kiln outside Hyderabad, India. Like millions of other Indians, the toddler was born into extreme poverty.

When CNN correspondent Mallika Kapur visited Manoj’s family, now back home, he and the some of the 34 other children freed, showed her how they would make the bricks from wet clay.

“They recall from their muscle memory,” says Anu George Canjanathoppil, of International Justice Mission, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating slavery around the world. “So if you ask them to explain what they did, they cannot say.

Older laborers, however, had plenty to say.

According to reports from IJM investigators at the scene, one pregnant woman claimed she was kicked by her manager, when she pleaded for rest. A man had raw wounds so deep that the bone showed through.

The workers’ grueling schedule permitted little time for eating. After being freed and having a full meal, many of the malnourished workers vomited.

“We had to work 18 to 22 hours a day,” Manoj’s father, Lucky Singh, told Kapur. “We didn’t get time to eat or to bathe. One day, I dozed off. Then the boss came and beat me with a stick.”

Lucky says he ended up at the kiln because he was desperate to provide for his impoverished family.

When a recruiter came to his small village in Odisha state in eastern India, near the Bay of Bengal, he willingly went on the promise of a $400 advance, which became a $400 debt – and they were locked into working to try to pay it off. They couldn’t leave without permission and wouldn’t be told when, or if, they could ever pay off their debt.

Bonded labor in India is the most prevalent form of slavery in the world today. It was declared illegal in India in 1976 but persists. A vast majority of India’s workers scrape together a meager living through informal, unregulated work contracts, making them more susceptible to unsafe working environments and exploitation.

Read the rest of this inspiring article and watched a related video by clicking here.

Working alongside the Indian government, International Justice Mission has carried out dozens of raids the past six years in India freeing more than 3,200 people.

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