Monday, March 1, 2010

Overcoming Religious Prejudices

Nicholas Kristof is a New York Times columnist who travels the world in search of stories about human rights violations. He came to Saint Mary’s on Monday February 8, 2010 and gave an inspiring lecture about his new book “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Although the book has sat on my nightstand since the day I bought it, thanks to my hectic school schedule, I read Kristof’s column and blog all the time and follow him on Facebook, Twitter etc. etc. It would be accurate to say I’m fairly obsessed with the guy. 

On February 27, 2010, he wrote an article titled “Learning From the Sin of Sodom” which talks about the common misconception that conservative Christians spend all of their time addressing moral issues and do not devote time to spend on social concerns. Kristof says, “The American view of evangelicals is still shaped by preening television blowhards and hypocrites who seem obsessed with gays and fetuses.” While this notion may have been accurate at one time, today Evangelicals provide AIDS and malaria relief, work to stop human trafficking and try to prevent genocide in Darfur. This work is done through programs like World Vision, an organization with Evangelical Christian roots, that is now the largest international relief group in the world.

The problem in America is many liberals believe religious groups provide aid to get converts, which is actually a banned practice in most religiously based aid organizations. There is a large political split in America and the effects of the split are often disastrous for people that depend on aid. Rick Warren and his congregation are examples of the many Evangelicals that are making a difference to end poverty and other social issues around the world. Warren said, "Almost all of my work is in the Third World. I couldn't care less about politics, the culture wars. My only interest is to get people to care about Darfurs and Rwandas." 

Warren and Mr. Kristof both make excellent points that we need to get over this political split between us and focus on what is really important: providing relief and aid for those that need it. While we can drastically disagree politically with many Evangelical Christians, the bottom line is they are doing great work in the world and mocking their religion only shows how prejudicial we are towards those we don’t know much about.


Andrea Watts said...

Great post Colleen!

I also have the book 'Half the Sky' and haven't found the time to read it, hopefully spring break will remedy that.

ShamRockNRoll said...

Nice post, Col. Yeah, I think there are a lot (but a minority) of evangelicals who give them all a bad name, particularly a lot of the political ones. But it's important to see the forest through the trees and realize that most people of faith just want to do good for others.

debra m said...

Excellent post.