Pope John Paul II; Media Coverage of URI and Darfur

April 20, 2005

Egads, busy couple of weeks! A lot going on in the world, as always, and at work and in the local Baha'i community and so on. Pope Benedict in Europe, genocide and Marburg's disease in Africa, a new "native" reserve in northern Brazil, more saber-rattling in South Korea... Anyway, not to blow my own horn, but in case you're curious, you might be interested in reading an article I wrote (well, with a great deal of beneficial editing!) about Pope John Paul II (The Great Bridge Maker) in the second issue of Spiritual Degrees. Also, read on for exciting media coverage of the United Religions Initiative and Darfur.

About two weeks ago I sent out a press release entitled "URI Global Council Endorses Darfur Unity Statement" (you can read it here, here, and many other places on the web). To my delight, it actually resulted in a few news stories and blog postings.

  • I was interviewed by the Philadelphia Tribune — the main local African-American paper — early last week, which resulted in the excellent article Religious groups target Sudan fighting (registration required; portions excerpted below). The reporter and I discussed the United Religions Initiative itself; the continuing violence and sense of "never again;" new estimates on the death toll (over 300,000); and the fact that many individuals think the problem was solved last year. Oh, and of course the Darfur Accountability Act.
  • Ecumenical Press Service wrote an excellent article "Interfaith Group Backs Call to End Darfur Genocide" that was picked up by Christian Today (USA) and the Christian Post (UK).
  • The conservative blog The Sunnye Side of Life picked up the letter I sent to interfaith/religious leaders in the U.S. (before the press release) in their post We Can Save Darfur. The comments are... interesting. While we started out agreeing, I must respectfully disagree with the site owner's call for "regime change." (by not posting a response, am I implicitly agreeing? hm...)
  • There was another blog posting somewhere, but it seems to have come back down (can't find it again).
  • The Ecumenical Press article was posted to the Common Ground - Common Sense bulletin board with a few comments tacked on.

The point isn't what I can do. The point is — look at what anyone, including some random dude named Stephen Fuqua, can do when they take a few minutes away from the TV (or in my case sci-fi or classic literature) to work towards the common good. Does a little bit of press coverage do any good? Perhaps not directly, but the situation certainly won't be solved if people don't know it exists. The media is a powerful source for connecting people to what is going on in the world and how we can participate in it (that's why I continue editing InterfaithNews.Net, even though my original goal was just to run the site for other editors).

Religious groups target Sudan fighting
selected passages (respecting copyright =).

By Jennifer Smith
Tribune Staff Writer

Interfaith groups and religious leaders are calling for Americans to pay more attention to the Sudanese genocide, which many think is over.

Last August, Christians and Jews convened at a press conference at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to urge government officials to provide medical assistance, clothing, food, shelter, as well as international peace keeping forces, if necessary.


“While there may be some progress being made, it has been fairly minimal,” said Siegel. “Our fear is that since it is no longer on the front pages as it was, people think the problem has been solved.”

The United Religions Initiative, an international group that works to end religiously motivated violence and aims to “build cultures of peace,” is among supporters of the Darfur Accountability Act, which was introduced last month to the U.S. Senate by Jon S. Corzine, D-N.J., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

“The international realm keeps saying it needs to stop. We are standing by and not doing enough to keep, in this case, a government from slaughtering its own people,” said Stephen Fuqua, URI North American regional coordinator.


The Rev. James Allen, pastor of the Vine Memorial Baptist Church and moderator of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association, was among the clergy at last year’s interfaith press conference.

“Religious groups across the nation should continue to work to develop resources so that when the problem of genocide has passed they can work to help people rebuild and establish themselves,” said Allen Wednesday

1 Comment

that's really great you helped shine some light on the crisis in darfur, stephen... well done... as far as the pope goes, did it remind anyone else of "A Weekend at Bernies" part III, the way they just kept moving him around and having all these functions and stuff? let the man have some peace, he's earned it... sheesh...
just wanted to bring a little scholarship to your site, throw you a bone, you know... ;)