by David Sisler

More than 1,000 religious and spiritual leaders from all the major faiths were at the United Nations in recent days, participating in the "Millennium World Peace Summit" (MWPS). Leaders were invited from Hinduism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Judaism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Confucianism.

Ted Turner, whose various entertainment and sports outlets dominate cable television, suggested the meeting three years ago, helped fund it, and delivered the opening address to thunderous applause. The Washington Post reported that Turner remembered the "intolerance" within his family's Christian community. He told the delegates he had planned to become a Christian missionary but turned away from the church when he learned about other religions. "We thought we were the only ones going to heaven," he said. "Now I believe there may be one God who manifests himself in different ways to different people."

I wonder if the delegates had heard some of Billionaire Ted's earlier statements. "Heaven is going to be perfect, and I don't really want to be there." Or, "Christianity has been unsuccessful after trying for two thousand years to solve the world's problems, so why don't we start over?" According to Turner, Christianity is a "religion for losers" and Christ should not have bothered dying on the cross. Several years ago he said, "I don't want anybody to die for me."

Turner once complained that there was no amendment process to the Ten Commandments and suggested a new set of rules called Ten Voluntary Initiatives. One of those initiatives declares, "I promise to treat all persons everywhere with dignity, respect, and friendliness."

The delegates at the MWPS would have been well-served to have been introduced to that one. Religion News Today reported that, "delegates reacted coolly to a Muslim World Council speaker who urged recognition of marriage only between a man and a woman. "

They would probably have applauded the 26 corporations which have withdrawn from sponsorship or declined sponsorship of radio and television talk show hostess Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Kraig Kitchin, president and chief operating officer of Premiere Radio Networks, Dr. Laura's syndicator, said, "more than one-third of the companies who have left us have said, ‘Please don't write us off forever and know that at some point in time we're going to be able to do business again, once the issue has resolved itself."'

Meanwhile, back at the United Nations, the MWPS gave an icy reception to the Patriarch of Ethiopia, who urged protection for unborn children – a reaction which perfectly parallels another of Ted Turner's Voluntary Initiatives: "I promise to have no more than two children, or no more than my nation suggests." MWPS organizers did not invite the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner to the meetings at the United Nations, for fear of angering China, the nation with a mandatory abortion policy, limiting their citizens to only one child per family (Turner and his wife, Jane Fonda, could field all nine positions of Turner's Atlanta Braves with their progeny, but then the initiative is voluntary).

The State Department's annual report on religious freedom, released five days after the MWPS closed, listed China as one of the worst violators for the second straight year. "Government respect for religious freedom in China deteriorated over the reporting period as the persecution of several religious minorities increased ... Government officials ... imposed tight regulations, closed houses of worship, and actively persecuted members of some unregistered religious groups. Members of such groups were subject to harassment, extortion, prolonged detention, physical abuse, and incarceration in prison or in ‘reeducation through labor' camps" (2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Executive Summary, U.S. Department of State, September 5, 2000). You have to wonder how serious the organizers of MWPS were about promoting genuine world peace when they bowed and scraped to China's communist regime.

The crowd of 1,000 religious leaders, took no risk when, from the safety of anonymity, they ridiculed a religious leader who wants to stop the murder of unborn children. What did it cost that clergyman to make his God-honoring stand? Quite a lot more I would suppose than the spineless advertisers who bailed and said, "We'll be back when things cool down. We'll support you, Dr. Laura, when the homosexual community is not looking."

At the conclusion of their meeting, the summiteers signed a "Declaration for World Peace" and established an ongoing "International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders." The deity they will represent will be a god no one knows, but curiously, one who will have many followers. As for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah, the Lord God Almighty.


Published in The Augusta Chronicle 9/16/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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