A Step Forward in Sudan

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At last, the U.S. government has taken strong and decisive steps toward ending the massacre of Muslims in the Darfur region of Sudan. Economic sanctions announced Tuesday by President Bush will cut off the flow of cash to Sudanese government officials and rebel leaders who are persecuting the Sudanese people and hampering humanitarian efforts to aid the victims. Along with these sanctions, the President promised to work for a U.N. resolution that would bring more nations into the effort, and for tougher enforcement mechanisms to make sure the sanctions work.

Many Christian groups are celebrating this move from the administration. "We're very, very appreciative [of] the President," Faith McDonnell of the Institute for Religion and Democracy told us. "He's the only world leader actually doing anything strong and committed [in this situation]."

I can second that. This President has delivered on every single human rights initiative we've taken to him in his six years in office.

It ought to be noted that the U.S. gave the Sudanese government every chance. In a conference call Tuesday, administration officials told us that the U.S. and the U.N. have delayed sanctions again and again to give the Sudanese government time to act, to halt the military operations and reign in the murderous Janjaweed militias. Time ran out. The U. S. will not stand by while they perpetrate genocide.

Ironically, these sanctions against Sudan, inspired by Christian activism, are coming at a time when Christians are facing a renewed wave of criticism and scorn. Christopher Hitchens, the latest of many atheists to publish a book railing against religious beliefs, complains bitterly that "religion poisons everything" and "religion kills."

These diatribes by Hitchens and his fellow atheists, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins—aimed largely at Christians—are doing increasingly well on the bestseller lists, preaching to an entire generation that religion is holding humanity back from true morality and goodness. And we're all familiar with the calls for Christians to keep our views to ourselves and out of public life, lest we "impose" them on others.

Well, where have the loudest voices calling for relief in Darfur been coming from? From Christians, of course! Whether combating sexual trafficking or fighting genocide in Darfur, Christians have been at the forefront. Groups on Tuesday's conference call, for example, included the Institute for Religion and Democracy, Christian Solidarity International, Samaritan's Purse, and of course Prison Fellowship.

In fact, the crisis in Sudan—genocide against Christians in the south—was the first issue that I brought up with President Bush when I met him right after his inauguration. He acted, and it was stopped. Now, in this latest crisis in Darfur, Christians are speaking out this time on behalf of Muslims. Christians care about human rights of all people, even Islamists who are engaged in suicide bombings against the West.

Funny, you don't hear these atheists, these noisy folks like Dawkins and Hitchens and company, ever talking about this. The fact is that our work on behalf of the poor, the prisoners, and the oppressed—as in Darfur—is the ultimate answer to the calumnies heaped upon us by atheists. Far from being "poisonous," the Christian worldview is the principal source of true respect for human life and dignity.

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From BreakPoint®, May 31, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries