Peace, Peace—But Is There Peace?
Peace Prize Reactions
The biggest surprise of the past week was the announcement that President Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize. While no one, not even the President, felt he had done enough to earn the prize, some groups viewed the prize as a hopeful gesture while others thought the President is an agent against, not for, peace.
Sojourners supported giving Obama the Nobel Prize in several posts. Valerie Elverton Dixon wrote that while little has been accomplished so far, Obama has a vision for peace. She wrote that the Nobel committee recognized this vision and "has given him a just peace prize." Edward Gilbreath viewed the prize as "a salute to America's ability to finally rise up to the ideals of equality, freedom, and strength through diversity that it was founded on." Jim Wallis interpreted the prize as a "prayer." He wrote that he wanted it to "be a prayer for the U.S. itself, to lead in a new way and to seek a fundamentally different approach to the many global decisions that this new president will now have to make."
Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said that Obama has done little to deserve the prize and has done much to bring his role as peacemaker into question. Land noted the President's recent decision, under pressure from China, to not meet with the Dalai Lama. According to Land, "It's becoming clear that Mr. Obama's definition of engagement leaves plenty of room to meet with dictators but less room for those who challenge them."
Other groups were more pointed in their criticism of the Nobel committee's decision.
Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel said Obama "has done nothing to advance peace in this Nation or abroad. When abroad, he apologizes for America and is embarrassed by American exceptionalism. Domestically, Obama promotes a culture war. He is not the symbol of peace."
The Family Research Council said in the eleven days between his inauguration and his nomination for the prize, Obama actually worked against the cause of peace, particularly by supporting abortion funding overseas. Cathy Ruse of the FRC concluded, "Mother Teresa called abortion the greatest destroyer of peace. But according to the Nobel committee, forcing taxpayers to fund it gets you a peace prize."
NAE calls for immigration reform
Last week, the Nationals Association of Evangelicals called for the reform of immigration policy. NAE President Leith Anderson identified the current system as "broken," "ineffective" and "too often inhumane." The NAE resolution calls for reform of the visa system, just labor laws, and "a sound, equitable process" for undocumented immigrants to become citizens.
Perhaps most surprising about the NAE resolution was that advocacy groups ignored it.
Even Sojourners, which supports such reforms, failed to mention the NAE's resolution. In May, Sojourners signed a statement by Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that included a similar call for reform of immigration policy. Sojourners did post a statement that Lynne and Bill Hybels submitted to a Senate Hearing on Immigration Reform. The Hybels statement addressed the issue from the perspective of local church leaders, not politicians. "As Christians, we accept the biblical perspective that we are all sojourners on this earth," the statement read. "Recognizing that we are all sojourners on this land, no matter what our legal status, compels us to extend solidarity to all."
Hate crimes bill passes
Last Thursday, the House passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act as part of a Defense authorization bill. The act expands the definition of federal hate crimes law to include crimes committed because of the victim's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.