- The Washington Times - Friday, November 6, 2009

Faith leaders urged on climate change

“And God blessed them; and God said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’ ”

Those are the words of Genesis 1:28. But they easily could have been the words of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who on Wednesday told more than 200 leaders representing nine of the world’s major religious communities that faith communities are in a “unique position” regarding the fate of planet Earth. Mr. Ban and the religious leaders participated in the three-day Alliance of Religions and Conservation Conference held at Windsor Castle near London.

The conference is considered an important precursor to the two-week-long December summit in Copenhagen, where world leaders are expected to iron out a successor to the Kyoto agreement.

Mr. Ban says he is “reasonably optimistic” the Copenhagen conference will prove to be a milestone initiative on global climate change. “We need the political will; if there is a political will I’m sure there is a way we can conclude a binding agreement,” he said.

“The world’s great faith communities occupy a unique position in discussion on the fate of our planet and the accelerating impacts of climate change. You are the leaders who have the largest, widest and deepest reach. Together the major faiths have established, run or contribute to more than half of all schools worldwide. You are the third-largest category of investors in the world. You produce more weekly magazines and newspapers than all the secular press in the European Union. Your potential impact is enormous,” Mr. Ban said.

“You can - and do - inspire people to change.”

Saving souls, doing time

Wakita, Okla., has a population of 420, according to the 2000 census. but that number may soon balloon to 1,000.

Wakita, the small town that was devastated by a tornado in the 1996 film “Twister,” is considering new neighbors - a privately run, faith-based prison that will have only Christians on its staff.

The proposal by Corrections Concepts Inc. of Dallas, a nonprofit ministry, calls for a 600-bed facility to be built on 150 acres on the edge of town. Also, a Christian school, Wayland University in Plainview, Texas, reportedly has agreed to establish a satellite campus in the prison.

The mayor likes the idea. Other town officials like it, too.

Bill Robinson, an ex-con and founder of Corrections Concepts Inc., told Tulsa World newspaper he thinks the prison will be open in 16 months.

“The staff, being all born-again believers, will see this as a mission, about changing criminals into citizens,” he says.

Only inmates nearing the end of their sentences who voluntarily sign an agreement can participate.

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