- 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.

“They don’t have to go to church or Bible study, but they have to participate in the curriculum, which is Christ-centered,” Mr. Robinson said.

Rihanna speaks, Brown on MTV

Rihanna, the Barbados-born protege of hip-hop entrepreneur Jay-Z who was beaten by boyfriend Chris Brown in February, is speaking out on domestic violence. She says she leaned on faith, family and friends to recover. She has an interview in Glamour magazine and one with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, which aired Thursday on “Good Morning America” and will be rebroadcast today on “20/20.”

Rihanna, whose family’s last name is Fenty, said she turned to God because she felt alone.

“My friends and family have been extremely supportive, and everyone has been there for me. But at some point, you are there alone. It’s a lonely place to be - no one can understand. That’s when you get close to God,” the 21-year-old singer said.

Brown, 20, pleaded guilty to the attack and is serving a community-service sentence. The judge also ordered him to stay away from Rihanna for five years. Brown, who sang in a church choir as a youngster, told MTV in an interview that airs this evening that nine months ago he lashed out at his then-girlfriend in “anger” without thinking.

Mandatory anger-management counseling is part of his sentencing.

Rihanna said she was taken aback by the media attention, the photo of her battered face on the Internet and the public reaction.

“It has taught me so much,” she told Glamour. “I went to sleep as Rihanna and woke up as Britney Spears. That was the level of media chaos that happened the next day. It was like: ‘What? There are helicopters circling my house? There are 100 people in my cul-de-sac? What do you mean, I can’t go back home?’ … I felt completely taken advantage of … like people were making it into a fun topic … and it’s my life. I was disappointed, especially when I found out the photo was [supposedly leaked by] two women.”

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