Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh Travis!

There is an aphorism in legal circles that goes somethng like this... "if your mouth is moving, you better be telling the truth." I would bet that journalists have one that goes something like, "if your fingers are typing, you better have some facts."

Once again, Travis Armstrong of the News Press here in Santa Barbara shows his utter contempt for both truth and facts. In today's editorials he blasts the clergy for doing nothing about gangs while being involved in areas they have no business such as housing and interferring with a free press. (Of course he forgets the responsibility of a free press to be unbiased). He implies unfairness by the clergy and blasts a church for hosting an event that was "anti-free press" all the while knowing that he and other representatives from the News Press were invited to be there and present and refused to come.

To the gang situation... first off, I am guilty. I have not done everything I could. To that degree you are right Travis. Still, I doubt you would find any section in our communty that does more for families than the faith community with more results. A pediatrician friend once told me of a study that showed that the single most important indicator for whether an African American male would end up in jail was whether or not his mother attended church. It wasn't economic status, educational status, or even whether the mother was a single mom. Just being at church made the largest difference. And the faith community does so much more from youth programs, to feeding programs, to educational support, to mentoring, to foster parenting, to adoption, to (dare I say it) housing. You can't tell me that working 3 jobs to pay the rent helps a family or that making absent parents because they drive 60 miles each way to and from work while their teenage kids are at home unsupervised helps diminish gang problems.

FWIW, the clergy association and the Interfaith Initiative co-sponsored a worship service last night - From Grief to Hope, a Community Response to Gang Violence, to confess our complicity, call for repentance, build community, and finally offer hope and commitment to making a difference in young people's lives. We ended with a simple action where the attendees where asked to write the name of a young person whose life they would work to make better during the coming year.

Personally, I am trying to figure out how I can free up some more time to mentor a few more young people. Perhaps you can join me Travis? Maybe put your life where your fingers are and get down and dirty interacting with a few at risk kids? And before you write again, call 5 faith communities at random from the telephone book and ask what they are doing.

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