tv Religion Ethics Newsweekly PBS September 29, 2013 10:00am-10:31am PDT
coming up, as religion-related violence dominates much of the news, fred de sam lazaro reports on some of the reasons for last week's deadly attack on christians in pakistan. also, with signing up for obamacare scheduled to begin on tuesday, saul gonzales surveys the massive, multimillion-dollar campaigns for and against it, with religious people on both sides.
major funding for "religion and ethics newsweekly" is provided by the lilly endowment, an indianapolis based private family foundation dedicated to its founders' interest in religion, community development, and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. welcome. i'm bob abernethy. it's good to have you with us. as members of congress debated measures to avoid a government shutdown, religious groups urged them to consider the impact of their policies on the poor and vulnerable. several faith leaders said the government has an obligation to americans who depend on federal benefits and aid programs. meanwhile, some religious conservatives supported massive budget cuts as a step toward more fiscal responsibility.
there was widespread international condemnation this week of those responsible for a wave of religion-related violence. faith groups around the world offered special prayers and condolences after a suicide bombing at the historic all saints anglican church in pakistan which left nearly 90 people dead. it was the worst attack ever against that country's christian minority. pope francis called the bombing "a decision of hatred, of war." we'll have more on religion-related violence coming up. muslim, christian, and jewish leaders also were among those denouncing this week's deadly attack on a shopping mall in kenya. leaders of the extremist group al shabaab said they wanted to target non-muslims in their operation and so tried to separate hostages based on their
religion. american muslims said those actions violated the tenets of islam. they also criticized al shabaab's efforts to recruit members from the u.s. there was also renewed concern about the surge of sectarian violence in iraq between sunnis and shiites. dozens of people were killed in multiple suicide bomb blasts this week, including one at a shiite funeral. according to human rights groups, more than 4,000 iraqis have been killed in recent months in the escalating violence. this week, iranian-american pastor saeed abedini marked one year in prison in iran. abedini was arrested after he traveled there to help establish orphanages and a network of house churches. he was convicted of undermining iran's security and sentenced to eight years in prison. human rights groups and
religious leaders renewed calls for his release. as new iranian president hassan rouhani traveled to the u.n. general assembly in new york, evangelist billy graham issued an open letter also appealing for abedini's release. president obama also attended the u.n. general assembly and pledged ongoing u.s. support for human rights and democracy around the world. he cited a list of challenges facing the international community, and noted the u.s. is criticized for getting involved with those challenges, but also for not intervening. the president said he believes the u.s. has an obligation to play a strong international role. >> some may disagree, but i believe america is exceptional in part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure
to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interests, but for the interests of all. we have a special report now from fred de sam lazaro on the history behind last week's attack on christians in pakistan. when the indian subcontinent was divided after world war ii, india for hindus, pakistan for muslims, religious minorities were supposed to be protected. but it hasn't always worked out that way. >> reporter: most churches in pakistan, like karachi's trinity methodist, are the legacy of british colonial rule. st. patrick's cathedral was built to serve irish catholic soldiers in the british army. today's christians are less than 2% of pakistan's population. most are descendants of people converted from hinduism or islam by missionaries, generations, in some cases centuries, ago. they consider themselves fully pakistani. but often, catholic archbishop joseph coutts says, that's not how they're perceived.
>> because of our colonial past christianity has been, is being identified with colonialism. >> reporter: with the west. >> with the west in general. we are sort of linked with being products of the west. >> reporter: that has made christians targets for all kinds of grievances against the west, whether a drone strike in the region or an anti-islamic pronouncement in florida. >> i can give you a very dramatic example. we had, i think about two years back, a pastor, or he claimed to be a pastor, but if he was, i don't know, terry jones, an american pastor who wanted to burn the holy koran, and, of course there was the sort of a backlash on the christians, and we had to make it very clear that we are not to be identified with this reverend terry jones. >> reporter: last week's suicide bombing that killed at least 78 in a peshawar church compound was the worst ever but not the first attack against christians even this year.
in march two churches and 100 christian homes were destroyed in the eastern city of lahore. >> we see an increasing form of islam which is much more militant, which is much narrower and even quite extremist. even islamic sects that are not considered orthodox are also being targeted, which is not the islam of the majority, which is a very moderate, open-minded islam. >> reporter: he says a moderate islam shaped early pakistan, created in 1947 by the departing british to be a home for muslims. but that moderation began to erode with growing fundamentalism. christians, long subject to social and economic discrimination, became constitutionally second-class. non-muslims are ineligible to be president or prime minister, for example. in the late '70s a militant
resistance, today's taliban, grew to the soviet occupation of neighboring afghanistan, with strong u.s. support, coutts adds. >> so the policy was "stop the darn communists, stop them at any cost." and that's the time these, this brand of islam was, the madrasah, which is a centuries-old institution in islam to teach the koran. many madrasahs became sort of centers for a religious kind of brainwashing for jihad. and with american blessing and support and training and money. our economy became strong. the worst military dictator we had, zia-ul-haq, was kept in power. >> reporter: zia supported the jihadists and also imposed a conservative interpretation of muslim sharia law. most frightening for many even today is a blasphemy law. anyone accused is subject to imprisonment without bail and at least on paper faces a death sentence.
this law is commonly used against non-muslims, often to settle personal grudges or business disputes, says roland de souza, partner in a karachi engineering firm. >> somebody comes and accuses someone of either burning a page of the koran or having said something against the prophet of islam, and before anybody can actually be arrested under the law, vigilante justice takes over. the news is spread in the neighborhood, and most of these neighborhoods are either slums or rural areas, and people come out wanting to lynch the accused. >> since the late '80s, some 250 blasphemy cases have been brought and an estimated 52 people lynched or killed after being accused of blasphemy. >> why would somebody believe me if i ran out in the street and said, you are burning pages of
the koran or doing something else that was insulting of your region? >> i can see you come from america. just on the road here, if somebody stood in the middle and said a mosque has been burned someplace, whether it's jordan or saudi arabia, let's go and burn st. patrick's cathedral, he could probably collect 5,000 to 10,000 people within 15 minutes. if i was in new york city and i were to stand up there and say the muslims have destroyed st. peter's cathedral, let's go and burn that mosque three blocks down, somebody would probably slip out to the nearest telephone and call the police and say, "there's a crazy guy who's standing out here. can you come get him?" that is the difference. >> reporter: that crazy guy in new york, why does he become the credible guy on the street here? >> that's a good question. i'm not sure that i can answer entirely. one is the level of education. the second is the level of frustration.
so you want to hit out against somebody. a big bogeyman is the west, america, and by consequence the religion, christians. >> reporter: despite the relatively low number of christians, christian-run orphanages, hospitals, and schools still thrive. many of the country's muslim elite attended christian schools. ♪ principal irene pearl says trinity methodist girls school is committed to admitting children from poor families, many of them from the christian minority. but there's no hint in the morning prayer of trinity's religious affiliation. >> we do not talk or quote the holy bible. we say let us be good human beings. let us be good daughters, let us be good pakistanis, but above all let us be good human beings.
>> reporter: it is illegal in pakistan for a muslim to convert to any other faith, and pearl wants to dispel any notion that the school is trying to convert muslims, who account for 60% of her students. >> i have to be extremely careful how i word myself. sometimes, you know, like we have a christmas concert. the children want to participate, the muslim children want to participate, but i say no, get a permission letter from your parents. >> reporter: she thinks muslim parents are mostly satisfied that their children are getting a good education with patriotic values. but she fears few would come to her support in a pinch for fear of their safety. just two years ago a prominent political leader was gunned down after calling for mercy for a christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. his assassin was cheered by crowds and dozens of lawyers offered to defend him for free. >> we feel most of the time we are not equal. not only not equal, but the
growing feeling that we are not even wanted. >> reporter: is it safe to assume that christians, you know, the majority of whom are very modest or low economic means, but those who can leave would like to leave pakistan? >> not only christians, others as well. we, i think, have lost a lot of the christian community, the educated community. those who are economically better off and were able to afford migrating to greener pastures have already done so, and there are many others who would like to do so. >> reporter: for "religion & ethics newsweekly," this is fred de sam lazaro in karachi. next tuesday, october 1st, is the beginning of the registration period for obamacare, with the plan itself kicking in on the first of january.
in congress, in every state, and in multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, the supporters and opponents of the affordable care act are trying hard to win support for the plan, on the one hand, or delay or kill it, on the other. and there are religious activists on both sides, as saul gonzales reports from los angeles. >> reporter: hours before it opens each morning, a line forms in front of st. john's community health clinic in the heart of south los angeles. the people who come to this government-supported health center are some of l.a.'s poorest and sickest residents, and most are uninsured. they turn to this place because if they can't pay, they'll still be seen and treated. do you have insurance? >> no, i don't have any insurance. >> reporter: you don't have insurance? >> no. >> reporter: when's the last time you had it? >> two years ago, when i lost my job. >> i don't have insurance. >> reporter: you don't have insurance. what's that like?
>> just trying to not get sick. >> reporter: if the affordable care act, better known as obamacare, works, it's the patients at st. john's clinic, and millions more like them across the country, who are among those who are supposed to benefit the most. jim mangia is the president and ceo of st. john's. he says obamacare's importance can't be underestimated. >> there's no doubt in my mind that it's one of the most significant pieces of social legislation we've seen in more than a generation. >> reporter: if all goes according to plan, obamacare will expand health care coverage to over 25 million people over the next decade. it will do that in two ways. first, through a big expansion of medicaid, the state and federal health coverage program for low-income individuals and families. individuals with incomes up to 133% of the u.s. poverty line will now be able to qualify for medicaid coverage at no cost to them.
second, for those making more, obamacare creates new health insurance exchanges where individuals and families can purchase coverage from a menu of insurance plans offered by private insurers. people can begin enrolling in these policies on october 1st, with the coverage kicking in on january 1st of the new year. premium subsidies will be available for those with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty line. many uninsured who qualify for the marketplaces but don't purchase a plan will face a financial penalty, or tax. that starts at a minimum of $95 per year in 2014, but will rise to a minimum of $695 in 2016. obamacare's many provisions, especially the mandate to buy insurance, have sharply divided americans for years, including people of faith. >> obamacare makes health care affordable to everyone regardless of income, regardless of wealth, regardless of ability to pay. it becomes affordable.
>> reporter: art cribbs is the executive director of clergy and laity united for economic justice, an interdenominational california group supporting obamacare. cribbs is such a strong proponent of good health he invited us to talk to him after his morning workout. to cribbs, supporting obamacare goes beyond nitty-gritty health and public policy issues. it's a matter of morality. >> that is what obamacare is all about -- taking care of those who are among us, for whatever reason, who are unable to care for themselves in terms of their physical condition, in terms of their health and their medicine. as a person of faith if i am to turn my back on people who have needs, medical needs, physical needs, i have turned my back on my faith. that's the bottom line. >> reporter: of course, many other people of faith don't share such views on obamacare. >> the parts that make me nervous about it, particularly from an ethical perspective, is the mandate that people have to buy insurance coverage.
>> reporter: scott rae studies the intersection of christian ethics, economics, and health policy at southern california's biola university, an evangelical campus. rae worries about the estimated $1.1 trillion cost of obamacare as it expands coverage to more of the poor. he also believes obamacare takes too much authority out of the hands of individuals and gives it to the government. >> any time government steps in and tells people what they can and cannot produce on the production side, and can and cannot consume on the consumption side, assuming that there is not significant amount of harm coming from those choices i think that is in general, i think, a movement in the wrong direction. >> reporter: as obamacare rolls out, so too does a big, national, expensive campaign of public persuasion. its message is pretty simple -- health care reform will be good for the country. and when it comes to medical insurance there's no excuse not to get any. one big target of the effort
will be healthy, but uninsured americans in their 20s and 30s. dubbed "young invincibles," their participation in health care reform is considered vital to offset the cost of covering older and chronically ill people buying insurance. to woo them and others, the federal government and individual states will spend hundreds of millions of dollars explaining and selling obamacare in the coming months, with a variety of different campaigns. in minnesota, the focus is on humor and turning paul bunyan into a silent obamacare pitch man. in oregon the thrust is folksy and appeals to state pride. california is taking a more soft-sell approach. >> californians from sacramento to salinas to san diego will have equal access to quality health insurance. >> reporter: california, with the largest population ever uninsured in the country, says
it will be the morsst aggressiv state when it comes to implementing and marketing obamacare, spending $150 million on a multilingual media and outreach campaign. >> we're now going to see covered california, starting october 1st. >> reporter: california's also hosting old-fashioned town hall meetings across the state to explain the details of health care reform to its citizens. >> so rates are based on how old you are, where you live, and your household size. and then the choices you make. which health plan do i want? which benefit design? that's how rates are going to be based. >> reporter: faith communities are also being recruited to spread the word about obamacare. >> we're already doing it. we're in churches. we're in mosques. we're in masjids, temples, and synagogues. we're in faith communities across the country talking to people about this opportunity to
make sure that they and their neighbors have access to affordable health care. >> reporter: then there's all the obamacare-related hiring going on. >> oh, no problem, sir. i already found your account here. >> so we're staffing up on the members services side. we're staffing up on the sales side. >> reporter: howard kahn is the ceo of l.a. care, a los angeles-based public health plan that expects huge growth under obamacare as it offers health insurance plans to more people. l.a. care's downtown los angeles office to you ser filled with floor after floor of operators all trained to sign up new applicants for obamacare insurance programs. >> so today, l.a. care covers about 1.2 million people. through obamacare, both the medical expansion and covered california, i would guess we will serve at least another quarter of a million people, another 250,000 people, over the
next year and a half or so. >> reporter: but even as obamacare moves closer to full implementation, opposition to it continues. in congress, many republicans are still calling for a halt or outright repeal of the law. many states have announced they won't participate in the expansion of medicaid, and several more are leaning against it. >> obama care, fun, cool. >> reporter: and to influence public opinion, conservative political groups have launched their own media campaigns to attack obamacare. this one, targeting young people, is produced by crossroads gps. >> yeah, you work out, stay healthy. but come on, bro, someone's got to pay for people who smoke, drink 85-ounce sodas, and live in a barca-lounger. >> reporter: and even after it's fully implemented, critics say a public backlash could still kill obamacare. >> it wouldn't surprise me if it failed, and we reverted back to market-based solutions either. >> reporter: to what we have now? >> perhaps even more market-based than we have now.
>> reporter: even ardent supporters of obamacare acknowledge possible problems with it because of its size. >> we're working with 17% to 18% of the u.s. economy, the biggest economy in the world. it's very complicated, and there will be slip-ups. >> reporter: others worry obamacare isn't big enough. for instance, even when fully implemented, an estimated 30 million people in the united states will still be uninsured. they range from the undocumented to people living in states not participating in medicaid expansion. finally, there's a feeling in the health care community itself that there's much more to learn about obamacare as the clock ticks down to its full unveiling. at st. john's health clinic, pediatrician and medical director mimi choi admits she doesn't know enough about health care reform. >> i would say i don't know everything. i am learning pieces here and there for sure. >> reporter: it's overwhelming. >> totally. totally. there are so many moving pieces,
there are so many large arcs and programs coming into existence that it is overwhelming to try to get a grasp of everything and how it's going to affect our practice especially. >> reporter: in st. john's crowded waiting room, there's little talk about obamacare and the arguments for and against it. people here just want to know when they do get sick, some place and someone will be there to help and heal them. for "religion & ethics newsweekly," i'm saul gonzalez in los angeles. a sikh professor at columbia university who was beaten up last week says it's more important that the perpetrators are "taught rather than caught." a group of teens assaulted dr. prabhjot singh, calling him "osama" and "terrorist." the interfaith community has urged the fbi to investigate it as a hate crime. the attack comes on the heels of a new report which found that
70% of americans labeled people who wear turbans as muslim, hindu, buddhist or shinto. in fact, nearly all turban wearers in the u.s. are sikhs. pope emeritus benedict has been living quietly inside vatican city, but this week, he had a rare public statement. a newspaper published benedict's response to criticism from a prominent atheist. the retired pope defended his record on clergy sex abuse, saying he had never tried to cover up the crisis. meanwhile, benedict's successor received a warm welcome during a trip to the island of sardinia. catholics around the world continue to shower pope francis with high praise. that's our program for now. i'm bob abernethy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch us anytime on the pbs app for iphones and ipads.
and visit our website, where there is always much more, including audio and video podcasts of this program. join us at pbs.org. as we leave you, scenes from a special shinnyo buddhist ceremony in new york, timed to coincide with the u.n. general assembly. participants floated homemade lanterns to send a message for peace. major funding for "religion and ethics newsweekly" is provided by the lilly endowment, an indianapolis based private family foundation dedicated to its founders' interest in religion, community development, and education. additional funding by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company.
barry kibrick: today, on "between the lines," a man who began his career during the formative years of rock n' roll, and whose influence continues to this day, gary u.s. bonds. welcome. i'm barry kibrick. gary u.s. bonds has been rockin' for more than 50 years. from his beginning days touring with sam cooke and bb king, to his close working relationship with bruce springsteen and the "e"
street band, gary has entertained millions around the world with his music. now, with his autobiography, "by u.s. bonds," co-written with stephen cooper, we get an inside look at the music and the man. linda ellerbee: i'm a writer today because i was a reader when i was 11 years old, and it