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Old 02-02-2006, 04:36 PM   #1
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transcript: Bono at the prayer breakfast

Transcript: Bono remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast
Remarks — as prepared for delivery and courtesy of DATA — by Bono to the National Prayer Breakfast; Feb. 2, 2006.

BONO: Thank you.
Mr. President, First Lady, King Abdullah, Other heads of State, Members of Congress, distinguished guests …
Please join me in praying that I don't say something we'll all regret.
That was for the FCC.

If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It's certainly not because I'm a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I'm here because I've got a messianic complex.

Yes, it's true. And for anyone who knows me, it's hardly a revelation.
Well, I'm the first to admit that there's something unnatural… something unseemly… about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert… but this is really weird, isn't it?
You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. .
Mr. President, are you sure about this?
It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned—I'm Irish.

I'd like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I'd like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws… but of course, they don't always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you're here.

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here—Muslims, Jews, Christians—all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.
I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it's odd, having a rock star here—but maybe it's odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was… well, a little blurry, and hard to see.
I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays… and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.
For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land… and in this country, seeing God's second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash… in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment…

I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.
Perhaps because I was a believer.
I was cynical… not about God, but about God's politics. (There you are, Jim.)

Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick—my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world's poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord's call—and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic's point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.
'Jubilee'—why 'Jubilee'?

What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lords favor?
I'd always read the Scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)…

'If your brother becomes poor,' the Scriptures say, 'and cannot maintain himself… you shall maintain him… You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.'

It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he's met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he's a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn't done much… yet. He hasn't spoken in public before…
When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,' he says, 'because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.' And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord's favour, the year of Jubilee. (Luke 4:18)

What he was really talking about was an era of grace—and we're still in it.
So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate—in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn't a bless-me club… it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions… making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

But then my cynicism got another helping hand.

It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called A.I.D.S. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The one's that didn't miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children… Even fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself Judgmentalism is back!
But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.

Love was on the move.
Mercy was on the move.
God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet… Conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS… Soccer moms and quarterbacks… hip-hop stars and country stars… This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!
Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!

Crazy stuff. Evidence of the spirit.
It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks.
When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened—and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even—that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying… on AIDS and global health, governments listened—and acted.
I'm here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.
Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places"
It's not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions.

[You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.' (Matthew 25:40).

As I say, good news to the poor.
Here's some good news for the President. After 9-11 we were told America would have no time for the World's poor. America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it's true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors.

In fact, you have double aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support for the Global Fund—you and Congress—have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.

Outstanding human achievements. Counterintuitive. Historic. Be very, very proud.

But here's the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There's is much more to do. There's a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.

And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice.
Let me repeat that: It's not about charity, it's about justice.
And that's too bad.

Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.
6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drugstore. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn't accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the Tsunami. 150, 000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature". In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe.

It's annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren't they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.

You know, think of those Jewish sheep-herders going to meet the Pharaoh, mud on their shoes, and the Pharaoh says, "Equal?" A preposterous idea: rich and poor are equal? And they say, "Yeah, 'equal,' that's what it says here in this book. We're all made in the image of God."

And eventually the Pharaoh says, "OK, I can accept that. I can accept the Jews—but not the blacks."
"Not the women. Not the gays. Not the Irish. No way, man."
So on we go with our journey of equality.

On we go in the pursuit of justice.
We hear that call in the ONE Campaign, a growing movement of more than two million Americans… left and right together… united in the belief that where you live should no longer determine whether you live.

We hear that call even more powerfully today, as we mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King—mother of a movement for equality, one that changed the world but is only just getting started. These issues are as alive as they ever were; they just change shape and cross the seas.

Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market… that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents… That's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents… that's a justice issue.

And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject.
That's why I say there's the law of the land… and then there is a higher standard. There's the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it's OK to protect our agriculture but it's not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?

As the laws of man are written, that's what they say.
God will not accept that.
Mine won't, at least. Will yours?
[pause]
I close this morning on … very… thin… ice.

This is a dangerous idea I've put on the table: my God vs. your God, their God vs. our God… vs. no God. It is very easy, in these times, to see religion as a force for division rather than unity.
And this is a town—Washington—that knows something of division.
But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the Scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.' (Luke 6:30) Jesus says that.
'Righteousness is this: that one should… give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that. (2.177)

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it… I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…

And this wise man said: stop.
He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing—because it's already blessed.
Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.
And that is what He's calling us to do.
I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to ten percent of the family budget. Well, how does that compare the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than one percent.

Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:
I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing…. Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional one percent of the federal budget tithed to the poor.
What is one percent?

One percent is not merely a number on a balance sheet.

One percent is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. One percent is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. One percent is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business thanks to you. One percent is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This one percent is digging waterholes to provide clean water.

One percent is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism towards Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description.
America gives less than one percent now. Were asking for an extra one percent to change the world. to transform millions of lives—but not just that and I say this to the military men now – to transform the way that they see us.

One percent is national security, enlightened economic self interest, and a better safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, one percent is the best bargain around.

These goals—clean water for all; school for every child; medicine for the afflicted, an end to extreme and senseless poverty—these are not just any goals; they are the Millennium Development goals, which this country supports. And they are more than that. They are the Beatitudes for a Globalised World.
Now, I'm very lucky. I don't have to sit on any budget committees. And I certainly don't have to sit where you do, Mr. President. I don't have to make the tough choices.

But I can tell you this:
To give one percent more is right. It's smart. And it's blessed.
There is a continent—Africa—being consumed by flames.

I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did—or did not to—to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do.

Thank you. Thank you, America, and God bless you all.
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Old 02-02-2006, 06:20 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting this. I just watched the video as well.

Lol, did you notice that he, no doubt out of nervousness, said his father was Protestant and his mother Catholic? Oops!

I'd love to know who the "wise man" is that he refers to so movingly.
A wonderful homilie, all in all. I wonder if it will have any impact.

You can actually go to MSNBC to vote on whether the U.S. should follow his 1% "tithe" proposal. Here's the link:

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/11146046/
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Old 02-02-2006, 07:38 PM   #3
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Old 02-02-2006, 08:22 PM   #4
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is there a video for it?
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Old 02-02-2006, 08:46 PM   #5
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Video is here:


http://www.cnn.com/video/player/play...eaks.cnn&wm=10
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:02 PM   #6
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83% of the 8500+ votes agreed with Bono's idea. Thanks for posting the transcript & video link. I emailed some friends about it as well
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:44 PM   #7
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Yes It feels good to be in the 80% area.

I feel really good watching a video when i know i can save it. For example, I would feel very very good driving a Ferrari F430 or a Bugatti Veyron if i know i can keep it :=).

How can i save it or do you know of a save-able version of that video?

And Lila64 I like the Bono picture in your profile, where can i get it?
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by biff

I'd love to know who the "wise man" is that he refers to so movingly.
So would I. Maybe it's that adviser we have heard a little bit about- was he a Priest? My brain is fogged..

Maybe he talks about this man in the Bono In Conversation book, do you remember biff?

This was one of my all time favorite Bono speeches, beautifully written. I hope the message will get through.
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Old 02-03-2006, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by biff

Lol, did you notice that he, no doubt out of nervousness, said his father was Protestant and his mother Catholic? Oops!


http://msnbc.msn.com/id/11146046/
- I did and I was confuzzled at first
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Old 02-04-2006, 12:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen


So would I. Maybe it's that adviser we have heard a little bit about- was he a Priest? My brain is fogged..

Maybe he talks about this man in the Bono In Conversation book, do you remember biff?

This was one of my all time favorite Bono speeches, beautifully written. I hope the message will get through.
I had thought that he was referring to Jack Heaslip, who has been described as "Bono's Pastor". He was Bono's counsellor at school, he married Bono and Ali, and he has accompanied the band on most (if not all) of their tours.

But no.

The reference was most definitely to Bill Hybels, Minister at Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago). Bono met him on the Heart of America tour, and was profoundly moved by his remarks.
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Old 02-04-2006, 08:52 AM   #11
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thanks biff

I would like to know more about Bill Hybels, maybe I can find out on the net
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Old 02-05-2006, 08:27 AM   #12
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I got this from the atU2 mailing list

**Soujourner's Magazine: Bono's Best Sermon Yet

The National Prayer Breakfast is normally a time for reaffirming
spiritual truths and testifying to the power of faith in people's
individual lives, but not so much a moment for prophetic and
controversial social utterances. There have been exceptions - when
Sen. Mark Hatfield spoke courageously about the moral "shame" of the
Vietnam War in the presence of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger (I
know a lot about that prayer breakfast speech because I helped write
it when I was a seminarian in Chicago); when Mother Theresa spoke
about the sacredness of life and raised the issue of abortion with the
Clintons on hand; and yesterday, when Bono spoke like a modern-day
prophet about extreme global poverty and pandemic disease and called
upon the American government, with George Bush and Congressional
leaders present, to do much more.

The speech, published below, was the most explicit about religion and
the role of faith that I had ever heard Bono deliver, and his
insistence on the biblical requirements of justice and not just
charity was reiterated over and over again. In a small session with
religious editors afterward, Bono spoke about how the churches had led
on the issue of debt cancellation with the Jubilee 2000 campaign, on
HIV/AIDS, and now on global poverty reduction. "You're the bigger
crowd," he said, "much more than my stadium audiences." He said the
church will just hear "fanfare" from musicians.

But Bono is offering far more than fanfare, as his talk below
demonstrates. To the religious editors he stressed how the justice
issue is "really it," and said that the churches had to figure out how
to make that clear to people and that "movement is the way" we will
finally succeed. Bono said he believed that something is moving now
and we have to create the momentum to accomplish our goals. On the way
to the car afterward, we spoke together about how really crucial that
movement building is, how nothing else will suffice to make the
changes in our world that are so vitally and morally necessary, and
how the strategy in the religious community is so key. We also talked
about the Isaiah 58 passage he had quoted in his speech - that when we
respond to the poor as the prophet instructs, "God will cover your
back." This is one speech you will want to read and pass on to your
friends.

- Jim Wallis
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Old 02-06-2006, 09:02 AM   #13
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Bono, after years of skepticism, finds partner in religion
By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service
February 3, 2006

WASHINGTON - Born to a Roman Catholic father and a Protestant mother in
the sectarian strife of 1960s Ireland, U2 frontman Bono has more than a
few reasons to distrust organized religion.

Far too often, Bono did not see his experience of Christian faith
reflected in what he saw as a preachy moralism that neglects the poor
and usually "gets in the way of God."

So Bono was as surprised as anyone to find himself the keynote speaker
at the Feb. 2 National Prayer Breakfast. Not only that, he was
extolling churches and faith communities for their efforts in his
global crusade to rescue Africa from disease, debt and economic
destruction.

"I have avoided religious people for most of my life," Bono told more
than 3,000 mostly evangelical attendees. Later, he sheepishly admitted
that he's "started to like these church people."

After years of running from organized religion, Bono says he can now
embrace it, warts and all, as a pragmatic partner. And especially in
the United States, Bono realizes that any effort at social change must
include an appeal to Americans' faith-based instincts.

Bono credits religious groups for progress in his humanitarian
campaign, and the newfound alliance suggests that (his most famous
lyrics notwithstanding) perhaps he's finally "found what I'm looking
for" - a partner he can work with.

During a meeting with a half-dozen reporters after his speech, Bono
munched on muffins and cantaloupe as he mused about the role of
Christian faith generally, and the church's infrastructure
specifically, in confronting famine, disease and poverty.

His strategy seems to be three-fold.

For one, Bono brings his own personal faith to bear, one that is deeply
personal and not necessarily shaped by the four walls of the church. He
finds hope in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, inspiration in the Hebrew
prophets and solace in the idea of undeserved grace.

Although U2's lyrics have been picked apart for their explicit and
implicit Christian imagery, Bono has sometimes been reluctant to
embrace the "Christian" label for himself, often because of his own
shortcomings.

And he's the first to admit he's not a theologian. "I appreciate the
absurdities of being a rock star quoting the Scriptures," he said.

Nonetheless, he can quote entire sections of Scripture - he used his
childhood Bible to prepare for Thursday's speech - and talks in terms
of national "tithing" on foreign aid, and the Bible's 2,100-plus verses
on poverty.

"This is the leprosy of our age," Bono said, linking HIV/AIDS with the
plagues of Jesus' day, in a hotel room after the breakfast. "It
couldn't be more poignant, from a scriptural point of view, that this
is on God's mind, that this is Jesus' point of view."

For years, many evangelicals - Bono's target audience on Thursday -
weren't sure what to make of the drinking, partying, salty-mouthed
Irishman and his rock band.

In recent years, much of that skepticism has fallen away. "He's a
doer," President Bush said of Bono at the breakfast. "The thing about
this good citizen of the world is he's used his position to get things
done."

Bono is now widely seen as summoning Christians to a higher calling.
"He's ready to be used by God in whatever ways he can," said Richard
Cizik, the Washington-based director for the National Association of
Evangelicals, "and if we were all so willing, the world would be a
better place."

Bono's personal faith impacts and informs the second thrust of his
work, which is an appeal for a 21st century reimagining of Christian
essentials. It's an effort to sidestep divisive issues of sexual
morality and partisan politics for a return to caring for the "least of
these."

He has openly criticized Western governments for not spending more on
foreign aid, especially for drugs that treat AIDS, schooling for
African children and mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria.
"God will not accept that," Bono chided the prayer breakfast. "Mine
won't, at least. Will yours?"

Bono has been willing to work with almost anyone who will listen -
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim - to harness the power of faith
groups to aid the poor.

"He's reminding church leaders that hey, wake up, you should be heading
this up," said Canadian author Robert Vagacs, who wrote "Religious
Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective," published
last November. "A rock star should not have to be heading this up."

But Bono is no ordinary rock star. After all, he didn't win Time's
"Person of the Year" designation in 2005 with Bill and Melinda Gates
for his musical abilities.

Bono's work with churches reflects just how politically savvy he is,
and underscores his third goal, which is harnassing the power of
American religion to shape the outcome of American politics, or at
least the U.S. budget.

Bono has worked with Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill
Clinton, conservative religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and
progressive preacher Jim Wallis. America's strong religious identity
has actually made it easier to preach his social gospel here than in
Europe, which is now largely secular, he said.

"The church," he said after the breakfast, "is a much bigger crowd than
even the stadium-sized crowds that we play to in U2."

At the same time, however, Bono has been openly critical of American
faith and the "so-called Christian society" that he says is held
captive by the bottom line and colored by notions of sin and
punishment. Nonetheless, he continues to look for partners wherever he
can find them.

"I think it was ... a very strategic decision that if we're going to
have a broad movement, we can't just have people we like," said
Christian Scharen, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School with an
upcoming book about U2.

And, to an extent that he even once thought unthinkable, Bono is
willing to work with those he once ignored.

"If me, 10 years ago, had heard what I am saying," he said, "I wouldn't
have believed me."
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Old 02-07-2006, 07:39 AM   #14
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Bono Waxes 'Prophetic'

Rock-star/activist inspired by Leviticus and Isaiah.

Christianity Today, February 06, 2006

Sheryl Henderson Blunt

While every celebrity seems to have a cause, few stars get their inspiration from Scripture.

That is what sets lead U2 singer Bono apart. Sporting his trademark tinted sunglasses, the rock star spoke to an audience of more than 3,000 at the National Prayer Breakfast February 2, imploring them to respond to the United States' urgent responsibility to help "the least of these."

Two passages drive his message, Bono says: the call in Leviticus 25 for a Year of Jubilee and debt forgiveness, and the command in Isaiah 58 to share with the hungry and provide for the poor.

"Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring forth, then your Lord will be your rear guard," Bono quoted from Isaiah 58:7-8.

"I appreciate the absurdity of being a rock star and quoting the Scriptures," Bono joked in his typical self-effacing style at a private meeting with half a dozen journalists following his address.

Wearing jeans, a brown corduroy jacket, and a black, open-collared shirt, the rocker was relaxed as he snacked on fruit and muffins while taking questions from journalists. He expounded on his work in Africa, the role of the church, and some of his favorite verses.

"It's absolutely the prophetic utterance of this moment in time," he exclaimed, referring to Isaiah 58:7-8. "What it really suggests is that if we do God's business, God will be more in ours. To use the colloquial, it's God watching our back. It literally means God will watch your back!"

Reasons to Die

Bono said there are manifold problems when a religious nation ignores God's business, particularly in light of growing anti-Americanism. "The religiosity of this country is offensive to a lot of people in Europe because they see hypocrisy in the heart of it," Bono said. "They see that for all their talk, prayer breakfasts, and overt religiosity, these people are giving the least to the least of these."

While crediting President Bush with a 0.5 percent increase in the nation's foreign assistance budget since he took office, Bono said that according to polls, "the reason why people don't want to increase foreign assistance is they think it's already up to 15 or 20 percent. But it's actually a tenth of even the lowest estimations."

The lack of greater foreign assistance and availability of life-saving antiretroviral drugs "is not a good enough reason to die anymore," he said.

Bono described a 2002 visit to Soweto, South Africa, where he talked with a young widower trying to decide whether to keep his life-saving AIDS drugs for himself or give them to the woman he had come to love. "He said, 'I can give her my drugs and my children can lose their last parent, or we can share the drugs and both die slowly, or I can keep the drugs and lose, for the second time, my love,' Bono recalled. "I stood there thinking, This is barbaric. This is actually barbaric."

Not Missing This Issue

Fortunately, he said, the church is responding. "In the past, the church has been behind on some issues, but the church hasn't missed this one," Bono said. "The church is leading. It's amazing. If I, 10 years ago, had heard what I am saying [now], I wouldn't have believed me."

That is because 10 years ago, as Bono explained during his breakfast speech, he didn't think much of the church, Christianity, or overt religion. "You see, I avoided religious people most of my life," he said. "Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line; where the line between church and state was...well, a little blurry, and hard to see."

"I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays...and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God."

His faith, which he describes as "private," is largely influenced by the words and actions of Jesus, the Beatitudes, and Old Testament Prophets. Bono told the group of journalists that he enjoys reading The Message, a modern Bible paraphrase "by the very gifted scholar and poet Eugene Peterson." In contrast to some of the more popular "happy-clappy" Christian music, the religious music that speaks to him most includes Charles Wesley's hymns, Handel's Messiah, Jewish chanting, and songs that contain "raw" emotion, he said.

Addressing how he hoped the United States would respond to his plea for justice for Africa's poor and downtrodden, Bono appealed to Christian and patriotic responsibility.

Imagine a so-called Christian society with the absolute capability to save lives in Africa that fails to act, Bono said. "You can explain that to the budget appropriators, but you can't explain it to God. He will not accept that excuse, and history won't."

"I think growing a movement that defines itself by the way it treats these issues, particularly at a time of conflict -- it's so poetic actually....This is where you demonstrate the values of America."
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Old 02-07-2006, 07:46 AM   #15
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Thanks for posting these articles. I've really enjoyed reading this thread!
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