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Religious Leaders Join Members of Congress at Interfaith Dialogue on Conflict Diamonds

Rayburn House Office Building B-354
United States Capitol
Washington, DC
May 11, 2001

At an interfaith dialogue on the Hill today hosted by the Commission on Social Action, World Vision and World Relief, religious leaders joined Representatives Hall and Wolf in calling for an end to the trade in conflict diamonds. Rebel forces financed by these diamonds have destabilized the countries of Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and committed countless atrocities against their civilian populations. American consumers purchase 65% of conflict diamonds worldwide.

Representative Tony Hall (D-OH):
"There is an added reason for people in the faith community to speak up: Rightly or wrongly, diamonds have become synonymous with love and commitment. And, as long as thugs can seize mines and sell diamonds, wars over diamonds won't end. Instead of being a blessing, diamonds will continue to be a curse to countries where it only takes a shovel to mine them."

Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA):
"The religious community is also under the greatest obligation to call attention to the evil in this world - wherever it occurs. The faith we practice, all of our faiths, teach us that all men are equal in the eyes of their Creator, and should be treated accordingly. Our outrage at injustice can not stop at our borders, but must extend to our brothers and sisters around the globe."

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
"If, this Mother's Day weekend, as the scores of millions of Americans who celebrate our Sabbaths in the pews of every church, every mosque, and every synagogue in America were to pause for just a moment, to contemplate the diamonds they wear, the diamonds they have bought, the diamonds they have given, and to think about where those diamonds might have come from, who might have mined them, and what the consequences of the international trade in conflict diamonds were - then we would meet the moral responsibilities to which our worship of God calls us."

Rev. Aiah Foday, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone:
"The country of Sierra Leone on the map is shaped like a diamond as if to say the destiny of the country, for good or for bad, is intricately bound with the mystery stone. Diamonds have become a matter of life and death. Is it not tragic that what the Creator God endowed the nation with for the fullness of His creation can be accursed and be the course for the destruction of His people?"

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.




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