All too often recently, a story concerning an American of religous persuasion would be about exclusion, intolerance, and bigotry. It is nice to be reminded that the opposite is also true.
Unfortunately, it takes a murder to get our attention.
Dorothy Stang was a 74 year old Dominican nun who had spent the last 30 years in Brazil as a missionary. her work frequently pitted her against local loggers and landowners in her attempts to protect the peasants and rainforest they called home.
Yesterday she was shot three times in the face by hired killers.
"She was the personification of a crusade to preserve the rainforest and secure the local land for the people who really deserved it," said the Rev Robson Lopes, who had worked with her.
He said she had been murdered on a settlement which the government was reported to have granted to peasants but which loggers coveted.
Dorothy Stang was killed because of what her faith led her to act on: advocating for the poor and those with no voice. Rather than trying to keep gays from marrying, she defended the rights of peasants to eat and live. Rather than making sure that schools taught the junk science of creationism, she lived with the poor. Rather than sitting in a comfortable custom made TV studio and asking for donations, she put up with regular death threats in order to do her work.
For every Dobson, Falwell, Swaggart, and Robertson out there, there are many Dorothy Stangs.
We just don't hear of them.
They concentrate on doing the good work rather than calling for the spotlight. Because they know that in the end, providing food and shelter for even one family is more important than any prayer breakfast with a hundred Congressmen.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Activist nun shot dead in Amazon rainforest