Revealing his distorted view on the relationship between faith and politics, at the recent National Prayer Breakfast President Obama exploited Scripture to justify increasing taxes on those he defines as rich. Years spent under the teaching of Jeremiah Wright apparently produced a confused theological mix of Karl Marx and St. Matthew. Next time the president fundraises in California, he might stop in Boyle Heights or San Diego to see how conviction born of faith is actually effecting change, and producing hope.
Boyle Heights is one of Los Angeles’ rougher neighborhoods. In 1988, Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles, saw a problem there and created a solution. The problem: recidivist violence and hopelessness of the gang lifestyle. Father Boyle’s solution: Jobs for A Future. Now, a slogan defines a movement. “Jobs not jails” is the motto of Homeboy Industries, Father Boyle’s initiative that rescues gang members from lives of crime by providing them with counseling, tattoo removal, and, most importantly, work: cleaning up graffiti, and making, among other things, chips and salsa, which are sold across California. The salsa Fresca is incredible. But don’t take our word for it.
According to the LA Times, in February of 2011, Homeboy Industries’ chips and salsa were the fastest selling snack items in a major Southern California supermarket. According to the Times, in the salsa’s first week on the market, 10,287 units were sold. Watch out Paul Newman: Homeboy has its sights set on salad dressings next.
Two hours south and a world away from Boyle Heights, San Diego is one of California’s nicest beach cities. It’s also where Jason Russell calls home. In 2003, Russell, a young American traveling in Uganda, saw a problem and helped create an organization that is working for a solution. The problem: over 30,000 children abducted from their families and forcibly conscripted to serve as mercenaries in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Russell’s solution: Invisible Children.
Now, from its San Diego headquarters, Invisible Children spearheads a multifaceted movement that spreads the message of the “invisible” children, fundraises for the schools it has built in Uganda, and seeks to topple Joseph Kony, the fugitive terrorist leader of the LRA. Invisible Children has created an army of its own to defend the defenseless in Uganda. Yet its army doesn’t fight with assault rifles, but with the clicks of a mouse.