Bono was the keynote speaker at the USA 54th National Prayer Breakfast this morning. (A very strange event indeed, particularly to Europeans who think that the US has a separate church and state.)
Bono said some challenging and inspiring things:
…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 landâ€¦ and in this country, seeing God’s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cashâ€¦ in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishmentâ€¦
I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.
Even though I was a believer.
Perhaps because I was a believer.
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.
And he challenged the US to increase aid to 1% of national income:
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 tithingâ€¦. 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.
Read his full remarks. Inspiring.