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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  PBS  July 20, 2014 4:30pm-5:01pm EDT

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coming up -- the surge of immigrant central american children into the u.s. saul gonzales reports on the challenges facing the kids, the courts and congregations. and a powerful fred de sam lazaro story on treating mental illness in india, the slow acceptance of modern medicine alongside traditional practices of faith healing and magic.
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welcome. i'm bob abernethy. it's good to have you with us. as israel launched its ground offensive in gaza, religious groups continued to raise concerns and special prayers about the crisis. some people of faith protested israel's campaign in gaza, highlighting the large numbers of civilians who have been killed. jewish groups and some christians rallied in solidarity with israel. several u.s. jewish leaders expressed concern about what they see as an anti-semitic tone in many anti-israel protests. meanwhile, some jews and muslims joined together in a day-long fast for peace. at the vatican, pope francis led tens of thousands in prayer for an end to the violence. he also personally called israeli president shimon peres
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and palestinian president mahmoud abbas urging a ceasefire. the complex interfaith sensitivities provoked by the crisis were evident at the white house this week. president obama hosted islamic leaders and muslim diplomats for a dinner to break their ramadan fast. he pledged to work for peace, but then added -- >> no country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens. and so, we've been very clear that israel has the right to defend itself against what i consider to be inexcusable attacks from hamas. >> afterward, the muslim public affairs council said it was "appalled" that the president would use that occasion "to express unequivocal support for israel" without also criticizing what it called israel's "disproportionate use of force." as thousands of migrant children continue flooding across the u.s. border, christian, jewish and muslims groups have designated this an
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interfaith weekend of compassion and prayer. religious groups have been providing some aid to care for the children. they've also been lobbying officials to change immigration and deportation laws. a top vatican official visited mexico this week urging protection for migrant children. he delivered a letter to the international community from pope francis calling for an end to "racistnd xenophobic attitudes." we have a special report today from saul gonzalez on the immigration surge, the anger -- and compassion -- it has brought out, and how the government and many religious institutions are trying to respond. >> reporter: it's a scene that captured the attention of the country and world, anti-immigrant protestors blocking buses filled with undocumented central american migrant children and some adults from reaching a border patrol
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station in the southern california community of murrieta. the children aboard the buses were just some of the more than 52,000 minors, many of them unaccompanied by adults, who have been detained by immigration authorities since october. it's the largest influx of asylum seekers into the u.s. since 1980. there are so many migrant children arriving, temporary immigration holding facilities along the border have been filled to capacity, d the children have been flown to other parts of the country for shelter and care at military bases and other facilities. overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants, the government has turned to faith communities for help. >> we are at the former convent at st. joseph's catholic church in fontana. and this is a place where two days ago where we welcomed 46 migrant women and children here to provide a temporary place for them to rest and receive basic services. >> reporter: john andrews is a
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spokesperson for the catholic diocese of san bernardino county east of los angeles. the diocese is using available buildings on church grounds to provide temporary shelter and aid to the migrants before they're united with family members in this country or sent back to their own countries. here they can sleep on air mattresses in spartan but clean rooms, get access to toiletries and diapers and replace worn out shoes and clothes with slightly used replacements. the kitchen is also filled with donated food that hungry kids might like. andrews says the diocese had no choice but to help the migrant children and their famiilies. >> this is what our catholic faith calls us to do, come to the aid of those who are desperately in need of our help. it's written all over the scriptures. the church has a very well documented history of social service outreach, and supporting migrants, supporting anyone who is in need.
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and this just presented itself to us as an obvious no-brainer that we needed to help here. >> reporter: to protect the children and families they're helping, the diocese isn't allowing journalists to photograph or interview them, but andrews did show us some video he took on his smartphone. here a nun plays with one of the migrant children. and they look obviously, just like kids. >> that's what i am saying, kids are kids. and that's kind of something what we wish more people would understand and see these people for their humanity and they are just like your kids. >> reporter: as organizations like the san bernardino diocese seek to aid and comfort the new migrant arrivals, immigration rights activists say they've seen this immigration crisis brewing for years. >> well, we've known there has been an increase in the number of children who have been migrating by themselves coming to the united states, so this was not news to us. >> reporter: angelica salas is the director of the coalition for humane immigrant rights of
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los angeles, or chirla. she says the children fleeing countries like guatemala, honduras and el salvador are trying to escape growing levels of criminal violence and poverty in their countries, with many risking a dangerous rail trip across mexico to get to the u.s.-mexico border. >> the kids are coming because they are seeking refuge. they are seeking family unity. they are seeking a better life. and they believe that this is where they are going to find it. >> reporter: but many americans don't think they should. back in murrieta, california, protestors have set up a semi-permanent encampment across the street from the border patrol station. the demonstrators are vowing to stop immigrant children from arriving. they are also pushing for much tougher immigration laws. >> our immigration laws are the worst in the world. >> reporter: the worst in the world? >> we just don't have any immigration laws. >> reporter: many of the
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protestors here say they don't want to appear hard-hearted, especially when it comes to the plight of migrant children. they'll tell you they just want america to look after its own citizens before helping others. andrea rockwood shares that sentiment. >> our system is completely broken, and we need to fix our system before we can even help anybody. we can't even help our own. our veterans are on the streets. we have so many homeless people here now. >> reporter: so your argument is we have plenty of problems in this country? >> we have plenty of problems. correct. and it has nothing to do with race or children. it's the system that's wrong. it's not them. >> reporter: two miles away at a gathering on the lawn of murrieta's civic center, feelings were very different. here people who believe the migrant children from central america should be welcomed
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gathered for their own rally. local religious leaders from many denominations were also here to show their support for helping the migrant children. >> god wants us to do it. there's a phrase we use. "si dios es su padre, el immigrante es tu hermano, tu hermana." if god is your father, the immigrant is your brother or sister. >> reporter: but when a small group of counter-protestors arrived, words got heated and personal. >> just stop hating. just stop being a racist. >> i'm not a racist. >> you are not a racist? >> no, i'm not. >> reporter: these men argued for about an hour, with neither changing the minds of the other. and long term, what's ahead for these thousands of undocumented children and their families now that they're in the united states? well, eventually, they're supposed to appear in federal immigration court, where their appeals to stay in the united states will be heard. but critics question just how much justice they'll receive in
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the courtroom. >> we see due process violated, day in and day out. there are so many immigrants in these courtrooms that never have the ability to have representation or even consult with a lawyer. >> reporter: judy london is an attorney with public counsel, a public interest law firm that provides legal assistance to undocumented immigrants. she says when the migrant children finally appear in federal immigration court, like the one inside this downtown los angeles office tower, many will apply for aslyum because of violence in their native countries. but unless they or their families can pay for it, they won't be provided an attorney. >> so under our current immigration court system, the government pays for a judge, pays for an immigration prosecutor, whose goal is to deport the child, but there is no counsel for the child. this is a long standing problem, where those of us who work in immigration law for years have had to sit in court and watch children, sometimes toddlers, be
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held before a judge with no one to speak for them. >> reporter: in response, london's group has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of undocumented central american youth who have recently arrived in the u.s. it demands that the government provide legal representation for the children. >> when you deprive a portion of the population to accessing counsel you create a system that is just fundamentally unfair for those who are swept through it. >> reporter: and as america struggles with how best to deal with the young migrants who are already here, more are making the long and dangerous journey to north to try to get into this country. for "religion and ethics newsweekly," i'm saul gonzalez in los angeles. our managing editor kim lawton and i want to talk about the multiple challenges of the immigrant surge. kim, there are about 50,000 or
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so of these kids from central america who have come in across the border this year. and they've overwhelmed the system that's supposed to give them court hearings and have a judge decide what happens to them. the president is asking congress for $3.7 billion to try to do something about the problem, but congress is about to go on vacation. what are religious leaders saying about what they think should happen now? what do they want? >> well, of course they want to see the children cared for in the short term, that's one thing. they're also very actively lobbying for changes in the policy. some want to see changes so the system can be streamlined so these kids aren't just waiting. um, some are petitioning that the kids aren't sent back. the catholic bishops had a really strong statement saying, "don't send the kids back, that would be, you know, morally wrong to send them back to dangerous situations." others in the religious community are saying, "yes, it's a matter of law and order. send them back to their loving families." so it's very compliced and there's a lot of religious
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activity. >> and what are they saying about foreign aid to try to solve these problems at their source? >> well, there has been, there have been a lot of calls, especially this week from the religious community to say, in addition to dealing with the most immediate crisis that we have now, we need to look at what's going on in the home countries. how can we improve the social fabric of these places? how can we, uh, enhance development so that the people don't want to leave? >> and something not talked about very much is that some of these problems the violence, and the corruption are in part caused by the drug war which the demand for drugs in the united states helps fuel. >> exactly. corruption, organized crime, the drug activity. all of those things religious groups have been saying, "we need to look at those issues so that the kids can want to stay. you know, their parents want them to stay with their families." >> well, what do you, what do
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you say to somebody, maybe your neighbor, who says with great feeling -- and we heard some of this in saul's piece -- say, say to them, people who say, "we just don't want any of these kids in our neighborhood. not in my backyard." and, even, this past week people have been saying when some of the government wanted to come in and perhaps house some of the kids, they're saying no. >> well, and some of that's economic, it's not just, you know some people say, "oh, that's all racism." for some of these people it is economic questions about who pays for this. we were already in a budget crisis, how do we, you know, morally allocate our resources. we did hear a lot from the religious community, those saying we need to respond in compassion, especially for the kids. and we need to watch out for anything that, that is not compassionate. and so you even saw among religious conservatives there was a strong statement from russell moore, a southern baptist leader who's politically conservative, urging his people, you know, the gospel he said doesn't give us details about how to keep the border safe and
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have a just immigration policy. he said but it does tell us we can't respond in what he said was "anger and disgust." >> kim lawton, many thanks. in other news, pope francis caused a stir when he was quoted in an italian newspaper as saying that 2% of all catholic priests are pedophiles. francis said the figure may even include bishops and cardinals. that would come out to about 8,000 priests worldwide. the vatican said the interview should not be taken as the pope's exact words because his answers were not recorded, but it did say the article "captures the spirit of the conversation." meanwhile, a growing sex abuse scandal here in the u.s. in an affidavit filed this week,
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the former chancellor of the catholic archdiocese of st. paul and minneapolis accused archbishop john nienstedt and other church officials of covering up sex crimes by clergy. the archdiocese has been rocked by a series of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct. in an historic first, the church of england voted to allow women to become bishops. two years ago the measure was narrowly defeated, but this time it passed with an overwhelming majority of votes. archbishop of canterbury justin welby had long been in favor of the change. eight other jurisdictions in the worldwide anglican communion already have women bishops. here in the u.s., a federal judge struck down california's death penalty this week. in the case of an inmate on death row since 1995, judge cormac carney argued that
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lengthy delays before execution violate the u.s. constitution because they create a cruel and arbitrary system of punishment. the judge noted that over 900 people have been sentenced to death in california since 1978, but only 13 have been executed. the state is expected to appeal the decision. now, the enormous mental health gap in india, where there are just a few thousand psychiatrists for perhaps 100 million victims of mental illness. fred de sam lazaro reports that gradually, in some places, alongside traditional practices of faith healing and magic, modern medical care is being accepted. >> reporter: this tomb of an islamic figure revered here in western india, martyred 500 years ago, has long been a
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pilgrimage destination. thousands of faithful -- not just muslims but also hindus, christians, sikhs and others from across india -- come here each day to pray for a blessing or a miracle couples unable to conceive, people suffering from various maladies. it's also the closest thing for many indians to a mental health facility. it is a taboo subject, the stigma especially hard on families of people with mental illness. treated as a curse, a demonic possession or karma for misdeeds in a past life. sayyad varis ali is a trustee of the shrine. >> the people who come here with mental illness, they have tried everything else and they have not gotten any relief. and finally this is the place that they come to, they come here to pray.
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>> reporter: at this shrine dozens of faith healers called "kadims" recite prayers while patients perform rituals breathing in smoke from incense burned at the tomb, walking around this dome seven times. the numbers in india are simply staggering. there are thought to be about 100 million people with common mental disorders and up to 20 million with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. for all of them, there are just 5,000 psychiatrists in the country. so faith healers from across india's diverse religious mosaic have long filled the gap, says milesh hamlai, a well-known mental health advocate. >> access to care is not there, lack of professionals, lack of medication, lack of awareness, lack of knowledge so all this leads to only one thing that you go to the easiest and the most available source of help. i come from an urban india so in
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spite of that my family took my brother first to such kind of places. >> reporter: hamlai, who comes from an educated middle class background, became an advocate after his brother came down with schizophrenia several years ago. he discovered there are some resources, provided by regional government hospitals. but they aren't well known or utilized in a historically inefficient system. so hamlai brought state mental health officials led by doctor ajay chauhan to this shrine. >> when we came here there were 40 to 50 faith healers standing in the door to keep us from entering. they thought doctors were coming to put them out of business. it was a very sensitive time, especially since this is a muslim holy place and there are several thousand jobs at stake. >> reporter: eventually, perhaps with the implied threat of legal action, they were able to enter, but doctor chauhan says they reassured the shrine's leaders they had no intention of shutting it down. he says conditions they saw, though were appalling. >> there were 40, 50 people
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chained up to a post, often because they've had violent episodes, some abandoned by their families. conditions were also very unhygienic and completely inhumane. >> reporter: things have improved markedly. india's supreme court outlawed mechanical restraints. chains are used now but only symbolically and not as restraints. and under a partnership brokered by hamlai, the shrine allowed psychiatrists to set up clinics inside and just outside the premises. they also began to train faith healers to look for telltale signs of common mental illness. kadims like syedumia mehmood ali see such symtoms-like those of 23-year-old javed through a very different therapeutic lens. >> somebody has performed black magic on him. i can tell from the way he is, sulking and down. >> reporter: but after a session of ritual and prayer, ali
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brought his patient to see his psychiatrist tag team partner dr. yathin bhushan. javed complained of leg pain, but as the conversation went on, there was a longer litany. >> i don't sleep at night because vikas comes. >> who is vikas? >> a man. he says come with mevery day. >> reporter: after clarifying with his parents that there was no real threat to javed, dr. bhushan renewed a prescription for the anti schizophrenia drugs. javed's mother, saira banu, said his condition had improved after he began taking them. >> he sleeps now. he never used to sleep through the night. before he used to hit us, but now he's stopped doing that. >> i'm going to give you 15 days' medicine see me again after 15 days or if you have any problems. and also do what the kadim says. >> reporter: psychiatrist
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bhushan is careful to acknowledge his faith-based partner -- pills, for example, are routinely blessed over the shrine's iinner sanctum. dr. bhushan says this reaching out is it's mostly but not always reciprocated. >> some kadims tell patients that the medicines are not needed, or that they can stop taking them. >> we've spent a lot of money, and to no benefit. >> reporter: javed's parents, laborers from a city about two hours away, struggled for five years with their son's illness for before finally getting results. >> so everyone was telling us to go to the mira datar dargah where they could treat this problem of black magic, so we came here. then they told us that they have this medicine program as well. >> reporter: is it the medicine or the prayer that's working? >> both are working. >> reporter: milesh hamlai is not surprised by that kind of response. he says there can be therapeutic
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value in pilgrimages to this shrine. >> it's a place to pray, it's a holy place. they are finding some kind of solace. at least that is trying to bring them back to normalcy and in that if we are able to provide them with medical interventions and proper care, counseling, listening, i'm sure they really feel very good that there is some place where they can go offload themselves. >> reporter: so far hamlai's group, called the altruist, has managed to bring some 16,000 patients to the program called dava dua medicine and prayer. it's a tiny number amid vast need but some experts say a promising prototype to expand psychiatric services without disrupting or antagonizing age old belief systems. for "religion and ethics newsweekly," this is fred de sam lazaro in gujarat, india. on our calendar this week muslims celebrate laylat al
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qadr, or the night of power, when they believe the quran was first revealed to the prophet muhammad. muslims believe prayers offered on laylat al-qadr hold more power than the prayers of a thousand months. also, mormons observe pioneer day, which commemorates the arrival of brigham young and the first mormon pioneers in the salt lake valley in 1847. mormons say brigham young declared upon seeing the valley for the first time "this is the right place." that's our program for now. i'm bob abernethy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch anytime on the pbs app for iphones and ipads. and visit our website, where there is always much more, and where you can listen to or watch every program. join us at pbs.org. as we leave you, music from a
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mormon tabernacle choir pioneer day concert. ♪
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>> charlie: welcome to the program. i'm charlie rose. the program is charlie rose the week. just ahead, the shooting down of malaysia airlines flight 17. hillary clinton on the unrest overseas and the new woody allen film starring emma stone and colin firth. >> isn't that a substance like yogurt? >> you are joking. saying it might look like yogurt but might be the former husband. >> charlie: those stories and more on what happened and might happen. >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right.

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