By Rosalie Tirella
In this issue of InCity Times, we ran a promotion, re: Greg Mortenson’s May 3 speaking enagement at Mechanics Hall. After we went to press – and could not make any changes to the paper – we got this note from the UCC (see below). We did not see the Sixty Minutes piece on Mortenson.
In our humble opinion, if the author has accomplished only half of what he claims to have achieved, he is still a great man. I saw a TV news report a few years ago – I think it was a 60 Minutes piece – on Mortenson and all the great schools he was allegedly building in Afghanistan, etc. I was impressed! I still am. Maybe he hasn’t built as many schools as he claimed, but the guy HAS built lots of schools in the Mid East, poor girls there are being educated in his schools and he has shone a bright light on this important issue – educating girls in developing countries is the key to their human rights – for all the world to see.
As far as I can see, the world still needs people who will sit down and have three cups of teas – that is, build friendships gradually and respectfully – with people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, etc – not go in, as we and NATO have done, half-cocked blowing everybody’s brains out. The Mid East needs folks who will support girls and education for girls. They need more activists like Mortenson – not fewer.
As far as the way the guy has handled money – not so good. But he did tell NPR he was saving millions of dollars to provide a huge nest egg for his charity so that when he dies the important work of educating poor girls in the Mid East – the only way their society will begin to see them as full human beings and not chatel – will continue.
Press release received by ICT:
The United Church of Christ – Massachusetts Conference (MACUCC), sponsor of an upcoming appearance by author Greg Mortenson in Worcester on May 3, announced today that Mortenson has withdrawn from his planned engagement due to health concerns.
Mortenson, who was the subject of a highly critical segment aired on April 17th’s “Sixty Minutes” program, announced recently that he is suffering from a hole in his heart which is reportedly due to be surgically repaired in Bozeman, MT, this week. Given the surgery and recuperation time, Mortenson’s agent said it was impossible for him to fulfill his engagement at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall on May 3.
Susan Dickerman, Associate Conference Minister for Leadership Development for the MACUCC, said, “The Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ is deeply concerned about the allegations made by CBS during its “Sixty Minutes” broadcast. Our decision to sponsor Greg Mortenson’s appearance in Worcester focused on providing an opportunity for laity and clergy to be inspired and challenged by Mortenson’s work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to share with him their questions and concerns. We regret Mr. Mortenson’s illness and inability to fulfill his contract, and will offer full refunds of ticket purchases to all ticket holders.” Those holding tickets should contact the Mechanics Hall Box Office for a refund at 508-752-0888, no later than May 5th.
The Massachusetts Conference of the UCC includes 386 churches with over 73,000 members, and is one of 39 regional bodies of the UCC, which has 5,300 churches and 1.1 million members. The United Church of Christ traces its roots to the Pilgrims and Puritans who founded this country, and founded the nation’s first public schools and universities. The UCC remains a strong advocate for equality in public schools today.