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global presence, poverty, race, religion, social justice, white privilege

raging against the machine


“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
” Amos 5:21-24, The Message

Last night, I hosted our monthly Global Presence gathering at Quest Church. on the second Monday of each month, anyone with an interest in what it means to live out our faith in the context of our larger world is invited to join and hear from others struggling to do the same. Harper McConnell of HEAL Africa shared about the state of affairs in Goma, Congo, and invited us all to action. What could 15 or so people in Seattle do that could possibly affect the conflict in Central Africa? We wrote letters. Lots of letters. Letters to our state senator, and the executives of computer and cell phone companies. Much of the fighting in Congo is tied into resources and greed–specifically the mineral coltan, which is widely used in cellphone and computers, with 80% of the world’s coltan supply coming from Congo. Read on below for more details, and tools for YOU to send letters of your own. Already, another HEAL Africa supporter has been invited to meet with executives at the Apple Corporation.



Dr. Art Ammann reminded me that the whole impetus to stop slavery in Great Britain started when some women decided to boycott sugar (for their daily tea!) produced by slaves in the Caribbean. Of course, it was a combination of many ideas, actions and efforts, and it took a long time. However, it is something to think about. Blood diamonds. Remember the movie? How about blood coltan? To complicate the situation, there are also gold, diamonds, tungsten, other minerals and petroleum in the area of eastern Congo being fought over.
I’ve been talking with Kerry Gough, counsel for our partner Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, about other ways to educate the “average user” of information technology about where the raw materials come from that we use daily with such ease. The conflict is directly related to control of the valuable resources of the Congo, especially in the conflict zone where the coltan is found.
This is from Kerry. “Set forth below is a brief form letter and contact information for three of the major computer manufacturers in the US. Hopefully we can get some focus on the manufacturers on this problem. You can have contacts cut and paste the following, personalize it if they wish, and email it to the Dell, HP and Apple companies. Why not also try Intuit, cell phone companies and any other product that uses tantalum, coltan or cassiterite?

Dear _____________________________:

I am writing to ask you for reassurance that none of the coltan used in your products comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. As I am sure you are aware, conflict has resumed in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, a conflict that is fueled by the lust for the Congo’s riches, including Coltan. Over 80% of the known reserves of coltan is found in NE DRC, but the coltan being exported is more often than not blood coltan. Much of the coltan finds its way to the US via Rwanda after it has been extracted by men, women and children terrorized by beatings, killings and rape at the hands of soldiers, rebels and militias who trade coltan for funds and weapons to further the conflict. The problem of blood coltan is so grave that the U.S. Senate recently passed the Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act of 2008 (SB 3058). Similar to the legislation banning importation of blood diamonds, SB 3058 will require that coltan be certified as conflict free before being imported.

Please advise me on the following:

  • 1) Where does your company obtain it’s coltan? You cannot rely upon shipping documents that indicate someplace in Europe, Asia, or even Rwanda. Most Coltan comes from the DRC.
  • 2) What assurance do you have that your suppliers of coltan have not obtained it from the DRC?
  • 3) Have you even asked your suppliers to reveal the original source of the coltan you have purchased?
  • 4) What is your position on the Coltan and Cassiterite Act of 2008 (SB 3058), now pending in the House of Representatives?
  • 5) What steps are you willing to take to assure that your coltan is conflict free?

Your web site suggests that you are a socially responsible company. Please carry out that representation by taking steps to make sure that the coltan in your products is conflict free and by instructing your lobbyists to push for passage of SB 3058 in the house of representatives.

Very truly yours,


Send to the following people, or TARGET your own cell phone and computer company:

Rosemarie Thomas
Secretary to the Board of Directors

Hewlett Packard Company
3000 Hanover Street, MS 1050
Palo Alto, CA 94304
e-mail: bod@hp.com

Steve Jobs, CEO

Apple Computer Company

c/o Katie Cotton, Vice President, World Wide Corp. Communications


Michael S. Dell

Chairman of the Board and CEO

Dell Corporation


So, I think this is something that everyone could do, don’t you? Remember lettuce boycotts? and the whole “green” movement? Let’s let our computers work for us!
peace for Congo—Now!

Judith A. Anderson

Executive Director, US Office

HEAL Africa

P.O. Box 147

Monroe, WA 98272


One of my favorite “Rage Against the Machine” Songs is ‘Testify’. I can’t help but believe we as Christians are called to ACT on behalf of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, by being good stewards of the talents we’ve been given, whether that is access to our congressional leaders, corporations, connections to local government, or simply raising our voices. How will you testify? We are incorporating advocacy as one of the regular spiritual disciplines of our monthly meetings. Come out next month as we continue trying to live out our faith together.



One thought on “raging against the machine

  1. I think this is a fantastic effort! I am also very interested in bringing peace to the Congo and achieving fair trade as it relates to Congolese coltan and others minerals.

    Did you receive any replies to the letters you sent?

    Posted by Bill Tait | December 18, 2008, 5:57 pm

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About Me

wife, partner, daughter, and sister. traveler on the journey of faith. rage against the machiner. sometimes pastor.


November 2008
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