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Philanthropist Ted Turner softens stance on religion to help raise $200 million to battle malaria in Africa.

Oxford, Ohio

Ted Turner, who once called Christianity "a religion for losers" has launched a joint initiative with Lutherans and Methodists in the United States to raise $200 million US ($202 million Cdn) to fight malaria in Africa.

Best known for creating the Atlanta-based Cable News Network, the 69-year-old Turner on April 1 launched the anti-malaria project through his United Nations Foundation. Other partners in the campaign are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the United Methodist Church.

Mr. Turner made the announcement at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, flanked by Methodist and Lutheran leaders. Mr. Turner said he had become more tolerant of religion and regretted anything he may have said concerning it in the past that was negative.

"Religion is one of the bright spots as far as I'm concerned, even though there are some areas, like everything else, where they've gone over the top a little in my opinion," Mr. Turner told the Associated Press. "But I'm sure God, wherever he is, wants to see us get along with one another and love one another."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also provided a $10 million U.S. grant that will help promote the campaign in churches.

Bishop Janice Huie, president of the Methodist Council of Bishops, said her denomination would raise more than $100 million U.S. over several years for the project.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, with their humanitarian arm Lutheran World Relief, will raise between $75 million U.S. and $100 million U.S.

Each year, malaria kills more than one million people, who are mostly women and children under the age of five in Africa.

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Title Annotation:WORLD
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:May 1, 2008
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