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War in Iraq & Afghanistan
Reports and comments from 2009-2010

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PPF responds to the death of Osama bin Laden

What if we had responded to terrorism with courage and love, instead of fear?

from The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Email Newsletter, May 3, 2011

On this day, reflecting on the death of Osama bin Laden during a U.S. military operation in Pakistan, we turn to Paul’s Letter to the Church in Rome . . .

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)

On this day, we mourn the loss of life experienced by so many on September 11, 2001, and we stand in compassion with our sisters and brothers for whom that loss of life remains a daily reality. We are deeply moved by the service of so many who risked their own lives on that day and in the days that followed.

On this day, aware that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have now gone on for almost a decade, we are keenly aware of the continued sacrifice borne by U.S. families as tens of thousands of our soldiers have been wounded or killed.

On this day, we know of the suffering of countless—truly countless—numbers of families in both of those countries who also have lost loved ones because of the wars, or who have been displaced by the violence, and whose lives will never be the same again. We say, again, it is time to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq swiftly to an end, bring all U.S. soldiers and military contractors home to their families, and commit to the hard work of partnering to rebuild those communities devastated by the wars.

On this day, with many other sisters and brothers across our country and around the world, we dare to ask . . .

bulletWhat might the world look like today had we responded to our own fear with the courage to love those of whom we are most afraid?
bulletWhat if the billions upon billions of dollars spent to wage war had been spent instead on food and potable water and schools and development projects—the things that make for peace?
bulletWhat if we prepared our young people to wage peace rather than to wage war?

We follow the Prince of Peace. We are a people of hope. We will seek common ground with sisters and brothers who share our commitment to peace in all religious traditions.

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, May 2, 2011

Two thoughtful reflections on the death of Osama bin Laden    [5-2-11]

Robert Neiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy, writes on Truthout:

The War Is Over. Start Packing!

"We got our man. Wave the flag, kiss a nurse (or a sailor) and start packing the equipment. It's time to plan to bring all our boys and girls home from Afghanistan. When the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks rolls around, let the world see that we are on a clear path to bringing home our troops from Afghanistan and handing back sovereignty to the Afghan people."    More >>


After Bin Laden, People of Faith Must Transcend Triumphalism

Charles Kimball, a Baptist minister, and director of the religious studies program at the University of Oklahoma, writes on God’s Politics, a blog by “Jim Wallis and friends”


This dramatic development highlights many critically important factors that converge at the intersection of religion and politics today. Two connected issues stand out for all of us who seek a more healthy and hopeful future. First, we must recognize that the conditions that helped create and sustain Osama bin Laden’s extremism continue to exist: unrepresentative, autocratic rulers in many predominantly Islamic lands, perceived heavy-handed and predatory U.S. political, military, and economic involvement in many of these same countries, and the deep frustrations with the plight of Palestinians after more than 40 years of military occupation. While the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims have rejected Bin Laden’s violent extremism, the “Arab spring” upheavals throughout the Middle East and the urgent need for real progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict underscore the sources of frustration that must be addressed constructively. ...

President Obama correctly emphasized a crucial, related issue: Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader and the ongoing conflict is not with Islam. Osama bin Laden used religion to recruit, incite, and justify murder. His lethal corruption of religion must be named and rejected without indicting Islam and the 1.5 billion Muslims.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that people of faith and goodwill transcend the temptations of triumphalism and redouble efforts at education, dialogue, and cooperation across religious lines.   More >>

A quick response has come from Shirley Nelson, of Amherst, Massachusetts:

Hi, Doug: Glad to see the Wallis reference. Let's hope churches come through with sane and wise responses, and further outreach to peace-seeking Muslim people.
Shirley Nelson


Drone Warfare on Trial

Robert Koehler reports on the recent trial of the “Creech Air Force Base 14,” which included Father John Dear, Kathy Kelly, Father Steve Kelly, Sister Megan Rice, Brian Terrell, Father Louis Vitale and Father Jerry Zawada.

A year and a half ago, they were part of a 10-day vigil outside the base in Indian Springs, Nev. (about 35 miles from Las Vegas), protesting the Predator and Reaper drone flights over Afghanistan and Pakistan that are remotely piloted from the base. At the end of the vigil, these 14 activists entered the base illegally, carrying a letter, according to Kathy Kelly of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, “we wanted to circulate among the base personnel, describing our opposition to a massive targeted assassination program.” They were arrested and charged with trespassing.

What happened at their trial in Las Vegas two weeks ago may turn the incident into more than simply a symbolic protest. What was supposed to be a cut-and-dried trespassing trial — a crime’s a crime, the law’s the law — ended up being something far larger than that.

One of the signs that protestors outside the courthouse were carrying as the trial began bore the words: “Put Drone Warfare on Trial.” And that may be what happened.

More >>

Thanks to Elizabeth Sarfaty

Fellowship of Reconciliation invites people to speak out in support of genuine peace in Iraq


This e-mail letter came to us on August 31, from Mark C. Johnson, Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation:

Yesterday, the President spoke of our successes in Iraq and the milestones achieved in meeting the August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq.

I can't help but note that there are still several problems created by us by the war. These problems will continue to challenge us, make it hard for Iraq and its future and present grave obstacles for the community of nations around the world.

In a nutshell, this is where we are:

The U.S. presence in Iraq is still overbearing even with the troop reduction from 165,000 to 50,000. As one news correspondent reported, a service person indicated there really is no difference between an advisor and a combatant.

The U.S. military's overthrow of the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein did not lead to a better life for Iraqis -- just the opposite.

Life expectancy for Iraqis fell from 71 years in 1996 to 67 years in 2007 due to the war and destruction of the healthcare system.

The majority of the refugees and internally displaced persons created by the US intervention have been abandoned.

Iraq still does not have a functioning government.

The Iraq War has left a terrible toll on the U.S. troops with more than one million American service members deployed, over 4,400 have been killed and tens of thousands severely injured. More than one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment. PTSD rates in the military have skyrocketed. In 2009, a record number of 245 soldiers committed suicide.

The war has drained our treasury with over spent $750 billion on the Iraq War effort. This misappropriation of funds has contributed to the economic crises and left us without the funds needed for our schools, healthcare, infrastructure and a jobs program that are clean, green.

The U.S. officials who got us into this disastrous war on the basis of lies have not been held accountable.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been unable to account for $8.7 billion of Iraqi oil and gas money meant for humanitarian needs and reconstruction.

The war has not made us more secure -- just the opposite.

Given this, please join me in calling on the President Obama and his Administration and on the Congress to take the following actions:

bulletWithdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq and the closing of all U.S. bases;
bullet Reparations to help the Iraqis repair their basic infrastructure and increased funds for the millions of internally and externally displaced Iraqis;
bulletFull support for the U.S. troops who suffer from the internal and external wounds of war;
bullet Prosecution of those officials responsible for dragging our country into this disaster;
bulletTransfer the funds used for war into resources to rebuild America, with a focus on green jobs.
bulletThe lessons of this disastrous intervention should also act as an impetus for Congress and the administration to end the war in Afghanistan. It's time to focus on defending ourselves here at home and rebuilding America.

Please join me in this important effort. The work for peace and the end of war cannot be postponed. It will not wait.

Call the White House and your members of Congress. Ask them to support these six items. Ask them to bring our troops home and give us budget priorities that will address human here at home and abroad. As we see what war and natural disasters have done, we know there is not a dollar to be wasted -- and certainly no need for those dollars to be spent on more destruction.

Preach peace. Promote peace. Act on behalf of peace.

The War in Iraq: At What Cost?

Jim Wallis, pastor and “Christian leader for social change,” reflects on the same concern for Huffington Post. He confesses to hearing Obama’s Oval Office speech with great sadness at the high costs that have been paid by so many. And looking toward the near future he adds: 

I watched the arguments on the talk shows about the continuing political instability in Iraq, the lack of a functioning government six months after an election, the deep worries about continuing ethnic division and conflict. The president said it was up to the Iraqis now. The truth is that it always was up to the people – both in Iraq and Afghanistan – and the mistake of "empire" is the belief than endless war and occupation can change those political realities. Leading by example would have been better, offering a whole array of non-military help to Iraq and now Afghanistan would have been more effective – and so much less costly.

For Wallis’ full essay >>

Action Alert: Stop the Funding for the Afghan War --
Call your Congressperson today!


The Network of Spiritual Progressives and others are calling for people to contact their congressional representatives.  Here's the reason:

U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is facing increasing challenge, and this week's dramatic Wikileaks revelations -- the biggest U.S. war expose since Dan Ellsberg's Pentagon papers -- make it all the more difficult for Congress to keep funding this horrific war. It is an important moment for all of us who want immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to raise our voices.

It looks like there will be an up-and-down House vote this week on the Afghan war supplemental funding. The Senate has stripped the bill of all unrelated issues such as funding for teachers, so the meaning of the vote will be clear: there will be no excuses for voting "Yes" or abstaining (not that such excuses were ever legitimate.)

This is a crucial time to insist that your member of Congress vote NO on war funding! You can reach your representative through the Congressional switchboard 1-888-493-5443 toll-free. If you use this number, it will add to the Friends Committee on National Legislation's count of how many people called Congress against the war supplemental, so your call will be tallied in two places. (If by chance you don't know who your member of Congress is, you can find out at the FCNL website:

The Network of Spiritual Progressives is joining with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, CODEPINK, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace and Justice Resource Center, Historians Against the War, Just Foreign Policy and Progressive Democrats of America in this effort to rally support for a "NO" vote. If you can, please send us a brief email at to let us know that you've made your call.
Our message is simple: Vote no on funding this escalation of war, regardless of whether it's a procedural vote, and regardless of any good measures attached to it. Our phone calls this week won't turn the situation around overnight. It will take massive and sustained street demonstrations, civil disobedience, teach-ins around the country, and other mobilizations to accomplish that. But a strong "NO" vote now will strengthen anti-war sentiment in and out of Congress, and will help build the mass anti-war demonstrations that are planned for October.

Truthout has posted a good article on the current legislative situation >>

Remember what all those angels kept saying at Christmas? “Fear not!”     [1-4-10]

But the responses to the attempted explosion on a Northwest airliner on Christmas day show what Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, calls “the degrading effects of terrorism fears.” His comment is headlined: “The expectation that government provide absolute safety is both dangerous and irrational.”


I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but David Brooks actually had an excellent column in yesterday's New York Times that makes several insightful and important points. Brooks documents how "childish, contemptuous and hysterical" the national reaction has been to this latest terrorist episode, egged on – as usual – by the always-hysterical American media. The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful Daddies and Mommies in government will – in that most cringe-inducing, child-like formulation – Keep Us Safe. ...

A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other competing values can only be degraded and depraved. John Adams, in his 1776 Thoughts on Government, put it this way:

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it. ...

What makes all of this most ironic is that the American Founding was predicated on exactly the opposite mindset. The Constitution is grounded in the premise that there are other values and priorities more important than mere Safety. Even though they knew that doing so would help murderers and other dangerous and vile criminals evade capture, the Framers banned the Government from searching homes without probable cause, prohibited compelled self-incrimination, double jeopardy and convictions based on hearsay, and outlawed cruel and unusual punishment. That's because certain values – privacy, due process, limiting the potential for abuse of government power – were more important than mere survival and safety. ...

These are the calculations that are now virtually impossible to find in our political discourse. It is fear, and only fear, that predominates. No other competing values are recognized. We have Chris Matthews running around shrieking that he's scared of kung-fu-wielding Terrorists. Michael Chertoff is demanding that we stop listening to "privacy ideologues" – i.e., that there should be no limits on Government's power to invade and monitor and scrutinize. Republican leaders have spent the decade preaching that only Government-provided Safety, not the Constitution, matters. All in response to this week's single failed terrorist attack, there are – as always – hysterical calls that we start more wars, initiate racial profiling, imprison innocent people indefinitely, and torture even more indiscriminately. These are the by-products of the weakness and panic and paralyzing fear that Americans have been fed in the name of Terrorism, continuously for a full decade now.

The whole essay >>

Peace and War in Oslo -- a critique of Obama's use of "just war" theory

David Cortright, writing in the January 4, 2010 edition of The Nation, offers a sharp critique of President Obama’s use of the idea of a “just war” to defend further U.S. escalation of military action in Afghanistan.

He begins:

President Obama displayed his usual rhetorical brilliance in Oslo and acknowledged important principles of peace and nonviolence. But his speech gave a distorted view of America's role in the world and reflected a shallow understanding of the concept of just war.

A few excerpts:

The president invoked the concept of just war and identified a few of its ethical criteria--just cause, last resort, proportionality--but he failed to mention the most important principle, the presumption against the use of force. The principles of justice begin with the assumption that war is almost always unjust and can be warranted only under the most dire circumstances, and only if strict ethical criteria are satisfied.

Conspicuously missing was any mention of the ethical standard of "probability of success." Military power should not be used in a futile cause or in circumstances where disproportionate force may be needed to succeed. The prospects of the United States prevailing in a prolonged counterinsurgency war against the Taliban are highly uncertain. ...

The president said that when force is used civilians should be "spared from violence." True, but how does that square with his administration's increasing use of remote-controlled drone airstrikes in Pakistan? ...

The president asserted that the cause of preventing terrorist strikes is just. True again, but that does not make war a legitimate or appropriate means of combating terrorism. There are many just causes, but few just wars. ...

The military's counterinsurgency doctrine calls for winning hearts and minds, which requires a campaign that is 80 percent nonmilitary. The US effort in Afghanistan is the reverse, more than 80 percent military.

David Cortright is co-chair of the Win Without War coalition and author of Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas (Cambridge).

The full article >>
Truthout offers two critical responses to Obama’s Afghanistan troop surge     [12-3-09]

Obama Invokes 9/11 to Explain Afghanistan Troop Surge

Jason Leopold writes for Truthout: "After months of deliberations, President Barack Obama finally outlined his revised strategy for the Afghanistan War in a nationally televised address Tuesday night. The commander-in-chief repeatedly invoked 9/11, attempting to justify his plan to escalate the eight-year-old war, which calls for the rapid deployment of 30,000 additional US troops to the region by next summer."

For the full article >>

“This is a seriously flawed policy.”

Melvin A. Goodman writes for Truthout: "President Barack Obama announced last night that he will send 30,000 additional US soldiers and marines to Afghanistan over the next seven months and that additional resources will be used to train Afghan security forces and bolster the Afghan government. This is a seriously flawed policy. The troop deployment and the appropriations will have no impact on the insignificant al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan; no significant success in controlling the growing Taliban presence; and will make only a limited contribution to nation-building in Afghanistan."

For the complete article >>

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World's religious leaders mourn the Obama escalation in Afghanistan

by Rabbi Michael Lerner

Many of the world's religious leaders in attendance at the Parliament of World Religions taking place in Melbourne, Australia, are in partial mourning for the dream of a new world that President Obama promised, and decisively torpedoed in his announcement of major escalation of military forces in Afghanistan. While the conference sessions have officially ignored current political developments, the hallways are filled with heated discussions of the widespread disillusionment with Obama.

For political activists, the issue of Afghan escalation is primarily framed in terms of Obama's failure to learn the lessons of Vietnam : one cannot win a war against a population that has been fighting for many decades for its own independence. No matter what America's stated war aims, the people of Afghanistan perceive the American military presence as generating far more violence and destruction than they faced before the U.S. got involved.

For feminists anxious to protect the rights of women, the capitulation to Islamic fundamentalism in its treatment and denial of rights to women by the current Afghani government which America is pledged to support undermines any picture of the US actually providing a long-term strategy that would defend women's rights.

And for working and poor people in the US who are told that serious health care reform would not only hurt the interests of the health insurance corporations and the medical profiteers (poor dears!) but also increase the deficit at a time when it must be reduced, the willingness to put hundreds of billions of dollars into war making with the deficit suddenly forgotten makes many wonder about distorted priorities once again. 

For the religious leaders of the world assembled in Melbourne Australia for the Parliament, all these issues are quite salient. Yet what comes most directly to mind for many is the fundamental warp in the Obama Administration's understanding of what could actually succeed in providing homeland security. 

One reason many global religious leaders celebrated the outcome of the 2008 election was the perception fostered by the Obama campaign that the new President really understood that militarism and the use of force to achieve American objectives should be relegated to the dustbin of history, at least until every non-violent strategy has been exhaustively tried. We believed we had heard a clear message that Obama recognized the need to end global poverty and the suffering it has generated as the first step that must be given time to work before military options are embraced. 

That approach was given teeth by the vice chair of the Progressive Caucus of the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison, who has worked with the Network of Spiritual Progressives to develop a Domestic and Global Marshall Plan (DGMP). The DGMP would have the US take the leadership in bringing the advanced industrial societies of the world to commit 1-2% of their Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty to once and for all end global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education inadequate health care, and to repair the global environment. 

It seemed obvious to religious leaders that the meltdown of the global economy and the obvious role played by the ethos of selfishness and materialism presented the new President with a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake the global economy in ways that would redistribute wealth to the poor, thereby generating the very consumer demands that could rebuild the global marketplace by taking the monies that were not being spent and putting it in the hands of those whose immediate needs for food, clothing, housing and basic material needs would generate a global economic revival and end unemployment. 

But the only way that could happen would be for the Obama Administration to have put its full energy behind a new approach to homeland security. Obama would have had to teach Americans that lasting security could come from generosity, whereas the strategy of domination of others had proved futile and a guaranteed loser. 

Even when Obama started pouring trillions into the hands of Wall Street banks and investment firms there was still a hope in the religious world that he would remain faithful to the peace-oriented insights he had articulated during his campaign.

No wonder then that the global religious leaders convening in Melbourne are expressing dismay to each other. They have long known what Obama seems not yet to have absorbed in a serious way: that the path to peace must be a path of peace, and that you cannot bomb and kill your way to security. This simple insight is the one thing shared by most of the world's religious traditions, and it is to testify to the path of peace that thousands of religious leaders are assembled here to affirm a truth that Obama and the world must take seriously.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco, California. He is the author of 11 books, most recently The Left Hand of God (Harper San Francisco, 2006) a national best seller in the U.S.

On the U.S. war in Afghanistan


Jim Wallis urges ...

Tell President Obama: More war will not bring peace.

It has been eight years since the United States military began operations in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I know you join me in lamenting the suffering, violence, and death on both sides of the conflict. Our scriptures and history teach us that war is not the answer to building the peace and security we are striving for in this world.

I’ve joined with other faith leaders in sending an open letter to President Obama, urging him to build a new strategy in Afghanistan that leads with bold humanitarian aid and development instead of more military escalation. Will you join me?

Tell President Obama: We need a whole new approach in Afghanistan.  

Unfortunately, the options being debated are far too narrow and are unlikely to bring the peace and stability we so desperately need to end this war.

The two strategies contending for prime time - counterinsurgency, requiring a substantial escalation of troops, and counterterrorism, relying on precision targeting technology to apply military pressure on the most dangerous operatives, often at the expense of civilian lives - don't address the deep moral and practical issues we face in Afghanistan.

There are many moral concerns at stake in President Obama’s decision: legitimately protecting Americans from further terrorism, protecting the lives of our men and women in uniform, protecting the Afghan people from the collateral damage of war, defending women from the Taliban, and genuinely supporting democracy - to name a few.

Focused and effective humanitarian assistance and development can no longer be an afterthought. They must be central to any strategy the U.S. government puts forward. The president must choose nonmilitary strategies to lead the way, rather than the other way around, which often just makes aid and development work another weapon of war.

We know what can rebuild a broken nation, inspire confidence, trust, and hope among its people, and most effectively undermine terrorism: massive humanitarian assistance and sustainable economic development.

And it costs less - far less - than continued war. The Congressional Research Service has said it currently costs about $1 million per U.S. soldier, per year in Afghanistan.

We all share in responsibility for a war that has been waged in our names and with our tax dollars. Join me and many faith leaders across our country in praying for the president as he considers a new strategy in Afghanistan.

After you pray, sign our letter to President Obama urging his serious consideration of a humanitarian and diplomatic surge, instead of more military options. We'll make sure it gets to the White House.

Blessings and peace,

Jim Wallis

For the full text of the letter and a place to sign on >>:

The problem of corruption in Afghanistan – Is it really our problem?

Robert Naiman writes for Truthout:

Is it just me, or is the pontification of Western leaders about corruption in Afghanistan growing rather tiresome? There is something very Captain Renault about it. We're shocked, shocked that the Afghans have sullied our morally immaculate occupation of their country with their dirty corruption. How ungrateful can they be? But perhaps we should consider the possibility that our occupation of the country is not so morally immaculate - indeed, that the most corrupt racket going in Afghanistan today is the American occupation.   Read the article >>

The Decision

William Rivers Pitt writes, also on Truthout:

The decision looming largest over president Obama at present does not concern health care reform or the economy. He has a call to make soon regarding our present and future role in Afghanistan. What to do about an eight-year war that has accomplished little? This is the largest, and worst, Hobson's Choice Obama has faced, for there are no bloodless and peril-free decisions in this one, no matter how many generals and advisers and pundits pitch in with their opinions. ...

Finally, there is little actual evidence to suggest an increase in troop presence will make any appreciable difference. We have been there for eight years, and matters have remained the same only in the areas where they have not gotten appreciably worse. Afghanistan is, and has always been, the eater of armies. No amount of technology or troop superiority can overcome the natural advantages held by those who know the ground, and who already know how to defeat a superpower, something many of those fighting us there have already done in their lifetime. We could stay there for another eight years and find ourselves in exactly the same position, or even worse off than before.

Read the article >>

Christian Peace Witness for Iraq is Wednesday, April 29, in Washington, DC.

For the latest information on the event, and links to more, click here >>

The latest email update from CPWI says, among other things:

We have prepared for April 29 for many months. Our advocacy team is amazed at the timing of our visits to work for funds for Iraqi refugees and reconstruction. The President will be in the White House and his 8:00 p.m. press conference coincides with our witness outside the White House at Lafayette Park. ...

Our timing could not have been better. President Obama's supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan will be the focus of our advocacy. The supplemental shows no strategic shift towards "smart power" and the non-military spending for refugees and reconstruction is in danger of being stripped out. In addition to our conversation on the supplemental spending, Advocacy training will include talking points on the Commission of Inquiry, diplomacy with Iran, and codifying the Status of Forces Agreement.

Join Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington, D.C.!

Register now!


Wednesday, April 29

National City Christian Church

12:30-1:30 p.m Opening Convocation

Diana Butler Bass - Episcopalian, author, and Senior Fellow at the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral
Noah Baker Merrill
- Quaker, Cofounder of Direct Aid Iraq, a humanitarian and peacebuilding effort working with Iraqi refugees

2:00 p.m Nonviolence training
2:00 p.m Advocacy training
4:30 Legal Briefing for Nonviolent Direct Action
7:00 p.m. Worship

Washington Convention Center

Featured Preachers & Speakers include:

Tony Campolo — Author, pastor, social activist, sociologist, and passionate follower of Jesus

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. — Minister, community activist, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, and U.S. Air Force Reserve Veteran

Sr. Dianna Ortiz — U.S. born survivor of torture in Guatemala, Founder of Torture Abolition and Survivors' Support Coalition International

Elizabeth McAlister — Peace activist and co-founder of Jonah House

Daniel Berrigan — Catholic priest, poet, peace activist

Worship continues with candlelight procession to White House
Rev. Raphael Warnock – Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, the spiritual home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, April 30, 9:00 a.m.

Witness and Nonviolent Action at the Capitol

Kathy Kelly – Catholic, Kelly has been to Iraq 24 times and lived in Baghdad throughout the “shock and awe” bombardment of March 2003

For more information, and to register >>!


An important note from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Join us for the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington D.C. on April 28 and 29!

Events will begin with the Opening Convocation at National City Church on the afternoon of the 28th, followed by the worship service and candlelight procession that evening at the Convention Center.

Speakers will include Tony Campolo, Sr. Dianna Ortiz, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Elizabeth McAlister and Daniel Berrigan.

The following morning, Thursday the 29th, there will be a nonviolent action to lift up our continuing commitment to see the war in Iraq brought to an end.

Registration is now open for the event at .

Also, please contact us at if you are interested in sharing floorspace with us at a church near a metro stop.

Christians have a role to play in rebuilding Iraq, church leaders say

World Council of Churches News Release – Feb. 17, 2009
[posted here 2-24-09]

Representatives of churches in Iraq confirmed their commitment to work together with all Iraqi citizens for reconciliation and rebuilding peace in the country.

"The solution to current conditions lies not in emptying Iraq of its human resources," said the participants at a 10-11 February meeting in Dar Sayedat Al Jabal, Fatka, Lebanon. The meeting was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Some 12 representatives of Iraqi churches attended the gathering, which addressed the challenges facing Christians in Iraq today, particularly issues of safety and security as well as forced migration. They affirmed the status of Iraqi Christians as "authentic children of [the] land," emphasizing the values of equal citizenship and constructive co-existence.

"Christians have belonged to Iraq since the nation's birth," and as "an essential part of Iraqi society … deeply rooted in its history and civilization," they "have the right to live freely" in the country, enjoying "equal rights and responsibilities along with all other citizens," they said.

Participants in the meeting, some of whom went through the experience of being kidnapped in Iraq, called upon Iraqi Christians "to stay in their homeland and participate actively in its rebuilding and development". Iraqi Christians have a role "in building educational and social institutions that contribute to national reconciliation, peace building and stability," they said.

The gathering also called on Western churches "not to encourage migration and resettlement programs for refugees outside Iraq," but rather to "focus their efforts on bringing back security and stability inside Iraq for all Iraqis," with the aim of enabling Iraqis to "work together, healing wounds and building a better future".

Participants at the meeting emphasized the importance of continued dialogue "among Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters." They pledged to establish an "ecumenical forum" in order to allow "all Iraqi church leaders … to speak in a common voice to religious and political authorities inside and outside Iraq".

Full text of the statement of Iraqi church representatives >>

Middle East Council of Churches >>

WCC programme on accompanying churches in conflict situations >>

WCC programme on Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace >>

For earlier stories:
bullet Posts from July 2007 through all of 2008
bullet Postings from Jan - June, 2007
bullet All postings from 2006
bulletJuly - December, 2005
bulletJanuary - June, 2005
bulletNovember - December 2004.
bulletJune through October, 2003
bulletMarch 18 through May, 2003
bulletMarch 5 - 17, 2003
bulletFebruary, 2003
bulletJanuary, 2003
bullet November and December 2002
bullet Stories posted up through October, 2002

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of resources on Iraq.


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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