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News :: Organizing
Faith, Peace, and Justice
23 Dec 2004
I’m not a Christian yet I do take offense at how the Bush administration has heralded Christian moral values in the name of war. I also resent the media for shedding a light on groups of people who have been blinded by this rhetoric, while ignoring the many Christians who at the core of their values, believe in peace and justice for all. The presidential election was not lost on moral values; it was lost on the intellectual fight for truth against corporate domination. This is my Christmas present to all Old and New Testament faith-based activists who are keeping their faith in the world struggle.
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Sojourners (www.sojo.net) is a great source for articles where themes on Christian gospel, spiritual renewal, and social justice are discussed. During the election, this ministry published a petition in newspapers across the country to “remind America that Jesus taught us to be peacemakers, advocates for the poor, and defenders of justice,” and to prevent the Republican party from appropriating Christian religious beliefs as a political weapon.

Action by Churches Together (ACT) International (http://act-intl.org/) is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. Some of their campaigns include a youth program in Palestine, access to clean water for displaced communities in Colombia, and humanitarian relief in several countries including Iraq, Iran, Liberia, and Haiti.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (http://www.e-alliance.ch/) is a coalition of 85 churches and church-affiliated organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS and working for economic justice in a sustainable society. The Alliance commits itself to “"speak out with one voice against injustice, to confront structures of power, practices and attitudes which deprive human beings of dignity and to offer alternative visions based on the Gospel."

Among many ongoing campaigns, the Church World Service (http://www.churchworldservice.org/) has provided humanitarian relief and refugee assistance in Afghanistan, the Darfur region in Sudan, and Gaza and is seen by Christian institutions as an example of bringing together gospel tradition and practice.

There are many other faith-based organizations in the United States that advocate for the peace and justice movement such as the Institute for Peace and Justice (http://www.ipj-ppj.org/) in St. Louis, Missouri, which seeks to teach nonviolence in the spirit of Martin Luther King; the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (http://bpfna.org/), which among other things sent a delegation this past November to Fort Benning, Georgia, to protest against the School of the Americas; the Fellowship for Reconciliation (http://www.forusa.org/), which is an interfaith movement that has actively worked to end the occupation in Iraq and bring an end to human rights abuses in Colombia; and Pax Christi USA (http://www.paxchristiusa.org), which is the largest national Catholic peace organization committed “to the gospel imperative of seeking peace through nonviolence” and has been very outspoken on the Iraq occupation and the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

There are also Quaker organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee (http://www.afsc.org/) that are based on the “Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.” Their precepts extend not only to waging peace but also working on issues of fair trade, immigration rights, anti-militarism, and the safeguarding of civil liberties.

The World Conference on Religions for Peace (http://www.wcrp.org/) is an international coalition of representatives from many religions dedicated to achieving peace while celebrating cultural differences. Convening for the first time in Kyoto in 1970, it has affiliates in more than 51 countries and deems to arrest world conflict through interfaith cooperation. Some of their successes include mediating dialogue and reconciliation in Sierra Leone and Kosovo.

Many Jewish and Muslim advocates have struggled to represent the movement of non-violence and social justice in their communities. The Jewish Peace Fellowship (http://jewishpeacefellowship.org/) has lobbied in Congress against the war in Iraq, the ongoing occupation of territories in the West Bank and Gaza, the death penalty, and to support conscientious objectors in the United States and Israel. The Council of American-Islamic Relations (http://www.cair-net.org/) in Washington, D.C., seeks to advocate mutual understanding between Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions and the protection of civil liberties in the US.

Locally, the Massachusetts Council of Churches (http://www.masscouncilofchurches.org), representing as many as 1700 congregations, has avidly advocated for the cease of hostilities from the US government against Iraq and the promotion of peace worldwide.

For students interested in university curriculums on faith and peace, the Faith, Peace, and Justice (http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/fpj/) program at Boston College offers the opportunity to “explore, in a interdisciplinary manner, how their own serious questions about faith, peace and justice are related to concrete work for peace and justice in our world.” The program includes a yearly trip to a Navajo Reservation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to aid elderly residents and learn more about their culture. The Center for the Study of World Religions (http://www.hds.harvard.edu/cswr/) at Harvard University is a research organization that seeks interreligious understanding by promoting awareness of the historical aspects of the world's major spiritual traditions. Their panels and events are open to the public.

Merry Christmas and a More Peaceful New Year!

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Comments

Re: Faith, Peace, and Justice
23 Dec 2004
Nice article Sofia. With all the hateful ideology and dangerous out-dated messages being put out by such powerful Christian groups like The Christain Coalition, Concerned Women for America, and sadly, the Roman Catholic Church; it's nice to be reminded that Christian organizations are very much active in various activist movements as they always have. How coordinated would IMC and BTS have been during the DNC if it weren't for the Community Church in Copley which has a radical past going back to Sacco & Vanzetti? Where would the Central American movement and the Sanctuary Movement have been without churches like the Old Baptist Church in Cambridge which was broken into in a bunch of times along with numerous other churches locally and nationally during the Reagan years by right-wing Salvadoran pro-death squad groups and government forces? Where would the GLBT movement be without the Unitarian Universalists? The anti-war movement without the American Friends Service Committee and others? How strong would the fight against poverty be without faith-based organizations? Same for the anti-globalization, civil libertarian, human rights, and evironmental movements? Though I am myself more of an atheist, I too think it is offensive when the perverted notion of "faith and values" are used to justify war, greed, and intollerance. I just hope that valid fear and anxiety over US becoming increasing theocratic doesn't create any sort of backlash against any of the countless faith-oriented groups that some would say provide a backbone for many important activist movements.
Re: Faith, Peace, and Justice
23 Dec 2004
Pretty awesome comment, Tim. Yes, yes, and yes. :)