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Christians arrested at arms fair protest

Yesterday morning (5th September) members of Christian peace groups, Put Down the Sword and the London Catholic Worker, were arrested after successfully blocking the service road leading to the Excel Centre, using arm tubes.

The activists intention was to create a prayer space for faith groups to gather and witness against the arms trade. The blockade formed the basis of a prayer space decorated with prayer flags and banners.

Following this action there were other actions in which members of Put Down the Sword abseiled from the bridge and Quakers blocked the road with a massive were arrested. Altogether peace activists held the road for [xx] hours while faith groups from the Quakers, Pax Christi, Wake Up, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship said prayers and bore witness. There was a bring and share lunch for all faiths.

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The names of the those taking part in the direct action are Chris Cole, (53) of Oxford, and Nora Ziegler (26) Joanna Frew (38) and Henrietta Cullinan (56) all from London.

Chris Cole [53] says,

At a time when war has become so normalised that it has faded into the background, its more important than ever that we say a clear and simple ‘no more war preparations ‘.

Joanna Frew [38] writes,

‘Like Theresa May, I am a vicar’s daughter. But unlike Theresa May, I see the principles of the Christian faith as an active commitment to non-violence. Jesus risked ridicule, imprisonment, torture and, ultimately, a political death sentence to teach us radical non-violence and peacemaking.

The arms fair, supported by Theresa May’s government, contributes to war, violence and oppression in countries where conflict and suffering is beyond imaginable, such as Yemen, Bahrain and Israel-Palestine. DSEi also helps the border security industry to push equipment and ideas that deal with migration as a crime that needs to be stopped. The Bible is full of examples of welcoming the stranger and providing hospitality. We are here to say that this is the kind of welcome we want to see, not one for dictators and murderous regimes.’

For further information on the protests see:

Stop the Arms Fair https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk

For further information on the two groups see:

London Catholic Worker http://www.londoncatholicworker.org

Put Down the Sword https://putdownthesword.wordpress.com

Activists enter US military base in Germany to challenge nuclear weapons deployment

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Catholic Worker Susan Crane amongst five international activists who entered nuclear weapons base, Buchel Air Base in Germany

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
An international group of five peace activists got far inside the
Büchel Air Base in Büchel, Germany, after nightfall on Monday, 17 July
2017.

For the first time in a 21-year long series of protests against the deployment of US B61 thermonuclear bombs there, the activists climbed on top of one large bunker used for nuclear weapons. After cutting through two exterior fences and two more fences surrounding the large earth-covered bunkers, the five spent more than one hour unnoticed sitting on the bunker. No notice of the group was taken until after two
of them climbed down to write “DISARM” on the bunker’s metal front door, setting off an alarm. Surrounded by vehicles and guards searching on foot with flashlights, the five eventually alerted guards to their presence by singing, causing the guards to look up. The internationals were eventually taken into custody more than two hours after entering
the base.
The five, Steve Baggarly, 52, of Virginia; Susan Crane, 73, of California; John LaForge, 61, and Bonnie Urfer, 65, both of Wisconsin; and Gerd Buentzly, 67, of Germany, said in a statement titled All Nuclear Weapons are Illegal and Immoral: “We [..] have entered Büchel Air Base to condemn the nuclear weapons deployed here. We ask Germany to either disarm the weapons or send them back to the United States for disarming.”
An hour after being detained, searched and photographed, the five were
released through the base’s main entrance.

Activists from the United States came to Büchel to highlight the plans
for modernization of the B61. Ralph Hutchison, from Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, where a new thermonuclear core for the “B61-Model12” will be
manufactured, said: “It is important that we show this is a global
movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one
country. The new B61-12 program will cost more than $12 billion, and
when production starts sometime after 2020, Büchel is scheduled to get
new nuclear bombs.”
“The idea that nuclear weapons provide security is a fiction believed
by millions,” said John LaForge, of Nukewatch in Wisconsin, which
organized the 11-person delegation from the US. “Tonight we showed that
the image of a secure nuclear weapons facility is also a fiction,” he said.
“Everyone’s children and everyone’s grandchildren have a right to a
nuclear weapons-free world. All of creation calls us to life, to
disarmament, to a world of justice—for the poor, the Earth, and the
children,” read the statement, released in both German and English.

Susan Crane, a Plowshares activist from the Redwood City, Calif.
Catholic Worker, said, “The Commander of the Base, Oberstleutnant
Schlemmer, came to meet us at 3:00 a.m. and told us what we did was very
dangerous and we might have been shot. We believe the greater danger
comes from the nuclear bombs that are deployed at the Base.”

Büchel is Everywhere, Nuclear Weapons Free Now! continues until August
9, 2017 and will close with a commemoration of the US atomic bombing of
Nagasaki, Japan.

Bishop sends message of support to Christian activists, willing to risk arrest

Over fifty Christians, who have pledged to take nonviolent direct action for the sake of justice and peace, have gained the support of Thomas McMahon, Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood.

The activists, of all denominations and from all parts of the country, campaign on issues of justice, peace and climate change, and consider nonviolent direct action to be an unavoidable consequence of following Jesus’ teaching today. They will gather to take the pledge at the launch of the Faith and Resistance Network on Saturday 15th July at Friends House, Euston Road, London.

In a statement to be read out on Saturday, Thomas McMahon says,

‘I have long believed that when the Gospel loses its prophetic element it has lost its cutting edge. A prophet is very much God’s person who is prepared to challenge in his name even though uncomfortable. They are not usually popular people and certainly disturb our conscience. There are many ways of giving prophetic witness  and non violent direct action can be one of them.’

The pledge was initiated by the Faith and Resistance Network whose aim is to grow the Christian nonviolent action movement, widen recognition of its wide ranging work and welcome new activists.

Martin Newell, one of the organisers, says,

‘Nonviolence is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. This network will raise the profile of Christians today putting Jesus’ radical teaching into action’

The network is intended to support activists as they embark on direct action, through providing training, contact with the media and legal support. It has been set up by experienced activists who have themselves been arrested, charged and convicted and experienced time in prison for the sake of their faithfulness to the teaching of Christ.

Symon Hill, author of The Upside Down Bible writes,

‘Jesus exemplified active nonviolence and resistance to the sins of violence, oppression and inequality. I continue to seek God’s guidance and am unsure of the way forward, but I don’t doubt that active nonviolence is an essential element of seeking to follow Jesus. It is a consequence of attempting to live out love for God and love for our neighbours.’

At the launch pledgers and their friends will hear from Andrea Needham, ploughshares activist and author of The Hammer Blow and Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse, who recently attempted to disarm a warplane, bound for Saudi Arabia, at RAF Warton, Lancashire.

The pledgers look forward to the No Faith in War Day, which will see people of all faiths oppose the DSEi arms fair in September.

Faith and Resistance: an invitation

Today we are launching our invitation to Christian activists to sign our pledge to take part in non-violent direct action.

“Guided by the teaching and practice of Jesus, motivated by my faith in God, I pledge to take part in non-violent direct action, in response to God’s call to social justice, peace and protection of the integrity of creation.”

We are hoping to encourage at least 50 people to sign the pledge by the time of the official launch of the network in July 2017. We hope this will raise the profile of the network and Christians engaged in non-violent direct action.

Please email faithandresistance@gmail.com if you would like to sign the pledge and become involved in the network.

The Pope’s message of non-violence

January 5th 2017

As a lifelong Catholic, engaged in justice and peace for most of my adult life, it was with great joy that I heard the Pope would be using message for World Peace Day to discuss nonviolence.

There is so much to cherish in the Pope’s wise words. His understanding of the damage violence does, and his recognition of the powerful nature of nonviolent direct action, citing the examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the less well known but equally important Leymah Gbowee and other Liberian women.

‘Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.   I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.   Violence profanes the name of God.   Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence.  Peace alone is holy.  Peace alone is holy, not war!”.

Indeed. A welcome start to 2017 and a huge inspiration for all of us engaged in working for peace.

Virginia Moffatt