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Faith-based Group Calls for Resistance to Iraq War

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Jan. 25, 2005
http://www.btlonline.org
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Faith-based Group Calls for Grassroots Resistance to Iraq War

Call to Resist, sponsored by Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, produced by Melinda Tuhus

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On Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a faith-based group in Connecticut, Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, commemorated Dr. King's call for an end to the war in Vietnam. Members of the group read the names of all the U.S. service members killed thus far in the Iraq war, alternating with the names of some of the Iraqi civilians who have died, numbering an estimated 100,000. Then the group issued a call to resist the current war, based on a statement written by author and activist Jeremy Brecher. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus was there and filed this report.

BETWEEN THE LINES: John Humphries read from King’s speech of April 4, 1967, in which he called on the U.S. to withdraw from Vietnam, but the speech applies equally well to the current conflict:

JOHN HUMPHRIES: “I come to this platform to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation, to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price. America will never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as this war continues to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destruction suction tube. So I am increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and to attack it as such. Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. America can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of people the world over. And as I ponder the madness of this war, my mind goes constantly to the ordinary people who have been living under the curse of war. They must see Americans as strange liberators. We are leaving them little to build on, save bitterness. And I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else, for it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war, where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for our troops must know, after a short period there, that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved.”

The Rev. Dennis Calhoun described the 1967 Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority from Clergy and Laity Concerned, which helped to mobilize the movement against the war in Vietnam.

THE REV. DENNIS CALHOUN: Today, this new call to resistance is being issued by Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, with the challenge to other groups across the state, and across the nation, to join with us. The anti-war movement has yet to tap the full power of the people. Before the war, we gathered by the millions all over the world in the hope of stopping the madness. Now it’s time to gather again and redouble our efforts to stop the madness and bring our troops home. (Applause) And we are calling on other people of faith to join us in pledging our intention to take affirmative action to resist this war. The question has been raised, where are the religious voices in the movement to end the war in Iraq? Well, our answer is, here we are. Let’s join our voices and make ourselves heard. (Applause) So today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in the spirit of active non-violent resistance, we are asking you to share this call with other people, particularly with other faith communities, so that we can join together in refusing to cooperate with the senseless and immoral aggression that has been undertaken in our name.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Here are excerpts of the new call to resist read by the crowd in unison:

THE REV. DENNIS CALHOUN AND CROWD: A growing number of U.S. citizens have realized that the war in Iraq is an immoral and profoundly destructive waste of both Iraqi and American lives. Its extravagant cost increasingly robs our own neediest citizens of vital services while enriching a few private corporations. We believe it is our duty as both Americans and members of the international community to insist that our government immediately adhere to the international agreements binding us, including the Geneva Accords protecting prisoners from torture and indefinite detention. Many members of the armed services are seeking ways to avoid service in Iraq, or to leave the military completely. Some young men are refusing to register for Selective Service. Increasing numbers of enlisted men and women are risking prison sentences or forced immigration in order to avoid collaboration in an immoral war. We applaud these choices and will do all that we can to urge others to follow their example. More specifically, we support and will spread the word about the GI Rights Hotline and other efforts to support soldiers in withdrawing from the military. We will counsel young men turning 18 on the moral obligations as well as risks inherent in a refusal to register with the Selective Service, and we will raise funds to support them in their legal defense. Should a draft be re-instituted, we will encourage young men and women not to comply. We, the undersigned, commit ourselves to undertake all affirmative measures available to us to fulfill our obligations under these treaties, which have guided our world for half a century. We will continue to raise our voices and engage in non-violent resistance until our government has withdrawn from Iraq and brought our soldiers home.

Visit the group's website at www.reclaimingthepropheticvoice.com

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Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Jan. 28, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Melinda Tuhus and Anna Manzo.

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