Articles and Features
- SOUTH DAKOTA:
POWER OF THE SPIRIT
ABOUT THE WARRIORS
CPT HONORED AT LAKOTA CEREMONY
- GRASSY NARROWS, ONTARIO:
"THE FOREST IS MY CHURCH"
ACTION: SEND SAWDUST!
THEY MOVED THE WHOLE RESERVE INSTEAD
- CPT EXPANDS CANADA FOCUS
- CPT REGIONAL REPORT
- CHIAPAS, MEXICO
CPTER GIVEN EXPULSION ORDER
PILGRIMAGE OF PRAYER FOR PEACE
TIME FOR A LITTLE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
WATER WOES IN HEBRON
THE CRISIS OF CONFISCATION
CSD UPDATE: HEBRON: Coming Home
by Patty Burdette
Patty worked for 12 years on Native American reservations in the U.S. and Canada and is part Eastern Cherokee/Catawba. She joined CPTers in South Dakota for several days in early June.
"We keep talking about 'The Powers That Be,'" said Oliver Red Cloud. "But it seems like [S.D. Governor] Janklow and [U.S. Senator] Daschle are the ones who have all the power."
Red Cloud's comments came at meetings held June 9-10 between members of the Black Hills Sioux (Lakota) Nation Treaty Council and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the recently passed federal Mitigation Act. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were present as observers.
The Mitigation Act transfers 92,000 acres of federal land to the state of South Dakota - nearly half of 200,000 acres guaranteed to the Lakota people in an 1868 treaty. Lakota leaders began a peaceful "camp-in" in March on La Framboise Island, across from the South Dakota state capitol, to protest the land transfer. They have called for congressional oversight hearings as a necessary first step to repeal the Mitigation Act. At the invitation of Lakota leaders, CPT has provided a nonviolent presence at the camp since April 5.
Charmaine White Face urged government staff, "If you are Christian get out your Bible and read what it says about justice." She recounted the Lakota prophecy, "First the men will fight the non-Indians with arrows, bullets, and other weapons of war. But one day the women will come forward to fight a spiritual battle, for women are spiritual warriors. I believe that day has come."
Indeed, as the Black Hills Treaty Council and other groups resist the massive transfer of federal land, spiritual warfare may be their greatest strength. Those on the island have been "praying without ceasing" since the camp was established. Added to this are the prayers of supporters throughout the world.
With the tremendous disparity of financial and personal resources between the U.S. and Lakota nations, a miracle, a spiritual healing, a redemption of "the powers that be," may be the only hope for justice.
The campers on La Framboise Island welcome visitors. CPT is also looking for people willing to spend two weeks or more with the team there. Call CPT's Chicago office for more information.
In an unexpected step, members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed an Energy and Water appropriations bill which included an attachment overturning the Mitigation Act (Section 505 of HR 2605). That section was not included in the Senate version of the bill (S 1186) which passed in June. The two versions must now be reconciled by a House and Senate Joint Committee and then pass both the Senate and House again. Opponents of Section 505 will certainly try to have it removed from the final version of the bill, due to be voted on sometime in September.
Please contact members of Congress and urge them to contact members of the Joint Committee, especially Reps. Viscloskey (D-IN) and Packard (R-CA) and Senators Domenici (R-NM) and Reid (D-NV), to support the inclusion of Section 505 in the final version of the compromise bill.
U.S. House of Representatives; Washington, DC 20515; U.S. Senate; Washington, DC 20510; Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
In May, the seven men who set up the camp on La Framboise Island were inducted into an ancient warrior society in a ceremony that had not been performed in over a century. The word "warrior" (akicita) in the traditional Lakota sense emphasizes nonviolent courage, commitment and bravery.
"To be a warrior is to be a shield, without a weapon, ready to lay down my life for the people without hesitation," said Tom Cheyenne, one of the akicita. Rich Shangreaux, another, explained, "Warriors stop something bad from happening to the people without weapons, just with our presence."
In a June 3 ceremony at the Rosebud Indian Reservation, CPT was honored along with three other groups and the men who established the La Framboise camp. Bob Epp (Henderson, NE) accepted the award on behalf of the CPT-South Dakota team.
A hand-lettered, framed buckskin plaque read: "Great Sioux Nation Certificate of Appreciation; Christian Peacemaker Teams; Honoring your courageous and dedicated stand protecting Fort Laramie Treaty Rights at the Oceti Sakowin Camp on La Framboise Island."
CPT Corps members, Reservists and volunteers who have participated in the South Dakota presence inlcude: Jane Adas (Highland Park, NJ), J.R. Burkholder (Goshen, IN), Bob Carlsten (Denver, CO), Bob Epp (Henderson, NE), John Finlay (Walkerton, ON), Ron Forthofer (Longmont, CO), Ron Friesen (Loveland, CO), Linda Hardesty (Boulder, CO), Joanne Kaufman (Chicago, IL), Kathy Kern (Webster, NY), Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), Brian Ladd (Boulder, CO), Lisa Martens (Brandon, MB), Carl Meyer (Millersburg, IN), Marilyn Miller (Boulder, CO), Lois Nafziger (Goshen, IN), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Sara Reschly (Mt. Pleasant, IA), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), Lynn Stoltzfus (Blanding, UT), Worth Weller (N. Manchester, IN), Patty Burdette (Butler, OH), Ben Yoder (Harrisonburg, VA).
Last May, Ojibway (Anishnabek) First Nation leaders in Grassy Narrows, about 50 miles north of Kenora in northwestern Ontario, told CPTers Wes Hare (Richmond, VA), Cole Hull (Seattle WA), and Doug Pritchard (Toronto, ON) that their community has undergone numerous traumas in the past 40 years. Their sacred sites and wild rice beds have been flooded; their fish have been contaminated with mercury; their reserve has been relocated. Now, in yet another violation of treaty rights, the Ontario Government has approved a 20-year plan allowing Abitibi Consolidated to clear-cut the forest on the Ojibway's traditional land-use area.
Joe Fobister, who runs a grocery store in Grassy Narrows, describes his own history. "For as long as I can remember, trapping and living off the land has been a way of life for me. My grandfather, my parents and us kids would go out every spring and fall to harvest muskrats, beaver and ducks. Being at the trap line and living off the land were truly the most enjoyable times of my life. The land is still very important to me. It's where I go to escape, meditate and communicate with my Creator. The forest is my church. It is devastating to see the land after clear cutting. I, like other people in my community have made a commitment to stop the continued destruction of what is left of our land."
First Nation leaders have announced plans to blockade the road to prevent the logging trucks from entering their land. They have asked CPT and other observers to be present to reduce the risk of violence.
The community got a bit of a reprieve on June 25 when the area was inundated with 6 inches (144 mm) of rain in 13 hours. According to Fobister, the floods were a blessing. "The Creator has set up his own blockade," he said. Roads were expected to be closed or restricted indefinitely, alleviating the need for immediate action by community leaders. Currently logging trucks are limited to half loads until the roads are repaired.
As a symbol of the destruction happening on the Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) treaty lands, send some sawdust to the Canadian Minister of Indian Affairs with a letter urging him to take up his responsibilities to defend the interests of the Anishnabek. Send copies to the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, to the Asubpeeschoseewagong Environmental Committee, to your federal parliamentarian (for Canadians), and to your provincial member (for Ontarians).
Addresses: Hon. Robert Nault - Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; House of Commons; Ottawa, ON K1A 0H4; Hon. John Snobelen - Minister of Natural Resources; 900 Bay St.; Toronto ON M7A 2C1; Environmental Committee - Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishnabek; Grassy Narrows, ON P0X 1B0.
by Doug Pritchard
"There's my father-in-law's house," said my guide, pointing to a small log cabin on an island at the edge of the rain-swept English River. "All the other families had similar houses on the river. There's where we built our community hall. There's where we kept a common herd of cows. Over there we had a common cellar for storing the produce of our gardens." The story of the old reserve is part of the backdrop of the current crisis in Grassy Narrows.
In 1963, a government Indian Agent announced it would be "better" if the Grassy Narrows people were relocated to a new reserve about three miles away on the road to the town of Kenora. He promised the people the "civilizing" benefits of government housing, electricity, water, sewage and a school staffed by white teachers. When the people resisted the move, he threatened to cut off their Family Allowance checks.
The Ojibway (Anishnabek) families were relocated and, 20 years later, the "benefits" did eventually all arrive. But their community was almost destroyed. The new reserve was on a small, stagnant lake away from the big, wide-open river. The new houses were too close together and many lacked access to the water. The soil was too poor to support kitchen gardens. The Indian Agent assigned houses heedless of family ties and friendships. The road to Kenora lured many into trouble.
The government agent had insisted it was "impossible" to provide a road or school for the old reserve and so relocation was imperative. But the old-timers reply, "Look here...you white people built a highway right across Canada, a big highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Now tell me, why couldn't Indian Affairs build a road just a few miles to the old reserve from the Jones Road? No, they moved the whole reserve instead."
Doug Pritchard, who has served CPT as a member of the Steering Committee, Reservist, and coordinator for CPT's Ontario group has been appointed CPT Canada Coordinator. The new position was developed after a nationwide consultation this spring indicated the time was right for expanding CPT's membership base and peacemaking activities across Canada. CPT Canada will especially be looking at developing groups of Corps members in the Western Provinces. Contact CPT Canada at P.O. Box 72063; 1562 Danforth Ave.; Toronto, ON M4J 5C1; Tel: 416-423-5525; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CPT-Richmond -During the height of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia this spring, motorists waiting for traffic lights along one of the busiest avenues in Richmond, Virginia, were challenged to think about an alternative to the U.S. military policy. "Diplomacy, yes; Bombs, no; in Kosovo" proclaimed a large plywood sign with red spray-painted letters in front of First Mennonite Church. CPTer Wes Hare was the impetus behind the witness, which caught the attention of local TV news cameras.
CPT-Northern Indiana - CPT supporters witnessed at the gate of the airfield at Grissom Air Reserve Base on Saturday, May 22 as several thousand people flocked to the dedication of a B2 "Stealth" bomber as the "Spirit of Indiana." Participants held signs saying, "Not My Spirit" and "I will not dedicate a bomber to kill people" and invited people to turn in their weapons in a "B2 buy-back program."
On June 14, CPT Reservist Matt Guynn (Richmond, IN) learned that Mexican Immigration officials had determined that prayer, Bible study and fasting were in violation of his tourist visa. He was "invited" to leave the country within eight days or apply for a change of immigration status to Religious Associate -- a difficult to obtain and often restrictive visa.
Team members continue to carry out their peacemaking activities as tourists, mindful that at any moment, they may face expulsion or deportation. CPT respects the right of governments to manage issues such as immigration while recognizing the pattern of expelling foreigners as part of Mexico's strategy to prevent outsiders from witnessing human rights violations in this area of conflict.
On May 31, nine CPTers and delegation participants joined 70 members of the Mayan pacifist group Las Abejas (the Bees) from the X'oyep refugee community in a four-hour pilgrimage of prayer and fasting that culminated with a circle on the grounds of a neighboring military base. The prayer witness was organized in response to new threats against the Abejas by paramilitary groups, apparently in retaliation for the arrest of one of the men accused of leading the December 22, 1997 massacre that killed 45 members of the Abejas in Acteal.
The pilgrimage began at the center of X'oyep where a cement cross monument announces the intention of 1100 displaced Abejas to return to their original communities in June of last year. That journey home was aborted by threats of paramilitary violence similar to those surfacing in May. The group then moved to five additional stations to read scripture, sing, and offer prayers.
As Abejas women led the single-file procession along a winding mountain trail, strains of "We are Marching in the Light of God," sung in English, Spanish and the local Mayan language of Tzotzil, echoed through the valleys.
At the first stop near the edge of the village, the group formed a large circle where the women of X'oyep had refused entrance to the Mexican army in a dramatic display of nonviolent power on January 3, 1998. A young woman whose child had been injured by soldiers during that encounter shared about the relentless persistence of the women's blockade which prevented soldiers from entering the community over a period of three days despite intimidation by helicopter, threats of tear gas, and federal and state police.
Next the procession moved to two sites of ceremonial Mayan crosses on the ridge above the military base. There, Abejas asked soldiers on patrol to stop desecrating the crosses by hanging their helmets and backpacks on them.
At stop number four, soldiers vacated a small checkpoint hut near the entrance to the base while the group crowded in for prayer and singing.
The prayer procession culminated as participants hiked down onto the grounds of the military base and formed a circle around a small patch of corn planted by CPTers and Abejas on Easter morning. Members of the Abejas took turns weeding and watering the foot-high plants in a symbolic nurturing of the seeds of peace.
Four days later, CPTers joined 250 Abejas in Acteal for a similar witness. The five-hour procession paused at two traditional Mayan crosses and passed by the homes of paramilitary supporters and a military base before entering the chapel where the December 1997 massacre took place.
CPTers and Abejas prayed during both processions for God's protection and the strength to continue firm in the path of nonviolence. The Abejas asked that CPTers and delegation members convey greetings to their home churches and ask for their continued prayers.
CPT delegation members included Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX), Keith Hess (San Salvador, El Salvador), Karen Martin (Goshen, IN), and Diane Mayer (Boulder, CO). The CPT-Mexico team included Kryss Chupp and Korissa Chupp (age 8 - Chicago, IL), Matt Guynn (Richmond, IN), Lisa Martens (Brandon, MB), Frank Moore (Houston, TX), and Pierre Shantz (Elmira, ON).
By Jamey Bouwmeester
When CPTers Dianne Roe, Bourke Kennedy, and I arrived in the Beqa'a Valley we saw a front-end loader and what people here call a "bagger," a large hydraulic chisel used to break up rocks. They were parked next to the house of Ramadan Rajabi and were there to demolish the reservoir that he uses to irrigate his fields. Several dozen Israeli soldiers and police were spread out throughout the area.
The heavy machinery began to dig out the soil from in front of the reservoir so that it could then knock in the wall. The three of us caucused quickly and decided that one of us should "get in the way." I handed my camera to Bourke and walked towards the front-end loader. I sat down between it and the reservoir, in the hole that it had made.
Almost immediately five or six soldiers were standing around me. Four of them took me by the arms and legs while a fifth yanked me up by the ears. They hauled me away and deposited me on the street in front of the house.
The army deemed the demolition finished when two walls of the reservoir were destroyed. They loaded up the machinery and moved in convoy to the home of Kaied Jabber. It was then that Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, arrived.
After surveying the scene and speaking to the officer in charge, Jeff handed me his camera. "Jamey, I think it's time for a little civil disobedience."
I watched Jeff walk up to the loader and sit down in front of it. Within seconds he was surrounded by soldiers who handcuffed him and dragged him to a waiting jeep.
With two reservoirs destroyed, the army moved on to demolish a third belonging to Ismael Jabber. Although all three reservoirs were empty, Peter Lerner, spokesperson for the Israeli military civil administration, said that they were demolished because the owners were stealing water by tapping into a nearby water main. Mr. Lerner was unable to show us where these illegal pipes were.
CPTers in their Hebron apartment and Palestinian farmers in their fields are all suffering from a severe water shortage. The current drought only compounds the heart of the scarcity problem - unequal distribution. Mekarot, the national Israeli water monopoly, allots 80 percent of West Bank water to Jewish settlements and only 20 percent to Palestinian families. This contributes to the difference in per capita daily water consumption: 280 to 300 liters in Israeli settlements in contrast to 50 to 85 liters for West Bank Palestinians.
The Israeli settlement of Harsina is building a new "neighborhood" almost on top of Abdel Jawad Jabber's house in the Beqa'a Valley east of Hebron.
In early June, a four-person Rebuilders Against Bulldozers (RAB) delegation together with CPT-Hebron joined members of Israeli peace groups and Palestinian landowners on the edge of the Jabber family's land opposite a gas station under construction intended for settler use. Bearing a banner reading, "This Gas Station Is Built on Confiscated Palestinian Land; it Fuels Occupation and Pollutes Peace," the group marched past Israeli soldiers and police who were guarding the station.
They listened while Abdel Hadi Hantash of the Palestinian Land Defense Committee explained that land confiscation appears to be reaching a new crisis in the transition between governments after the recent Israeli elections. Rodina Jabber, who with her three children and husband Atta has suffered two house demolitions, and Atta's sister, Kokab, gave passionate accounts of harassment and past confiscations. The Jabber family has held documented possession of the land for over a century.
Then Rodina, CPTers, and members of the Israeli group Gush Shalom planted an olive tree in the confiscated and bulldozed ground. J. Quinn Brisben, member of the RAB delegation, spoke of the olive tree as a symbol of peace and generational continuity.
Members of the RAB delegation were: J. Quinn Brisben (Chicago, IL), Julie Hart (Newton, KS), Benno Barg (Kitchener, ON), and Doug Horst (Cambridge, ON).
by Benno Barg
Benno and his congregation, Breslau Mennonite near Kitchener, ON, are members of CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) which partners North American churches and peace groups with Palestinian families whose homes are threatened with demolition by Israeli authorities. CSD partners communicate with government officials and raise public awareness to stop home demolitions. Benno was part of CPT's spring Rebuilders Against Bulldozers (RAB) Delegation. To learn more about CSD contact coordinator Rich Meyer, Tel./Fax: 219-642-3920; e-mail: email@example.com.
As my fellow delegation member Doug Horst and I approached the home of Yussef and Zuhoor Al-Atrash darkness was falling and I wasn't sure I was in the right place. But when we walked around a 15-foot high stone wall and climbed over some terraces we found the Al-Atrash tent sitting on the floor of what remained of the house I had helped rebuild just over a year ago.
Last spring (1998) I spent two weeks living in a tent with this Palestinian family. Their home had been bulldozed in March and they had requested the presence of CPT to provide protection from further demolition by the Israeli military. The urgency to provide the family with a solid shelter often kept us working from early morning until midnight, laying foundation, pouring walls, placing tile and painting windows. By the time I left, I had become their adopted grandfather. Two months later, their new home was also reduced to rubble.
When Doug and I arrived, 17-year-old Manal was baby-sitting her younger siblings. I showed them photos of a Toronto public witness against home demolitions that my church had participated in. They showed me their photo album displaying all the pictures my church had sent them over the year.
In the morning, mother Zuhoor appeared and beckoned for me. I hesitated, as Arab culture usually restricts cross-gender contact to no more than a polite handshake. But Zuhoor, with tears in her eyes, reached out with a warm hug. She opened her purse and showed a picture of me painting window frames on her now-demolished home. I was deeply moved.
Zuhoor's husband, Yussef, showed us the rubble which he had painstakingly broken apart to retrieve the metal reinforcing rods for yet another attempt to build a home for his family some day. We saw the cistern they had made to store water, the garden terraces, fruit trees, vegetables and vineyards they had planted. We visited until late morning, even though Yussef was sacrificing a half day of fares as a taxi driver. I could not ask for a more loving family or for a warmer welcome home.
In Dialogue, we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion on CPT's vision and work. The following conversation resulted from CPT's work with Native peoples in the U.S. and Canada.
Patricia Wells Burdette, Butler, OH: I have lived in Indian Country in Canada and the U.S. for 12 years. Believe me the Indian Wars are far from over. They struggle with state governments, the federal government, the foreign imposed tribal government, the BIA, Indian Health Services, etc. for things as basic as access to their own land. Assimilation was supposed to rid the U.S. and Canada of the "Indian Problem" but we are still here. Not only should we all pray for a just resolution to such things, we should pray for forgiveness and reconciliation for all that has been done to Indians in the name of the church and manifest destiny. The arrogance of Americans is something to see.
Doug Pritchard, CPT Reservist, Toronto ON: The arrogance of Canadians is not a pretty sight either.
Kent Wilkens, Tobermory, ON: Some would consider it arrogant to denounce an entire nation in one swipe. As far as native rights are concerned, many current examples can be cited where they have successfully used the Canadian court system to their advantage. Arrogance is an inappropriate word.
Doug Pritchard, CPT Reservist, Toronto ON: Native victories in non-native courts are few and far between, even in Canada. Aboriginal peoples represent only 4 percent of the Canadian population but make up over 10 percent of the Canadian federal prison population. They account for 60 percent of all admissions to Saskatchewan provincial correctional facilities, 52 percent of Manitoba jail admissions, and disproportionately high percentages in most other provinces.
For aboriginal peoples the Canadian legal system enforces alien laws and values, and systematically discriminates against them in many ways. A 1992 report by Neil Funk-Unrau, Ministries Commission, Conference of Mennonites in Canada notes, "Most courts seem to be far more diligent in defending European-based property and criminal justice laws than the aboriginal rights and treaty commitments which are legally just as binding on Canadian citizens and organizations. The long struggle for the recognition of aboriginal hunting and fishing rights is one example. Aboriginal individuals continue to be arrested and convicted for merely acting on the treaty commitments."
CPT Ontario has seen this. When a Canadian court finally did recognize in 1993 the rights of the Chippewas of Nawash and Saugeen to the fish around the Bruce Peninsula, the court also ordered the province of Ontario to negotiate a co-management agreement with the Chippewas to ensure conservation. Six years later, Ontario has still not done so, and has instead arrested Chippewa fishermen for fishing in their own court-recognized waters and has arbitrarily closed their fishing zones without reason or consultation.
Matthew McDaniel, Maesai, Chiangrai, Thailand: It appears that Christian Peacemaker Teams are increasingly involving themselves with issues of the indigenous. I find this odd. Almost all Christian positions on everything are white centric. Furthermore, white missionaries all over the world are still using many tactics like false promises and so forth. All very arrogant in an assumption that Jesus was white and being like white people is best if you want to know who Jesus is.
So on the surface it would appear that CPT is acting on the behalf of the indigenous, yet comes from an indistinguishable parent group that is really quite busy mowing the indigenous down all over the world. You need to take a policy stand that is highly discernable to others, rather than just a cute, shoot all over the world routine. Can you refer me to any policy of CPT on this issue? I'd love to show it to a score of American Christian missionaries here in northern Thailand that are just raking the Akha over something fierce so they can slam one more "Church for Jesus" in an Akha village.
Kathy Kern, CPT Reservist, Rochester, NY: Permit me to make the following points: 1) CPT never goes anywhere without an invitation; 2) We take the invitations from First Nations people in North America very seriously, because most of the people in CPT are North American and have benefitted from the theft of indigenous land over the last 400 years. You will get no argument from me that the institutional church has historically done and continues to do a lot of damage in the world. However, no one who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously can fail to see that He came preaching liberation to the disenfranchised and dispossessed people of his day and prophetic judgment to the status quo. There are thousands, perhaps millions, of Christians in the world today who are trying to follow in His footsteps.
by Kathleen Kern
The following reflection is a brief excerpt of a presentation by Kathleen Kern at the Mennonite Church Conference in St. Louis in July. The full text is available from CPT.
Mark 11:11 may seem like a throw-away verse in the Bible. It comes directly after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and before he cleanses the temple. "Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve."
What was it too late for? Four verses later, we read "Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves..."
The way my Sunday School teachers taught me the story usually involved Jesus being so overcome with anger that he pitched a hissy fit and started throwing things around. In the Anabaptist tradition, this passage has made a lot of peace-loving people uncomfortable. But what Mark 11:11 teaches us (and I am indebted to Ched Meyers for this interpretation), is that Jesus PLANNED to commit mayhem in the temple.
First century Palestine was under Roman military occupation. Some scholars estimate that between the landowners' claims and taxes to the temple establishment and the Roman colonial government, Palestinian peasants got to keep less than thirty percent of their annual income - and remember they received no services for these taxes like Social Security or Medicare.
The religious establishment of the time should have been looking for ways to ease the burdens of the poor. Instead, they exploited them further. It is significant that Mark records Jesus attacking those who sold doves, not those who sold lambs or cattle. Why? Because doves were the only sacrifice the poor could afford to make.
Jesus's outrages against the status quo came from a long and honorable line of prophetic witnesses. Jesus, the prophets and the disciples did not undertake these acts of public witness because they were exhibitionists, or "disreputable kooks." They did it because the status quo had so much power over the lives of the ordinary people of their day. Their actions made people think.
What do these biblical activists have to say to us about the status quo of our own time? When it comes to promoting nonviolent methods of conflict transformation, it's time for those of us in the peace church tradition to take a very hard look at ourselves.
The impact CPT has made in Haiti, Washington, DC, Hebron, Chiapas and South Dakota is out of proportion to our size. But CPT has had to turn down invitations to place teams in Kosovo, Puerto Rico and Columbia because we don't have enough personnel.
Small groups of committed people do change history. Will you be one of those people? Will you follow Jesus into that temple and look around and plan ahead? Will you make it possible for CPT to move on to the next step, to become a movement that can make a more comprehensive response to violence in this world? To get there BEFORE we get asked, "Why didn't you do something?"
School of the Americas Witness - SOA Watch is calling for 10,000 vigillers, 5,000 line-crossers, and 100 people to risk prison time at a witness November 19-21 at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, site of the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). The SOA has educated some of the most notable violators of human rights in Latin America at U.S. taxpayer expense.
In May, over 3,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to protest the continued operation of the school. By late July, the House of Representatives voted for the first time to cut funding for the School, a provision which must now be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill.
SOA Watch is encouraging groups to begin preparing for non-violent civil disobedience now. For more information about the vigil or the status of legislation, contact SOA Watch; P.O. Box 4566; Washington, DC 20017; 202-234-3440; on the Web at www.soaw.org.
Disneyland Unplugs Violent Video Games - On May 15, 1999, the Chicago Tribune reported that Disneyland is closing down 30 violent video arcade games in the amusement park and two Disney-owned hotels in response to the Colorado school shootings. The games were to be unplugged by Friday, May 21, and removed. The new policy draws a distinction between games in which humans are targets and those that are accuracy contests. "We just don't think there's any place for violent video games at Disneyland," park spokesman Ray Gomez said. "This has probably been under consideration for a while, but the events in April brought it to the forefront of our thinking."
Daniel Berrigan to Address Radical Catholics - A conference on "The Future of Catholic Radicalism" will be held at Chicago's DePaul University October 19-21 in conjunction with the term-in-residence of Daniel Berrigan. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, has been at the forefront of faith-based non-violent activism for the past 30 years. For information on the conference contact Robert Ludwig, 773-325-7000, or Michael Budde, 773-325-1974.
Peace Through Poetry and Music - These examples of nonviolent conflict resolution come from John Oliver, Nashville, TN: 1) When a war between Eskimo tribes is about to start, a poetry contest is held between the two best poets of each tribe. The jury is comprised of equal numbers from each tribe. So the winning poet wins the war -- decided by both sides. They have shifted from fighting physically to competing with words. 2) Women of the Calabash, a musical group from Africa, tell how women in a village in Africa deal with conflict through music. When a woman is abused by her husband, she goes to a women's club to which she belongs and tells the other women about it. The women go to the village square with their rhythm instruments. There, they play and sing the story of the abuse. Before long, the whole village knows what the husband has done.
I am so glad for input from the front lines. Some of us get on
CPT.D and spout off our personal beliefs and biases while we sit
at home. We do not put our money nor our efforts where our mouth
is and perhaps if we did we would be more understanding of world
situations - in South Dakota, in Mexico, in Kosovo, and Albania.
Freda Zehr, Wilmington, DE
Thank you for the excellent reports about CPT's in various
areas. It is a constant challenge that we need to get involved
however we can, and that radically following Jesus will/may get
us into trouble.
Hannah Gibbons, Internet
I am 88 years old and Clara is 84. We still want to serve with
CPT as well as support it. Clara and I speak Spanish and are
without any medicine and taking care of ourselves. Is it foolish
to want to go where the action is?
John and Clara Schmidt, Goessel, KS
NOTE: Following is an excerpt from a July 10, 1999 letter to Mr. Gil Coronado of the Selective Service System.
The ultimate purpose of the Selective Service System is to
facilitate the institution of a draft system for the U.S.
military in the event of a major war. I understand registration
as a statement of willingness to participate in the U.S. military
machine, and a statement of readiness to fight in the U.S.
military should I be called upon to do so. I am a Christian, and
thus a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, who called upon his
followers to love their enemies, pray for their persecutors, and
be makers of peace. Obedience to these dictates is in direct
contradiction with service in the U.S. military, a violent
war-making machine...Because I place my allegiance to God higher
than my allegiance to the United States, I openly state my
refusal to register with the Selective Service and my willingness
to accept the legal consequences of this choice.
Carl Meyer, CPT Reservist, Millersburg, IN
When the MennoLink chat line had a recent discussion about dancing and Christians, I hesitated to comment. But now I have something clear to say. As a reservist in the Christian Peacemakers Team, I'm spending days and nights in Acteal, a Mayan community in Chiapas, Mexico. That's where 45 pacifist Christians were slaughtered while they prayed and fasted in December 1997. Usually I cry a lot when I'm here, but tonight we danced.
Some of the first females on the dance floor were four-foot, eight-inch grandmothers, wearing shawls straight out of National Geographic. Tonight, no female flesh ever touched male, alcohol and drugs were absent, and no hips swivelled much. The Acteal elder in his multi-ribboned sombrero danced several numbers, as did the president of one of North America's largest Christian pacifist organizations (Las Abejas). People of all ages danced on the dirt floor which still covers the century's largest pool of pacifist blood.
There may be other rules in North Newton or Elkhart, but in
Acteal it's okay to dance at the church building, since you've
passed the test of not showing hatred or revenge toward your
enemies. I propose that we stop discussing the problem of
Christians dancing until we've worked a lot harder on the problem
of Christians killing each other in the name of Jesus.
Frank Moore, CPT Reservist From the mountains of Chiapas
RAB Delegations to Israel/Palestine : November 18-30, 1999; February 4-16, 2000.
Delegations to Chiapas, Mexico: November 4-15, 1999; February 18-20, 2000.
CPT Steering Committee Meetings - Chicago, IL: October 21-23.
Peacemaker Congress V - Washington, DC: December 27-30.
CPT Training for Full-time and Reserve Corps applicants - Chicago, IL: January 2-26, 2000.
CPTNET provides regular news updates from the field; CPT.D is an open discussion on the theological, political, or practical aspects of nonviolence and CPT's work. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please include your name, city and state/prov., and your congregation or organization. Visit Our Web Site: www.cpt.org
Signs of the Times is produced four times a year. Batches of ten or more are available to institutions, congregations and local groups for distribution. Any part of Signs of the Times may be used without permission. Please send CPT a copy of the reprint. Your contributions finance CPT ministries including distribution of 8000 copies of Signs of the Times . This issue is the work of CPT staff members Kryss Chupp, Claire Evans, and Gene Stoltzfus.
The work of CPT is guided by a thirteen-person steering committee: Dale Aukerman, Robert Bartel, Anne Blackwood, Pat Hostetter Martin, Cliff Kindy, Retha McCutchen, Trayce Petersen, Orlando Redekopp, Hedy Sawadsky, Mary Scott Boria, Muriel Stackley, John Stoner and Dorothy Jean Weaver. CPT staff: Gene Stoltzfus - Director, Claire Evans - Administrative Coordinator, Kryss Chupp - Training Coordinator - Chicago, IL; Jan Long, Christian Peacemaker Corps Coordinator - Blacksburg, VA; Rich Meyer, Campaign for Secure Dwellings Coordinator - Millersburg, IN; Doug Pritchard, CPT Canada - Toronto, ON.
Full time Corps members include: Jamey Bouwmeester (Elgin, IL), Claire Evans (Chicago, IL), Mark Frey (North Newton, KS), Wes Hare (Richmond, VA), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Joanne Kaufman (Chicago, IL), Kathleen Kern (Webster, NY), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), Natasha Krahn (Waterloo, ON), Anne Montgomery (Brooklyn, NY), Sara Reschly (Mt. Pleasant, IA), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), and Pierre Shantz (Elmira, ON).