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Church of the Brethren

Action Alert 3-15-11
The Budget and Violence

Click here to call on our President and our Congressional officials to walk with us in building a world that seeks peace, and not one that perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Therefore, the Church of the Brethren shall:
5.
 support policies and legislation which radically reduce military spending and convert our national priorities to peaceful and life affirming production;
6. encourage the demilitarization of international relations and promote non-violent forms of defense (civilian-based defense);
7. advocate the forging of bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties which abolish nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weaponry;

                 - 1991 Annual Conference Statement, “Peacemaking: The Call of God’s People in History

You are going to hear from me about budget issues a number of times over the next couple of months. On February 22nd, you called on our politicians to consider what it means to write a budget based on the biblical, and brethren, principle of mutuality. But this may be the most distinct voice we, as the Church of the Brethren, can give to the budget conversations happening across our country right now.

What we, as a church, called for above is not what is happening. In fact, the spending on defense and the military only continues to go up – both in President Obama’s current budget, and the budget proposals being put forth on Capitol Hill. In fact, the National Priorities Project recently found that our military expenditures are even higher than the current budget proposals would have you believe. The number they found, upon close examination of the budget, was that we are spending 1.2 trillion dollars on our military.

And this is happening while the budget proposals cut things like State Department programs that seek to prevent violence from breaking out, the United States Institute of Peace, and funding for the United Nations – not to mention programs that seek to alleviate hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

We have been doing the work of peace throughout our history. We have done that work through programs like Heifer International, Christian Peacemaker Teams, On Earth Peace, Global Mission Partnerships, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Church World Service. But part of our witness must be to call the rest of our community to join us. Indeed, it is to this that we were looking when, in 1996 we said, “The Church of the Brethren should commit resources for witness, education, and persuasion of officials in the US government and at the United Nations, and through the Brethren presence in Washington DC, educate our own members and speak truth to the principalities and powers” (Annual Conference Statement on Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention).

Click here to call on our President and our Congressional officials to walk with us in building a world that seeks peace, and not one that perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Church of the Brethren Policy:

1991 Annual Conference Statement “Peacemaking: The Call of God’s People in History” reads,

“The church and Christians are called by God to witness to the gospel of peace with such intensity that nations repent and history is changed. Less than a radical witness can only lead us to accept idols of materialism, personal and national security at the expense of justice, blind nationalism, the glorification of military strength, and dependence on technological solutions for human problems.

Therefore, the Church of the Brethren shall:

  1. continue to commit funds, staff and energies to a presence in Washington, D.C., helping our members keep abreast of public issues and speak truth to the principalities and powers;
  2. develop networks on the district and national level for study and action on public policies of concern to the church, and to mobilize the church to respond;
  3. advance efforts toward a more peaceful world order through supporting the peacemaking efforts of the United Nations and recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice;
  4. work for a more just international economic order in which all people are able to secure their basic human needs;
  5. support policies and legislation which radically reduce military spending and convert our national priorities to peaceful and life affirming production;
  6. encourage the demilitarization of international relations and promote non-violent forms of defense (civilian-based defense);
  7. advocate the forging of bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties which abolish nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weaponry;
  8. affirm policies which foster human rights at home and abroad. “

1996 Annual Conference Statement “Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention” reads:

The Church of the Brethren should commit resources for witness, education, and persuasion of officials in the US government and at the United Nations, and through the Brethren presence in Washington DC, educate our own members and speak truth to the principalities and powers. The church should attempt to exert influence in the larger world community to:

  1. affirm with consistency and persistence the inclusive love revealed in Jesus Christ toward all members of God's human family;
  2. call upon US governmental leaders to support people centered development (such as Heifer Project International) in order to eliminate conditions that encourage violence, to demilitarize world society, and to bolster the rule of law and democratic governance in world affairs;
  3. encourage support for the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations when their policies are in harmony with making peace through peaceful means and, alternatively, to provide constructive criticism if policies are not in harmony with justice and nonviolent means;
  4. encourage the United States and other countries to comply with existing international laws and accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as compulsory;
  5. support the creation of a permanent international criminal court to provide opportunity, whenever possible, for impartial judicial proceedings for those who are victims of, or are accused of, war crimes, terrorism, and other violations of human rights laws;23
  6. encourage study of nonlethal instruments to restrain harmful acts;
  7. support policies to reduce military spending and international arms trade;
  8. encourage the demilitarization of international relations in general and the abolition of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction with particular urgency;
  9. support the establishment of a standing unarmed UN peace force recruited from among individuals who volunteer from many countries to provide nonviolent protection for threatened people;24
  10. help establish well-trained nongovernmental, unarmed peace teams to expand communication, conflict resolution, and accompaniment pioneered by groups such as Christian Peacemaker Teams, Witness for Peace, and Peace Brigades International;
  11. strengthen efforts of Brethren Volunteer Service and other programs, including relief agencies that do not endorse the use of violence, to conduct peacebuilding;
  12. encourage international church councils and nongovernmental agencies to organize nonviolent humanitarian assistance;
  13. support nonviolent protection for displaced persons and refugees;
  14. support nongovernmental groups and truth commissions25 that monitor human rights violations; and
  15. encourage loving understanding not only within the Christian family but also in sharing the Good News of Jesus' love with people of other religious traditions “

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Jordan Blevins, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

Jordan Blevins
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
jblevins@brethren.org
202-481-6943

 

 

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission Partnerships and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Jordan Blevins at jblevins@brethren.org . Contact Global Mission Partnerships at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org .

2010 Church of the Brethren.