From left, Gayle Dunkelberger, Martha Conte, Nora Freeman, Debbie Kair, Margaret Eberle and Nick Mottern hold signs in front of the Presbyterian Church of White Plains. The group drops in unannounced at Westchester churches on Sunday mornings and holds banners that urge an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Matthew Brown/The Journal News)
I can't quote too many Biblical scriptures but I get the gist. A couple of things I do remember is something about not killing and not lying.
Now when your country is involved in wars in foreign lands that are killing and displacing people that never hurt us, who don't hate us until we do this to them and when the killing is a result of lies, well that seems like something a Christian should be against.
We'll give the Christians the benefit of a doubt and realize that they have been manipulated by a media and government propaganda campaign that is nothing less than world class. They just couldn't overcome it. The peer pressure and repetitive lies were too much.
That doesn't mean that Christians can't be re-educated and re-awakened to the truths they say they adhere to. We need their help.
A small group of anti-war activists in New York are trying to do just that. The tactics are controversial to some but at least they are doing something to provoke thought and potentially action.
Anti-war protesters take cause to churches
Since October 2007, a small group of demonstrators has visited 20 Westchester churches during Sunday morning services, silently unfurled banners of protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and waited for a reaction.
They have received scattered applause in a few churches and have been invited to stay for coffee in several.
But they have been thrown out of other churches - often with anger and sometimes with a touch of force - and have been called communists, narcissists, morons, pinkos, wackos, fools and words that can't be printed.
Some church pastors support the group's anti-war stance, if not their methods of protest, while others condemn the unannounced visits as tactless intrusions on worship.
The group of six main demonstrators has no name and is not affiliated with any larger organization or movement. But word has spread in the church community that they are out there - and could be coming your way.
In fact, the protesters plan on visiting at least one church a month until American troops are out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We usually don't get the greatest response," said Nora Freeman, 53, of Port Chester.
"Most of the time it's dead silence at first, which is kind of eerie," said Debbie Kair, 52, of Hartsdale.
Members of the group met recently over soup and bread in one participant's home and agreed to talk to a reporter about their motivations. Their story is uncomplicated: All are veteran peace activists who oppose the wars as imperialistic, oil-driven violations of international law.
Having taken part in street-corner demonstrations and rallies that were ignored, they decided to up the ante by trying to provoke church congregations to speak out against the wars.
Why churches? Because clergy helped stir opposition to the war in Vietnam and, the group said, should be taking a similar anti-war stance today on moral grounds.
"We wanted to bring an anti-war message into public spaces in an unusual way," said Nick Mottern, 70, a carpenter from Hastings-on-Hudson who is also head of Consumers for Peace, a national group trying to build opposition to the war in Iraq.
"Pastors who are favorable to what we do, by and large, are reluctant to speak about the wars because it can be divisive," he said. "They are already facing declining populations and revenue."
Kair, a former Maryknoll sister, said too many congregations believe they can leave the world behind when they gather for prayer.
"Jesus went out to the people and listened to them," she said. "How can you have a strong Christian belief if you're not looking at the war in a Christian context?"
I just have one question.
Will Christians who failed to address, through ignorance or cowardice, the killing and immoral wars which they can help to stop still get to 'go to heaven?'