The Kings Bay Plowshares Court hearing………

Religious Freedom Court Report

Here’s a longer summary of what happened in the court appearance Nov 19 which was the second and concluding part of the motion to dismiss according to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It was a day of powerful testimonies from the defendants but we have only partial quotes here. The transcript should be available soon where the full testimony will be seen.

BRUNSWICK, GA – The Kings Bay Plowshares evidentiary hearing regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has concluded after a second full day of testimony November 19. Five of the seven defendants testified at the hearing on Monday. The activists are facing three felony charges and one misdemeanor charge with a possible 25 year sentence. They were arrested April 5 at Naval Station Kings Bay on the Florida border as part of their protest against Trident submarines and the D5 missiles they carry.

The seven Plowshares activists are asking the court to dismiss their charges because the government failed to offer them the least-restrictive means of resolving the charges against them.

Monday’s hearing was the conclusion of two days of testimony regarding the RFRA. The defendants explained their “deeply held religious beliefs,” and how their practice of their religion has been burdened by the government’s response to their actions. The RFRA requires the government to take claims of sincere religious exercise seriously.

Defendants Fr. Steven Kelly, S.J. and Clare Grady gave their testimony Nov. 7. In addition to the remaining five co-defendants testifying Nov. 19, the prosecution called its second of two witnesses, a civilian communications official for the base.

After the testimonies, Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro denied motions from several co-defendants requesting a lessening of their bond restrictions, including removal of ankle monitors for the five defendants who are released on bond. They challenged the government’s contention that the five are a “danger to community safety.” Kelly and Elizabeth McAlister remain incarcerated in the Glynn County Detention Center.

In their testimonies throughout the day several defendants noted that the Trident nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to all of God’s creation.

Elizabeth McAlister, from Baltimore, who turned 79 years old a few days ago while in jail, recounted her testimony for the trial for a 1983 Plowshares action in which she referenced a paper she and Elmer Mass had prepared, “The government has set up a religion of nuclearism. It is terrifying and dead, dead wrong. It is a form of idolatry in this culture, spoken about with a sense of awe. It’s a total contradiction to our faith. It puts trust in weapons, not trust in God.”

“God is our strength,” McAlister said, then quoting scripture: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Carmen Trotta, from the NY Catholic Worker, said that the government’s possession of nuclear weapons imposes a burden on all religious faith. He quoted the Catholic Church’s Vatican II documents:

“The arms race is a treacherous trap for humanity. Nations should mature to take care of one another. Nuclear weapons prevent us from having mutual cooperation with each other rather than mutual destruction.”

Patrick O’Neill, from Garner, NC Catholic Worker, said everyone in the courtroom had much more in common, that the defendants and the prosecution truly shared a compelling interest to prevent nuclear war.

“It is our universal burden,” he said. “We can’t separate our religion and our faith from our lives, they are the same thing. Our Catholic faith calls us to uphold the sanctity of life and to preserve creation.”

O’Neill said the real sin present at Naval Station Kings Bay are the Trident II D-5 nuclear missiles on the Ohio-class submarines for which the base serves as the home port.

Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, spoke of the formation of her faith. Hennessy said early on she learned that nuclear weapons threaten all of God’s creation, and are directly opposed to her religious beliefs.

“I’m a grandmother, as a few of us are here,” Hennessy said. “I don’t care just for my children, but all the children in the world.”

Mark Colville, of New Haven, CT Catholic Worker, testified his faith forms the foundation of his conscience.

“It’s the rudder of the ship of my life,” he said. “The sins of omission interfere with my faith in God.”

Colville spoke of what the Plowshares were trying to do in community with an image former CIA officer turned political activist Ray McGovern visualized about the cathedral near the World War II concentration camp at Buchenwald.

“The incense of the ceremonial prayers within the church outside Buchenwald, rising upward to God as our prayers,” he said, “ and over the wall just beyond the smoke from the chimneys of the death camps, the ashes of our brothers and sisters rising upward… and the two streams of smoke mixing above. Whose prayers are being answered by God? Kings Bay Naval Base is labeled as a death camp for the entire world in the waiting.”

“What I’m charged with just seems so very petty compared to nuclear annihilation,” Colville said. “Yes, we went in the night and cut through the fence. We’re called to go into the darkness, to bring into light, to expose what is hidden.”

It is not known when Judge Cheesbro will make his ruling following this hearing. The parties have 20 days to file additional written arguments. If he rules against the defendants’ motion to dismiss a date will then be set for their trial.

The Plowshares movement began in the early 1980s and advocates active resistance to war usually involving symbolic protest and the damaging of weapons and military property. There have been about 100 Plowshares protests worldwide.

“The victory of the day,” said Patrick O’Neill after the hearing, “Was that truth was spoken by all defendants.”
“It is clear that is the threat.”

Video footage of earlier events and additional details on the court filings and legal updates are available on the Kings Bay Plowshares Facebook page and the website:
kingsbayplowshares7.org

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Project Peace Goes Full force during International Peace Week

thumbnail_IMG_1846thumbnail_IMG_18446th. grade pictureIMG_1832

This International Peace Week has been amazing here with Project Peace.  First I was able to happily share the benefits of Yoga for relieving stress with 33 Cafeteria Workers from Seneca County. Then it was onto my classes at Tiffin Middle School to begin to teach the Principles of Nonviolence.  Their Peace club will be selling tickets on the above new girls’ bicycle.  The tickets are 3/1.00 so if you’d like to help support the Peace club by buying tickets, let me know with a reply.

On Monday it was also on to Bucyrus library for an evening presentation of Palestine and Nonviolence.  Thursday I met the young people and adults in Canton for a session on the Reality of Palestine at St. Michael’s Catholic Church which is very progressive in its understanding of Catholic Social Action.  How comforting they were to me personally.

On Friday–today–there is a study of our Book Club on the Opioid Crisis–The Committee for a Nonviolent Tiffin.  Then there will be a corner action from 4:00-4:45 after which the folks will walk to Heidelberg for an action around their Peace Pole at which the students will stress the need for International rights for all people.

On Saturday I will go to the flea market in Tiffin to help register people to vote.

I’d say this was a real peace week.

much peace to each of you.

sr. Paulette

fair 2(written also in Project Peace’s September newsletter)

If we have somewhat of a global sense of our citizenship in this world, I don’t know how we can describe our world in any other way but that it is in widespread chaos…and we are being called to do our part to bring some harmony and peace to it.

The upside of all the swirling mess going on politically and church-wise is that people who are very concerned are extending themselves more into the public arena, trying to add some positive energy and love to the picture. Though the greed and the government corruption get far more attention than the good people do every day, we trust that eventually love and justice will win out. It shall take a mountain of good will and hard work to build up respect for truth and trust in people who are, by their position, supposed to be trustworthy people.
However, in the midst of our confused culture, we must hang together in cooperation and solidarity, deciding step by step, day by day to do what we can for the good of all and then doing it.

Action on behalf of justice and peace can be done in our context with our children, with our participation in our schools, with our courageous voice in our church, with our speaking up in our town halls and with our letters to the editor and our calls to our legislators. Those who represent us must hear from us all year long, not just with our vote at election time

sr. paulette

Last day at the Fair

fair sattrinitycheerleadersfather and daughter

This many people signed a link to Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown to step up to the plate and support both the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to support common sense climate change laws NOW.
The second picture–Trinity Lascelett from our Advisory Board–standing in front of our Nonviolent Tiffin explanation chart. Trinity is truly a wonderful fair (in so many of its dimensions) explainer to me. She was one of Project Peace’s great volunteers.
The third picture caught 4 little cheerleaders who offered to perform some of their prize-winning cheers in front of our booth for the whole side of the building to enjoy.The 4th. picture features a young proud father with his small child.  So touching.
What a good day. We ended up with 1141 visitors to our Pax Christi and Project Peace booth with 9 new people wanting Pax Christi to put them on our list. YEAH for all the activities to draw people into our company!

Last day of the fair!!!

fair fridayYes!  It’s Saturday and I’m just about ready to set off for the Fair for the last day.  Tomorrow it’s cleanup day, and actually, though it’s been a week of joy and satisfaction for the most part, I’m kind of tired —especially my jaw bones.

All the little pictures of children at the top are kids in the world which the children of Seneca County want to be safe and to respect.  It’s grown from Day 1 for sure.

We’ve also been trying to get everyone to ban plastics as much as possible in their household and especially straws which for the most part are unnecessary.  The hope is that slowly but surely the seeds we are planting will grow and each person will be part of the solution to our environmental problem.  Hope with us, ok?

blessings on each.  sr. Paulette

“They only wanted to punish me.”

CPTnet
27 June 2018
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON: “They only wanted to punish me”

“At 2 a.m. in the morning on Friday, June 23, I woke up with someone knocking on my house door and I knew what was coming. When I opened the door about twenty-five soldiers entered my house. They didn’t even let me change and immediately ordered me to wake everyone in my house. My son was sleeping in the living room; my other children were in their rooms. I had to wake them all. They put us all together in the living room and kept our cellphones and cameras.

“During the hour they were there, with the excuse of searching for guns, the soldiers raided my house. They threw all of our clothes on the floor and knocked things over to intimidate and humiliate us. They were not searching for anything; they only wanted to punish me.

“My son was handcuffed and blindfolded and they took him. When I asked, ‘why are you taking my kid? ‘They just said, ‘you will find out soon.’

“A few hours later they said that if I wanted to have my son back I would have to pay 1000 shekels. I do not have that money. My two sons are getting married soon; I have a lot of debt. I had to borrow money to be able to release my son. This is the seventeenth time he is arrested and he is only 16-years-old. The first time he was arrested he was only 8-years-old.

“My son said that in the ten hours that he was with the soldiers, they put him in a car and drove him up and down. He was blindfolded the entire time.”

…………………………………………………………………………………

Aref Jaber has always faced threats. As an active member of Human Rights Defenders, he films and denounces abuses that Israeli occupation forces commit in Palestinian territories. Since 2 June when he witnessed and filmed the Israeli military shoot and kill Palestinian road worker Rami Sabarneh, these threats have become increasingly deadly. He was arrested, severely beaten and had his house raided several times afterwards. When the soldiers were in his house they told him they would put a bullet in his head.

Still, Jaber refused to follow the instructions of the Israeli intelligence service to testify that the murdered man was drunk driving.

Now Photographers are criminalized

Activist Who Filmed Fatal Shooting of Hebron Man Detained by Israeli Forces
June 2, 2018 7:36 PM IMEMC News & Agencies Hebron, Israeli attacks, News Report, Prisoners 0

02 JUN
7:36 PM
Israeli soldiers, on Saturday, briefly detained a local activist who filmed the fatal shooting of a Palestinian worker earlier in the morning in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Locals told Ma’an News Agency that Israeli forces detained Aaref Jaber, who filmed the moment when Israeli forces shot and killed Rami Sabarneh, 36, was detained by Israeli forces and taken into the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned WAFA news agency reported that Israeli forces confiscated Jaber’s phone.

The Israeli army alleged that Sabarneh, who worked in construction in the area, attempted to run soldiers over with a bulldozer. However, no injuries were reported among the soldiers.

Jaber denied the Israeli army’s account, saying that “Sabarneh was driving a Bobcat excavator while another worker walked next to him, Israeli soldiers asked them to stop when he was at least 10 meters away from them, the walking worker stopped, but Sabarneh apparently did not hear the soldiers and continued his way so they opened fire at him until he was killed.”

Last week, Israeli lawmakers proposed a new bill in the Israeli Knesset that would criminalize the photographing or recording of Israeli soldiers while on duty.

The bill was proposed with the support of right-wing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and if passed, those found in violation of the law could face a prison sentence of up to five years.

05/26/18 Journalists Condemn Bill Criminalizing Photography of Soldiers

25 people including many clergy arrested

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In response to Sessions’ speech in LA yesterday (Tuesday) at least 25 protesters were arrested.  How proud I was that many clergy were included in the arrests.  For more on the arrest, go to

https://www.buzzfeed.com/salvadorhernandez/jeff-sessions-protest-los-angeles-arrest-border-separations?utm_term=.iuKOo3lVW#.dr0qJ3Y6l

Thanks everyone for all that everyone is doing to bring the children and parents back together again.  Much peace to you!  sr. Paulette Schroeder

 

 

 

Richard Rohr’s reflection today on Economy

A section of Richard Rohr’s meditation for the Feast of John the Baptist–June 25…a person comments to Father Rohr after his conference to them:

“Father,” he said, putting his hands on my shoulders, “I’ve got something to tell you. Not only is what you said true, but it’s much truer than you even imagine.” Then he explained to me a study documenting that the United States government’s savings and loan bailout of 1989 was the biggest transfer of money from the poor to the rich in human history.

“But there’s really no one to blame,” he added, in spite of the visible few who went to jail for their corrupt actions. “The whole system is skewed to protect those at the top at all costs.” In fact, I added, it’s to protect the system itself, because the system is our goal. We abhor and denigrate welfare for the poor but hardly blink at welfare for corporations or for the banking and military systems. Money is tight for education, health care, and other public services but our military budget only continues to grow.