Bishop sends message of support to Christian activists, willing to risk arrest

Over fifty Christians, who have pledged to take nonviolent direct action for the sake of justice and peace, have gained the support of Thomas McMahon, Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood.

The activists, of all denominations and from all parts of the country, campaign on issues of justice, peace and climate change, and consider nonviolent direct action to be an unavoidable consequence of following Jesus’ teaching today. They will gather to take the pledge at the launch of the Faith and Resistance Network on Saturday 15th July at Friends House, Euston Road, London.

In a statement to be read out on Saturday, Thomas McMahon says,

‘I have long believed that when the Gospel loses its prophetic element it has lost its cutting edge. A prophet is very much God’s person who is prepared to challenge in his name even though uncomfortable. They are not usually popular people and certainly disturb our conscience. There are many ways of giving prophetic witness  and non violent direct action can be one of them.’

The pledge was initiated by the Faith and Resistance Network whose aim is to grow the Christian nonviolent action movement, widen recognition of its wide ranging work and welcome new activists.

Martin Newell, one of the organisers, says,

‘Nonviolence is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. This network will raise the profile of Christians today putting Jesus’ radical teaching into action’

The network is intended to support activists as they embark on direct action, through providing training, contact with the media and legal support. It has been set up by experienced activists who have themselves been arrested, charged and convicted and experienced time in prison for the sake of their faithfulness to the teaching of Christ.

Symon Hill, author of The Upside Down Bible writes,

‘Jesus exemplified active nonviolence and resistance to the sins of violence, oppression and inequality. I continue to seek God’s guidance and am unsure of the way forward, but I don’t doubt that active nonviolence is an essential element of seeking to follow Jesus. It is a consequence of attempting to live out love for God and love for our neighbours.’

At the launch pledgers and their friends will hear from Andrea Needham, ploughshares activist and author of The Hammer Blow and Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse, who recently attempted to disarm a warplane, bound for Saudi Arabia, at RAF Warton, Lancashire.

The pledgers look forward to the No Faith in War Day, which will see people of all faiths oppose the DSEi arms fair in September.

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