I got arrested today, as the Director of Peace Witness Ministries of the Church of the Brethren. And it was something that needed to happen.
There is a long tradition of members of the Church of the Brethren participating in acts of civil disobedience – you could certainly say that the formation of our church was in itself an act of civil disobedience. And ever since, when the church has felt that steps the government was taking were forcing them to be unfaithful, we have responded – living out the values of the realm of God rather than adhering to the laws of the nations in which we reside.
Over the course of the last two and a half weeks, and really for months prior to this, the Church of the Brethren, in conjunction with the interfaith community, has been speaking out on behalf of those living in poverty, those who hunger in the United States and around the world, and those on the margins. We have stated, repeatedly, that it is the role of the government in a just and compassionate society – and the role of our government, in a democracy that claims to speak on our behalf – to offer care and opportunity to these people. People whose voice often doesn’t end up around the power tables of Washington, DC – it is this voice that the church highlights.
And so, over the last number of months, you have seen action alerts. There have been sign on letters, which General Secretary Stan Noffsinger, as well as Brethren Press director Wendy McFadden, have joined. For the last two and a half weeks, the faith community in Washington has held daily prayer vigils outside of the United Methodist Building, and met with both Administration and Congressional leadership. In fact, it was during the meetings with leadership that we realized more needed to be done.
A staff member told us that, for poor and vulnerable communities, what was going to happen was going to be bad. They couldn’t say how bad, but bad. Brothers and sisters, when we consider the priorities with which the government uses our money – and that we have a voice in how that happens – that just isn’t acceptable. It is not acceptable to turn more people toward poverty, while cutting off the support for those that are already there.
And so, I got arrested today. Not only because Members of Congress need to hear from the faith community about the sinfulness of what they are doing – but that you, members of the Church of the Brethren, need to know what your Congress is doing. And that it is time for it to stop. Brothers and sisters, it is time for a just and compassionate budget – one that reflects the values of those who live, move, and breath in this country, and one with which the church can partner to continue the inbreaking of the realm of God.