Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice was formed in March 2003 before the United States began the war in Iraq. Since then, we have devoted our efforts to the elimination of war, torture, injustice, and reduction of civil liberties, all guided by the core values of each of our faith traditions. We have prayed, marched, sung, worshiped, advocated, laughed, cried, lamented, protested, served, studied and vigiled on street corners, city plazas, and in mosques, synagogues, churches, meeting houses and parks. We have met with our congress people and learned from our religious leaders. Through it all, we have built strong relationships of trust and respect. In many ways, we have become a community of sisters and brothers across faith lines.
Click here to download a history of our efforts and activities over the past 10 years.
Now we want to take this 10-year anniversary to reflect on actions, the effect we've had on our community and the world, and to think and pray about what we are called to do next.
Since its founding in 2003, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice has consisted of a small circle of clergy and laypeople who comprise its steering committee and plan peace events attended by a much larger audience. Over time, members of the committee have felt the press of other obligations and reluctantly left the committee, and members of the audience have expressed interest in greater participation without serving on the steering committee. So there exists a hitherto unrecognized circle of MVPJ supporters who feel themselves to be part of MVPJ despite no formal connection.
If you are one of these supporters, MVPJ invites you to acknowledge your relationship with us by joining The MVPJ Affiliates Circle. Learn more by clicking here.
A growing number of people and organizations of faith and good will are lifting up their voices, calling for diplomatic and nonviolent responses to the Syrian crisis, and opposing military action. Here are a few thoughtful pieces and useful links.
Friends Committee on National Legislation - Click here for excellent articles on possible alternative responses and action
US Conference of Catholic Bishops - Click here for statements on Syrian crisis
Jim Wallis of Sojourners: "Respond, But How?"
Rabbi Arthur Waskow's full article "Drop Gas Masks, Not Bombs"
Pope Francis' Declaration of a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria
The following op-ed from the San Jose Mercury News, 4/18/13, was written by two MVPJ steering committee members.
Torture is immoral, illegal and ineffective. These are simple truths that have been repeated countless times by members of the U.S. military, the CIA, the FBI, political leaders, human rights organizations and religious leaders. Sadly, the facts are constantly distorted by misleading political statements, pulp-fiction novels, thriller films such as the recent "Zero Dark Thirty," and popular TV dramas such as "Homeland," making it difficult for the American public to differentiate facts from fiction about the history of torture in America.
We have a unique perspective on the issue of torture, having spent time with three types of victims -- those who committed torture, those who were tortured, and those who saw it and spoke out against it. ...
To read the whole article, click here.
At the Eyes Wide Open display put on by MVPJ in 2013, Eric Sableman read the following speech on behalf of Jason Matherne.
The Soviet Union is gone. The nuclear weapons aren't. Some say that reducing our nuclear arsenal is too risky. But how risky is the status quo? The answer is - nobody knows! Congress can call for a scientific assessment. Ask them to do it. Ask them today!
The following are the words of children compiled by members of the steering committee of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice. They come from children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Canada. All of these children are living in the midst of war.
We thank the Rebuilding Alliance (and especially intern Bryce Druzin) for bringing us many of these messages from partner organizations like Other Voice - Sderat, Al Basma Club for the Disabled in Gaza, the Rachel Corrie Sports Initiative and the UNRWA School for Girls in Gaza, and the children at the Al Aqaba Kindergarten in the West Bank.
Other messages from children were gathered through personal interviews by Deborah Ellis, an author whose award-winning work includes the Breadwinner trilogy, novels that portray the life of a young Afghan girl, pretending to be a boy so that she can feed her family. In Ellis' Three Wishes, Off to War, and Children of War, she brings us directly into the daily lives, hopes, dreams and fears of Palestinian, Israeli, and Iraqi children, plus she shares the voices of American and Canadian children whose parents are stationed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We encourage you to read these words and if you'd like to respond, please submit a comment. We will gather those comments and as possible and appropriate, share them with the children.
These and more were shared during a public worship service on March 21st, 2010 at 2pm at Lytton Plaza in Palo Alto California. The gathering was hosted by the Palo Alto Friends Meeting and Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice. Together, we heard their words, prayed for peace, and committed ourselves to continuing our work to bring about a world where children won't have to be afraid to sleep at night or face the terrors of trying to live through another day at war.
Click each of the links to read the words of children at war.
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MVPJ sponsored this event in 2009: The Friday night panel was moderated by David DeCosse, Director of Campus Ethics Programs for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He began the evening by posing the questions, "How do people of faith speak in the American public square about the issue of torture? How is it possible to persuade fellow citizens ... that torture is wrong and that the soul of the United States is at stake...?"
"Our nation needs pastors and other religious leaders who are willing to stand up and to speak in a prophetic voice: 'Thus saith the LORD. Torture is sin. It's not just illegal under US and international law, it's not just a violation of human rights, it is fundamentally immoral. Torture is immoral because it violates the image of God in another human being. ... To torture someone is to sin against God, against a fellow human being, and against one's self, so woe unto you who torture,'" declared Rev. Ben Daniel in his address on June 26, as part of the "Torture is a Moral Issue" conference sponsored by Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice and many others.
"Just reading the Constitution brings tears to my eyes. I have this view of America as trying to get it right," sang John Crigler, using the words of a former Army Interrogator.
"Torture is always and everywhere wrong. ... Still, given the poll taken by the Pew Survey published in April of this year, we still have a long way to go. That survey showed that those who label themselves as religious are more likely to support torture as a national security measure; and that practicing, worshiping believers are most vehement. Friends, I hope we go away from this day with the tools we need to turn this around. We are not in a position to speak the truth to power, unless we first tell it to the not-so-powerful, to ourselves and those standing next us at coffee hour," urged Rev. Carol Wickersham, founder of No2Torture.
"I'm an interrogator. This is what the face of an interrogation looks like. I've been not torturing for 16 years. The interrogators I've worked with, the interrogators I've trained, know that torture doesn't work. They know that torture is counterproductive. They know that torture is immoral," explained Terrence Karney, a former Army Interrogator and Trainer. Click here to hear Karney's Friday evening remarks on youtube.
To download copies of their presentations, or access videos, click "read more" below.