Thousands of Christians from across the US will gather on Friday in Washington DC to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War.
Expected to be the largest peace gathering of Christians expressing opposition to the war since it began, it will involve public prayer, a candlelight procession through the centre of the nation’s capital, vigils in cities and towns throughout the country and a protest culminating with 1500 Christians surrounding the White House.
The Christian Peace Witness has been organized by a broad cross section of Christian denominational peace groups. Involved will be prominent religious leaders and peace activists, including Jim Wallis, Celeste Zappala, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Raphael Warnock.
“The mistaken war in Iraq can only be mercifully ended, in ways that cause the least damage to everyone involved: the Americans and the Iraqis, the volatile surrounding region, and a world longing for security,” says Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal and bestselling author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.
After a worship service, thousands of Christians will make a two-mile candlelit procession to the White House. There, hundreds of participants, including many clergy members, will encircle the White House with a band of candlelight to express their conviction that the teachings of Jesus call unequivocally for an end to the war.
“Jesus taught us that nothing could be more impractical, or more foolish, than responding to violence with more violence,” says Rick Ufford-Chase, convener of the national steering committee of Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. “Congress needs to act swiftly and boldly to challenge the escalation of the war in Iraq. We will pray, worship and protest on March 16th and send a message to our leaders and the world that peace and reconciliation stand at the very heart of the Christian message and our respective traditions.”
Thousands more Christians yearning for peace will organize simultaneous rallies and vigils throughout the country.