Make 'Christmas truces' permanent, says think-tank

LONDON & EDINBURGH, Thursday December 25th, 2014: A paper outlining moves towards a New Remembrance aimed at investing in peace-building rather than glorifying war-making has been published by the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, coinciding with commemorations of the fabled ‘Christmas Truces’.

“In effect the whole of 2014 has been a year of remembrance, with the focus on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It is vital that 2015 is not a year of forgetting, of ‘war business as usual’,” commented Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow, introducing the paper, How to remember war so as to invest in peace.

“People are rightly honouring the ‘Christmas Truces’ in World War One. But peaceable community needs to seen as normative, not just as temporary respite from unending cycles of violence.

“We have to stop seeing violence as a solution and “taking action” as meaning military intervention. That means changing the way we remember war, and putting significant resources into conflict transformation rather than armed escalation.

Among other things, Ekklesia is calling for a public holiday to remember the victims of war, at which time all armaments production would cease as part of a focused time of refection on alternatives to armed violence.

It is also intending to promote the idea of ‘peace chaplaincy’, involving churches and others in offering pastoral support to NGOs that seek to address conflict and injustice without resort to arms.

“Along with global warming, massive inequality and lack of respect for universal human dignity, the reliance on war and armed violence to address conflict remains a major threat to sustainable life for people and planet,” added Ekklesia’s Simon Barrow.

“The quest for a New Remembrance needs to involve people of all religious traditions as well as those adhering to a non-religious ethical stance. At the same time there is a clear challenge to Christians to make the refusal of ‘war as a solution’ as a key identity-marker for followers of Christ in a fractured world.”

Ekklesia’s new policy paper is an elaboration of a substantial report on Re-imagining Remembrance which was first launched in 2009 and has been re-issued several times since.

The think-tank also cosponsored a major London debate on war and peace to coincide with Armistice Day 2014, featuring Mennonite peace theologian Professor Tom Yoder Neufeld from Canada, and just war theorist Professor Nigel Biggar from Oxford.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, picked up on the theme of making Christmas Truces permanent in his sermon for 25th December this year, in which he declared that “Jesus is not mere 24-hour peace”.

Ekklesia says that the Church of England, as an Established church with a long history of involvement in sanctioning the military, can a should play a significant role in supporting a shift towards active Christian nonviolence.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from a socially progressive Christian perspective in dialogue with others, both religious and non-religious. It is an independent, ecumenical think-tank which is not aligned to any denomination or corporate interest. More information here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about

2. The paper How to remember war so as to invest in peace is available from: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21205

3. The full-length 2009 report, Re-imagining Remembrance, by researcher Kate Guthrie, is available from: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/reimagining_remembrance

4. For further comment, contact Ekklesia c0-director Simon Barrow, simon.barrow AT ekklesia.co.uk; 07950 120413.