Pacifists cheer Methodist minister ahead of trial for criminal damage

By staff writers
June 4, 2017

A Methodist minister has said he was acting on his pacifist principles when he attempted to disarm a warplane bound for Saudi Arabia. The Rev Dan Woodhouse, from Leeds, said he had no regrets despite facing a trial for criminal damage and the possibility of imprisonment.

He was speaking at Pacifist, Not Passive, a gathering of pacifist activists from around the UK. The event, organised by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) and held in London yesterday (3 June 2017), challenged the idea that pacifism is about passivity or submission.

Dan Woodhouse told the conference, “Evil prevails when good people are not prepared to risk arrest”.

He also emphasised that those who support people taking direct action play just as important a role as those who undertake it.

He was cheered and applauded by the assembled pacifists as he spoke about his action, which he carried out with fellow PPU member Sam Walton at the BAE base in Lancashire on 29 January this year.

The conference also heard from Rhianna Louise on challenging the involvement of armed forces in education, and Chris Henderson on using social media to promote pacifism.

PPU staff reported on the latest news in plans to develop their White Poppy campaign, following record sales of White Poppies over the last three years. Other topics included preparation for nonviolent resistance to the London arms fair in September.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), who organised the event, maintain that pacifism is an active alternative to both violence and passivity, involving nonviolent resistance to war and militarism. The PPU includes pacifists of several religions as well as those of no religion and of other worldviews.

“I was very encouraged to receive such a warm response at Pacifist, Not Passive," said Dan Woodhouse. "It was inspiring to meet other passionate peacebuilders using a wide range of campaigning tactics. It was good to chat, encourage and be encouraged. I was honoured to be asked to talk at such an event."

He added, "I hope I showed that pacifist activism doesn't take superheroes, just normal people who are willing."

He also emphasised the importance of other forms of activism alongside direct action.

[Ekk/1]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.