Two hundred Christians arrested during protests over Iraq war

By staff writers
March 20, 2007

Over two hundred Christians were arrested this weekend after protesting on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

Thousands of Christians prayed for peace at an anti-war service on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, kicking off a weekend of protests around the country.

The Christian Peace Witness was organized by a broad cross section of Christian denominational peace groups. Involved were prominent religious leaders and peace activists, including Jim Wallis, Celeste Zappala, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Raphael Warnock.

"This war, from a Christian point of view, is morally wrong — and was from the beginning," the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, one of the event's sponsors, said toward the end of the service. "This war is ... an offence against God."

After the service at the Cathedral participants marched with toward the White House and gathered in Lafayette Park.

About 100 people crossed the street to demonstrate on the White House sidewalk. Police began cuffing them and putting them on buses to be taken for processing.

Protest guidelines require demonstrators to continue moving while on the White House sidewalk.

"We gave them three warnings, and they broke the guidelines," said Lt. Scott Fear. "There's an area on the White House sidewalk where you have to keep moving."

Police said 222 people had been arrested by Saturday morning.

The first 100 were charged with disobeying a lawful order, and the others with crossing a police line.

The president was away for the weekend at Camp David in Maryland.

John Pattison, 29, told the Associated Press he and his wife flew in from Portland, Ore., to attend his first anti-war rally. He said his opposition to the war had developed over time.

"Quite literally on the night that shock and awe commenced, my friend and I toasted the military might of the United States," Pattison said. "We were quite proud and thought we were doing the right thing."

He said the way the war had progressed and U.S. foreign policy since then had forced him to question his beliefs.

"A lot of the rhetoric that we hear coming from Christians has been dominated by the religious right and has been strong advocacy for the war," Pattison said. "That's just not the way I read my Gospel."

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