US church leader arrested outside White House on anti-Iraq war action

By Ecumenical News International
October 16, 2007

The Rev John Thomas, president of the US United Church of Christ, has been arrested in a protest about the Iraq war outside the White House in Washington DC - writes Chris Herlinger.

On 10 October 2007 Mr Thomas and another denominational official, the Rev Linda Jaramillo, had been trying to deliver to the White House a pastoral letter that contained 60,000 signatures calling for an end to the military action in Iraq.

The two officials were arrested after they refused to leave a no-protest zone near the gates of the US presidential residence, the UCC news service reported.

Thomas and Jaramillo had earlier sought a meeting with the White House's public liaison office, in order to hand-deliver the petitions, but their requests were refused.

Instead, the two officials held up thick stacks of the petitions in the no-protest zone, and failed to comply with a police request to step back from the White House fence.

Thomas and Jaramillo were handcuffed and led to a police van. They were released after being held briefly at a police station and paying a US$100 fine.

The letter the two officials were attempting to deliver urged, "an end to our reliance on violence as the first, rather than the last resort, [and] an end to the arrogant unilateralism of pre-emptive war."

Thomas told a small group of protesters before the arrests that the symbolic act was a "very meaningful witness of the whole church".

The 1.2-million-member UCC is known for its opposition to the Iraq war.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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