Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice inspires, educates, and mobilizes people to unite across differences and to act from their shared ethical and spiritual values in pursuit of peace with social and environmental justice.

Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice envisions a world free from violence, including the violence of war, poverty, oppression, and environmental devastation. To enact this vision, we commit to nurture a community in which compassion and respect foster actions that dismantle systems of violence while simultaneously creating systems of peace, justice, and ecological sustainability.

A reflection by Latin America Task Force Chair Rebecca Kanner

Rebecca Kanner, Latin American Task Force Chair, was arrested in November 2014 for committing a civil disobedience as she crossed onto the grounds of the Stewart Detention Center. The center houses around 2,000 undocumented civil detainees and has been cited for human rights violations by numerous social justice groups.

Below is her defense statement which she was to present in court, however the case was eventually dismissed.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Picture1On Saturday, November 22, 2014, I participated in non-violent civil disobedience at Stewart Detention Center, crossing the line onto Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) property to call for the institution’s closure.   When participating in civil disobedience, I am practicing a lesson that I learned many years ago in my ninth grade civics class: that sometimes breaking the law is a viable action by concerned people to protect our democracy.

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Why our Spring Newsletter Isn’t Titled “All Lives Matter”

This article was published in ICPJ’s Spring 2015 Newsletter – See the full Spring Newsletter Here

By Chuck Warpehoski, ICPJ Director

Our ICPJ Spring Newsletter is titled “Black Lives Matter”, and you may be wondering why it does not have a broader context. First, yes, all lives do matter. This fundamental value of life is affirmed by the world’s philosophical and religious traditions. Judaism teaches that we are all created Tzelem Elokim, “In the image of God.” The first principle of Unitarian Universalism affirms, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” Buddhism teaches that the Buddha nature is within each person. My own faith, Quakerism, teaches me to, “walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in every one.”

Yes, we all teach that every life matters, but we as a society don’t live that way. And when we are silent to the inequalities and injustices in our world, our silence says “not all lives matter.”

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On Being an Immigrant by Jorge Delva

Jorge’s mother in 1987, healthy and getting her degree in Hospitality Management.

Jorge’s mother in 1987, healthy and getting her degree in
Hospitality Management.

This article was published in ICPJ’s Spring 2015 Newsletter – See the full Spring Newsletter Here

I am a successful university professor, happily married with two wonderful daughters, who regularly gives thanks for the life my family and I presently have. But it was not always this nice. This note provides a snapshot of my family’s immigrant experience.

I was 16 years old when my mother, sister, and I immigrated to the US, in 1982. From Santiago, Chile, we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. My mother’s sister was our sponsor and, because at the time she lived in Honolulu, we landed there. The push factor for leaving our home country was the unstable political situation. We were excited to move to the USA but little did we know what was in store for us.

As beautiful and racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse as Hawaii was (and continues to be), life was not easy. Fitting in was a challenge, but we were aided by many kind people who helped us feel welcome. Rather, the big problem was a structural one. Continue Reading »

Standing Up for Peace and Justice: Memories of ICPJ’s Founding Generation by Nancy Williams

Jean Greeen, Lloyd Williams and Gordon Bunbridge at a 1984 vigil for nuclear disarmament (Photo: Gregory Fox

Jean Greeen, Lloyd Williams and Gordon Bunbridge at a
1984 vigil for nuclear disarmament (Photo: Gregory Fox

This article was published in ICPJ’s Spring 2015 Newsletter – See the full Spring Newsletter Here

[Editor’s Note: Nancy Williams has been writing a series of profiles of ICPJ members over seventy years old, a group for which Nancy well qualifies. She agreed to write about the experiences of four of ICPJ’s founding members, Russ Fuller, Barbara Fuller, her late husband Lloyd Williams, and herself. Enjoy.]

I was born in 1920 in Glen Ridge, a lovely town of some 10,000 people in the eastern part of New Jersey, about one hour’s distance from New York City.

Our town was woefully unintegrated. At the end of the street lived a Jewish family who owned and operated a small store in a neighboring town, where they spent much of their time; I hardly remember them. Not far from us lived a black dentist and his family, the Sutherlands, who “got into” Glen Ridge only because a white friend acted on their behalf.

Bill, the Sutherlands’ only son, was an A-student, an outstanding athlete and very popular with the junior and senior high school students. Apparently racial prejudice had not yet held him back.

One spring, as plans were being made for a sleep-over at a nearby campsite, the mother of one of the white students announced that if Bill Sutherland was part of the event, her daughter would not participate. I remember that day very well. A friend and I came home from school and indignantly reported this turn of events to our mothers, who together went to talk to the principal. As I recall, they were not the only mothers to affirm Bill’s right to be included in the sleep-over. In the end, of course, he did go. I don’t remember whether or not the fearful mother relented and let her daughter take part. Most of us, I believe, were just relieved to have the unpleasantness behind us, so that we could look forward to the trip.

For me and many of my friends, this was our first experience of overt racial prejudice, though unfortunately not the last. “Them” and “Us” have reached alarming new heights today in international relations, education, politics and too many other areas of life. It’s a pity. Continue Reading »

Grief and Action after the Chapel Hill Shooting by Chuck Warpehoski

From left: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, were killed in Chapel Hill, NC on February 10, 2015 by Stephen Hicks.

From left: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, were killed in Chapel Hill, NC on February 10, 2015 by Stephen Hicks.

This article was published in ICPJ’s Spring 2015 Newsletter – See the full Spring Newsletter Here

As we grieve for the murder of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill on February 10, 2015 we are called to reflection and action.

We Mourn

Our hearts are filled with grief at the terrible loss of life in this shooting. The sadness that always accompanies death is compounded by the victims’ youth, the violence of their murder, and the naked bigotry that inspired it. We hold in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers the victims’ families, their community, and all whose lives have been torn by this atrocious act.

Islamophobia is bigger than this crime

It is necessary to condemn hate crimes such as this, but we cannot stop there. The roots of islamophobia, intolerance, and racism run deeper than brazen acts such as the Chapel Hill Shooting. There is a long litany of ways that Islamophobia is prevalent in our culture. Sometimes it is blatant, such as the Arkansas shooting range that bans Muslims.

Other forms of Islamophobia are more subtle, such as the way some commentators ask “why don’t Muslims condemn atrocities such as the bombing of the Charlie Hebdo offices?” As author and University of Michigan visiting scholar Saladin Ahmed tweeted, “When you ask me ‘Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?’ all I hear is ‘I don’t know how to use Google.’” The Chapel Hill shooter is atheist, yet there are no similar calls for atheists to denounce his actions (though many have done so). This asymmetry in which Muslims are uniquely called out to condemn acts of terrorism (and then ignored when they do) is a form of discrimination. Continue Reading »

Farmworkers – Surrounded by Food Yet Still Going Hungry by Kim Daley

This article was published in ICPJ’s Spring 2015 Newsletter – See the full Spring Newsletter Here

finalfoodjusticelogo-300x171 (1)Our universities spend $5 billion on food every year to feed students. We want this food to be just and sustainable. Mission statements across all universities challenge students to become leaders who will question the status quo, serve citizens, seek truth, and educate others to think and engage in social issues. We, Ann Arbor students and community members, are stepping up to that challenge by asking what can we do as a community to ensure that our food is fair and sustainable?

Specifically, we are concerned about our universities’ relationships with fast-food giant Wendy’s. Wendy’s has consistently refused to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program. This program is a proven solution to farmworker exploitation that has succeeded in virtually eliminating modern-day slavery and sexual assault in the Florida tomato industry. In President Bill Clinton’s words, the Fair Food Program “is most amazing thing…happening in the world today.” Continue Reading »

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