Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Interfaith Fast to End the War in Iraq -- October 8th

Dear Friends,

Do you remember February 15, 2003? It was a month before the war in Iraq began and people across the world came together in local communities for candlelight vigils for peace. Although, it didn’t stop us from going to war, it was one of the most poignant demonstrations of people power that I had seen in a long time. Many other such community events have taken place both centrally in Washington DC and in local communities. Recently, Christian Peace Witness (a coalition organized by Rick Ufford-Chase) brought together over 3000 people to Washington DC, on the fourth anniversary of the war in March.

On October 8th, we have the opportunity continue this tradition, but do it together with religious communities other than our own. We are calling local communities to come together and participate in an “Interfaith fast.” The event that calls us from “conquest to community; from violence to reverence” seeks to join with the Muslim community who would already be fasting for Ramadan.
This time we are encouraging local communities to engage their political leaders, to call on them to end this war. In communities where presidential primaries are held we are encouraging religious leaders to engage the presidential candidates for their commitment to end the war.

You are our key contact in the local religious communities. We need your organizing power.

Threfore, I want to ask two things from you:

1. Sign the document, both on your own behalf and for your organization (If necessary do it first on your behalf and organization later.) To do so, click on the comment button at the bottom of this post and write you own and your organizational information and we'll sign you up. You may also email me with your endorsement at

2. Agree to help organize religious communities in your network for Oct 8th. Again please indicate your willingness by clicking on the comment button or emailing me.

Please write me if you have questions:

Thank you for your participation in this important work.

The framing document and a partial list of current signers is below


We call on all Americans to join in fasting from dawn to dusk on Monday, October 8, the day officially known as "Columbus Day," to call for an end to the Iraq War. On this day, people of faith in local communities across our nation will act as catalysts to transform the meaning of the day from one of conquest to community and from violence to reverence.


This war must end!

We must end the shattering of Iraqi and American lives by offering American generosity and support – but not control – for international and nongovernmental efforts to assist Iraqis in making peace and rebuilding their country, while swiftly and safely bringing home all American troops.

Just as Isaiah called the People Israel to hear the Yom Kippur fast as God's call to feed the hungry, just as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, just as Christians through Lenten fasting and Muslims through Ramadan fasting have focused on spiritual transformation, just as Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and others drew on fasting to change the course of history, so we call on all our communities of faith to draw now on fasting as a path toward inner spiritual transformation and outward social transformation.

American culture, society, and policy are addicted to violence at home and overseas. The day we officially call "Columbus Day" is overlaid with a history of violence and conquest. In our time, the hope of a decent future is endangered by an unnecessary, morally abhorrent, and disastrous war. Ending this war can become the first step toward a policy that embodies a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world.


Millions of faithful Americans in local communities across the nation who believe in changing the course of our nation’s priorities from conquest to community and from violence to reverence.

This fall, in an unusual convergence, many of our faith traditions share a season of sacred self-assessment and self-transformation. This holy season includes the month of Ramadan and the Night of Power (Islam); the High Holy Days and Sukkot (Judaism); the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi and Worldwide Communion Sunday (Christianity), and Pavarana / Sangha Day (Buddhism).

Since each of our traditions recognizes the power of fasting as a spiritual discipline, we call on all people of faith to join in a fast from dawn to dusk on Monday, October 8.


-- During the months of August and September, we will prepare and publicize educational material that religious leaders can use to prepare their congregations to
1. appropriately relate with religious communities other than their own, and
2. learn the spiritual discipline of fasting as a transformational exercise, making clear the distinction between transformational fasting and the abusive use of fasting for the sake of a false sense of beauty and body-image

-- We invite individuals or small groups to begin the discipline by fasting one day a week, in the months prior to October 8.

-- Sundown, Sunday, October 7: Gather in intentionally interfaith events across the United States to pray and to break bread together.

On Monday, October 8th

-- Have a simple meal before dawn, committing to fast throughout the day as a sign of your commitment to move our core values from conquest to community and from violence to reverence.

-- While fasting, many of us in cities as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and in local communities across the United States will take part in public vigils, inviting community leaders and elected officials and candidates for the presidency to join us as we commit to take immediate action to end the war. In Washington DC, religious leaders will gather to fast together and engage in a public action to draw attention to the nation-wide events that will take place that day.

-- At sunset: We will eat together once again to break bread in public places as a sign of our commitment to work together for peace and an end to violence. This shared meal will be a sign of our covenant with one another – as individuals and as communities - to stand against the war in Iraq, and to work with one another to stand against violence in our communities and around the world. (Communities should be aware that for Muslims, later in the evening there will be large-scale gatherings for the Night of Power, commemorating the first revelation of the Quran. Shared break-fast meals should be scheduled so as to take account of these gatherings.)

Post Events -- A Season of Commitment:

-- As a practice of our covenant, we encourage local communities to continue in regular fasting, praying and holding vigils for peace and to take specific actions through the election cycle to stand together against the war in Iraq and against all of the ways in which violence is destroying our communities.

-- We encourage participants to continue to reach out to elected officials and candidates for congress and the presidency, inviting them to fast with us, break bread with us, pray with us, vigil with us, and publicly express their commitment to end this war.

-- We encourage those who live in states in which primary elections are held to use that opportunity to engage with the presidential candidates in their public appearances about their commitment to end the war

The Invitation:

We, religious leaders from several traditions, invite you to join with millions of other Americans by organizing joint interfaith events in your local community on October 7 and 8th, for the breaking of bread, fasting, and breaking our fast together as we covenant together to live out the deepest calling in each of our traditions – the desire for justice and for peace for all people.

We offer these suggestions to communities that desire to deepen their witness:

-- Following the gathering on Oct 7th evening, plan events such as Teach-Ins that may extend to all night events to pray, study nonviolence in our different faith traditions, study sacred texts together, and witness to our opposition to war and violence.

-- Extend the fast to twenty-four hours – beginning with our interfaith meal together on Sunday evening, or for Christians, beginning on Sunday morning with the celebration of World Communion.

-- Gather on Monday morning, October 8th, for an inspirational public event that will both highlight the issues and provide motivation as we begin the fast.

-- Broaden our witness to insist that we stand against all use of torture, as well as to highlight our grave concerns about the growing violence on the streets of our cities and in mass shootings across the country, and about the way in which the media’s obsession with grotesque acts of violence undercuts the most fundamental values of our faith.


Rev. Robert Edgar General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

Rev. Michael E. Livingston, President, National Council of Churches USA
Executive Director, International Council of Community Churches

Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey, Minister for Ecumenical Relations and Mission Partnerships, Alliance of Baptists

Nihad Awad, Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations

Council on American Islamic Relations

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director, The Fellowship of Reconciliation

The Fellowship of Reconciliation

Kathy Partridge, Executive Director, Interfaith Funders

Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Medical Mission Sisters' Alliance for Justice

Herman Harmelink III, Ecumenical Officer, International Council of Community Churches

Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Rev. Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Church

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D., Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, Seattle, WA

Fr John Oliver, Cape Town Interfaith Initiative (CTII)

Roberta Wall, Ordained member of the Buddhist Order of Interbeing, Ordained by Thich Nhat hanh

Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, Pastor, West-Park Presbyterian Church, New York City

Virginia Gray Henry, Director, Fons Vitae Publishing and Distribution
Rabbi Levi Meier, PhD

David L. Hoffman, Coordinator, Humanity Check interfaith peace and reconciliation project
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned

Parvez Ahmed, Council on American Islamic Relations

The Reverend Dwala J. Ferrell, Executive Director, Petersburg Urban Ministries, United Methodist Church

Jim Rice, Editor, Sojourners magazine

Duane Shank, Senior Policy Advisor, Sojourners/Call to Renewal

Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Chair, Rabbis for Human Rights/ North America

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Hebrew Union College

Rev Dr Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution

Rabbi Phyllis Berman,

Terence Cozad Taylor, Interfaith Paths to Peace

Jamie Hamilton, Exeter Academy

Rabbi Howard A. Cohen, American Hebrew Academy

Ahmed Bedier, Executive Director, CAIR Tampa


At 7:26 PM, Blogger Dove3 said...

You might be interested to see

At 4:29 PM, Blogger ELLEN said...

Ellen Rosser, President, Friendship and Peace Society

Friendship and Peace Society

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Rev. Joe Agne, Pastor
Memorial United Methodist Church
White Plains, New York 10605

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ven. Tom Graham, Senior Priest and National Director of the CENTER FOR AMERICAN BUDDHIST PRACTICE

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Adam G. Gerhardstein said...

Rev. William G. Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Bob Cooke said...

Please sign me up for the October 8th Interfiath Fast to End the War in Iraq. Also please sign up Pax Christi Montgomery as a sponsor of the fast.

Thank you for organizing this.

Bob Cooke, Co-convener
Pax Christi Montgomery (MD)

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Rev. Anna York said...

Rev. Anna York, Chicago, Illinois. This is a powerful way to seek God and honor the various religious traditions of the autumn season. As a member of the worship committee in our church, I will recommend this as an interfaith activity in our community of Hyde Park.
Greatest blessings to your important work!

At 8:55 AM, Blogger monica haas said...

Monica Haas
Alpha Mennonite Church
Alpha New Jersey
We will pray and fast for all of our Brothers and Sisters around the world. We will pray for them to have Love and Peace. Thank you for being so caring and loving.

Your sister in Christ
Monica Haas

At 7:41 AM, Blogger joyce said...

This morning I read the story in the New York Times about "severe interrogation" as part of the "war on terror," now the chief reason being given by the administration for this horrendous war. Is this my country? Is THIS what my ancestors came here and died for?
I will fast and prayand, as Mother Jones said, organize!


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