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FCNL Applauds Members of Congress for Challenging Muslim Ban Executive Order

More than one hundred and fifty members of Congress signed onto an amicus brief challenging President Trump’s executive order barring Muslims and refugees from entry to the United States, taking a clear stance against this reprehensible policy.

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Briefing: Climate Policy

Thank you for joining us for a national conference call for updates on what the Trump administration, Congress, and advocates around the country are doing on climate policy.

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FCNL at Ecumenical Advocacy Days

We're excited to sponsor and participate in Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a gathering of hundreds of people of faith for advocacy and education. This year's theme is Confronting Chaos, Forging Community.

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In Images: Remembering the Holocaust

This April (Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month), I was able to travel to Berlin, Germany as part of a civil society convening on atrocities prevention as well as visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The images captured remind us of why the promise of "never again" is a commitment we must keep.

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Crisis in Focus: Somalia

April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. Last year, we commemorated the month through a series of posts remembering the devastation and lives lost to genocide and mass atrocities in the past. This year, we will commemorate Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month by highlighting current conflicts where the ongoing atrocities urgently demand an effective U.S. government response.

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Faith Leaders to DHS: Bring Juan Back Home

Washington D.C. - Following news that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary Juan Manuel Montes was deported, faith leaders join the #JusticeforJuan campaign to demand answers and call for his return home.

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Don’t Legitimize Israeli Settlements: Reject S. 720

Legislation in the Senate threatens to legitimize settlements in U.S. policy and suppress political criticism of Israeli settlements policy.

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Job Posting: Controller

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is seeking a Controller who will be responsible for overseeing financial planning, budgeting and accounting reporting functions. S/he will be a member of the Finance and Administration team, and will report directly to the Associate Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration.

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Friends, Peace, and Justice in Baltimore

Friends Journal - Mon, 2017-04-17 09:00

Picture via Homewood Friends

Throughout its history, Homewood Meeting in Baltimore, Md., has held a vigil against war and for peace in times of war. Since September 11, 2001, the meeting has held a vigil every Friday evening in front of the meetinghouse to protest the entry of the United States into Iraq and later to protest the use of drones and torture.

Holding vigils to protest the violence of war and torture continued until the unrest in Baltimore in April 2015 when the city rose up to protest the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the police. At this time, the Peace and Justice Committee felt moved to address the issues of racial and economic inequality, injustice, and violence in our own community of Baltimore. The committee changed placards which focused on war in the Middle East to demonstrate solidarity with our neighbors of color in the city.

The new placards and banners initially read: “When Black Lives Matter / Then All Lives Matter.” There was concern by a member of the committee that our message didn’t address brown, Asian, and LGBTQ groups, but members of the committee decided to keep this message simple as blacks are the largest and most obviously discriminated against group in our city. At the outset, we grappled with the clarity of our concern, as some in the meeting and some passers-by urged “All lives matter,” and others remonstrated with us that saying “All lives matter” diminished the “Black lives matter” message. After a time, we changed some of the banners to read “Black Lives Matter / We Are All One People.” And most recently we also began to use the FCNL banner “Love Thy Neighbor, (No Exceptions).”

Our meetinghouse stands at the juncture of Charles Street and Art Museum Drive, a heavily trafficked location. We usually have 4–8 people an evening from Homewood and Stony Run Meetings, but have had as many as 25–30. Periodically students and teachers from Friends School of Baltimore attend. From the start of our local anti-violence focus, the vigil has received overwhelming support from motorists on their way home from work. As people in cars, buses, panel trucks, and bicyclers pass, they wave, honk and give a thumbs-up. Many call out, “Thank you” and black passersby often call, “All lives matter.” People take pictures of the vigil on their cell phones from their vehicles as they pass; others get out to ask permission, then stay to talk. More and more frequently people cross busy Charles Street to talk.

On rare occasions, some people, usually white men, will yell, “All lives matter,” “Blue lives matter,” or most recently “There’s a new sheriff in town.” We agree and ask people to look at the signs again. One man used to drive by in a large white pickup truck, blow his horn, which sounded like a train whistle, and yell, “White lives matter.” But these folks are rare.

We have had many rewarding conversations with people who park their cars to talk with us. Many blacks ask us why we are holding these signs. One woman who works at a nearby hospital came out one evening and said, “I see you people out here every week. Why are you doing this?” A mother came one night with her children, hugged each of us, and thanked us as did her children. The woman said she had just explained racism to her children. On another bitterly cold night a woman stopped, got out of her car, and brought each of the members of the vigil a cup of hot coffee, along with the words “Thanks for all that you do.” A young man recently said they have a Black Lives Matter group in Buffalo, N.Y., where he lives and that he would come to meeting on Sunday. Hopkins students come to enquire. Some stay to vigil.

Early on in this Baltimore-focused vigil, we prepared a brochure to present to people who came by to talk. When the Peace and Justice Committee asked meeting for business to approve the brochure, several people present raised questions and concerns. Our discernment over the wording of the brochure encouraged many people to consider their own white privilege, to attend to the structural racism in Baltimore, to observe the patterns of policing and the racially disproportionate arrests and incarceration of blacks in Baltimore. As a result of this early and discomforting discussion, the meeting decided to hold a threshing session on race.

Members of our meeting have asked why we hold this vigil in a very white area just south of Johns Hopkins University. Maybe we should consider moving it to another part of the city? Shouldn’t we hold placards for all groups? One 90-year-old African American member asked us to get out of our white enclave and get to know African Americans in the city. Others asked us to reconsider changing the vigil to another theme since we have been holding the Black Lives Matter concern for almost two years. Our vigil is important for both our black and white neighbors. Whites need to be reminded that they are part of a city with many problems and that they can be part of the solution. Blacks need to know that there are whites who see their plight and are willing to join in creating solutions. From this vigil we are branching out to work at other areas—court watch, bail reform in our state, and anti-violence study and program expansion as we seek a faithful grounding for our peacemaking efforts in Baltimore.


The post Friends, Peace, and Justice in Baltimore appeared first on Friends Journal.

Now is not the time to despair

Building peace

It would be easy to become skeptical about the viability and efficacy of nonviolent resistance in the age of Trump. But this would be to ignore a number of incredibly hopeful trends.

The fact is that armed insurrection is becoming less and less common—and less and less effective. The fact is that more people around the world are turning to nonviolent resistance than at any time in recorded human history. We are witness to ongoing people power movements in Hungary, Turkey, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and the United States. In the past year, people power has led to the peaceful impeachment of presidents in South Korea and Brazil. In the past two years, we’ve seen people power lead to the removal of corrupt governments in Haiti, Romania, and Guatemala. Whether we agree with their causes or not, ordinary civilians are increasingly turning to civil resistance—not armed struggle—as a way to pursue their demands.

The fact is that we are better equipped than in any time in recorded history to summon the wisdom and the tools of nonviolent resistance for the peaceful transformation of our society. At our fingertips, we have biographies and autobiographies, children’s books, novels, documentaries, films, how-to-guides, online courses, and in-person trainings. This reminds me of a conversation I once had with Rev. James Lawson, one of my mentors and personal heroes. He explained to me that when he was involved in the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1950s, the only available text from which to derive a strategy was Gandhi’s autobiography. Rev. Lawson said he was impressed with the wealth of materials and research now available to contemporary organizers and activists, since they had the benefit of learning from the documented histories of millions of people who have engaged in civil resistance over the past century.

Speaking of research, never before have academics and researchers been so committed to the systematic study of nonviolent resistance. At the last International Studies Association Annual Meeting, which was held in Baltimore in February, there were dozens of academic papers presented with the aim of better understanding how, why, and to what effect ordinary people can use civil resistance to effect change in their scenes. This is a significant departure from my first ISA in 2004, where research on the topics of terrorism, political violence, and counterinsurgency dominated the program. And since November, I have witnessed a truly inspiring upsurge in commitment and enthusiasm among my fellow academics and intellectuals to do work that matters in the real world and to engage with their communities with attitudes of humility and service.

It is no accident that the United States is experiencing an explosion in community groups and coalitions, who are coming together in an unprecedented level of civic engagement to resist abusive, indiscriminate, and hateful policies. People living in the United States are using nonviolent resistance at unprecedented rates. Some of the stories of the struggle are downright inspiring. On January 21st, over 4.1 million people actively participated in the Women’s March. This included people in every state in the U.S., about fifty women in a retirement community in Encinitas, California, and over four hundred women who were limited in their mobility and participated online. Since January 21st, people in the U.S. have participated in thousands of nonviolent protests, demonstrations, and strikes, which we’ve been tallying at the Crowd Counting Consortium. These include actions like a “kindness march” organized by children in Boulder, Colorado; the nationwide Day Without An Immigrant strikes; protests to support funding to Planned Parenthood; the nationwide Day Without a Woman strikes; and even a daily protest by a man who stands alone every day in Oak Creek, Michigan.

I’m sure this man protests every day because he knows very well that he is not alone. He stands with millions of people around the world who remain committed to creating a more empathetic, humane, and just humanity; who remain committed to addressing with courage and creativity the problems of economic, racial, gender, and ethnic inequality; who remain committed to halting the destruction of our planet; who understand that to be progressive means that, in fact, we can and must progress.

In spite of what seems to be happening within the halls of power, we live in a time where civil society is rising up to reclaim the power to determine a more compassionate, fair, and sustainable future. History shows us that these are the forces that set the course for true change in the world. Now is not the time to despair. It is the time to organize and prepare.

FCNL Calls on Congress to Stop Unlawful Escalation in Syria

The Trump administration’s missile attack against Syrian government airfields will do nothing to end the bloodshed and violates U.S. and international law. The Friends Committee on National Legislation urges Congress to step forward from the sidelines and reassert its constitutional authority by voting to stop the U.S. from widening the war in Syria.

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Why did the American Health Care Act Fail?

On November 8th 2016, Republicans took hold of the presidency and both chambers of Congress, after heavily campaigning to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It is no wonder that many within the Washington establishment assumed the Affordable Care Act would be gone the day after Inauguration.

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Syria Call Resources

Thank you for joining Kate and Jim for the April 12 call on the United States' escalating war in Syria and what you can do to stop it.

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55 Representatives Put Brakes on Yemen War

U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 50 other Members of Congress put the brakes on war in Yemen by sending a bipartisan letter to President Trump calling on him to come to Congress before escalating military action in Yemen.

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Meeting With Congress for the First Time

Thanks so much for participating in our Meeting with Congress for the First Time advocacy training. On this page, we've compiled all of the training emails from this course just in case you've missed one (or more!) and are looking to catch up.

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How Do We Tell Time in Hard Times?

"Despair is not a long-term strategy." A Warren Wilson College professor reflects on a conversation with her former student and FCNL Program Assistant, Jamie DeMarco. How can we learn from the example of lobbyists like David Culp who persistently lobbied over the course of decades for a better world? Can we balance that with necessary short term change?

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US politicians and scholars debate legality of Syria strike

In the Middle East Eye, Kate Gould emphasized the Congressional role in preventing illegal military escalation in Syria. She explained that Congress could act to prohibit funding of US military action in Syria.

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U.S. Politicians and Scholars Debate Legality of Syria Strike

Kate Gould said a vote on military action in Syria would be a first step for Congress to reclaim its war-making power. “When we see this blatant violation of US and international law when Congress has been sidelined, it is more than worthy to bring Congress back and force a vote. That’s essential,” she told MEE.

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As Friends, We Reaffirm that War Is Not the Answer in Syria

There are no easy solutions to the violence in Syria. But our faith and experience lead us to reaffirm that bombing will not end that violence. Only by addressing the root causes of violence and conflict in Syria can we move the U.S. closer to peace.

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Congress Must Stop Trump’s Illegal Escalation in Syrian War

President Trump’s airstrikes against Syrian government targets, without congressional authorization, are an unlawful, reckless, and deadly escalation that only emboldens the Assad regime as it continues its atrocities. Congress must urgently reassert its constitutional authority by voting to stop the United States from widening the war in Syria.

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