The UCC Washington office works to project the vision of change that is offered by UCC members in the halls of congress. Every two years our members come from across the country to gather for General Synod - to pray, reflect and discern a faithful response to God’s vision through resolutions and pronouncements on the issues facing our world.
It is through the actions of General Synod that we prioritize our advocacy.
Our staff monitor and seek changes in legislation at local, state and federal levels through a variety of coalitions and working groups. Through these coalitions we lobby and send letters to our elected officials advocating for changes if public policy.
While we work hard to represent and promote the views expressed at General Synod on Capitol Hill, it is you - as constituents - who make the best advocates.
How can the DC office help you engage in advocacy?
constituency Education and Mobilization - E-Advocacy through the Justice and Peace Action Network, Petitions, Rallys and more
Direct Capitol Hill Advocacy - Advocacy training, meetings with government officials and their staff
What is the Justice and Peace Action Network?
The UCC Justice and Peace Action Network is common action arm of the four covenanted ministries of the United Church of Christ that is charged with mobilizing UCC members for concentrated action as issues emerge.
Our vision is a just, compassionate and peaceful world that honors all of God's creation. In keeping with this vision the JPANet seeks to equip its members through issue education and weekly opportunity for public policy advocacy. By joining the JPANet you have access to resources that are beneficial to advocates of any experience level. they include:
An electronic Public Policy Briefing Book at the beginning of each two year Congressional session as an overview of policy priorities and work in all areas.
Weekly electronic actions emailed to your inbox with direct "take action" links to key decision makers.
A monthly electronic newsletter with notices about upcoming events, new resources and opportunities for action.
Using these tools you can begin basic advocacy or expend your current work. Our resources make it easy to engage or to engage your congregation in advocacy. Sign up here!
In responding faithfully to God’s call for abundant life for all people, a common life in which no one is left behind, we are drawn inevitably to engage in public policy advocacy and decision-making.
This is the goal of the UCC JWM Washington office; to make a better world possible by addressing the systemic problems that we face as a country and as part of the world. Hunger, poverty, peace and security, racism, care for the earth. These are among the types of justice issues that we work to improve through federal policies.
“If a single decision in the halls of the U.S. Congress can either enhance or undo literally millions of acts of Christian caring, I should try to influence such decisions?"
The UCC Washington Office was called into being by a resolution at General Synod 10 in 1975. This predecessor body to Justice and Witness Ministries, then called the Office for Church in Society, was created to assume a leadership function for social action concerns in the UCC and to provide resources to the national, conference and local churches.
Foremost among the tasks assigned to the office was identifying, analyzing and forecasting emerging social issues which call for the attention of the denomination.
Today the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries staff in Washington, DC, in partnership with UCC staff, Conferences, Associations, congregations and individual UCC members, continues this mission by monitoring and seeking changes in legislation at local, state and federal levels through a variety of coalitions and working groups.
The policies that guide our work are crafted by UCC members who gather for General Synod to pray, reflect and discern a faithful response to God’s call through resolutions and pronouncements on the issues facing our world.
Want to learn more?
Introducing sexuality education into your congregation can be a wonderful opportunity to put faith into action. The impetus may come from the youth of your congregation, a parent's group, the pastor, a health professional, or someone else.
There are people throughout the United Church of Christ who have been trained as Our Whole Lives facilitators and have successfully implemented Our Whole Lives/ Sexuality and Our Faith —and many of them are willing to share their journeys with you.
The main ingredient in the success of implementing Our Whole Lives is a commitment to the sexual health and wholeness of the community. Other practical considerations many have found helpful are:
- building allies
- forming an oversight committee
- educating and inspiring the congregation, and
- implementing the program and including it into the congregation's ministry on an ongoing basis.
Choose the age group you want to start with (K-1, Grades 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 grades, Young Adult or Adult) and then check out the Our Whole Lives Training page to see where a training is being held near you. Trainings are held throughout the US and Canada, and often in partnership with Unitarian Universalist Association churches; however, wherever you go, you will receive training from Approved Trainers in the levels you are planning to implement. The training page updates frequently, so check back often. You may also choose to work with your local church, association, conference or national setting to host a training. There is more information about hosting in a downloadable guide on the Our Whole Lives Training page.
How long are the programs?
Good sexuality education takes time, especially in a culture which is raising its consciousness regarding sexual harassment, assault, and toxic gender roles and expectations. Don’t let the length of the programs deter you. Contact us to find out more.
8 sessions, 1 hour each
Parent meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
10 sessions; 75-minutes each
Program Information meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
25 sessions, 1.5 hour each
Parent Orientation: 1-2 sessions, 2-4 hours total
14 sessions, 2 hours each
Parent Orientation: 1-3 sessions, 3-4 hours total
12 sessions, 2 hours each
14 sessions, 2 hours each
*These levels of curricula are modular. You may choose to do only one workshop, or work through the entire manual, depending on the needs of your group.
What is Sexuality and Our Faith?
Sexuality and Our Faith is the faith companion to Our Whole Lives. Each level of Our Whole Lives has a corresponding Sexuality and Our Faith manual that provides faith-related information and questions for each workshop. Our Whole Lives itself is secular and can be used in community settings and schools in addition to churches. One half of each Sexuality and Our Faith manual contains material written by the Unitarian Universalist Association that brings in how their principles relate to the Our Whole Lives workshops, and one half by United Church of Christ authors who bring in prayer, scripture, litany and song to support what is being taught in Our Whole Lives.
What are the visual components? Who can use them?
The Sexuality and Our Faith DVD for Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12 are designed for use only in UUA and UCC congregations who have approved trained Our Whole Lives/Sexuality and Our Faith facilitators for those grade levels, and can only be used in the context of the UUA or UCC church offering the appropriate level of Our Whole Lives. They are an optional resource that require parent permission to be viewed by youth. Comprehensive and effective sexuality education programs can be conducted without these visuals. Both the DVDs seek to underscore the values of the curriculum and were designed to answer participants questions about what sexual anatomy and activity look like in an environment of responsibility, respect, safety, and trust.
The DVDs can only be purchased by UU or UCC congregations and only after the congregation's Our Whole Lives facilitators have successfully completed training in the use of the resource. Individuals cannot purchase them. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about purchasing them.
Are the program lengths and sessions adaptable?
Our Whole Lives programs are flexible and can be adapted to your program needs. The older grades courses can be used in a retreat setting. In order to maintain the integrity of the program, it is highly recommended that all sessions of the resources in any program from K-1 through 10-12 be taught.
Can we collaborate with another church or community organization?
If there is another United Church of Christ congregation in your area, or a church that believes that sexuality education is an important part of their commitment to youth, it is appropriate to collaborate. The more diversity in a group, the richer the program. Because Our Whole Lives was written to be used in a secular setting, it does not contain religious references. The Sexuality and Our Faith manuals provide that optional addition. Be sure to have at least two trained facilitators before offering any Our Whole Lives program with any group.
How much does it cost?
What you need:
- A copy of Our Whole Lives for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- A copy of Sexuality and Our Faith for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- Training for your team
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying text called It’s Perfectly Normal, which some churches choose to provide for participants to borrow or keep.
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 or Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying Parent Guide which should be purchased for each family.
The United Church of Christ offers a significant 25% discount to UCC members who attend Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith trainings for materials for the training they are attending. In order to take advantage of this special offer, participants need to call the United Church of Christ warehouse and order their own resources. This needs to be done at least 10 days before a training to insure delivery. The number to call is: 1-800-537-3394. When calling, tell the customer service person that you are a UCC member attending an Our Whole Lives training and would like to receive a 25% discount. Orders can be charged to your church's United Church of Christ Resource account. Click here to see what the pre-discount cost is for the resources you will need.
Congregations must also budget for Our Whole Lives facilitator training. The total cost for a congregation will be determined by how far they must travel and how many days it will take. Once the facilitators are trained, the actual cost of implementation in a congregation is small and includes costs such as printing, supplies and snacks.
What are the criteria for selecting good facilitators for Our Whole Lives?
The success of the Our Whole Lives program depends on the qualified and caring persons who are selected and trained to be Our Whole Lives facilitators. Keep the following criteria in mind when choosing your facilitators:
- Their commitment to value-based, comprehensive sexuality education. A facilitator needs to have values (responsibility, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity) in harmony with the Our Whole Lives program and goals, and to feel comfortable with their own sexuality.
- Their experience, skill and comfort with the specific age group they will work with and its developmental needs.
- Their anti-bias awareness. A facilitator needs to understand, appreciate, and celebrate diversity of race/ethnicity, culture, age, ability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. A facilitator needs to have the skills to create a safe and engaging/learning environment.
- Their ability to be an advocate for sexual health and safety. The facilitator must support your Safe Church Policy and must follow your state's process for reporting any alleged abuse.
- Their ability to build relationships with participants, and with their parents and caregivers. Facilitators need to build community in the classroom and develop relationships of respect and responsibility.
- Their faith. A facilitator needs to be a person who is respected by the congregation and comfortable discussing the integration of sexuality and spirituality with members of the faith community. They should be aware of their own spiritual and religious grounding.
At the facilitator's training, the facilitators are being trained and evaluated. Occasionally our Approved Trainers identify individuals during the trainings that might not be appropriate for teaching Our Whole Lives. Churches should know that their facilitators may not be approved if there are concerns that arise during the training. If this is the case, the facilitators will be notified directly by the trainers and the congregational contact person(s) will be notified.
Should we screen potential leaders?
The United Church of Christ Insurance Board and Church Leaders strongly advise that churches screen all people working with youth and children. We recommend conducting background checks on facilitators of Our Whole Lives.
Our Whole Lives and most Safe Church policies insist on having at least two adults with the children and youth in the program at all times. In addition, if concerns arise during an Our Whole Lives training about a facilitator's appropriateness for facilitating Our Whole Lives, the trainers leading the workshop will speak to the potential facilitator and to the professional leadership of your congregation about their concerns.
What are people saying about Our Whole Lives?
In addition to articles being written in major newspapers throughout the country, pastors, facilitators, students and parents have expressed gratitude for Our Whole Lives. Here are just a few quotes:
"Sexuality is too important a subject for youth to be without a trustworthy source of accurate, reliable information. To be involved with these young people in one of the most important stages of their lives is an honor which is not taken lightly." (Our Whole Lives facilitator and parent)
"The information presented in the Our Whole Lives programs is straight, honest talk about respect for one's self, friends and community. Our Whole Lives provides answers to basic questions and offers many opportunities to digest and reflect on what it means to be a healthy teen. How wonderful that, as a caring church community, we can offer so much to our children in a safe learning environment." (Our Whole Lives parent, nurse practitioner)
"Don't ever stop offering Our Whole Lives at church. I took it when I was in high school and I think it saved my life. Every kid should see themselves the way Our Whole Lives sees them." (College student)
"One parent gave me a hug and thanked me for introducing Our Whole Lives into the church. Another was near tears as she told me how excited she was that we would be offering the Our Whole Lives program, how impressed she was by it, how important it was to be doing this, and so pleased that her children would be in the program. Another just said, 'Look, you can tell how moved I am, I am trembling.'" (Pastor)
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. The training I received this weekend was the best training I've ever received. I arrived very nervous—what am I doing here? Now I'm leaving knowing that the youth from my church will be receiving excellent information—and I can do this!" (Our Whole Lives Facilitator)
Young Adult Service Communities are unique opportunities for you to live in intentional community with others who share your commitment to service and social justice. Together, you will find the space to reflect on questions of meaning and to network for change.
Service and Justice Internships
The YASC network gives you the opportunity to grow professionally and change the world through intern placements with local nonprofit agencies, which are dedicated to justice advocacy and collaborative action.
Your placement will also allow you the opportunity to grow spiritually as you serve in a leadership position at a United Church of Christ congregation. Through this work you can see the convergence of church and world.
YASC provides you a space to grow personally by living in community with other young leaders, exploring together your direction, calling and future action in the world.
The Summer Communities of Service program is an ecumenical collaboration between the United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists. Particpants live and serve from June to early-August in host congregations around the United States. In each local program of the Summer Communities, you will experience:
The "intentional Christian community element" makes this program distinct and effective. Interns share a common food allowance, transportation funds and spiritual growth insights. Participants live in community with each other and with their hosts in their temporary city.
In the UCC and Alliance of Baptists diversity is a big piece of our identity. Both churches uphold socially progressive statements and advocate politically from a faith perspective. Diverse, community-service-integrated ministries show interns, congregations, the wider church and world where this faith-inspired work is happening in our midst. The SCOS projects help interns develop long-term commitment to engage in this kind of ministry.
Hands-On Justice Advocacy/Service Opportunities
Grow professionally. Change the World.
Grow Personally. Grow Spiritually.
The UCC national setting recommends sites within the United States that host mission opportunities for groups. These host sites are rooted in local communities and utilize volunteer groups in their on-going service within those places. Volunteers experience God’s presence among new people and in new places through these experiences. UCC Mission Trip Opportunities are short-term, lasting up to a week.
The United Church of Christ's Partners in Service program helps increase the service capacity of the partner host organizations and provides leadership development and the opportunity for volunteers to use gifts and skills. Volunteers serve full-time for periods of 2 – 12 months with a host and participate in networking activities with other Partners in Service volunteers. Open for adults of all ages.
Affirming democratic principles in an emerging global economy
A Resolution adopted by General Synod XXI (1997)
Whereas, The United Church of Christ has spoken consistently for a biblically-based and just approach to economic relationships nationally and internationally; and
Whereas, national and international economic changes today affect the traditions and values of civil liberties and political democracy in the United States and around the world;
Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Twenty-first General Synod reaffirms the heritage of the United Church of Christ as an advocate for just, democratic, participatory and inclusive economic policies in both public and private sectors, including:
the responsibility of multinational corporations and international financial institutions to respect and hold themselves accountable to fundamental human rights, particularly with regard to child labor, employment of minorities, and wages that are adequate for local costs of living;
the responsibility of workers to organize for collective bargaining with employers regarding wages, benefits, and working conditions, and the responsibility of employers to respect not only worker rights but also workersÍ dignity, and to create and maintain a climate conducive to the workersÍ autonomous decision to organize;
the responsibility of collective bargaining units, such as unions, to respect their members and encourage their participation in further efforts to democratize, to respect and hold themselves accountable to fundamental human rights, and to reform and expand the labor movement domestically and abroad;
the responsibility of governments at all levels to foster a more democratic system by seeking balance among the rights and interests of citizens, workers, and corporations; and to support existing as well as to facilitate the creation of new participatory community institutions for developing jobs and caring for people;
the responsibility of businesses, governments, and communities to share responsibility for protecting the earthÍs environment;
the responsibility of businesses, governments, and communities to support affirmative action for all who have traditionally been denied rights in the workplace;
the responsibility of all citizens to be informed participants in the political process at all levels and to form community organizations and associations to express common interests and achieve common goals in such areas as economic planning, neighborhood development, public education, and health care;
the responsibility of religious bodies to provide moral and ethical guidance for individuals and society in ways that respect other religious traditions and resist authoritarian powers and principalities wherever they appear;
the responsibility of The United Church of Christ in covenant with all churches and church institutions to practice principles of economic democracy which foster justice and participation in its own ministries; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-first General Synod of The United Church of Christ commends this resolution to the churches, associations, conferences, instrumentalities, and institutions of The United Church of Christ as a basis for their own policies and their ministries of social witness.
Subject to the availability of funds.
Through your generous gifts to Neighbors In Need, the United Church of Christ is offering hope to millions of people; we are transforming lives, the nation, and our world. These grants support work for human and civil rights, environmental justice and/or economic justice in one of the following ways:
- Direct Service ($1,000 - $3,000) – provides funding to meet the immediate needs of an individual or group (i.e. food, clothing, utilities).
- Advocacy ($3,001 - $5,000) – offers funding to assist communities who wish to change policy on a state or federal level via an advocacy campaign.
- Grass Top ($5,001 - $10,000) – is a highly competitive tier which seeks to award uniquely innovative programs which can be replicated in other settings.
For Grant Recipients:
If you were a recipient of a Neighbors in Need (NIN) grant, help us inform our members whose contributions to NIN have made your grant possible about how lives have been transformed because of their generosity. Access the reporting form.
Grant Recipients for 2017 by UCC Conference
Northern California Nevada Conference
First Congregational Church of Oakland / Rooted in Love
Building relationships, capacity and reflective practice of restorative and transformative care in faith communities of Alameda County
- Shadow Rock UCC Sanctuary Action Team - Hope Station
Southern California Nevada Conference
Central Atlantic Conference
- Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE)/Leadership Training in Civic Engagement and Organizing
- MicroBanking for Baltimore
- Hands On Hartford / Faces of Homelessness (FOH)
- First Congregational Church of New London - Urban Outreach Project
- UCC of St Augustine / Unity Enabled Day Camp
- First United Church of Christ of Tampa
- First United Church of Christ of Tampa Hispanic Ministry
- Friedens UCC / Weekenders Food Pack Ministry
- Blessings in a Backpack - Elkhorn Valley Schools
- Plymouth Settlement House - Youth Homeless Shelter
- First Parish Church of Newbury Community Food Pantry
- South Congregational Church / Pioneer Valley Project - Springfield Interfaith Sanctuary and Solidarity Project
Hadwen park Congregational Church, UCC - LGBT Asylum Task Force
Multi-family home for LGBT persons seeking asylum in the U.S. due to persecution in their native country.
- Lakota YouthStay
- World Voices
Missouri Mid-South Conference
Community Congregational UCC
Scholarships for summer camp at Camp Minanagish
New York Conference
South Central Conference
- Slumber Falls Camp / Twill Do Accessibility Project
- Friends Congregational Chruch / Interfatih Network: Building Sanctuary
- MOLO Village CDC - Restored Village Recovery & Reentry Program
- Oyster River Community Read: Addressing Racial Justice through Learning Together
- Alfred S. Forrest Elementary School Summer Enrichment Program
ONE: Out of the depths of anxiety and fear we cry to you, O God.
ALL: Lord, hear our cry.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, children, youth and adults who do not feel safe in our public schools.
ALL: Grant them courage each day to confront their fears, to comfort and strengthen one another, and to work together for change.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, those students who fear going to school each day because they are victims of bullying, harassment and hate perpetrated by their peers.
ALL: Help them to claim their right to an education free from fear, to persevere amid adversity, to endure despite damage done to their self esteem and to their emotional and physical selves.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, those students, teachers and administrators who witness violations of human dignity without intervening, those whose silence and apathy encourage acts and words of bullying, harassment and hate.
ALL: Speak to their hearts, O God. Help them to find their voices and the will to intervene immediately, even when they must, themselves, pay a price in popularity.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, all parents who entrust their children to our public schools, rightfully expecting them to receive a quality education and support for social development in a safe, secure environment.
ALL: Help them to find peace of mind through determined involvement in efforts to make schools a safer place for their children and secure, productive work environments for teachers and administrators.
ONE: Remember, in your mercy, individuals, community organizations, businesses and churches working conscientiously to bring equitable financial and other resources to our public schools.
ALL: Grant them, grant us, the will to organize to confront every obstacle, to remove every barrier, including prejudice and the hostility it breeds, until our public schools are safe environments for all.
ONE: Hear our prayer, O God.
ALL: Hear our prayer. Amen.
Litany by the Rev. Bill Johnson, 1999
Written by Rev. Loey Powell
As a kid, I learned the sing-songy jingle of, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.” I sang it back to boys who taunted me and my friends, empowered by its disarming message. As an adult, I learned that names and words can cause much greater harm than physical threats; names and words can actually be cause for prosecution in hate crime cases when people of color or those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are verbally abused.
But I am still amazed and appalled that words and names which demean women and girls do not constitute verbal abuse in the same way – the “b” word and “ho” are heard on prime time television shows and family hour shows with great regularity. Other belittling names and words characterize women as stupid or obsessed only with their looks or weight or with getting a date. Such names and words fill the airwaves on the radio and even appear on public advertising bulletin boards. Video games are filled with distorted images of women who become objects of conquest for the player.
As you conscientiously avoid consuming violence in the media, pay attention as well to how women and girls are portrayed in magazines, on billboards, in the songs you love to listen to, on the TV shows you watch or movies you plan to see. Compile a list of the words used to describe women and girls. While what you watch, see or hear may not be overtly violent in a shoot-em-up kind of way, could distorted images of women possibly contribute to a culture that could lead to - or justify in some people’s minds - actual physical violence against women?
Women are the primary targets of most of that kind of violence, particularly domestic violence. How can we cultivate through our words a society that truly values women and girls as much as it does men and boys? Are you willing to challenge your friends, or boss, or co-workers, or family members who use demeaning and pejorative names and words for girls and women? Can you raise awareness in your children’s schools about words and name-calling that diminishes not just the target of those names but also the one who speaks them? Can you hold your local media accountable for the kind of programming they offer?
We are all created in the image of God, the Holy One whose name is many and whose attributes are all good and gracious. May we be so with each other.
Religious and theological response to the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center and Pentagon has been quick, constant, and thorough. But while the public has been hearing the voices of the three traditional peace theologies, and reflecting on them, the voice of a fourth theological paradigm, just peace theology, has been less clear and less understood by the public as a paradigm. The three classic theological understandings in Christian theology—pacifism, just war, and crusade/holy war—have been articulated well and have increased or decreased in public affirmation. The fourth paradigm, just peace theology, has been spoken, but not perceived as clearly by the public. But if the Bush administration does not start taking seriously the call for Just Peace by many in the Christian community, it is going to lose the public support it so desires.
Pacifists have been vocal in insisting that terrorists must be held accountable for their acts and brought to justice. Pacifists have also put forward many alternative strategies, so that violence is not answered with violence. But on the central question of how the al Qaeda network might be brought to justice, pacifists have largely been silent.
Just war advocates have filled this silence, affirming that force in bringing al Qaeda to justice is morally justified. And a strong case can be made that all the criteria of a just war have been met. While there is room to argue over some of the criteria, generally this military action in Afghanistan has come closer to meeting all the criteria than any war in the past couple of hundred years. There are several reasons for this. Because wars over the past two centuries have seen such a dramatic increase in the power of weaponry, and because most wars have felt free to attack the infrastructure of the opposing nation, recent past wars, including World War II, have seen civilians deliberately attacked, and large number of civilian casualties. But Afghanistan had no infrastructure to destroy, and care was taken, using newer and more targeted weaponry, to hold civilian casualties to as small a number as could reasonably be expected.
So if this was a successful just war, why are we so far from peace? The very success of this "just war" shows the weakness of the just war theory.
Conducting a just war is only half the response needed. Force has been successfully applied, but justice has not been brought, nor has the cycle of violence been broken. Justice, of course, is a much richer concept than retributive justice. It at least includes restorative justice. While garbage trucks in New York were seen with large banners saying "revenge," the government has generally tried to minimize talk of revenge, and concentrate on bringing the wrongdoers to (retributive) "justice." By "justice," Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is clear: he wants Osama bin Laden dead or alive, but prefers him dead. Revenge is lurking just below the surface. And the U.S. government shows little interest in any larger concept of justice than using military force to stop or kill terrorists and end the threat of current terrorists. But this is why the Christian community has never regarded just war theory as the whole answer. The Christian tradition is much richer, and voices have been raised in the mainline Protestant community, the evangelical community, and the Catholic community urging caution in the use of force and insisting that a much larger effort is needed to restore peace and bring a just international order. It is this larger consensus in the Christian community that Just Peace theology has attempted to articulate.
Peace is not just the absence of conflict. Peace is the presence of justice. Peace, or shalom, is a broad concept implying right relations and harmony. When the United Church of Christ defined "just peace" at its 1985 General Synod (in the process of declaring itself to be a Just Peace Church), it defined it as the interrelationship of justice, friendship, and common security from violence. The goal is always to minimize violence while working for justice and friendship. Just peace theology does not reject either just war theory or pacifism, as the United Methodist Church made clear in its 1986 document from the Council of Bishops entitled "In Defense of Creation." It attempts to put these Christian understandings in a broader context.
One way of putting this is that just war theory plus pacifism's non-violent alternatives to war equals just peace theology. Pacifists don't simply resist the use of force. They also insist that there are many positive alternatives to force, and if the cycle of violence is to be broken, and justice and friendship to be created, these alternatives must be employed. Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics agree. And most pacifists have a great regard for the need for justice as well as for peace, keeping the two in balance. Just peace theology, of course, seeks to raise the commitment to justice equal to and interrelated to the commitment to peace.
Just peace advocates and pacifists ask these hard questions: How will the cycle of violence be broken? How will we acknowledge the beam in our own eye and our complicity in causing the situation? How will we look at the root causes of the conflict, and address the larger issues of justice, which must be addressed if there is to be reconciliation and the restoration of a just and peaceful community? How can we create international structures of common security from violence, international structures of justice?
Over the past ten years 23 Christian ethicists, biblical and moral theologians, international relations scholars, peace activists, and conflict resolution practitioners have worked to refine the Just Peace paradigm. Ten just peace practices were identified: (1) nonviolent direct action; (2) independent initiatives to reduce threat; (3) cooperative conflict resolution; (4) acknowledgement of responsibility and seeking repentance and forgiveness; (5) advancement of democracy, human rights, and religious liberty; (6) fostering of just and sustainable economic development; (7) working with emerging cooperative forces in the international system; (8) strengthening the United Nations and international organizations; (9) reducing offensive weapons trade; (10) encouraging grassroots peacemaking groups. (See Glen Stassen, Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War; Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 1998).
To fight terrorism, there are at least two broad categories where the United States needs to be offering proactive leadership, to address the question of justice and achieve a just peace. One is the development and use of greater international cooperation and the strengthening of international institutions. The other is the addressing of some of the root causes of unrest that Osama bin Laden has been able to exploit for his terrorist purposes. These include, above all, addressing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Right now the U.S. is attempting to define "terrorism" and "war on terrorism" by itself, without reference to any international standard or body. As President Bush put it, you are either for us or against us. How different that is from saying "you're either for terrorism as defined by the U.N., or against it." In the first case, the U.S. projects itself as an imperial power and invites the world to support U.S. power or oppose it. That is an invitation to more immediate terrorism and the nurturing of future terrorists, who will not agree with the U.S. imposing global imperial power.
If the U.S. wants to strengthen friendship with the Muslim and Arab world, as well as with other nations, and if it wants to maintain public support, it must put as much effort into initiatives of justice and development of international institutions capable of fighting terrorism over the long haul as it is now putting into military budgets and solutions. Justice, friendship, and common security from violence must be balanced.
Instead, if the U.S. thinks it can use unilateral military power, and use the language of holy war ("axis of evil" and other words which demonize perceived enemies, projecting all evil on one side and all goodness on the other), the U.S. will be giving bin Laden exactly what he sought: a holy war between the Muslim world and U.S. imperialism.
The Rev. Dr. Jay Lintner served as Director of the United Church of Christ Washington Office from 1985 to 2000. From 1981 to 1985 he served as Peace Priority Coordinator for the United Church of Christ, where he was staff to the Peace Theology Development Team that produced A Just Peace Church.