A Prophetic Call: Colombian Churches Document their Suffering and Hope

February 21, 2013
A Prophetic Call: Colombian Protestant Churches Document Their Suffering and Their Hope

“A Prophetic Call: Colombian Protestant Churches Document Their Suffering and Their Hope”

“A Prophetic Call” is a series of annual reports produced by the Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action  (JUSTAPAZ) and the Council of Evangelical Churches of Colombia (CEDECOL) documenting human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations suffered by people, families, and communities belonging to Protestant and evangelical churches in Colombia. Summary Report 6/7 addresses violations that occurred in 2010 and 2011.

According to the report, in 2010 there were 68 documented cases of human rights and IHL violations against pastors, church leaders, and church members. These cases included a total of 805 victims. In 2011, there were 42 cases of human rights and IHL violations against a total of 244 victims. Neo-paramilitary groups were responsible for the vast majority of these violations. Guerrilla  combatants, and Colombian State Forces were responsible for the rest. Many of the victims of this violence were church leaders, human rights defenders, possessors of coveted land, or simply bystanders.

The report includes numerous recommendations for armed actors and the Colombian and U.S. governments. These include:

  • A cease-fire and negotiations between warring factions. The Colombian government and armed groups must maintain a willingness to dialogue and seek a solution to the conflict as the essential element necessary for ensuring sustainable peace in Colombia.
  • Opportunities for peacebuilding by churches. The Colombian government should guarantee the right to civic participation, religious freedom, and freedom of worship. Armed groups should respect respect pastors and church leaders’ right to life and respect all places of worship. The governments of the US, Canada, and EU should support peace initiatives and develop reconciliation projects with the help of churches.
  • The reduction of military spending and redirection toward socioeconomic aid and peace initiatives. The Colombian government should adjust its budget to give priority to social investment and reduce military spending. The US government should likewise redirect its aid and adjust its federal budget.
  • The protection of IDPs and prevention of further displacement. The Colombian government should implement a public policy for protection and prevention of displacement, and the governments of the US, Canada, and EU should invest in local peace initiatives  and ensure all assistance makes its way to those in need.

To read other recommendations or the 12-page summary in its entirety, please visit: A Prophetic Call: Summary Report 6/7

Speak out against injustice and support our Colombian sisters and brothers as they work toward peace with justice during Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, April 28-29. To learn more about Days of Prayer and Action, visit: http://washington.mcc.org/days

A proposal to give the Pentagon even more

March 21, 2012

DoD photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday Rep. Paul Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee, released his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2013.

Despite the fact that groups across the political spectrum have argued that the Pentagon could handle much bigger cuts than have been proposed, Ryan’s plan would undo the $55 billion in sequestration cuts for the Pentagon, while making deeper cuts to domestic programs.

In fact, far from cutting military spending, Ryan’s House proposal would give the Pentagon $8 billion more next year than is allowed by last August’s budget agreement. At the same time his budget would give the remaining domestic discretionary programs $27 billion less than the amount set by the August agreement. If his proposal passes the House, these funding levels will be hard to reconcile with the Senate, where the Budget Committee chair has said he plans to stick with the caps set in the August agreement.

To learn more, read this commentary from the Project on Government Oversight. Check out the current issue of our newsletter, Some take pride in chariots.

A king is not saved by his great army

February 3, 2012

Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach reflects upon where our true security comes from and the need to make real cuts from the defense budget.

As Christians we must never allow ourselves to see displays of military might as the world’s “real” power. We must remember that God is the one who saves us. Furthermore, God calls us to work for equitable and just relationships, which lay the groundwork for security and peace.

When we forget the true source of our security, it is impossible to ever spend enough. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Pentagon’s base budget has nearly doubled. (That number excludes spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Many people across the political spectrum now support making at least some cuts to the Pentagon, as a way of addressing the federal deficit. Some in Congress, along with the defense industry and the Pentagon, are working hard to ensure that the cuts will be as minimal as possible.

Read the entire article here.


April 13, 2011

Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach writes about military spending and the federal budget for Third Way Cafe:

Currently the United States spends more on defense than nearly all other countries combined. Yet in the budget proposals that Congress is discussing, funding levels for the Pentagon remain virtually unchanged. Some actually increase the amount compared to last year’s budget.

This unquestioning support for military spending comes at the same time that poverty programs, which make up a much smaller part of federal spending, are facing dramatic cuts. Cutting weapons programs which, in some cases, the military itself deems excessive would eliminate the need to cut food, housing and heating assistance.

Click here to read more.



Funding Our Priorities

February 23, 2011

Early Saturday February 19 the House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 1)

MCC/Melissa Engle

that would cut federal spending by $61 billion.  The cuts come mainly in programs dedicated to assistance for vulnerable populations in the U.S. and internationally.


You can let your Senators know that this approach to the budget is neither responsible nor just.

Together, these two areas of the budget represent just 15 percent of U.S. spending.  Although the same legislation requests  a defense budget 3 percent lower than the President’s 2011 request, it is still $8 billion higher than 2010 levels.  Defense spending represents over 50 percent of U.S. discretionary (not mandatory) spending.

The math is questionable: how can we address the deficit without addressing the most expensive portion of the budget?  Even beyond military spending, H.R. 1 fails to adequately address a number of root causes of the nation’s deficit.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Ounce of Prevention

August 23, 2010

Mary Stata writes for PeaceSigns about steps the U.S. can take to prevent violent conflict around the world:

Melissa Engle/MCC

“‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ the old saying goes.  Adages about the merits of prevention abound, urging action before a dilemma or problem develops.  Despite the prevalence of these truisms, our government continues to invest huge amounts of money in fighting wars rather than preventing them.  As the United States faces an overwhelming deficit and high unemployment rates, military spending continues to increase.  Earlier this year, the United States  reached $1 trillion in operational spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clearly, war comes at a high cost.  This staggering figure does not take into account ongoing U.S. military assistance to other countries including Colombia, Uganda, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  As an alternative to military spending, the United States must invest in policies  that address human needs and prevent conflict before it starts.   Conflict prevention isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s cheaper.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

True Security

February 17, 2010

Mary Stata writes in PeaceSigns about the recently released federal budget request, and the need to prioritize human need over military interests:

In Washington, February 1 is eagerly anticipated. It’s not because dreary January is departing; it’s the day when the President sends his budget request to Congress. While the budget is not exactly riveting reading material, the President’s request does offer a preview of policy priorities, values and principles for the upcoming fiscal year. To be frank, February 1 is the day the Administration puts its money where its mouth is.

Shortly before the budget request unveiling, the Obama administration announced a budget freeze on “non-security discretionary spending.” As the U.S. economy remains shaky and the federal budget deficit continues to explode, it is clear that the present situation is unsustainable. A three-year budget freeze is an attempt to restore order to the budget by capping spending levels for all federal programs. Defense and foreign assistance programs, regarded as vital to national security, are exempt from the freeze. When inflation is taken into account, the so-called “budget freeze” actually amounts to budget cuts for vitally important federal programs that provide education, housing, food and transportation to name a few.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


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