We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


 Michael Hastings, in his hard-hitting new book, "The Operators," discusses "politically correct imperialism," why the military is obsessed with its legacy, and why we're stuck in post-9/11 thinking.

But one quote that stuck with me summed up the essential flaws in the thinking, the safe haven flaw, if you will: “Marja must be controlled in order to eventually control Kandahar. Kandahar must be controlled to control Afghanistan. Afghanistan must be controlled to control Pakistan. Pakistan must be controlled to prevent Saudi Arabia terrorists from getting on a flight at J.F.K. Airport in Jamaica, Queens.”
Did that revelation all come to you at the same time? Or how were you able to put that together and make it so crystal clear?
 MH: Well, to me this was apparent in Iraq, but it's also apparent in Afghanistan: that nothing that we're doing on a daily basis -- by "we" I mean NATO and U.S. forces -- has anything to do with preventing another September 11. I mean, 99 percent of the people we killed over these past 10 years would never have posed a threat to the United States. I mean, that's a devastating indictment of our endeavors -- it's devastating.
 MH: In 2008, after my first trip to Afghanistan, I came back and did a story for GQ, and my editor said something -- and it's a line I've stolen from him – he said we're stuck in post-9/11 thinking. There was this whole period of time where you could be accused of pre-9/11 thinking, but what's happened is we're stuck in post-9/11 thinking. And these misconceptions that I think took hold quite early have become institutionalized. And institutionalized in a way that is meant to shut down debate.
 Because you may say, well, we should get out of Afghanistan, and then the answer is, well, what about the terrorist safe havens? Grover Norquist actually made the argument that there's a reason why there's not a robust debate from the other side about Afghanistan – it's because they know how flimsy their argument is.
And we haven't even gotten to the fact that by being in these places – and with the trauma that we're inflicting on these societies while we're there – that's the way you create terrorists, it's not the way you defeat terrorists.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


by Herb Montgomery

There is a growing desire among American Christians, especially during political races, to reach out and influence others through gaining political power. Now, I want to be clear from the beginning: I do not believe we should sit back and do nothing. My fear, though, is that many of us have been duped into thinking that by voicing our opinions (i.e. voting) we have somehow advanced the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom Jesus came to establish is very different from any and all kingdoms of this world, even America. The Kingdom of God is also advanced in a very different way than the kingdoms of this world.

This weekend, I made some statements regarding this subject in my final presentation. A fellow minister that was visiting from another affiliation questioned me afterward. The statement in our conversation that sticks with me most was, “I’m just afraid we are telling our people not to vote.” I understand my new friend’s concern. I am not saying we should not seek to influence the society around us. What I am saying is that as a follower of Jesus, following His example, we understand that as members of Jesus’s Kingdom, the weapons of our warfare are not the same as those used by kingdoms of this world. In all honestly, it’s a lot easier to just vote. It’s much more challenging to live lives that manifest radical, self-sacrificial love to others in our society, even those we are different from. God’s Kingdom cannot be advanced through the legislation of a kingdom of this world using its power over its citizens, even if it is America. God’s Kingdom is advanced by coming under our society, by humbly and lovingly serving others in our society, whether they are like us or not. God’s Kingdom is advanced through means that affect our society, not from the outside in, legislating behaviors, but from the inside out in a much more profoundly transformative way.

Let’s be clear: The United States is not the kingdom of God. Our country is, in my opinion, the best kingdom that this world has to offer at present, but even at its best, the United States is not the kingdom Jesus came to establish. It’s still merely a kingdom of this world.

Right now within American Christianity, there are those who are using the above passage this week to try and say that as Christians we have duel citizenship, that we as Christians have a duty to America as well as to God. This kind of rhetoric deeply concerns many, including me.

Notice the mindset and words of first-century Christianity. Followers of Jesus were not “dual citizens.” They saw themselves as aliens living under an earthly kingdom they viewed as foreign rule.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers . . .” —1Peter 2.11 (emphasis supplied)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” —Philippians 3.20 (emphasis supplied)

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen.” —1 Peter 1.1 (emphasis supplied)

This does not mean that they didn’t have a right to claim citizenship in these areas in which they lived (Acts 21.39; Acts 22.28). What it means is that they had taken Jesus’s words seriously. “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). They had renounced their citizenship in their respective earthly kingdoms and chose to dwell under the rule of those kingdoms as aliens. They had embraced their new identity as citizens of a very different Kingdom, for which they were now “Ambassadors” living under a foreign rule (Ephesians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

Let me quickly share what this doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean that we are to live rebelliously, irrespective of the laws of this country, indifferent to this world’s leaders, or that we should not pay our taxes. As followers of Jesus and members of His Kingdom, He commands us to submit to the authorities we find ourselves under, to live peaceful lives, and to pray for this world’s leaders, and pay our taxes. Yet notice the reason we pay our taxes, live peaceful lives, and respect law and order is not because we are citizens of the United States. It’s because we are citizens of Christ’s Kingdom and these are the things Jesus commanded us to do (Romans 13:1-10). I pay my taxes not because I’m an American, but because I am a follower of Jesus in America. Jesus told me to pay taxes to whatever kingdom of this world I live in. I pray not only for our leaders, but also for leaders everywhere. Jesus died for Obama, Mitt, and Newt just as much as He did for Bin Laden. In our prayers for America’s troops we, as followers of Jesus, should be praying for Al Qaeda’s troops as well. What we should be praying for is peace and the salvation of everyone, regardless of whether they are America’s enemies or not. As a follower of Jesus, I am to love my enemies, realizing that my enemy isn’t the flesh and blood before me. They have been influenced by the real enemy and I should endeavor to counter influence them through the revelation of nonviolent love and forgiveness (Luke 23:34). This is the whole story of the Cross. This is what it means to take up the Cross, not simply as our message, but as our way of life.

In addition to this, as a side note that is different but related, let me add, that my allegiance to God’s Kingdom also doesn’t mean that I can just trash the earth while I am here. As followers of Jesus, we are called to return to our original stewardship of this earth. Some embrace this truth and feel, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” Yes, Jesus’s Kingdom is not of this world, but this world is the territory Christ came to establish His Reign in through the revelation of radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love. This is the territory that the “meek” will inherit (Matthew 5:5).

Jesus called us, as His followers, to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, to give God the things that are God’s, and to always keep those two separate from each other, the former always held as subservient to the latter.

When I began to see this, I was faced with some deeply profound questions. You see, on one level, I love American history. I love Democracy. I love the Declaration of Independence and what it stands for. I resonate with the philosophies of American forefathers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. But none of this belongs to the Kingdom of Jesus.

Which do I see myself as first and foremost: an American or a follower of Jesus? How does a holiday (July 4th) that celebrates American followers of Jesus killing British followers of Jesus qualify as a great Christian holiday (as claimed by the recent The American Patriot’s Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers) rather than a holiday that followers of Jesus should mourn? What if I can’t be both an American and a follower of Jesus? Would I be willing to be an “alien” here in my beloved country? Am I more invested in my identity as an American than as a follower of Jesus? And finally, would I give up being an American for Jesus?

When did Jesus ever concern Himself with how Caesar ran Rome? America at its best is not the Kingdom of God. There is no such thing as a nation that wields the power of sword that looks like Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, I have to look at all of this with eyes wide open. “Christian” means “one who looks like Jesus.” Some good may have been done throughout history by the America. Some of our laws may have been originally based on a Judeo-Christian influence. But in our treatment of others, from Native Americans, through African American slaves, all the way down to our foreign policies of today, we have never been a nation that looked like Jesus. We have never been a very “Christian” nation. Manifest destiny more closely resembles a pagan paradigm than the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for a country that asks my opinion. I have to realize at the same time that I may improve, in my opinion, how this earthly kingdom operates when I vote, but I can only participate in advancing the Kingdom of God as I seek to humbly, self sacrificially SERVE the world around me. Caesar and God are not the same.

Whether you see eye to eye with me on any of this or not at all, at the very least it’s something to think about.

Keep loving like the sun shines and like the rain falls. Keep building the Kingdom.


Saturday, January 21, 2012


What's wrong with this picture? How can we call ourselves the follower of the Prince of Peace and pray in His Name for War?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Anatomy of Your Enemy

Ten easy steps to create an enemy and start a war:
Listen closely because we will all see this weapon used in our lives.
It can be used on a society of the most ignorant to the most highly educated.
We need to see their tactics as a weapon against humanity and not as truth.

First step: Create the enemy. Sometimes this will be done for you.

Second step: Be sure the enemy you have chosen is nothing like you. Find obvious differences like race, language, religion, dietary habits and fashion. Emphasize that their soldiers are not doing a job, they are heartless murderers who enjoy killing!

Third step: Once these differences are established continue to reinforce them with all disseminated information.

Fourth step: Have the media broadcast only the ruling party's information this can be done through state run media. Remember: in times of conflict all for-profit media repeats the ruling party's information. Therefore all for-profit media becomes state-run.

Fifth step: Show this enemy in actions that seem strange, militant, or different. Always portray the enemy as non-human, evil, a killing machine.


Sixth step: Eliminate opposition to the ruling party.
Create an "Us versus Them" mentality. Leave no room for opinions in between. One that does not support all actions of the ruling party should be considered a traitor.

Seventh step: Use nationalistic and/or religious symbols and rhetoric to define all actions. This can be achieved by slogans such as "freedom loving people versus those who hate freedom." This can also be achieved by the use of flags.

Eighth step: Align all actions with the dominant deity.
It is very effective to use terms like, "It is god's will" or "god bless our nation."

Ninth step: Design propaganda to show that your soldiers
have feelings, hopes, families, and loved ones. Make it clear that your soldiers are doing a duty; they do not want or like to kill.

Tenth step: Create and atmosphere of fear, and instability
and then offer the ruling party as the only solutions to comfort the public's fears. Remembering the fear of the unknown is always the strongest fear.

We are not countries. We are not nations. We are not religions. We are not gods. We are not weapons. We are not ammunition. We are not killers.
We will NOT be tools.

I will not die.
I will not kill.
I will not be your slave.
I will not fight your battle.
I will not die on your battlefield.
I will not fight for your wealth.
I am not a fighter.
I am a human being.

lyrics by Anti-Flag, from the song "Anatomy of Your Enemy".

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meet Our Newest Fighter: Travis G. Blankenship

T.G. Blankenship has spent the last 2+ years working as a Resident Assistant for a nonprofit called Transitional Youth in the Pacific Northwest. Transitional Youth helps homeless and at-risk youth get back on their feet through communal living, counseling, education on communication and conflict resolution.

As a Resident Assistant he lives alongside the youth who come into the house and functions as relational support and as an accountability and lay counselor. He has also spent the last few years working with various youth groups and guest speaking and teaching at churches across the nation.

Travis is currently working with his congregation to move siblings of faith from seats to streets by creating awareness of the various ministries already present in the city and helping to make the connections people need in order to begin participating in the ministries that fit their gifts and break their hearts.

He graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries in 2007 from Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, OK. During his senior year of studies he became convinced of the call of non-violence within the Gospel and has been studying and writing on the lifestyle ever since.
After graduation he moved to Atlanta, GA to live and work on the streets with the homeless men and women there. He discovered his passion for loving the poor and finding solidarity with those in suffering.

Since then he has worked in various ministries that help those in poverty, prison, drug culture, and rehab.

He recently moved back to Vancouver, WA and he is currently in his final semester for acquiring his Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, OR.

Travis was raised in his faith in the Church of God movement out of Anderson, IN and he desires to work in congregations to help people understand their identity in Christ as individuals as well as members of the Body of Christ. He would also like to help move people into active and consistent ministries of reconciliation while teaching the ethics and lifestyle of Jesus Christ.

He desires for people to live into the victory and reign of Christ as kingdom of heaven citizens. He wants to see inner-cities transformed through the Church by means of generous hospitality, non-violence, truth speaking, justice seeking, artistic expression, and more.

He would also like to spend some time in Palestine/Israel, if possible, to work for peace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reality vs. The Nonviolent Dream

by Travis Glenn Blankenship

As a boisterous nonviolent advocate I often receive criticisms from people who disagree with my ideas. Whether I am discussing how I would treat a home intruder, a mugger assaulting an innocent person, a wicked and murderous dictator, or nuclear disarmament I am often told that my head is in the clouds and I am not cognitive of the real world. “That’s just not the way it works” people tell me.

Relevant Magazine writer Tyler Wigg-Stevenson wrote an article concerning the recent activity at the United Nations concerning nuclear disarmament and brought it to a personal level with the Church. In his article he wrote “I’ve gotten used to the predictable attacks: “utopian,” “idealistic,” unrealistic” and worse. Some say that I need to live in the “real world.” But there is a simple response to this: Does God rule over the “real world” that you live in?”

This is a fantastic response to the nay-sayers who say living a peaceful or nonviolent life is impossible or that loving enemies and not bringing harm to the wicked will be of no profit. Well, this response works if the nay-sayers are Christian anyways.

Here’s the deal my Jesus loving friends, all things are possible with G-D. Sure the verse that tells us this is in reference to salvation for the rich but it remains true in this context. There can be salvation/deliverance/redemption for anyone with G-D. And if you won’t buy that one then let me say that G-D “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

If we seek to love enemies and see this violent world transformed into a peaceful one then our greatest resource is prayer. James 5:17 tells us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” This portion of scripture goes on to tell about Elijah and how his prayers came to pass and he was a man just like us. Our Messiah even told us that if we tell mountains to be thrown into the sea (Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:23) it will happen because whatever we ask for will be given to us (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, John 15:7, 16:23-24).

But why all this prayer? Why is it effective? Certainly it is not because of whom we are or our achievements but because the one we pray to and who intercedes for us has defeated both sin and death (1Corinthians 15:55-57) and he has also made a spectacle of all powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15).

Because the earth and its elements obey our G-D (Luke 8:25), and because both good and evil men may be used for his purposes (Judges 2:16, 1Kings 11:14) our prayers may come to pass (otherwise why say “amen”). Because there are promises for protection (Psalm 12:5, 37:28, 41:2, 91:14, Jeremiah 49:11, 2Thesselonians 3:3) and accounts of our L-RD protecting and delivering those who are faithful (1Samuel20:23, Joshua 24:17, Ezra 8:31, Psalm 116:6, John 17:12) we can believe in living faithful lives that embrace enemy-loving nonviolence.

If G-D can create a universe with his voice alone (Genesis 1:3), heal the sick (Matthew 4:23), stop time (Joshua 10:12-13), cleanse the sinful (Ezekiel 37:23), blind men (2Kings 6:18), speak through animals (Numbers 22:28), drive out demons (Mark 16:9), harden hearts (Exodus 9:12), divide mankind through creating new languages (Genesis 11:1-9), bring water out of rocks (Numbers 20:1-11), provide bread and quail from heaven (Exodus 16:1-35), raise the dead (John 11:43-44), protect and deliver his people through the trials of fiery furnaces (Daniel 3), wars (Joshua 24:11-12), storms (Matthew 8:23-26), pits of lions (Daniel 6) slavery (Exodus 20:2, Joshua 24:6-7), a world-wide flood (Genesis 8:1), stonings (John 8:3-11), and genocide (Esther) then why would he not also be capable of such medial tasks as jamming an enemies gun or something similar?

If his power is in the Church (Matthew 28:20b) then why do we see peaceful living and loving enemies as unrealistic?

Often people say it is not because of a lack of faith in G-D but in humanity. It is not because G-d is incapable of empowering and protected his faithful few (Proverbs 2:7) but because humanity is fallen, and often unwilling to submit to righteous living. After all, Satan has dominion in this world (Matthew 4:8). This is a valid point. The only flaw in this argument is that we all know G-D is more than able to overcome evil for us (Psalm 44:7, 60:12, 108:13) and that he stands over and drives out Satan (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). If this were not true he would not command us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). We know there is victory in our G-D because it has been shown in Christ Jesus all ready (Romans 16:20). The minions of evil shudder before the L-RD (James 2:9) and plead with him for mercy (Matthew 8:31) because He is greater than the one who is in the world (1John 4:4). This is why we do not fear what others fear (1Peter 3:14); we have a hope in a victory that is all ready present (Luke 10:18-19, Colossians 2:15). We are fearless while faithful.

If there is a righteous and biblical reason for one following Jesus not to embrace a nonviolent lifestyle I would like to know it. I’ve yet to find one but have found every possible reason to believe faith is enough if it is faith in the one true G-D.

Does this mean we will pray “L-RD, may there be world peace tomorrow. May all war end and all people come to love one another” and it will happen? Not necessarily. After all, one has to consider free will and the factors of temptation and sin. Not all submit to G-D and there is no reason for me to think G-D plans on hitting an “It’s all good” button. That button is more likely going to look like the second coming of Christ Jesus.

Until then, the Church is to live in the reality of the kingdom of G-D and the reality of the kingdom of G-D is that G-D reigns supreme and his love abounds. The reality is that the kingdom came to earth in Christ and is continued in the Church and will be fulfilled someday and all mourning will cease (Revelation 21:4). The reality is that G-D can do more than we imagine and if we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done” and are obedient to him then it will come to pass right where we are at. It may end in our death but history has shown that the Church thrives under such conditions (people being killed for following the Way of Jesus) and scripture tells us this is not worth fearing (1Peter 3:16-18).

The reality is that the L-RD our G-D is with us and able to save. The reality is Jesus Christ reigns.

This article originally appeared here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Now?

Our first Pacifist Fight Club is complete. Many of those I spoke to on Saturday told me that they were in the minority in their family, or their church when it came to following Jesus into non-violence, or compassion for the poor, or embracing the immigrant. This alone made our time together valuable.

The very act of coming together as followers of Christ to affirm the words of Jesus and His impact on our lives was a statement in itself.

It wasn't a book, or a political idea that brought us together - it was Jesus. He is the One who compels us to follow Him into this path of radical compassion and love for enemies. Jesus is the reason we endure the ridicule of our own brothers and sisters in Christ for standing our ground on issues of peace. Jesus is the One who calls out to us to keep our feet on this path of non-violence no matter who opposes us, or what the cost.

Make no mistake, this is not an easy path to walk. We struggle not only against those who mock us from the outside, but from our own internal voice of reason. It would be so much easier to stop and rest. It would be much more comfortable for us if we were to give up on these ideas of peace and mercy and justice. But we also know that to do so - to let go of these ideals - is also to release our grip on Jesus, and none of us is willing to pay that kind of price for comfort.

By the grace of God, we will continue to fight for justice without resorting to violence. We will continue to wrestle with these difficult notions of radical love and Kingdom values like mercy, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and loving our enemies - both personal and political.

Our struggle is not only against the popular culture, or even the current Christian subculture, but against our own apathy and indifference. Only Jesus can rescue us from ourselves. So, we cling tighter to Him and we pray that He would mold us into His image. We ask that Jesus would give us a heart like His own. We pray that Jesus would work the miracle in us that would transform us into His image, so that we can be His ambassadors of the Kingdom and proclaim His message of peace, hope, love, mercy, and redemption.

What happens now? We keep fighting. We keep praying. We keep following.

Pacifist Fight Club never stops. It just changes locations.


Saturday, January 14, 2012


If you're reading this the first Pacifist Fight Club is underway.

Follow live Tweets of the event using the hashtag #PacifistFightClub and we'll post follow-up info and details soon.


Friday, January 13, 2012


From the outside looking in, you might assume that I have no trouble embracing non-violence as an ideal. Especially since I’m the one who’s throwing together this day long conversation about pacifism, poverty and immigration called the Pacifist Fight Club. But the truth is there’s nothing ‘easy’ about following Jesus in these areas. Or any area for that matter.

Jesus warned us that we should count the cost before putting our hands to the plow – or before taking up our cross daily to follow Him. Why? Because he knew it was going to be anything but ‘easy’ for us.

Can I be perfectly honest with you? I struggle personally with several aspects of the non-violence argument. Not that I disagree with it, but that I wrestle with the full implications of the idea on myself and the world around me.

For example, I’m not sure I believe that a non-violent response to the Holocaust of the Jews would have ended the reign of Hitler. Perhaps it would have, perhaps not. In some ways we’ll never know because it wasn’t attempted. History reveals another solution to the problem that runs counter to the idea of non-violence, so we can only speculate. But, honestly I’m not sure how, or if, a non-violent approach may have worked.

I follow Jesus. This is why I embrace the ideas of loving my enemies and turning the other cheek. Without Jesus I would not hold such convictions, but because I love Jesus and I have made a conscious decision to make Him my Lord, I must obey Him in this area and contend for peace whenever possible.

But, if I’m honest, I’m a very violent person. By that I mean that I was raised on television and movies that glorified violence. I read books – and even wrote my own stories – that used the idea of violence as an effective tool to defeat evil. It’s in my blood in ways I cannot even communicate, or fathom completely.

So, I have an internal struggle within myself as someone who believes in the ideals that Jesus communicated, and is trying to live out that Kingdom principle, but is also aware of inconsistencies in his own heart and life.

For example, I recently read a collection of selected writings from Gandhi on the topic of non-violence. Granted, Gandhi is not a Christian, per se, but he was greatly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount (and read it every day). In one chapter, Gandhi made a bold claim that anyone who desired to follow the path of non-violence must become non-violent in every part of his life. In other words, it is hypocrisy to contend for non-violence as an ideal and still practice violence – or take pleasure from violence – in one’s personal life. Or, to put it another way, the condition of our heart must align with our rhetoric before we can honestly speak about non-violence with any sort of integrity.

This idea cut me to the heart. Because I know that I still find violence entertaining. Whether in a film, or a book, or a video game, violence is still tolerated – even celebrated – in my private life.

Then I ran across this quote from an early Christian writer who said, “But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles. How, then, when we do not even watch, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?” - Athenagoras, A.D. 177

Granted, this brother is speaking of watching the actual death of another person, not a dramatic or simulated death. But notice that he says, “…to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him” and “we do not even watch lest we contract guilt and pollution”.

This idea of our imaginations corrupting our hearts is similar to what Jesus says about lust being equal to adultery, or anger being equal to murder. These desires of our heart are revealed as we imagine the sin, and to regard the sin in our heart is the same as committing the sin itself.

So, even though I firmly stand on the side of non-violence for the sake of following Christ, I must confess to everyone that I have not yet arrived at the place where my entire being is fully surrendered to Christ in the way it should be. I am still praying for Him to wash me clean and to turn my whole heart into one that – like His heart – is free from a desire to do harm, or to see others come to harm.

This isn’t the only area where I struggle. I also don’t know how I feel about allowing others to come to harm in the name of non-violence. I don’t know where to draw the line between helping the poor and enabling their sin. I don’t know how to love homosexuals as Jesus does without seeming to approve of their lifestyle. I don’t know how we can help people who are living here illegally without breaking the laws of the land.

Frankly, there are a lot of things I do not know. That’s a given. But these questions are part of why we’re coming together this Saturday (tomorrow) for Pacifist Fight Club. To ask these questions, and to engage in meaningful dialog, and to challenge our assumptions, and hopefully to draw closer to the heart of Jesus so that He might soften us and change us and reveal to us more about who He has called us to be as disciples.

I hope you’ll join us and please bring your own questions with you. I have learned that sometimes well-formed questions are more useful to us than well-formed answers.

Keith Giles

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meet Your Fighters: Wendy Tarr

Wendy Tarr has worked for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California since 2006 and currently serves as the director of  the Orange County chapter (CLUE OC). CLUE OC is a vibrant network of clergy and congregation leaders committed to walking alongside low wage and immigrant families in struggles for justice. CLUE OC draws people from a broad spectrum of faith - including Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim and Pentecostal - committed to addressing low wage poverty in our communities.
CLUE utilizes a faith-rooted organizing model that is guided and shaped in every way by our faith. Our movement is built on the incorporating the practice of non-violence and the lessons from the civil rights movement into local struggles for economic justice. We believe the faith community can provide necessary spiritual and moral leadership and impart vision and courage in movements that bring broad social change to recognizes the dignity and worth of all people. CLUE OC also directs the “Loving the Stranger Network” - a network of evangelicals in Orange County committed to working together from a shared biblical concern to support immigrants and just immigration reform.

Wendy grew up in South Florida and has a B.A. from Florida State University in Communications / Public Relations.  In 2004, Wendy worked for the Florida Catholic Conference as a project assistant for the Farmworker Solidarity Project. She later participated in an intentional community in Calcutta, India that helps to rescue and give job training and employment opportunities for women who have been victims of human trafficking. Wendy was raised in the evangelical church and has a passion to see churches understand the biblical call to justice and to actively participate in societal transformation and reconciliation within the local community. She has taught courses on justice and faith-rooted organizing at Biola University and Vanguard University. She has also presented trainings on Faith-Rooted organizing for other organizers within the Sojourners National Mobilizing Networks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet Your Fighters: Keith Giles

Keith Giles is an author, blogger and copywriter living in Orange, California.  For over 25 years he's been writing and publishing articles on faith, culture, and the Kingdom of God.

Since 2006 he and his wife, Wendy have been leading a house church in their community where no one takes a salary and all the offerings are given to help the poor.

As the organizer of local events like the Non-Con, Engage, the Heart of Jesus and Poverty in the OC, he has many years of experience planning and promoting interactive, conversational events designed to stimulate thought and most of all - action - in today's Christian community.

Last year, Keith published his 5th book, "This Is My Body:Ekklesia as God Intended" and has since given away over 3,200 free copies of the e-book version which is available HERE:

His other books include, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)", "The Gospel:For Here or To Go?", "The Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't), and "[Subversive Interviews]" which collects his previous interviews with authors, scholars, songwriters and professors like Dallas Willard, Todd Hunter, Jim Wallis, Matt Redman, Dr. Scott Bartchy, John Fischer, Dr. G.K. Beale, and others.

Keith's main blog is found at, but he also created and maintains several other online resources including:, and

His talking points for the Pacifist Fight Club will include poverty in Orange County, "our poor", War is not Christian, and the connection between loving God and loving others.

Questions to consider before you attend this event:
Does God require us to do more than write checks when it comes to engaging the poor?
How serious is Jesus when He says that those who do not care for the poor will enter into eternal punishment? (See Matthew 25:31-46)
What will you say to Jesus when He asks you what you did to the "least of these?"
How can you reconcile being a follower of Jesus and supporting military conflict at the same time?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


PACIFIST FIGHT CLUB: This Saturday, January 14th, from 10am to 2:30pm.

"We will fight for justice, but we will do no violence."

This is a FREE Event. Please Register online to hold your spot. Space is limited.

Fuller Seminary (Irvine)
2061 Business Center Dr
Irvine, CA 92612

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Take the Vow of Non-Violence

RECOGNIZING THE VIOLENCE IN MY OWN HEART, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus
  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.
God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Become Convinced

"I kicked against the goads of non-resistance for a long time, trying to find loopholes to indulge my baser impulses for violence and vengeance. But the words of Christ and of Paul convinced me that I have no property, no rights, not even my own life that is valuable enough to kill or hurt another over." - Arthur Sido.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our Weapons

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jesus and the Church Triumphant by Greg Boyd

In my opinion, the most tragic event in history took place on October 28, 312AD, in ancient Rome. On this date the emperor Constantine defeated a rival to become sole ruler of the Roman Empire.

This would have been just another example of the sort of bloodletting that has typified human history were it not for one fact: Constantine attributed this victory to his new found deity, Jesus Christ. He allegedly received a vision just prior to the battle that promised him victory if his soldiers marched into it with the sign of Christ on their shields.

 It was the first time in history that the name of Jesus was associated with nationalistic violence. Having set this precedent, however, it would hardly be the last.

 While Jesus and the Gospel authors identified the quest for political and nationalistic power to be a temptation of Satan (Lk 4:7-7), Eusebius, Augustine and other Church leaders interpreted Constantine’s vision and the consolidation of power under him that his victory brought about to be from God.

A cornerstone of pagan religion throughout history has been the assumption that military victories are granted by the victor’s god. With this diabolic christening of Constantine’s vision, Christianity became, to a large degree, just another violence-prone pagan religion, and Jesus just another nationalistic warrior god. Whereas the New Testament makes it clear that the Church is called to be a community of humble peacemakers who follow the example of Jesus by sacrificially serving the world and loving their enemies, the Church now became “the Church Triumphant.” The Church that was called to look like a corporate Jesus – carrying the cross out of love for the world – now began to look like a corporate Caesar, carrying the sword to conquer the world “in Jesus name.”

The sovereign God of course continued to work through the Constantinian Church Triumphant, and the good that the Church has accomplished throughout history shouldn’t be minimized. Yet, because of this tragic Constantinian transformation, the Church Triumphant (for the most part) failed to bear witness to the self-sacrificial, enemy-loving, character of Jesus that lies at the heart of the Gospel.

While there have thankfully always been Jesus-followers who opted out of the Church Triumphant by refusing to pick up the sword, the Church as a whole has consistently shown itself to be all-too-willing to employ it. In the name of Jesus the Church has at various times carried out barbarically violent crusades against Muslims, Jews, heretics, witches, and even other Christians.

In the name of Jesus the Conquistadors conquered the Americas, slaughtering the natives whenever it was expedient to do so. And in the name of Jesus, Catholics, Protestants and the Orthodox Church frequently engaged in religious, political and nationalistically motivated torturing and killing, often against one other. This macabre bloodshed in Jesus name was significantly curbed throughout Europe with the signing of the “Peace of Westphalia” (1648), a series of politically motivated truces that were imposed by governmental rulers to put an end to the relentless Christian-on-Christian bloodletting that had been going on for centuries. But the violent legacy of the Church Triumphant nevertheless continued in other areas and in other ways.

We should discern this tragic legacy in the American revolution as well as the American civil war, for in both wars the warriors were Christians fighting “for God and country” under the banner of Jesus Christ. And we should discern this violent legacy today in the fact that the vast majority of professing Christians continue to support the use of violence when it’s in their personal or national self-interest to do so.

We should also discern this violent legacy in the fact that most professing Christians in the west, especially in America, continue to believe that the material wealth they enjoy is evidence of divine favor, despite the fact that it is in large part the result of violent exploitation in the past as well as the present. And we should discern this violent legacy in the fact that many American Christians continue to embrace the age-old pagan conviction that our soldiers fight “for God and country” and that our military victories are given us by God. 

When the late Jerry Falwell was asked on national Television several years ago what he believed America should do in response to the 9/11 attack, he responded with a calm smile, “we need to blow them [terrorists] all away in the name of the Lord.” He was simply expressing, and perpetuating, the violent legacy of the Church Triumphant.

What makes the legacy of violence in Jesus name demonically ironic is that Jesus – whom all Christians claim to follow – was utterly opposed to all violence!

To appreciate how radical Jesus’ stance on non-violence was, we need to remember that Jesus was a first century Jew. Jews were at this time under the rule of Rome, and they hated it. Most saw submission to pagan rulers as not only oppressive (which it was) but also as an assault on their faith. Since they worshipped the true God, they reasoned, heathens who worship idols shouldn’t rule them.

For this reason, most Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for God to vindicate them by liberating them from Roman rule and reinstating Israel as a sovereign nation. Accordingly, most were looking for a Messiah who would be used by God to accomplish this. Central to their concept of the Messiah was the assumption that he’d be a warrior king like David in the Old Testament. Most expected the Messiah to rise up in the power of God, lead a violent revolt against the Romans, and liberate Israel with the power of the sword.

Into this tense and violent-tending environment comes Jesus. Because of his supernatural power, many started to look to him as the Messiah, and he told his closest confidants that he was, in fact, the Messiah. But instead of talking and acting like a warrior king, Jesus repeatedly, and emphatically, taught his fellow Jews that they shouldn’t seek to violently overthrow their enemies. They should rather seek to love and serve them.

His message couldn’t have possibly been more radically counter-cultural. It’s what ultimately got him crucified. In one passage, for example, Jesus said, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also” (Luke 6:27-29). And lest anyone missed the point, Jesus came back to it six verses later.

While everyone loves their friends, Jesus continued, the distinctive mark of all who follow him is that we are to love our enemies and do good to them (Luke 6:35-36).

What’s particularly astonishing is that Jesus made loving our enemies the condition for being considered a child of God. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus taught: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45-46, emphasis added). What Jesus is teaching us is that, just as the Father sends rain indiscriminately, his followers are to love indiscriminately -- all people, at all times, no “ifs,” “ands” or “buts.” And we must love like this so that we may be children of the Father! To refuse to love like this, in other words, disqualifies one from being considered a child of God.

How Constantine and Church leaders like Augustine could ever associate the name of this peace-loving Messiah with violence is an utter mystery. One is tempted to appeal to the deceptive power of the devil to explain it.

A little earlier in Matthew Jesus told his followers, “Do no resist an evildoer” (Mt 5:39). Now, the Greek word translated “resist” (antistenai) doesn’t suggest followers of Jesus are to simply sit back and let evil take over. The word rather connotes resisting a forceful action with a similar forceful action. Jesus is thus forbidding his followers to respond to violent action with a similar violent action. But he’s not saying, “Do nothing.”

 Paul made this same point when he instructed Christians to never “repay evil with evil” and to never “take revenge. ” Instead, we are to “overcome evil with good” (Romans.12: 17, 19. See also I Thessalonians 5:15 and I Peter 3:9).

We aren’t to do nothing: we’re to love. If our enemy is hungry, we’re to feed them. And if they’re thirsty, we’re to given them something to drink (Romans 12:20).

This is how we’re to respond to enemies according to Jesus and his earliest followers. This is good for us, because it keeps us from sinking to the level of our enemies. And its good for our enemies, for it opens up the possibility that they’ll see the wrong they’re doing and turn from it. And while it may be costly, it’s ultimately good for the world. For this is the only way of responding to evil that actually prevents propagating it further.

It’s important to notice that Jesus never qualified the “enemies” or “evil doers” we’re supposed to love. Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies until they threaten you or your nation; until it seems justified to resort to violence; until they threaten the supremacy of your religion; or until it seems impractical to do so.” Enemies are enemies precisely because they threaten us on some level, and it always seems justified and practically expedient to resist them, if not harm them if necessary. Jesus simply said, “Love your enemies” and “don’t resist evildoers.”

It’s important to also remember that some of the people Jesus was saying this to would before long confront enemies who would feed them and their families to lions for amusement! (The first persecution of Christians broke out under Nero in 64 AD). Jesus wasn’t just talking about being nice to our grumpy neighbors! He was instructing us to love all enemies, regardless of why they’re our enemies, and regardless of how bad an enemy they are.

But Jesus didn’t simply teach about non-violence. He practiced it. When he was being unjustly arrested, his disciple Peter pulled out a sword in self-defense and swung it at one of the hostile guards, cutting of his ear. If ever there was an incident in which “Just War Theory” would conclude that the use of violence was “justified,” this would be it. Yet Jesus rebuked Peter, telling him to put his sword away, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). The history of the human race is largely a bloody merry-go-round of people thinking their use of violence was “justified” and that the world would get fixed if only we who are moral could eradicate the “evil-doers” – if only we could “blow them up in the name of the Lord.” The assumption is a demonic delusion. The use of violence has always, and will always, eventually lead to more violence. Kill your enemy today and you recruit his children and grandchildren to be your enemy for generations to come. Jesus is trying to show us a way of finally getting off this mindless, bloody merry-go-round and live a different way.

After telling Peter to put away his sword, Jesus proceeded to illustrate the different, non-violent, mindset he wants his followers to cultivate by healing the ear of the aggressor that Peter had just severed (Lk 22:51). The Jesus-way of responding to enemies and of transforming the world, we see, is not through violent force, but by doing good to those who oppose us.

Jesus obviously is recommending a radically different way of doing life. This is why he told Pilate that his “kingdom” was “not from this world.” If his kingdom were a “normal” earthly kingdom, Jesus said, his followers would of course fight the way soldiers in all “normal” earthly kingdoms fight (John 18:36). But the movement Jesus came to establish -- a movement he called “the kingdom of God” -- was not at all “normal” in this respect. For the distinctive mark of the people aligned with his movement was that they would refuse to fight to further their causes. Instead, they would love, bless, serve and heal their enemies.

The way of Jesus is the way of self-sacrificial love, not coercive force. This is why Jesus allowed himself to be crucified when he could have more easily called on thousands of warring angels to fight on his behalf (Matthew 26:53). He died as an expression of love for all people – including Pilate, the hostile guard, and everyone else who was crucifying him. He died to reconcile us to the peace-loving God and free us from our addiction to violence. He voluntarily gave his life because he knew that what the world needed was not one more futile attempt at fixing it with violence. What the world rather needed was someone who would give his life to transform the world through self-sacrificial love.

And Jesus tells all of us to follow his example. In a world characterized by cyclical violence, we are to lay down our swords and love, bless and pray for our enemies. It may seem impractical if not outright insane. Jesus said it would. But I’m convinced he was right in believing that the hope of the world lies in people opting to live this way, rather than the more typical way of the violent warrior.

The tribe that follows Jesus will someday reign as “the Church Triumphant.” But as we are told in the Book of Revelation, the way we triumphant is not by using force, but by “following the lamb” (Rev. 14:4), offering ourselves up in love toward others, just as he did.

-Greg Boyd, author of "The Myth of a Christian Nation".

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Violence of Doing Nothing

“No seas metiche” is a phrase I often hear in my neighborhood.  In English we would say, “Don’t butt in” or “Mind your own business”.

In general these can be helpful ways of interacting with neighbors, however I think we take it too far when we fail to listen and use it as an excuse to ignore the issues our neighbors are facing. 

I have not always cared about Comprehensive Immigration Reform, yet as I “butt in” to the lives and stories of my neighbors, I am moved to action. 

Did the Senate vote on December 18, 2010 impact your life?  When the DREAM Act died on the Congress floor by five votes did you weep and mourn?  Maybe not.  If you were anywhere near my sphere of influence you were asked to call and write several lawmakers last year so that undocumented students brought illegally to the US and raised here could earn their legal residency.  Some people did it because they believe that our immigration system needs to be reformed.  Some people did it because they care about me and trust I will not ask them to do something out of line with their faith.  Many people did nothing. 

I understand doing nothing.  I have done nothing many times. I delete the urgent emails calling for action.  Most often I feel that I do not know enough about an issue and the people who do know and care will take the appropriate action and I will do nothing.  Nothing seems better than contradicting.  My friends who did nothing to push for the DREAM Act a year ago were not out there lobbying against it, so they probably felt they weren’t hurting the cause. 

The problem is that while we are doing nothing, thousands of families are being separated as deportations continue.  Dreamers, young people who would be able to earn status under the DREAM Act, are losing hope. 

Thanksgiving weekend this past year a young dreamer, Joaquin Luna, committed suicide.  In a note he left his parents he indicated his depression and hopelessness since the failure of the DREAM Act. As his high school graduation drew near, Joaquin could not envision a change in the system that would usher in the future he desired.  In his case, our doing nothing led to a violent end. 

As we head into 2012, immigrant advocates are predicting that nothing will happen to move us to immigration reform.  No lawmaker will want to take it on in an election year.  The president will do nothing.  And yet something will happen to my neighbors.  They will continue to live daily with the fear that they or their spouse or their grown children will be deported.  They will continue to serve us far below a living wage and under the radar with no worker protections.  They will continue on in landlord-tenant relationships with very little leverage.  65,000 more undocumented students who were raised in the U.S. will graduate from our high schools with no legal right to work or contribute. 
Doing nothing in 2012 will not be neutral.  Nothing results in something and in this case it will be the ongoing violence of fear, poverty and mistreatment. 

So what do we do?  How do we avoid the violence of nothing?  How do we bring peace in our immigrant neighbor's pain?  First we remember that our something is more powerful than politician’s nothing.  We are the people of God and when it feels like there is nothing to do, we pray.  In my activist mind I sometimes forget how “something” prayer is.  When nothing seems to be moving in the natural, we trust that God is moving and working in the spiritual and at the right moment he will break through in our reality.  We pray for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. 

And we can have the courage to be “metiche”; to believe that our neighbors and their stories matter as much as anything happening to us personally.  To open our eyes and our ears to their situation is to do something.  When we know a person and care about what happens to them, then what action to take becomes more obvious.  And even then the temptation to do nothing is there.  We can pat ourselves on the back for listening to people and never take any action to change their situation. 

Sometimes listening is the something - is what is needed and called for.  Sometimes we need to make a bazillion phone calls and rally our community and speak up for the voiceless until someone pays attention that kids are killing themselves because we have failed to provide a path for their future. 

Whatever we do, we have to do something.  To do nothing is not nothing.  To do nothing is to add to the violence and brokenness that the Kingdom came to abolish.   

-Crissy Brooks

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What are we (really) fighting for?

Pacifist Fight Club starts in 9 days.

Join the fight against poverty, apathy, war and violence at Fuller Seminary (Irvine) on Saturday, January 14th at 10am.

This is a free event.

RSVP at Facebook or by leaving your comment here.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Last month most everyone who follows Jesus took the time to remember the birth of the Prince of Peace. We sang songs that announced the incarnation of Christ and we re-read the scriptures that reminded us of the angels who sang of peace on earth and goodwill towards Men.

Jesus was a man of peace. He said that the peace makers would be called the Sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

To be someone who loves peace and brings peace and makes peace is to be like the Son of's to be like Jesus.

Never mind that the American Church today is alligned with a political machine that is pro-war. Never mind that Christians today are more notorious for their hatred of sinners than they are for their love of people who sin.

If you want to be a follower of Jesus, be one who makes peace - in your community, in your workplace, in your family and in your church. Promote peace. Stand up for peace. Become someone who brings the peace of God into the room with you.

As followers of Jesus we need to be experts on the subject of peace. We need to be known as people of peace.

If we cannot love another human being because they disagree with us on doctrine, or because they are from another race, or because they embrace a different faith, or because they choose a different lifestyle than us, we must seriously question whether or not the love of God is in us at all.

Our calling as followers of Jesus is to love people. Freely we have received His love, and freely we are commanded to give it away. The love He gives us is not for us to bury in the ground. It's not for keeping to ourselves. It's for sharing with a world who has never truly known what His love is all about.

In this world we will have trouble. That's one of the promises that Jesus made to us. Trouble will come. And people who dislike us will bring that trouble to our door. How then should we respond? Should we call down fire on them from heaven to consume them? Should we pray for God's judgment to fall on them? Hardly. Jesus condemned such responses in his own disciples. (Luke 9:54)

Instead, our response to this trouble and to hardship and to persecution and disagreement should be love and we should work for peace if at all possible.

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." (1 Thessalonians 5:15

Start today. Let the love of Christ dwell in your heart. Pray for those who persecute you. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with His love for people. Learn to walk humbly with your God and to serve others, even (and especially) if they hate you.

How great would it be if a year from now people could see how your life has reflected the love of Christ?

That's my prayer for each of you, and for myself as well.

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)