500 Fridays

by Stephen F. Rohde In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, resulting in the deaths of almost 3000 people from 90 countries at the World Trade Center, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon, the United States had a fundamental and historic choice. The US could remain true to its ideals and principles, embrace international law, and lead the world in condemning the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and bringing them to justice? Or the US could cast aside those ideals and principles, demean international law as obsolete, unleash the shock and awe of its vast military power, and launch aggressive wars in the name of retaliating against those it accused of committing and supporting the 9/11 attacks. Tragically, the US compounded the tragedy of 9/11 by choosing the latter and that has made all the difference. Ten years later, over 6,080 US soldiers are dead (including 30 just recently in Afghanistan), 120,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians are dead and millions more have been displaced, countless homes and communities have been destroyed, economies have been devastated (including our own), and for all this, the US has spent more than $4 trillion. From the day it was founded in September 2001, ICUJP, in coalition with a growing chorus of voices, pleaded with President Bush, other elected officials and religious and secular leaders to reject fear and embrace the Rule of Law, to avoid overreaction and pursue reconciliation, and above all else to Stop Blessing War and Violence. Our voices fell on deaf ears, as blind patriotism held sway and the Bush administration lied to the American public to rally support to first attack Afghanistan and then Iraq. The US established a permanent state of undeclared war, violence and occupation; suspending civil liberties, violating human rights, demonizing Muslims, Arabs and South Asians and plundering our communities at home to finance war and domination abroad. ICUJP met the onslaught of hate and death and insanity by meeting on 500 Fridays, organizing hundreds of speakers, public events and education forums. As the US invaded Iraq, our Founder, Rev George Regas cried out to all who would listen: "The sin at the heart of this war against Iraq is the belief that an American life is of more value than an Iraqi life. That an American child is more precious than an Iraqi baby." Rev. Regas spoke directly to President Bush on behalf of ICUJP and all peace-loving people: "God loathes war. At the time of the trauma of September 11th you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world, 'We will respond but not in kind. We will not seek to avenge the death of innocent Americans by the death of innocent victims elsewhere, lest we become what we abhor.'" As ICUJP commemorates its 10th Anniversary, having unwaveringly spoken truth to power, we rededicate ourselves to the unfinished work of building a world committed to Peace and Justice. Stephen Rohde Chair Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of ICUJP, at 7 pm on Sunday, September 11, 2011, at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA, we will honor Reverend Dr. George F. Regas with the Courageous Peacemaker Award and announce the Regas ICUJP Internship. Please join us for a distinguished panel discussion of interfaith leaders confronting the agonizing realities of the wars and violence visited on the world these past ten years. Explore how people of faith and conscience can help repair communities here and abroad and create paths to peace, justice and reconciliation. PANELISTS
  • Hussam Ayloush, Council on American Islamic Relations
  • Rev. Carissa Balwin, All Saints Church
  • Rabbi Leonard Beerman, Leo Baeck Temple
  • Rev. Louis Chase, Hamilton United Methodist Church
  • Rabbi Laura Geller, Temple Emmanuel
  • Aziza Hasan, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Moderator: Rev. Dr. George F. Regas, Founder of ICUJP and Rector Emeritus of All Saints Church SONGS of PEACE by accomplished jazz musician Bill Cunliffe For details and downloadable flier, visit ICUJP: The Urgency of 9/11/11 Sign up for Special Reception or Sponsorship here, or email icujp@pacbell.net for information, or phone (213) 748-1643
War Is Not The Answer ~ Religious Communities Must Stop Blessing War & Violence