Faith and God pull toward relationships
April 4, 2018 seven people, in a strikingly bold action motivated by faith entered into the nuclear Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. There in a symbolic nuclear disarmament action they spray-painted peace signs, strung yellow police tape, and poured symbolic blood from baby bottles onto submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles. They were promptly arrested and charged with numerous crimes and taken to local county jails.
Now more than a year later three remain in jail. They face a possible 25 years in prison for exposing illegal and immoral nuclear weapons that threaten all life on Earth. Four paid the fine, went back to their homes with an ankle bracelet and agreed to go back to Georgia to stand trial as the Kings Bay 7. They refused to cede to the United States Government the authority to destroy all life by choosing nuclear weapons.
These 7 people: Fr. Stephen Kelly, Martha Hennessy, Liz McAllister, Mark Coleville, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neill, and Clare Grady clearly understood that even though their faith drove them to perform this nonviolent action, they would most likely not be allowed to bring forth this motivation in court. Yet, they hoped. Mark Colville, one of the seven, wrote an amazing letter for the Catholic Worker Newspaper in which he explains how the more a person gets caught up in the Holy Spirit, there is a constant pull toward relationships that “cross borders, cut through fences and nullify terms of separation and privilege.” It became clear to him that “God stubbornly refuses to stay inside the lines that we humans and institutions draw.”
Mark and his companions went to Kings Bay with hope and a clear mind to no longer tolerate our country’s monstrous, poisonous option of possessing, creating, and using nuclear weapons for “security.” Even though Pope Francis, too, has declared “that not only the threat of their use but their very possession is a moral evil that must be firmly condemned,” the serious threat of nuclear weapons persists in our time. The Kings Bay 7 are on trial for saying “No!” to our president, to the military, to all Americans who are willing to stand staunchly for these weapons. The need to maintain nuclear weapons for our “national security” claim by the government does not rank higher than our own inner authority and conscience and the authority we as Catholics give to Pope Francis in helping us form our conscience and perform actions for justice!
Mark makes the daring assertion that to give up our personal authority and not to follow our conscience in standing up for justice is to “betray Christ again, and again, and again. The task at hand now is simply to repeat that refusal again and again and again and let the wind blow where it will.”
Josie Setzler, good friend and peace activist from Fremont, OH has joined the one hundred volunteers at the trial of the seven Plowshares defendants this week of Oct. 21-Oct.26. In her words about her involvement in the trial of the seven Kings Bay Plowshares she writes:
“It makes me happy to know that we will celebrate a Festival of Hope on the eve of the trial. Our friends on trial have given hope to the world by their witness against nuclear weapons. To stay silent would be the death of hope, surrendering ourselves to the grim certainty that one day these weapons will be used.”
Watch “Democracy Now” this coming week. I expect they’ll have news of the trial. Go to www.democracynow.org.
Also follow the trial at kingsbayplowshares7.org/.
It is Thursday Oct. 24. I just received notice that “The Kings Bay Plowshares 7” have been found guilty for their action of protesting nuclear weapons. Their trial happened in a federal courtroom in Brunswick, North Carolina. Though the Gospel was on their side, our government laws were not.