October 16, 2019

Ellsberg, Wallis Headline Nov. Peace Event

By Donald Gilpin

Daniel Ellsberg, a renowned whistleblower since he released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times almost 50 years ago; and Jim Wallis, Sojourners magazine founder and editor, will be the headline speakers at a November 10 Princeton peace event, including a Multifaith Service at the Princeton University Chapel in the morning and an afternoon Conference for Peace at the Nassau Presbyterian Church on Nassau Street.

The 40th Anniversary Conference and Multifaith Service, sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and co-sponsored by 37 area religious and civic groups, will also feature Ray Acheson, the U.S. representative of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Shiho Burke, who lived in Hiroshima until she was 13 and whose parents were present during the Hiroshima atomic bombing; Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., and the managing editor and producer of 38 North, a web journal focusing on North Korea; and Frank von Hippel, Princeton University professor emeritus, MacArthur Prize recipient, and former assistant director of the White House Science Advisor’s Office.

Wallis, whose magazine has a combined print and electronic readership of over five million, is a New York Times best-selling author of 13 books, including, most recently, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus. He will preach at the morning Multifaith Service, with faith leaders from a range of world religions co-leading the liturgy.

“A lot of people don’t think about an evangelical minister advocating progressive positions on peace and justice issues,” said CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore, “but that’s exactly where Wallis lands. Wallis has tried to connect people to what he considers, and I consider, the core message of Jesus, and that has a lot to do with peacemaking and nonviolence.”

Moore, who has known Wallis since the 1970s when Wallis was founding Sojourners and Moore was serving in a church in Washington, D.C., noted that Wallis would be talking about the role of Christ’s teaching and his call “in terms of the peacemaking challenges we face today.”

Emphasizing the timeliness and relevance of the November 10 program, Moore pointed out the important role that whistleblowers like Ellsberg can
play. “Look at the whistleblower who finally got Nancy Pelosi off the dime on the impeachment inquiry, along with a lot of other people in the House,” he said.    

Ellsberg, author recently of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, has been warning against the dangers of nuclear weapons and advocating their abolition since the end of the Vietnam War. He has been arrested numerous times over the years at nonviolent protests at nuclear weapons facilities. His 1971 release to the press of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study of the U.S. government’s deliberations concerning the Vietnam War, set off a national controversy and helped strengthen opposition to the war. 

Burke, who will be speaking just before Ellsberg at the afternoon conference, will talk about the reality of nuclear weapons and their effects. “She grew up in Hiroshima and has made this part of her life’s mission, even though her parents are now deceased,” Moore said. “She’s seen the effects up close. It brings this up so it’s not just some esoteric issue. It’s a real issue right in front of us.”

Hippel, a “world class nuclear physicist,” according to Moore, and co-founder of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, will be speaking about Iran, and Town will discuss the nuclear threat of North Korea.

Commenting on several of the peacemaking initiatives advanced recently by CFPA, Moore emphasized that, even though the big issues are not going to be solved quickly, progress is visible, and this conference is a step in the right direction. “We’re excited about this program,” he said. “We always need more people to be educated, mobilized, and activated, and we’re hoping this event is an important contribution to that.” 

He added, “We need people to stay involved for the long haul,” and he emphasized the importance of the 2020 elections, on the state and local, as well as presidential, levels.

The deadline for early bird pre-registration, with significant savings, is Friday, October 25 for the November 10 afternoon conference. Further information is available at peacecoalition.org or (609) 924-5022. The 11 a.m. Multifaith Service in the University Chapel is free and open to the public.

“We encourage those who support diplomacy instead of war with North Korea and Iran, as well as globally, verifiably banning nuclear weapons, to come and be educated and empowered to advocate for that and other peace policies,” Moore said.