January 8, 2020

Peace Coalition Plans Anti-War Rally, Voter Campaign, Multifaith Service

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) announced Tuesday that a Rally for No War with Iran will take place from 12-1 p.m. this Saturday, January 11, at Hinds Plaza adjacent to the Princeton Public Library.

Confirmed speakers so far include Zia Mian, physicist and co-director of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security; former fighter pilot Richard Moody; and CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore.

The CFPA has started the new year in high gear with a campaign to prevent war with Iran, its ongoing 2020 Peace Voter Campaign, and plans in place for a January 20 Martin Luther King Jr. Multifaith Service at Nassau Presbyterian Church.

“When Donald Trump was first elected, my biggest fear was that his impulsive, ignorant, and reckless approach to world affairs would get the U.S. into another war,” Moore wrote Monday in a letter urging CFPA members and others to call and email their congresspersons. “That moment may have arrived. War with Iran would be far, far worse than the disastrous one with Iraq.”

Describing last week’s killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani as “a profoundly reckless move that could have deadly consequences” and calling for Congress “to halt this latest escalation and bring this administration back into line,” Moore continued, “Millions across the region are praying and hoping that this reckless assassination does not open Pandora’s box, but praying isn’t enough. We must put pressure on our leaders to stop war with Iran.”

In a telephone conversation Friday, Moore emphasized the value of diplomacy, Trump’s failure to engage in diplomacy, and the dire consequences of war as the alternative to diplomacy. In its focus in recent years on U.S. relations with Iran and North Korea, the CFPA has mounted a vigorous campaign for “Diplomacy, Not War.”

“Trump torpedoes diplomacy,” said Moore. “There’s no real engagement, no real diplomacy going on. That’s when the danger of war emerges.”

Referring to the Iran nuclear agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration over a three-year period then vacated by the U.S. last year, Moore went on, “There’s no diplomatic track that Trump has been willing to get onto. He wants them to capitulate. That’s his version of diplomacy, but that’s not the way diplomacy works. That’s not the way the real world works. It’s very distressing. We need the diplomatic off-ramp, and that’s not there now. There’s only Congress, and Congress needs to push very hard.”

Peace Voter 2020

Another top priority for CFPA in the coming months is its Peace Voter Campaign, which it initiated in 1995, the first of its kind in the country. It has been a pioneer ever since in what has become a national model for effectively influencing elections for peace and gun violence prevention, according to Moore.

CFPA has targeted about 50 close races in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin since 1995, publishing peace voter guides in print and on their website based on candidate questionnaires and public positions taken. They have also published the peace voter guides as signature ads in newspapers in the targeted districts shortly before election day.

Another CFPA innovation, started in 1999, is 90-minute candidate briefings. CFPA representatives and experts on issues of nuclear weapons and gun violence have met with more than 100 candidates from both parties over the past 20 years. “Candidate briefings give us a chance to start a strong relationship with candidates, many of whom have had no prior experience with the issues we work on,” wrote Moore.

“Obviously this is a crucial election,” he continued, looking ahead to November. “We’re at a place where we have a reckless president, who has already been impeached, and is in danger of getting us into wars. Democracy itself is on the line at this point, and that’s scary.”

CFPA leaders are planning a retreat in February to set their ongoing strategy for the 2020 Peace Action Voter Campaign, but Moore suggested that target contests this year might include Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7) and Andy Kim’s (D-NJ-3) races for re-election to the House of Representatives, as well as the race in the second congressional district where incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2) recently switched from the Democratic party.

Moore added that CFPA will most likely also do some campaign work in Pennsylvania, an important swing state in the 2020 presidential campaign.

“We’re continuing interfaith in 2020,” Moore said. “We’re not a partisan political organization. We value the base we continue to have in the faith community. This is a way of relating to the elections that puts peace on the ballot. Peace and gun violence prevention are on the ballot. It’s really important to express our values in that way.”

The Rev. Dr. Deborah Banks, pastor of the Mount Pisgah AME Church of Princeton, will be the speaker for the Princeton Clergy Association’s Annual Multifaith Service to Commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 20 at 7 p.m. Diverse faith leaders from a wide range of traditions will lead the multifaith worship service.