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Public Hearing At NY Riverside Church Discusses Conscience In War

 

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Retired Army Chaplain, Combat Veterans and “Just War” Experts to Testify

 

[New York City ] – A diverse coalition of forty religious, academic, advocacy and veterans groups will host the first Truth Commission on Conscience in War at the same location where The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, The Riverside Church, on March 21 at 4:00 p.m.  At the event, commissioners will receive testimony from recent veterans, religious leaders and legal experts about issues of conscience facing service members serving in war.

 

“In his Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama argued that nations will at times ‘find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified,’” said Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Project Director of the Truth Commission and Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good.  “We are asking: What happens when a service member is asked to fight in a war that he or she believes is not morally justified?” Current military regulations recognize Conscientious Objector status, but only for those who oppose “war in any form.”  The Commission’s stated goal is to honor and protect freedom of conscience for our nation’s service members.

 

Joshua Casteel who served as an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib will be among those who testify.  Casteel grew up an Evangelical Christian and attended West Point.  He was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary, Soldiers of Conscience. Casteel will be joined by Rev. Herman Keizer, Jr., the Commission’s Honorary Host. Keizer is a retired Army Chaplain (COL) and former chair of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces.

 

The March 21st public hearing is free and open to the public.  For details, the public can visit www.conscienceinwar.org.

 

Testifiers and expert witnesses include: Jacob C. Diliberto, Marine Special Forces veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, Founder of Rethink Afghanistan, Fuller Theological Seminary; Logan Laituri, Army veteran with service in OIF II, Co-founder of Centurion's Guild; Camilo Mejia, Army veteran and conscientious objector, author of Road from Ar RamadiChris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning former war correspondent for The New York Times and author of War Is a Force That Gives Us MeaningDr. Camillo “Mac” Bica, Professor of Philosophy, School of Visual Arts, former Marine Corps Officer and Vietnam Veteran; Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, Associate Vice President, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Army veteran; J. E. McNeil, Executive Director, Center on Conscience & War.

 

A list of commissioners and co-sponsors is available at www.conscienceinwar.org.

 

The Commission is being organized by Faith Voices for the Common Good, Luna Productions, The Ministry and Social Justice Commission of The Riverside Church, Starr King School for the Ministry and Union Theological Seminary.

 

The Riverside Church (www.theriversidechurchny.org) is an interracial, interdenominational and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927.  The 2,400-member Riverside Church in Morningside Heights has a rich tradition of providing a forum for important civic and spiritual leaders. Past speakers include: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President William J. Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

 

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