Christians gather in D.C. for war protest
WASHINGTON – Thousands of people gathered for a Christian anti-war worship service Friday night at the Washington National Cathedral, kicking off a weekend of protests around the country to mark the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.The service was to be followed by a candlelight march to Lafayette Park, across from the White House. Organizers of the event said more than 700 people have volunteered to risk arrest by crossing the street and demonstrating on the sidewalk in front of the White House.”Millions of people around the world sadly believe this is a Christian war,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, one of the groups sponsoring the event. “We have to clear up the confusion.”Civil rights historian Taylor Branch, who planned to participate, said it is important for churches to be leaders in the anti-war movement.”It seems to me sad that Christians so easily have put aside our core beliefs, that we love our enemies and we do not believe in violence,” said Branch, a Presbyterian elder.Other organizations behind the event include the American Friends Service Committee, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and two dozen Protestant and Catholic groups.The Friday night events mark the beginning of what is planned as a weekend of protests ahead of Tuesday’s anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, which began on March 20, 2003.On Saturday morning, a coalition of protest groups has a permit for up to 30,000 people to march from the Vietnam War Memorial across the Potomac River to the Pentagon. Smaller demonstrations are planned in cities across the country.