A Multi-Religious Call to Fast for Peace


TO REFLECT, TO SEEK A TRUER PEACE, TO PRAYIn the name of the God of compassion, Who commands us to seek peace and justice — In times of profound spiritual crisis, our traditions teach us to fast. Whether it is Jews on Yom Kippur, Christians during Lent, or Muslims during Ramadan — we turn away from filling our bellies to opening our hearts.

We are in spiritual crisis now, and we call all Americans to address this crisis through a fast that opens our hearts to compassion, our minds to wisdom, and our hands to acts of peace.

God calls on us all to seek peace and pursue it.

Yet with deep concern we see the danger that neither the government of Iraq nor the government of the United States is taking this calling as its primary goal.

We see that Iraq may have been secreting weapons of mass destruction despite express decisions of the Security Council, and call upon it to fulfill its promise of open inspections.

And we see that our own government seems ready to ignore our sacred obligations under the United Nations Charter, to abandon deterrence in favor of preventive war, and to use "conventional" weapons that bring on massive destruction, instead of pursuing peace through negotiations and inspections as the first steps in weaving a much stronger fabric of international law and planetary community.

God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love the stranger and the foreigner, to do nothing to others that would be hateful to ourselves.

This we know is not only an ethical obligation but a political truth: The way in which we love or hate our neighbors is the way in which they will respond to us. If we treat our neighbors with contempt and hatred, we will reap their rage and hatred in return.

Yet we see that our government is preparing to sacrifice God's compassion and community on the altar of war — and may win not wealth, not security, not power, but only danger, debilitation, and death.

God calls us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, heal the earth, free the mind and spirit.

Yet with deep concern, we fear that to seek a false security, our government may turn away from these tasks at home and overseas, and pour our resources into death and destruction when the path of life and peace may yet be possible.

God calls us to reflect — to think, to feel, and to pray before we act.

Yet we see that with no evidence of any imminent and urgent danger, our government is rushing into a war that threatens to bring death to many families --"our own" as well as those who live in another country. A war that may engulf in rage and destruction an entire region of the world, one that all our traditions hold especially dear.

At this moment of great danger, we turn toward God, Whose wisdom calls us not to old habits, not to wider destruction, but to fuller creativity.

For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is here with its daytime fasting, reflection, and self-transformation, dedicated to the glory of God. This year, the Muslims among us will especially dedicate their fast to one of the Attributes/Names of God, one dearly sought by the Muslim spiritual seeker: Salaam (Peace).

The Jews among us will call their communities to a Ta'anit Tzibur al HaTzarah — a traditional practice of communal fasting to avert a calamity — to implore God's compassion and turn human concerns toward the Spirit. Especially suited days are Yom Kippur Katan Tevet on December 5, the traditional daytime fast of Asara B'Tevet on December 15 (when the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began 2500 years ago, initiating a disastrous war) or other days chosen by the community.

For Christians, the time of Advent is approaching, traditionally a season of inner and outer preparation to welcome the birth of the Prince of Peace. For some, it has been, and for the Christians among us, it will be a time to fast, making room in busy lives and overly-full selves for the incarnation of God's love. Some have decided to fast on the three Fridays of Advent.

We invite all Americans to join in turning toward our holiest wisdom. For the jagged rhythms of our history now call us all toward a time of fasting and reflection even if our ordinary calendars do not.

We call upon us all to make this fasting a time to share our bread with the hungry, to study more deeply the consequences of war overseas and at home, to actively seek the fullness of peace, to gather with others of different religious communities, and to open our hearts to our God of compassion, community, and peace.


Fahed Abu-Akel, moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA); Rabbi Avruhm Addison, Philadelphia; A'isha Alnahar ; Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Temple University; Am Kolel Community, Washington DC; Carmen Tocon Armas, Associate to the Sisters of Mercy, Peru; Jose Artiga, Executive Director, SHARE Foundation; Naeem Baig, Islamic Circle Of North America; Colette Baldwin, RSM; Jim Barnett, OP, Dominican Fast for Peace; Carl Becker, Kyoto University; Kemal Ian Benouis; Rabbi Phillip Bentley; Rev. Elizabeth A. Braddon, Brooklyn; David B. Burrell, CSC, Hesburgh Professor, University of Notre Dame; Rabbi Pamela Frydman Baugh, Ohalah; Rose Berger, Sojourners; Phyllis Berman, Riverside Language Program; Dr. Shira Birnbaum; Barbara Breitman ; Cherie Brown, National Coalition-Building Institute; Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Director of Religion, Chautauqua Institution ; Walter and Mary Brueggemann; Mary Ann Buckley, SHCJ; Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas; Rev Paul Burks, Retired United Methodist Minister; Marla Caplan; Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, St. John's United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, CA; Rob Cavenaugh, Washington Office, Unitarian Universalist Association; Joan Chittister, OSB, Benetvision; David Cohen, Advocacy Institute; Rabbi Hillel Cohn; Rita A Colicchia; Rev. Harvey Cox, Harvard Divinity School; Phyllis Davies, San Luis Obispo, CA USA; Rev. Richard Deats, Stan De Boe, OSST, Director, Office of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Marie Dennis, Maryknoll Center for Global Concerns; Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb; Rabbi Elliot Dorff, University of Judaism; Rev. Robert Dotzel, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Iowa City, IA; Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ; Rabbi Amy Eilberg; Rev. Sandra Ellis-Killian, The Alethia Foundation; Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Gainesville, Florida (Eve MacMaster, pastor); Bishop Christopher Epting, Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Episcopal Church USA; Mary Ann D. Fadae, Ph.D.; Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition; Rabbi Ed Feld; Merle Feld; Jane and Gerry Fellman; Rev. Richard R. Fernandez; Rabbi Alan Flam; Rev. James E. Flynn, Heber City, UT; Maureen Foltz, Carmelites of Charity International Co-ord. Team, Intercontinental Commission for Justice and Peace; Richard Foltz, Muslim Studies, University of Florida; Brian Freund, Twin Oaks Community, Virginia; Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Reconstructionist Rabbbinical College; Rev. Betty Gamble, GCCUIC-United Methodist Church; Laurence Gardner, Esq. Portland, Maine; Rabbi Laura Geller, Los Angeles; Rev. Flo Gelo, Philadelphia, PA; Rabbi Shefa Gold, Center for Devotional Energy & Ecstatic Practice; Arlene Goldbard and Don Adams; Samuel Goldberger; Nancy Goodman; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb; Dr. Arthur Green, Brandeis University; Larry L. Greenfield, Protestants for the Common Good; David Grinstein, B'Nai Or of Boston; Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Detroit; Rev. Paul E. Hansen, Redemptorist; Rev. Lisbeth J. Hall; Rev. Lyle G. Hall; Dr. Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth University; Karen McLean Hessel, National Council of Churches, Justice for Women Mary Hoffman; Revs Bill and Laura Hoglund, First Congregational UCC, Downers Grove; Leila Houri; Naomi Mara Hyman; Dr. A.S. Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad, Africana Islamic Institute --- Dar al-Salaam, Camden, NJ. ; Rabbi Steven Jacobs; Phyllis Turner Jepson, Local/Regional Development Director, Pax Christi USA; Joseph L. Johnson, Pastor, Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA); Maryam Kabir; Rabbi Daniel Kaplan; Jay P. Katz; Susie Kaufman; Rev. Dr. David A. Killian; John Kleiderer; Debra R. Kolodny, ALEPH; Rabbi Doug Krantz ; Rev. Peter Laarman, Judson Memorial Church; Martha Larsen; Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun; Rabbi Yael Levy; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund; Bishop Tracey Lind, Cleveland, OH; Rev. Ted Loder, Germantown, PA, NCC National Advisory Board ; George Lopez, Joan B. Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame; Margaret Luby, R.S.M; Janet M. Lundskog, Ph.D.; Rabbi Larry Mahrer, Dothan, AL; Julia Malloy-Good; Rabbi Jeffrey Marker; James Matlack, AFSC Washington Office; Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Muslim Studies, Hartford Seminary; Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sound Vision Foundation; Deena Metzger; George Mordechai; Chad Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries; Will O'Brien, The Other Side; Diana Oleskevich, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet; Fr. Jack Omalley, Labor Chaplain; Abdul R. Omar, Joan Kroc Center, University of Notre Dame ; Rabbi Michael Paley, UJA-Federation of New York; Bishop Walter President, Bishop President, Pax Christi USA; Azam Rahaman, Grenada Islamic Foundation; Therese Randolph, RSM; Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf , American Sufi Muslim Association; Rev. George Regas; Justin Resnick, PhD; DeeDee Risher, The Other Side; Rev. Meg Riley, Unitarian Universalist Association; David Robinson, National Coordinator, Pax Christi USA; Rev. Jay Rock, National Council of Churches of Christ; Jenaro Rodriguez; Rev. Del Roper; Lawrence Rosenwald, Program in Peace and Justice Studies, Wellesley College; Rabbi Jeff Roth, Elat Chayyim; Marlene Santoyo, Germantown Friends Meeting Peace & Social Concerns; Muhammed Sarwar, Emirates, Dubai, U.A.E; Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, P'nai Or Religious Fellowship; Richard Schwartz, Author ; Rabbi Gerry Serotta; Enid and Ben Shames; Varnaud Shamsideen, Islamic Center of New London, CT; Duane Shank, Sojourners; Jeffrey Shapiro; Sidney Shapiro; Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel; Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action; Daniel Siegel, ALEPH; Rev. Fred Small, Co-chair, Religious Witness for the Earth; Rabbi Myra Soifer; Janet Stephenson; Rev. Kate Stevens, UCC; John Stoesz, Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia; Jean Stokan,Washington, D.C. Representative, Pax Christi USA; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Islamic Society of North America; Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church; Nora Vincent; Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, Prioress, Benedictines of Erie; Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation; Rabbi Brian Walt, Mishkan Shalom; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center; Deborah E. Watson, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Chimbote, Perú Rabbi Sheila Weinberg; Rabbi Simkha Weintraub; Roger Wertheimer; Rev. Dr. Charles R. White, Wofford Heights, CA; Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Seminary Consortium for ; Urban Pastoral Education; Ronald J. Young, U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East; Rabbi Meryam Zislovich; Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, President Leadership Conference of Religious Women

Organizations listed for identification only.

The Call was initiated by The Shalom Center. Resources on The Shalom Center Website — www.theshalomcenter.org — include:

  • The Multireligious Call to a Fast for Peace with the list of 100+ signers
  • A Liturgy to use or draw on for calling or holding the fast
  • Suggestions for action and study
  • Information about Iraqi-US relations, etc.

Isaiah (Chapter 58) calls us to let our fasting inspire us to ease the suffering of the hungry, the homeless, those in prison. In that spirit, we might choose to —

  • Refrain from food from dawn until dusk
  • Give the cost of uneaten food to feed & empower the hungry in US or overseas
  • Fast from gasoline for one day per week or per month
  • Hold congregational teach-in on Iraq, oil, and war
  • Write letters to the editor together as part of the fast
  • Arrange visits with other congregations to fast together

Let us know you are participating! Email shalomctr@aol.com


Please forward this message to others and help support this effort by filling out this coupon and sending it to — The Shalom Center, 6711 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119.

___ Please add my name to the Multi-religious Call to Fast for Peace. I enclose a (tax-deductible) contribution to spread the word of this effort:

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