Villanovans for Peace is an anti-war student group on campus, for which I serve as faculty moderator. We’re active both on and off campus. For example, the last two years we’ve hosted the Pennsylvania AFSC “Eyes Wide Shut” demonstration of combat boots representing every death of a Pennsylvania soldier in Iraq. We sponsor speakers (e.g., Veterans against the Iraq War) and show peace-oriented movies and documentaries (e.g. The Ground Truth). Last spring we held a successful Peace Awareness Day in the center of the campus and collected many signatures against the Iraq War.
Two weeks ago (September 15) a busload of us went to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate with tens of thousands of others against the Iraq War. I went as the faculty advisor (along with my wife Fran), and you can see many of us in the picture above.
For several years I have joined members of the Brandywine Peace Community in demonstrations on Good Friday at Lockheed Martin’s facility in King of Prussia, PA. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer.
The annual peaceful action takes the form of a religious observance, led by clergy, including the traditional Stations of the Cross. A few participants feel moved to carry the Good Friday message into the world by carrying their crosses and the message to Lockheed Martin employees in the workplace. This action results in their arrest for disorderly conduct or trespass.
This year, after a long and thoughtful process, I decided to attempt to carry the Good Friday message to Lockheed Martin employees, and I was arrested for disorderly conduct on their driveway entrance.
On Wednesday, July 5, 2006, I appeared before the Magistrate of District Court 38-1-09 of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for trial on the charge of Disorderly Conduct arising from a peaceful demonstration at Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA, on Good Friday, April 14, 2006.
I entered a not guilty plea as follows:
I do not feel I am guilty and so, in due respect for the law, I cannot plead guilty. My particular purpose that Good Friday was to bring to the Christian workers of Lockheed Martin the message that making weapons systems that could destroy mankind is not a practice that Jesus could approve of. I believe there is legal justification because my peaceful action opposes the greater crime of violation of the Nuremberg Principles, the United Nations Charter, and the Geneva Conventions, all of which our government has agreed to abide by.
I had ample opportunity to give my defense, and the judge replied, “I basically agree with you; I just can’t agree with how you do it.” He suggested that we pray more. He asked if I worked at Villanova University, and I replied affirmatively. He addressed me as Dr. Sheldon, and I addressed him as Your Honor.
The judge reduced the fine to $50 from the maximum of $300, and Court costs, which I will pay when the bill arrives. We shook hands at the conclusion.
I could post full descriptions of past peace activities I have participated in, but don’t know that it would be helpful here. I’ll identify a few examples – please contact me if you wish more information:
- Counseling conscientious objectors to war (COs) concerning a military draft.
- Preparation of alternative service opportunities for COs in case of a draft.
- Peace actions before and during the Persian Gulf War.
- Peace actions before and during the Iraq War.
- Participation in international meetings of war tax resisters.
- Action at the Pentagon.
- American-Soviet Peace Walk (before the collapse of the Soviet Union).
- American Professors for Peace in the Middle East (in Israel/Palestine and Occupied Territories).
To learn about peace actions occurring right now, go to the links provided on the upper right.
There is no WAY to peace. Peace IS the way.