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Saturday, October 22, 2016
Christian peacemakers take to the streets
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¬†More than 150 people, members of religious orders, human rights and peace groups, took to the streets of Westminster on Tuesday to challenge government policy on arms trade during a week when it was 'business as usual' for the arms export industry at the Farnborough Air Show. Their protest also followed reports by House of Commons Committees who claim that decisions to continue selling arms to India and Pakistan during the latest crisis, flies in the face of the government's own export guidance. This was part of the Call to Conversion initiative of Pax Christi and the CAAT Christian Network, launched in April. Since then thirty religious leaders, including Archbishop Rowan Williams, Church of England Bishops Colin Bennetts, Graham James, James Jones, David Stancliffe, John Sentamu , Roman Catholic Bishops Malcolm McMahon, Crispian Hollis, Mark Jabala, Thomas McMahon, Kieran Conry, Philip Pargeter, Kevin McDonald, Edwin Regan, John Crowley, Dr Kenneth Greet, Norman Shanks, Leader of the Iona, Jesuit Fathers, Gerry Hughes and Chris Boles, have endorsed the Call to Conversion Statement. The Call to Conversion statement was delivered to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Treasury, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Downing Street during a prayer pilgrimage. The specific political demands were for the Government to tighten its export controls and keep to those guidelines already in place; to end subsidies, currently around £760 million, to arms export companies and to help companies involved in the arms trade reorientate from military to civil production by creating a National Conversion Fund. This coincided with a letter to The Times by church-leader signatories of the Call to Conversion in which they stated: "Christian communities around the world urge us to do what we can to stop the flooding of their countries with weapons and to end the exploitation of political differences and conflicts that make financial profit."
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