California: Episcopal bishop arrested in peace protest

 Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California was arrested on December 7 for blocking the front door of the San Francisco federal building to protest over the Iraq war. Bishop Andrus said his protest sprang not just from his own convictions about the war but "from a base of considered opinion by the House of Bishops and the Episcopal Church." "It's not a capricious act, but it is my conviction that while there's widespread opposition to this war, that the elected leaders need to know that we continue to want concerted and active moves towards peace," he said. Andrus, carrying his crosier and singing "Down by the Riverside," was among 250 protesters, including members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and people of other faiths, who had marched from Grace Cathedral, on Nob Hill, to join the monthly "die-in" lead by Quakers on Golden Gate Avenue near City Hall. The bishop celebrated a requiem service in front of the building. After communion about two dozen participants lay down one by one in front of the federal building. Bishop Andrus was the first of 11 people to be arrested. They were cited for unlawful assembly and told they could either pay the charge's $125 fine or appear in court at a later date. All 12 decided to appear in court. Andrus said the decision was made as a way for the group to continue its protest by pleading not guilty "because of our sense that international law and the unjust nature of this war required civil disobedience." He said: " In the Iraq war the numbers of those who have died mounts, and is staggering. While even the numbers of the dead are unknown to many of us, our faith teaches us that God does not forget them."

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