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Comments on the "West Coast Statement"


May 31, 2006 | bpfna

In a February, 2006, caucus meeting in Oakland, California, representatives of BPFNA Partner Congregations on the US West Coast drafted a statement of their concern that the US is "being led in a fascist direction." Since that time, the statement has been posted on this website and many comments have been received. All of what we've heard has supported to some degree this "West Coast Statement."

Responders have expressed concern about the US national condition in a variety of comments, from suggesting adding to the statement an item about "co-opting religious symbolism and enthusiasm in the service of a politicized nationalistic agenda," to the personal statement that, "The Jesus I love has been hijacked by this administration and the Christian Right." Some have said they planned to print a copy of the statement and send it to their representatives in the US Congress, while others were asking their congregations to adopt it.

One reader took exception on use of the word "fascism", suggesting the word carries with it too much historical baggage to be clear in this context. With no knowledge of this specific concern, Dale Edmondson, a BPFNA member and part of the drafting caucus, wrote us to offer these thoughts on use of the word "fascism":

While reflecting on the appropriateness of using "fascism" in the statement proposed by West Coast Partner Congregations to describe the current direction in our national life, I happened to view the 1961 film, "Judgment at Nuremberg," which draws on the proceedings of the landmark trial of Nazi officials following World War II.

I saw a disturbing parallel between its review of Germany’s movement toward fascism and the events of our own time in our own nation. The film highlighted the following about actions taken by Germany as it moved on its tragic path:

1. Changes in the law were made incrementally, a step at a time.

2. Drastic actions were taken within an atmosphere of fear of an enemy, often out of a passionate love for country and in the name of national security.

3. Those taking these actions sometimes viewed them as unfortunate, but necessary, and only as a passing phase.

4. Arrests were authorized by the Chancellor for persons against whom no charges would be brought and whose imprisonment would be of indefinite length.

5. Some citizens refused to believe documented reports about the abuses of their government.

6. Some defendants said their actions were taken as a means of protecting cherished values.

7. One official stated, concerning his own participation in these acts, "I never dreamed it would come to this."

My unease, after viewing this 25-year-old film, was heightened when I read in the New York Times about the Presidential "signing statements" issued when bills were signed into law. Seven hundred and fifty times, the present President has issued such statements which indicate he does not intend to carry out or enforce any part of the new law he deems to be against national security interests!

Dale K. Edmondson
San Leandro, CA

read the West Coast Statement

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