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Mother's Day 2007

I stand here with my family today to proclaim that the only way my boys will ever go to war is over my dead body. So shoot me now, or shoot me later, but my children are never going to shoot anyone in the name of the hypocrisy that poses as democracy. It shouldn’t have to hurt to be a child.

Rev. Gregory Stewart and family at the 2007 Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace
Reverend Gregory L. Stewart and his family witness for peace on Mother's Day 2007.
With the Stewarts on the church steps are Moderator Linda Enger and California Assemblyman Mark Leno.

photo by Geoffrey Kulik

Many people come to church looking for answers. I stand before you today with questions. I cannot help but question the power elite in this country who have privatized patriotism for their own profit and reinvented religion in their own image. They claim an historical precedent and a hysterical mandate to form of a culture of conformity that dances only to the drumbeats of war.

To their leader I say with all due respect, “Two-step somewhere else cowboy, I’m not going to goosestep beside you.”

It was the Unitarian Julia Ward Howe who founded Mother’s Peace Day long before Madison Avenue hijacked the holiday, as a plea for peace in her time of war. She roared over the antics of apathy, “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.”

She could easily have been talking about the United States unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq.
We are here today to rekindle the original spirit of Mother’s Day by standing for peace before sitting in pews. Too many mothers and fathers and their families have experienced the loss and the lies of war. We won’t wait any longer.

We cannot let fascism mask itself as democracy or allow America terrorists at home to demonize their own kind abroad. When our most powerful leaders send the most vulnerable Americans to war they terrorize us all. It shouldn’t’ have to hurt this much to be an American citizen.

So if it walks like a terrorist, if it talks like a terrorist, it if maims like a terrorist, if it cowers in congressional halls like a terrorist—it’s a terrorist. One thing we’ve learned for sure in all this mess: Terrorism knows no nationality. It’s time to tell the truth, my brothers and sisters. Mother’s Day is no longer for the faint of heart.

We are here to ask questions, not presume answers. What will it take to realize the world we seek, with peace as normative and war as nonsensical? What will ti take? Can we settle our differences with talking sticks instead of smart bombs? What will it take? There must be a way to feed the world rather than bleed its citizens. What will it take? Who painted the White House blood red?

Oh, I have far more questions than I have answers today. But there is one more thing that emerges from living among warmongers, and that is this: in the fight for peace and justice, God is optional but you are not. You possess the hands and feet of justice. You embody the hearts and minds of peace. You are the keepers of the American Dream.

I close with an observation in light of all the advertisements that demand we find our mothers the “perfect gift.” How about giving Mom a safer world for all her sons and daughters? How about pursuing the peace that passes all understanding?

Forget the gifts. Put down the guns. Bring our troops home. Amen.

Hear the Audio of the Public Witness
(Recording, editing and equalizing by Jonathan Silk)

Slideshow of Photos (from Sonnie Wills, Meg Whitaker-Greene, and Geoffrey Kulik)
Album of the Same Pictures

KTVU - Channel 2
KGO-TV - Channel 7

San Francisco Chronicle

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