UPDATED: If you are in the Boston area, consider joining the Boston CAM Meet-Up.
1. Place a statement of protest in the collection basket in November. Most churches are taking up a collection for AMS on Nov. 10, the day before Veteran’s Day. Find out when your church is holding the offertory collection for AMS, and then, offer your dissent. Visit our Resources page to find samples of protest statements, .pdfs you can easily print at home and take with you to church.
2. Likely to forget? Sign up for our email list. We’ll email you a reminder when the time comes.
3. Send us information. If you notice a display of militarism in your church, email us about it. Send photographs . We’ll put it on the blog, anonymously if you wish. Examples go a long way toward showing Catholics what militarism in church looks like and providing evidence of its pervasiveness. Even better, if you manage to affect change in your church, tell us your story and explain what you did to bring that change about. It may encourage others who are reticent to speak out. Also, send us notifications about events for our calendar.
4. Attend events in your area! See our calendar.
5. Talk to your parish priest and respectfully voice your objection to specific displays of militarism in your church. For example, many churches pray for soldiers in such a way that gives tacit approval to their actions: “For the soldiers who risk their lives to keep us safe and free, we pray to the Lord.” Instead, suggest the following: “For all the soldiers and civilians killed or injured in war, we pray to the Lord.” If someone gives a pro-war homily on Memorial Day weekend, send a follow-up email expressing and explaining your objection. Many priests are just as uncomfortable with militarism as you and me, but they go along to keep the peace. Let them know your views and they may feel more emboldened and justified in resisting that pressure in the future. Let them know they’re not alone!
6. Spread the word among your fellow Catholics.
7. Discourage young Catholics from joining the military. We often feel social pressure to pat young men and women on the back and express gratitude for their decision to enter the military. Instead, gently express your concern and give them information.
8. Contact your Bishop. Explain your opposition to specific examples of militarism you have witnessed or experienced in the Church.
9. Contact the laypeople who are influential in your parish. If you can identify a specific layperson promoting militarism while serving the Church in an official capacity, explain your opposition and suggest specific changes.
10. Follow our blog or Twitter account. We’ll keep you informed about other opportunities for action.
Note about focus and civility:
CAM is focusing on the singular goal of expelling militarism from the Catholic Church. We firmly believe that Catholics from across the political spectrum feel increasingly uncomfortable with creeping militarism in our country and in our church. The potential strength of our movement lies in its ideological diversity. We aim to avoid sparking yet another Liberal vs. Conservative food fight at the Catholic family table.
In addition, CAM encourages all participants to conduct themselves in a peaceful, charitable, and respectful manner. The Catholic religion is a family of believers. We should discuss our difference like members of a loving family, especially when interacting with priests. These men devote their lives to serving God’s people; they shoulder an enormous responsibility; and they don’t micromanage everything happens in a parish or diocese. We don’t want CAM to be Headache No. 232 for the shepherds and princes of the Church. Let’s make our case as best we can, and trust in the Holy Spirit to do the rest. CAM is about changing hearts and minds—not demonstrating intellectual and moral superiority. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Win an argument, lose a soul.”
The key to civility is realizing that most people have good intentions. Militaristic Americans love their country; they’re loyal to friends and family serving in the military; they feel gratitude for liberty; and they honestly believe the world would fall apart without U.S. leadership. These qualities do not make someone a bad person. Furthermore, the American media and education system bombard citizens with militaristic propaganda from an early age; most people have neither the time nor the inclination to seek out alternative views on complex subjects that have no direct impact on their everyday lives. So let’s engage our brothers and sisters in rational discussion; let’s avoid calling people “ignorant, “naïve,” “stupid,” “evil,” or “hypocritical” if they disagree with our views.
People who challenge military actions in a militaristic society often get accused of being “pacifists,” “traitors,” “isolationists,” “anti-American,” or “unpatriotic.” If that happens, we must resist the temptation to call them “chickenhawks,” “fascists,” or “bloodthirsty heathen idolaters.” We must practice the virtues of prudence, patience, and modesty. We know it’s hard. We will try our best on this website; we ask you to do the same. If a fellow Catholic challenges your views in an abrasive or confrontational manner, we recommend responding with something like the following:
You strike me as a good person. I don’t question your faith, your intelligence, or your patriotism. Please don’t question mine. We simply disagree about the appropriateness of militarism in the Catholic Church. If I’m wrong, I would love for you to educate me. Please read this manifesto with an open mind, and I promise to read your response with an open mind. Here’s my email address. If you can convince me I’m wrong, I will gladly disassociate from Catholics Against Militarism. If we have to agree to disagree, God be with you. I’ll see you around Church.