|Le Anne Clausen, SOA 11|
Le Anne was released in early May 2008. Click here to read her blog on her experiences.
Le Anne Clausen, 29, faced trial in January 2008 in Columbus, GA for civil disobedience at the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Originally from Mason City, IA, she became active in social justice issues in high school and college. After graduation from Wartburg College (Waverly, IA) and spent four years in the Middle East as a human rights worker, primarily with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Israel/Palestine and Iraq. She has also traveled with human rights and peacemaking programs to Afghanistan, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the U.S./Mexico border.
Clausen received her MA in Christian-Muslim relations in 2006 and is completing her M.Div. degree at Chicago Theological Seminary. She is a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), and founder of SeminaryAction, the Center for Faith and Peacemaking, and the GlobalServe Co-op --all programs designed to help students, young adults, and new religious leaders cooperate across faith backgrounds in ending violence and restoring the communities in which we live. Her first book, Before Abu Ghraib: A Human Rights Worker's Journal, is pending. You can also read her blog, www.young-activist.blogspot.com.
by Le Anne Clausen
I'm a final-year ministry student at Chicago Theological Seminary, and co-chair of the Student Senate. I am student pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Chicago. I am also coordinator of SeminaryAction and the new Center for Faith and Peacemaking here in Hyde Park, which organizes new religious leaders as well as young global activists (our current website is www.seminaryaction.org).
And I'm planning on spending part of spring term in prison.
I'm preparing for civil disobedience, or 'crossing the line,' at this year's public witness to shut down the SOA in Columbus, GA.
I went to SOA rallies in college and again in seminary, and decided last year that I would attempt civil disobedience this year. Oddly enough, it is a sluggish year for seminarians--I don't know that many others are going. I served three years with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and the US/Mexico border. I have also been involved with Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Occupation Project here in Chicago. The first part of December, I hope to join the Fellowship of Reconciliation interfaith peacemaker delegation to Iran. I have constantly been looking for ways to blend my life as a human rights activist with my life as a seminarian. I am grateful for friends who continue to encourage me along the way.
I am going now, in seminary, because it is a cause I have believed in for so long and an action I feel I have put off long enough.
I am going now, in seminary, because I believe that nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience is an important part of my formation in ministry.
I am going now, in seminary, because I have fewer responsibilities to others now than I will once I graduate, financial and otherwise; and my faculty has been willing to walk with me in this process.
I am going now, in seminary, because my church and my candidacy committee are also willing to walk with me in this process.
I am going now, in seminary, because I was a human rights worker in Iraq before I came to seminary, and I worked with the families of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
I am going now, in seminary, because I have friends who have come to seminary, who were once tortured, and are now refugees, and our country is responsible. The SOA is one big way in which our country is responsible for torture.
I am going now, in seminary, because religious leaders have been tortured and killed by the SOA.
I am going now, in seminary, because last year in Congress we were only 6 votes away from shutting down this terrible place, and I believe my arrest will inspire others to 'inspire' those remaining Congresspersons to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
I am going now, in seminary, because the American Academy of Religion conference is in Chicago next year and I can't go to SOA then.
I am going now, in seminary, to witness to other seminarians that it can be done.
There are a few things I'm worried about before going. My greatest concern right now for civil disobedience is raising the money for bail, which is now $1,000. I am trying to ask my communities for support. I am also nervous that I might end up with more than a month or two in prison, but I have found friends who will help me with my work at the Center if I do go into prison for a longer time.
I'm looking forward to joining the 8th Day Center for Justice bus, and I'm looking forward to getting to know as many folks as possible who are working for peace in Chicago. I am excited by the De Paul University students who have organized busloads to attend. I'm excited to join the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship when I get to Georgia. I am excited by the monastic orders, religious communities, and other religious leaders who attend every year.
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