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Chris Lieberman, SOA 11 PDF Print E-mail
On January 28, 2008, Chris was sentenced to serve 60 days in prison. He reported to FCI La Tuna, Texas on April 3.

Write to Chris:

Chris Lieberman #93645-020
FCI La Tuna
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 3000
Anthony, TX 88021


Date of Birth: January 21, 1953

Member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Biographical Information:

Chris grew up in the Portland area, graduating with a degree in elementary education from University of Portland, and a M. Div. degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He has been married since 1975 to Joyce Lieberman, who is also a Presbyterian pastor. Chris and Joyce served for 10 years as Associate Pastors with the First Presbyterian Church of Portland. In 1993 their family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where Chris completed a graduate degree in Biblical Studies at Harvard Divinity School. Chris and Joyce has served as co-pastors with the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque since 1995. They have two children, Laura (25), and Eric (22). Chris taught 5th grade before entering seminary, and once had a career with the Post Office. Education includes a M. Div., M. Ed., Th. M. and D. Min. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Statement: on Arrest and Conviction

On Sunday, November 18, thousands of people from around the world gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, for an annual vigil and nonviolent direct action to close the School of the Americas. 1 This marked the anniversary of the assassination of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989. Nineteen of the 26 Salvadoran army officers cited by a UN Truth Commission as responsible for this atrocity were trained at the School of the Americas (SOA). At the vigil, I was one of 11 people who were arrested for trespassing onto Federal property.

We could talk about this as an idea, and discuss the pros and cons of civil disobedience to support those tortured and victimized by people trained and supported by the US government. But I get lost in the arguments –even as recently as last month President Bush insisted, "This government does not torture people."2 And, I get cynical about political statements –I remember another President just as adamantly insisting, “I did not have sex with that women!”3 All too often I have been ashamed when we learn what really happens behind the rhetoric –and all the more, when we haven’t even sought an investigation into the truth.

My action was not a response to an idea; it was a response to God’s call to be a witness for peace and justice. Simply put, it was a way for me to bear witness to Christ’s love in the world. I have been praying all my life: “Our Father . . . Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. . .” Sunday was my time to take a few steps towards letting the way of heaven be a bit more visible on earth. As lost and cynical as I may be, I do not accept that human profits can be so powerful, or human fears so great, that we forget our Lord’s command –and our need– to love neighbors and enemies. I see God working to break down every division that seeks to hurt or harm people. And, for me, “crossing the line” in the annual vigil at Fort Benning gave me a way to participate in the good news of God with us, and to proclaim God’s gift of peace for all people. I believe that peacemaking is the believer’s calling, and a personal part of my response to God’s call upon my life.

I will appear before a judge on January 28, 2008, at a trial for trespassing. I’m preparing for the judge to sentence me to incarceration in a federal prison. I have been arrested, I will be tried, but I’m already convicted by the love of God in Jesus Christ.

1 School of the Americas (SOA), now called the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

2 WASHINGTON (CNN) Bush: 'This government does not torture'. Updated 1:46 p.m. EDT, Fri October 5, 2007. http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/05/bush.torture/index.html. Bush's remarks followed a report Thursday in The New York Times that said a secret Justice Department memo in 2005 amounted to "an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency."

3 In January, 1998, President Clinton forcefully denied any sexual involvement with former aide Monica Lewinsky, famously declaring: "I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky."

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