Nearly 2,000 clergymen and 400 seminary students who oppose the Viet Nam war rallied in Washington, D. C., and by February 1 had launched a national campaign.
The two-day interfaith meeting was called by the ad hoc committee of “Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Viet Nam.” Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Jr., committee leader and emcee of the closing meeting in Washington, said the organization began as a “galvanizing group” a year ago but is now a “movement.”
The movement asked persons from various cities to spend thirty hours during February organizing anti-war cells, and asked each of the participants, who paid a $12 registration fee, to give $25 (contributions go through the National Council of Churches and are thus tax deductible). The committee called a three-day fast beginning on Ash Wednesday, which is also the Buddhist New Year and the start of a Viet Nam holiday truce.
The Rev. Richard Neuhaus, a Lutheran, said the fast should be “used very carefully for strategy purposes … education, and strategic mobilization.”
Neuhaus called on local groups to start counseling centers for young men facing military draft or men already in uniform who don’t like the war. He also urged that thousands of clergymen holding 4-D (divinity) deferments apply for reclassification as conscientious objectors because “we want our exemption to count morally.”
Another project will be continued lobbying with congressmen in Washington, although many participants seemed to feel local action such as peace vigils, discussion groups, education, and letter-writing would achieve greater results.
While in the capital, various state delegations made the rounds of offices of their senators and representatives. They drew dove-ish responses from freshmen ...1
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