FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2023
Media Contact: Ariel Gold | FOR-USA executive director | firstname.lastname@example.org | (510) 599-5330Bill McGarvey | email@example.com | (201) 725-4202
On the heels of Russian President Putin ordering troops to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interfaith peace and justice organization in the U.S., calls on President Zelensky, President Putin, President Biden and the U.S. Congress to call for the ceasefire to be made permanent and achieve a diplomatic settlement.
FOR-USA urges Zelensky to reconsider his rejection of Putin’s truce order, which Zelensky described as a “cynical trap” and urges Putin to make the truce permanent and withdraw all of his troops from Ukraine. Opportunities for peace should never be rejected.
“Anytime there’s a cessation of violence, there’s an opportunity for light to come in. Though Kirill has previously advocated for the war, Kirill and I ultimately follow the same gospel — a gospel, that is ultimately one of peace,” said senior advisor to FOR, Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler. “There are always risks in peace. But there’s the biggest risk is war.”
That the Russian Orthodox Church, which is deeply entangled with Putin’s goals and considered a beacon of white Christian nationalism (for more on this topic, read from Wesley Granberg-Michaelson) called for Putin to implement the truce shows that even when the odds gravely stacked against peace, people of faith and conscience should never give up.
Putin’s support for a Christmas truce followed the Russian Orthodox Church’s plea for a ceasefire, as well as a statement, signed by over 1,200 US faith-based leaders, in support of a Christmas truce, similar to one that arose spontaneously in the trenches of World War I when in 1914 German and British soldiers along the Western Front put down their arms to jointly celebrate Christmas.
“As the oldest interfaith peace organization in the United States, FOR-USA echoes the sentiments of the legendary peace warrior AJ Muste that ‘there is no WAY to peace, peace IS the way,” said FOR-USA executive director Ariel Gold. “In that spirit, we join with the Russian Patriarch in calling for this 36-hour Christmas Truce and urge Zelensky seize the oppotunity in the hopes that it could possibly lead to a more lasting cease-fire.”
In December, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the National Council of Elders, CODEPINK, and the Peace in Ukraine Coalition sent the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships the truce statement signed by ministers, priests, rabbis and imams in hopes of ending the fighting that has taken thousands of lives, displaced millions, further degraded the climate and worsened global hunger.