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Please pray for these five Christians

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Five Christians on trial

Please pray for these five Christians, including a trainee Methodist minister, who are on trial today for peacefully demonstrating for what they believe is right.

The United Reformed Church (URC) has issued a statement on the Arms Trade as five Christians go on trial today for blocking the London Arms Fair in September 2013. The DSEI fair describes itself as "the world leading defence and security event" and entertains arms buyers from around the globe, including countries known for human rights abuses and poverty-striken developing nations. securedownload

The five (including Dan Woodhouse, a Methodist student minister, far left in picture) blocked an entrance to the Arms Fair at the ExCel Centre delaying arms dealers for up to an hour. On the same day two companies were thrown out of the arms fair for displaying illegal torture equipment. It is pointed out that neither company was charged for this breach.

Were the five justified in disobeying the law when police officers demanded that they pack up and move on? Our denominations celebrate actions of civil disobedience from our churches' history, such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, for example. But it is maybe instructive to note that many of the instances of civil disobedience of the past did not have the endorsement of church institutions at the time. The five on trial today at least have had the public support of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, World Methodist Council and the General Secretary of the URC amongst others.

But to my mind the more critical question concerns the object of the protest. Even in the midst of recession, global arms sales have continued to rise damaging the prospects of developing nations and fuelling conflict. Our government continues to support and promote UK leadership in the business of profiting from the weapons of war. We need prophetic Christian witness to challenge the morality of the arms trade. Whether or not you approve of their goals and methods, I hope that we might agree that the five have performed a valuable service by helping to put this issue in the public eye.

The verdict is expected tomorrow.

Found innocent!

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