Friends' Issues in the News


Political conservatives are circulating a video clip of Michigan Congressman John Dingell, taken from the Detroit-based "Flashpoint" program, in which Dingell is asked, "You're not against Hezbollah?" to which Dingell is presented as saying, "No."  Dingell's actual response (before editing) was "No, I happen to be - I happen to be against violence, I think the United States has to bring resolution to this matter.  Now, I condemn Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence."

Those circulating the edited video clip have attempted to turn Dingell's principled stance against violence into an embrace of terrorism.  This is unethical and untruthful, and does violence to both the Peace Testimony and the principle of always speaking truth.  While Dingell is not a Quaker, his position in the matter is more in keeping with our historic testimonies than are the tactics of his detractors.


The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the San Francisco Board of Education is considering eliminating the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program from the public schools as "discriminatory, homophobic and at odds with the mission of public education."

The Saginaw News
reports the following incident at a Saginaw MI City Council meeting:
A 22 year old man (not identified in the article) refused to remove his hat during the council meeting.  Police responded by shooting him with a 50,000 volt Taser.  Following this shocking treatment, police "picked up the stunned man and carted him out and into a police cruiser as about 30 people watched.  Police jailed the man on suspicion of alarming and harassing conduct. . ."
The council unanimously adopted the no-hat rule on 09-11-2006.
The issue of hat honor is still with us in the Twenty-First Century.
Update 11-19-2006 (from Jim Drummond): It appears that the young man in question did not invoke any faith-based reasons for retaining his hat.  When a police officer attempted to take away the man's hat, the man struck at the officer's arm and was verbally abusive.  It appears that the young man has some prior record (or has previously been accused) of some sort of problem behavior. 
The question remains: what would have happened to a Quaker, an observant Jew, or a Moslem who refused to uncover "to show respect for the institution"?


This is an update on the tragic events involving Friends from Australia, Kenya and the US who were attacked by a gang of young men as they were traveling in cars near Nairobi.  Three people died in the attack: renowned AIDS researcher, doctor and Friend Job Bwayo; Lawrence Regaru and Felista Njeru Kuria.  Two people were gravely injured and were taken to the High Dependence Unit of the Nairobi Hospital: Elizabeth Bwayo of Kenya (widow of Job Bwayo) and Carol Briggs of Northwest YM.  A young Australian Friend, Elizabeth (Liz) Butare, was shot in the arm but has now been released from the hospital to stay with a cousin.

Carol Briggs is a member of Tigard Friends Community Church, near Portland, Oregon. According to her local paper, it was her dream to retire and volunteer with AIDS orphans.  She began this new chapter of life in November at Friends Lugulu Hospital and Chwele Clinic.   She was staying with the Bwayo family while attending a health conference in Nairobi.  Her daughters Jill and Traci Briggs have been scrambling to get passports to be with her.  An Australian visitor reported, "She is unable to speak at the moment due to the jaw surgery.  Her hands were damaged also, so she is not really able to communicate through writing.  She is also quite heavily sedated."  Carol's grandson Derik traveled to Nairobi with Retha McCutchen, former General Secretary of Friends United Meeting.  Retha reported that Carol had come successfully through two surgeries, one to finish rebuilding the mid jaw and the other to repair her hands, both having been shot.  The bullet went in the right cheek and out the left, shattering all the bones in her face. The optic nerve to the left eye was severed, destroying the vision in that eye, but her right eye is unaffected.  Doctors are predicting that she will be well enough to travel home in two to three weeks.

Elizabeth Bwayo's sister, Grace Kuto, lives in Portland, Oregon and is a friend of Carol Briggs. Elizabeth was previously reported as among the dead, but she survived.  According to the Australian visitor, "Elizabeth Bwayo was shot through the head and has had jaw surgery, but is able to communicate through notes.  Her daughter was visiting with her while we were there, so we didn't physically see her, but we left a note for her.  Apparently she is doing well, all things considered, but still has a long way to go physically."  Retha added that the bullet went through Elizabeth's face and down to her shoulder.  The doctor is strongly recommending that she return to the US for rehabilitation.

The news is encouraging, but we ask for continuing prayers for everyone affected by this situation.

- Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
Section of the Americas

The Doonesbury comic strip for 04-01-2007 does not specifically allude to Friends, but raises the issue of "supporting the troops."  To view the strip, click here.