Gospel Mayhem

They're messy revolutionaries. They pour blood on missiles and don't wipe it up. They hammer nose cones and don't pick up the pieces. When they go to court, some are so ornery they turn their backs to the judge.

And when it comes to jail, years of it, they are unpromising candidates for rehabilitation. These are peace criminals, residual offenders by faith, unlikely to be rehabilitated to cooperation with the national security state for the simple reason that Jesus said no to Satan.

When the Atlantic Life Community was founded in 1976 by the members and friends of Jonah House, a three-year-old resistance community in Baltimore, Gerald Ford was president. The slaughter in Vietnam had ended in the defeat of the United States only the year before. Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, and their Jonah House community had turned their attention from B-52 raids and tiger cages to the even more demonic reality of the nuclear system. The birth of the Atlantic Life Community corresponded to that change in focus. From 1976 to '96 nuclear resistance has been the central theme of ALC's constant witness to the cross.

In those 20 years, ALC has been a community of perpetual motion in and out of courts and jails, because it has understood much of life outside jail in this country to be chained to the bomb. Breaking that chain has given ALC the freedom to share the situation of millions of others in jail. Without intending it as such, ALC has engaged in a remarkable ministry of unity with the imprisoned class of the United States, those either in jail themselves or with loved ones in jail.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1996
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