I received a phone call from my younger brother Bill the night of August 5. He and eight other members of the Detroit Peace Community were planning to do civil disobedience the next day, on the 37th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He wanted to tell me what they were planning and ask me to pray for them.
I had often called Bill on the eve of doing civil disobedience, and now he was calling me. It seems we are developing a family tradition. I felt proud of my brother that night, grateful for his faith and life, but also, I admit, a little apprehensive. I was glad he would be with good people. The Detroit Peace Community are fine folk, and I have some very good friends among them. Their history is one of clear Christian witness against our nation's nuclear idolatry.
For one and a half years the Detroit Peace Community has been holding witnesses at Bendix, a corporation which manufactures essential parts for nuclear warheads. Bendix operates a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, where hardened foams are produced that transmit radiation and ignite hydrogen bombs. Bendix also produces electronic guidance systems, locking devices, and environmental sensing components. In 1980 Bendix received $458.3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense.
For many months, Christians have been coming to Bendix to pray, leaflet, talk to employees, and hold worship services. The August 6 witness was to be held at the corporation's headquarters in Southfield, Michigan, the suburb in Detroit where I went to high school and where my parents still live. Fittingly, my brother would be arrested in his hometown.
The plan was for nine Christians to enter the Bendix property to pray for peace. They did, and were arrested.