Prayer Vigil for Peace


On Monday 10th September we’re going back to Kidderminster to take part in a Prayer Vigil for Peace at Roxel.

The vigil will begin at 8.30am at the gates, the postcode for finding where to go is DY11 7RZ. Everyone is welcome, please join us and tell your friends.

Facebook event: MiChA Event at Roxel

We will be working together with MiChA (Midland Christian Action), a local group of Christians and Quakers recently formed to oppose the arms trade.

  • Roxel manufacture Engines for Storm shadow and Brimstone Missiles.
  • Since 2013: 100 storm shadow, and 1000 Brimstone missiles have been sold to Saudi Arabia, at an estimated value of £180m.
  • These missiles have been used by the Saudi Air force in Yemen. We believe they will be in the future.
  • Since March 2013 the Saudi Air Force have repeatedly bombed civilian targets in Yemen
[For our sources please get in touch at]

Roxel Vigil Poster A


Weapons Inspection at Roxel Factory

Today Put Down the Sword visited a Roxel factory near Kidderminster, the factory builds propulsion systems for missiles. Our aim was to carry out a people’s weapons inspection, to ascertain whether parts built at this factory will be used in Yemen by the Saudi Military.

DSEI Update

Back in September, Put Down the Sword were involved in the “No Faith in War” day, aiming to block the set up of DSEI, the world’s largest arms fair which is hosted every 2 years in London.   Here is a short video of the day:


Members of the group were arrested, and will be on trial alongside their co-blockers on 1, 2, 7 and 8 Feb at Statford Magistartes Court.   CAAT are coordinating court support.

Remembering the Holy Innocents

This week a few of us travelled to the Catholic Worker Farm near Watford for their annual retreat marking the feast of the Holy Innocents (28th December).

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Very quickly after the joy of Christmas the Church gives us a much more sombre feast day, perhaps a reminder that the journey to salvation will not move smoothly from Christmas to Easter. The Holy Innocents are those babies killed by Herod’s soldiers (Mt 2:16-18), they are the collateral damage of Herod’s attempt to destroy Jesus.

These babies of Bethlehem are just a few of the many millions of innocent children killed and maimed by war throughout the ages. Matthew’s Gospel looks beyond this single event, giving us echoes of earlier suffering, evoking the killing of Hebrew boys in Egypt (Ex 1:22), and the Babylonian transit camp at Ramah the first stopping point towards exile (Jer 31:15). Matthew’s gospel was likely written for an audience of refugees recently fled from the bloody Jewish/Roman War (66-70CE), his first reader no doubt felt the acute pain of lost children.

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In the centuries since there have been countless children killed in war, thousands still die in airstrikes, bombing, and ground fighting across Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and elsewhere. We think particularly of Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, the list could go on….

The two day retreat ended with a vigil outside Northwood HQ, the HQ for the British military. We sought to acknowledge the complicity of our nation in perpetuating the killing of the innocent, in active combat in the air and on the ground, as a trader and supplier of weapons to others, and through the pursuit of destructive economic policies. We spent time in prayer, we tied crosses to the outer fence, and read out the names of just a few of those killed in recent conflicts.

Our aim was to be witnesses to a different way, to say no to our modern-day Herod’s. To remember and lament the continued killing of holy innocents.

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Press release: Trident protesters in High Court as UN votes to ban Nuclear Weapons

11th July 2017

Appeal against Conviction 

The High Court will today consider an appeal by a group of Christian activists who were convicted in January by Reading Magistrates Court of Wilful Obstruction of the Highway during a protest. The group, named Put Down the Sword joined others from the Trident Ploughshares network in attempting to stop the building of new Trident nuclear missiles replacing old stock. They were arrested after successfully blocking all vehicle access to the Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in June 2016, which the MoD said hindered activity on the site where the missiles are built.

Obstructing traffic?

The appeal today will centre around details of what was actually obstructed. The protesters claim they were careful not to block the public from using any roads around Burghfield, and were only blocking entry to the site – a private road where the stated offence is impossible. 

What’s illegal? Obstructing Trident or Trident itself

The Judge at Reading Magistrates (DJ Khan) had already rejected the argument that blocking Trident counted as Prevention of Crime when considering a previous case – since he concluded that UK law does not ban the production of nuclear missiles.
Last Friday however 122 countries meeting at a United Nations conference in New York today adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first multilateral legally-binding instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years. Although the UK and other nuclear weapons states did not support this process and weren’t present, the treaty will come into force in September. Once it receives 50 state ratifications it enters into International Law in the same way as the ban on biological weapons did 45 years ago, and the ban on chemical weapons did 25 years ago regardless of whether the UK ratifies it.
Angie Zelter of Trident Ploughshares said ” Trident Ploughshares actions have always been within the law. It is a crime to threaten mass destruction and this treaty strengthens pressure on the UK government to finally obey International Law.”

Opposing Nuclear Weapons – intrinsic to Christianity?

In their trial, the defendants testified to how they felt compelled by their Christian faith to take action for peace and justice, even where this lead them into conflict with the law or the authorities.
They presented evidence from Father Peter Hunter, dominican friar and lecturer in philospophy at Oxford about the intrinsic link between Christian belief and opposing weapons of mass destruction. He wrote:
 “The argument against nuclear weapons is about as simple as it is possible for a moral argument to be.
If it is never justifiable to do something, it is never justifiable to threaten to do it. It is never justifiable to kill cities full of people indiscriminately…so the nuclear deterrence is never justifiable. ..Christians draw from Romans 3:8 the principle, “You cannot do evil that good may come” (or, more prosaically, ends do not justify means.) Christians therefore will not accept that any end, no matter how good, could make the indiscriminate killing of a whole city justifiable.”

Defendant Angela Ditchfield, 38 from Cambridge said: “Sometimes political leaders like to claim they follow Christian values. Well, Christian values include not using fear to control others, especially the threat of annihilation. They include caring for the poor and the sick, for children, migrants and the elderly – spending money on things to help people not on threats of destruction. For me actions like this are as intrinsic to being a Christian as going to church and praying. I’d urge all Christians to join in! And also people of all faiths or none – I don’t know any religious or humanitarian value system which would endorse such widespread loss of life & environmental destruction.”

Appeal verdict

The verdict is due to be given around mid afternoon today.


1. Put Down the Sword is a small group of Christians who take nonviolent direct action together against the causes of war, nuclear weapons, and climate change in the UK. We are from a wide-range of different theological and faith backgrounds, but all feel it is important that our faith is reflected in our actions, and that our faith leads us to intervene in the causes of death and violence in our world.(
2. Those convicted were: Nina Carter-Brown, Nick Cooper, Angela Ditchfield, Joanna Frew, Alison Parker
They are represented in court by Jo Buckley of Matrix Chambers, and Adam Payter of 6KBW
3. The five activists used superglue and lock-on tubes (with messages painted on eg ‘Jesus said love your enemies don’t bomb them’) to enable them to block an entrance to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Burghfield, Berkshire on 27th June 2016. Along with 2 other groups blocking 2 other entrances, vehicle access to the whole site was blocked for about 2 hours.

Welcoming the Theophany

[A] pattern of temporary falling apart precedes every transition to a new level of faith, hope, and love. If one is not prepared to live in temporary chaos and to hold the necessary anxiety that chaos entails, one never moves into a Bigger World. Notice that almost every Theophany (revelation of God) begins with the same warning: “Do not be Afraid”. Fear is an entirely predictable response to any God encounter, because any authentic experience of the Absolute relativises everything else. God is actually quite wild and dangerous, but we domesticated divine experience so much that a vast majority of people have left the search entirely, finding most religious people to be fearful conformists instead of adventurous seekers of Love and Mystery.

Richard Rohr

Put Down the Sword -Upcoming Trial

IMG_6682June 27, 2016

The blockade begins…

Back in June five members of Put Down the Sword were arrested “willful obstruction of the highway” while blockading one of the entrances to AWE Burghfield, where the UK’s nuclear weapons are assembled. Two other affinity groups (from the Catholic Workers and Quakers) blockaded the other entrances meaning the whole site was shut to vehicles for a morning.
Put Down the Sword are in Reading Magistrates Court on 23rd, 25th and 26th January. We welcome supporters on any day, but are focussing on 25th January as the main day, and we’re putting on a series of seminars for those unable to get into the public gallery. The schedule for the day is as follows (although it will be flexible!)

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A cutting team working on a lock-on

9: Meet outside the court. Bring banners etc               11.30-12.30 How to bring change: exploring how to use direct action: Andrew Metheven, War Resisters International
1-2: Communal lunch with defendants
2-3: Jesus and non-violence: Woody Woodhouse, Methodist Minister
3-4: What next? Stop DSEI! Sarah Robinson, CAAT

We also have a solidarity fund to help with travel expenses etc for the defendants. Cash donations are welcome, or transfers to 08-92-86 17488437.

Please tell us your coming at this link

IMG_6706June 27, 2016

Police inspect the lock-ons

A language of peace (part 2)

So on a related theme to my previous post, I think I have found the one place in which this language of violence I speak of seems not to be used.

Whereas in almost every sphere of life violent imagery seems to be common place, there is one area where, as far as possible, it seems to be studiously avoided … when we’re talking about actual violence.So wars are described as “conflicts” because it is a bit less scary, the bodies of the innocent dead are described as “collateral damage” because it doesn’t sound too ghastly, and aggression is described as “security”; a word which used to mean safe but somehow doesn’t any more.

Has any one seen an armed forces recruitment film recently? They are truly terrifying … because they are not in the least bit terrifying. At no point do they seem to think it necessary to mention that you might get killed or seriously injured by the violent acts of others, nor that your soul will be scarred for the rest of your life by the violence you will perpetrate yourself.

They speak instead of adventure and excitement, of opportunities and education, of comradeship and personal development. And guess what: those are all things I approve of and values I espouse. They are things I think every person; including every young person who has had limited options thus far who are those primarily targeted by these insidious campaigns; should be able to access.

I’m just not sure that the military is the best placed institution to be providing them. No, hold on. I am sure. I am absolutely sure. I think they should be found in independent art projects: in theatre and dance and and creativity; I think they should be found in community activism and the service of one another; I think they should be found in a context of peace and hope.

Just as it is dangerous that we unthinkingly describe our everyday circumstances with the language of violence; it is equally dangerous when we fail to call out violence and aggression for what it really is. So let’s call a spade, a spade. And a war, a war.

And then, named as such, let’s choose to say no.

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A language of peace

It was a hymn we sung in church, a few weeks ago now, which reminded me I wanted to write a post on this subject … although it is a theme I have considered writing about previously, but never quite got round to it.

I can’t even exactly remember which hymn it was now, but it was one of those “onward Christian soldiers”, “fight the good fight” type ones which always make me feel distinctly uncomfortable.

I know others will tell me these are not songs which condone violence, that they are simply using familiar, evocative imagery to explore spiritual themes which defy easy description.

That though, is precisely the problem.

As my involvement with the peace movement has become increasingly active, and as I have engaged with and reflected on what it means to be truly non-violent, I have become increasingly aware how unhelpful the language and imagery we use, often entirely subconsciously, can be.

I have long been uncomfortable with ‘warfare’ hymns and the constant rhetoric of the ‘war on this that and the other’ from government ministries and media outlets but the first time I remember being stopped in my tracks by something I said myself was when I described the Quakers as “punching above their weight”… and realised how entirely inapt the image was.

It was a wake up call to try and think more carefully about my choice of words and images, and to become aware of how often we fallback on images of violent conflict to explain or evoke a whole range of situations and experiences. We “fight” or “combat” the things we are against, take “a shot in the dark” when we just don’t know or “give it a shot” when we think maybe we do.

Perhaps it is all entirely innocent and I shouldn’t be concerned about the words we use without a second thought: but I don’t think so. I believe in the power of language and I worry that by our constant exposure to the language of violence we reduce our sensitivity to what these things actually are and actually mean. Desensitised to the reality behind the images, our everyday language becomes one of many factors helping to perpetuate a culture of violence.

The language we use certainly helps shape the way we think; so I can’t help wondering what would happen if we shifted our rhetoric to more peaceful images.

I am not pretending I have been entirely consistent in changing my language use since I first started to reflect on this idea After all, my starting premise was that often these language choices are so ingrained that we use them entirely sub-consciously. But I guess I have tried to be a little more conscious, at least some of the time, of the words I choose and the images I describe.

It is one of the tiny steps I am trying to take towards the road of peace I want to walk.

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