What is Public Witness?
We believe Jesus witnessed publically in a prophetic critique of the social, political, religious and economic structures of his time. In this tradition of Jesus - a tradition carried on by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Badshan Khan, and many, many others - CPT organizes and encourages nonviolent public witness, sometimes called nonviolent direct action, as a method of social transformation towards an envisioned Kin-dom of God. We believe we must take our Christian faith from the pews to the public space. Public witness is an intentional way of offering our peace perspective to the wider community.
We recommend To Wake the Nation: nonviolent action for personal and social transformation, by Tom Cordaro. He describes public witness - what he calls nonviolent direct action - as much more than protest. It is "any public act done for the purpose of influencing public policy and/or articulating or challenging social, religious and political values. Some examples of direct action include passing out leaflets, participating in a public prayer vigil, holding signs on a picket line, collecting signatures on a petition, marching in a demonstration or risking arrest by breaking a civil law." It is sometimes described as "speaking Truth to Power," and is rooted in the philosophy of nonviolence and love of enemy. Public witness seeks to transform the other person through a loving yet prophetic engagement.
PUBLIC WITNESS RESOURCES
These resources cover the nuts-and-bolts of planning and thinking-through a public witness.
[from MCC Canada, PDF file]
Public Witness Checklist
Organizing Affinity Groups
Creating Publicity Materials/Visuals
Getting Media Attention
Arrest, Jail and Court: Making Choices
Legal System Flow Chart
Music as a Tool of Nonviolence
Download the full set of handouts in one .zip file