Public Witness

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.



These resources cover the nuts-and-bolts of planning and thinking-through a public witness.

Public Witness for Peace: a toolkit for Christians

[from MCC Canada, PDF file]

Public Witness Checklist

A checklist of things to consider and roles to fill when preparing for enacting a public witness. [rtf format] [pdf format]

Organizing Affinity Groups

Affinity Groups help facilitate the organizing of large numbers of people and serve as basic planning and decision-making bodies for an action. [rtf format] [pdf format]

Creating Publicity Materials/Visuals

What to think about in crafting your public message. [rtf format] [pdf format]

Getting Media Attention

Communicating your message to the media can be crucial.
"Working With the Media" [rtf format] [pdf format]
"How to Write a Press Rlease" [rtf format] [pdf format]

Arrest, Jail and Court: Making Choices

Public witness often includes civil disobedience. What are the consequences? [rtf format] [pdf format]

Legal System Flow Chart

[pdf format]

Organizing Campaigns

Is your action a single event, or part of a larger strategic nonviolent campaingn? [rtf format] [pdf format]

Music as a Tool of Nonviolence

[pdf format]

Download the full set of handouts in one .zip file

[zip format]