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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Update: 'Holy obedience'

That's what Gerhard Fischer calls his November protest of civil disobedience at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, which has trained 60,000 Latin Americans in its 53-year-history. The 71-year-old retired pharmacist, a member of Mount Zion Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa, Wis., was part of a peace group that entered the Fort Benning, Ga., facility in June 1999. So was Brooks Anderson, 67, a retired ELCA pastor from Duluth, Minn.

Now both face three-month federal prison terms and $2,500 fines, the penalty leveled in June sentencing. They and eight others were found guilty of protesting on a federal military base.

Fischer says the penalties are worth the cost if he can move others to action: "The focus continues to be the countless martyrs — men, women and children who have been tortured and murdered by SOA graduates. I see [in them] the face of Jesus."

Anderson met some of these people when visiting El Salvador through the sister parish program between his congregation, First Lutheran, Duluth, and San Antonio de Los Ranchos. "Nobody wants to go to jail," he says. "But I will go to make a witness on behalf of these people who have endured so much brutality — and still survive."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has not yet assigned either man to a facility or a date to begin their sentences.


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