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Bridge City Preparative Meeting

Minute on The Patriot Act

October 2003

The members and attenders of Bridge City Preparative Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) affirm our belief in the testimonies of Community, Equality, Simplicity, Integrity, and Peace.

These testimonies enable all people to open their hearts and minds to recognize that of God within each other and to thereby bear witness on the human rights of all individuals.

This country was founded by individuals who sought a country in which to live that protected the civil liberties of its citizens and provided for their protection in the pursuit of life, liberty and religious freedom.

Congressional representatives under pressure hastily passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA Patriot Act). We believe that this act has:

  • eroded the civil liberties of our citizens,
  • destabilized the balancing powers between the branches of our government, and
  • removed much of the Constitutional oversight mandated for the protection of our citizens.

Some representatives are now taking steps to further curtail the rights of American citizens with the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (commonly known as Patriot Act II). In addressing these concerns, we look historically to our elders for wisdom:

In the words of Robert Barclay, "That no man, by virtue of any power or principality he hath in the government of this world, hath power over the consciences of men."

In the words of William Penn, "The temperance I plead for is not only religiously but politically good ... We cannot but loudly call upon the generality of the times and testify both by our life and doctrine against abuses if possibly any may be weaned from their folly."

And, finally, in the words of Thomas Merton, "We do not have to create a conscience for ourselves.  We are born with one, and no matter how much we may ignore it, we cannot silence its insistent demand that we do good and avoid evil."

We feel that all levels of our government must now take steps to restore, fully, the First Amendment rights afforded by our constitution and to protect the rights of all individuals throughout our country. We can not redress violence with injustice.

With the passage of the USA Patriot Act, a climate of fear and distrust has swept through our government; putting it at odds with the citizens it is here to represent. We must look past the hysteria that enabled the USA Patriot Act and move forward with wisdom, community, equality, integrity and peace.

We urge our elected officials at all levels to repeal the USA Patriot Act and to fully investigate, question and explore alternatives to any subsequent Acts proposed.

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