New Jersey pastor fasts over situation in Iraq
Jan. 21, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) - Concerned about human rights violations in Iraq, a United
Methodist pastor from New Jersey has embarked upon an open-ended hunger
Rev. Frederick Boyle, 54, pastor of Titusville United Methodist Church,
said he started the fast Jan. 10. as a way of bringing attention to the
treatment of prisoners by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority
a Jan. 20 interview, Boyle told United Methodist News Service that he
believes the coalition needs to "create a simple and quick process for
families in Iraq to be able to find their loved ones who have been taken
prisoner in the middle of the night." He stressed that the matter is
not about military strategies but administrative procedures.
Peacemaker Teams, an initiative of the Mennonites, Church of the
Brethren and Quakers, has called attention to the problem of more than
13,000 people being held in detention centers around Iraq. It has urged
the Coalition Provisional Authority to "sort out which have committed
crimes and which have not" and to improve the treatment of detainees,
especially in providing information to family members.
Boyle's view, the coalition's treatment of the detainees "is
contributing to the growing resentment and anger and, hence, violence in
Iraq." U.S. soldiers then have to deal with that violence, he pointed
pastor, who is drinking bottled water and an occasional cup of hot tea,
said he had been considering a fast since early December to alert
people to "the whole cycle of violence" in Iraq. Although he has
embarked on three-day spiritual fasts, his longest previous period
without food was seven days. Boyle said he would like to see progress
made on the prisoner issue before he ends the current fast.
achieve that progress, he hopes United Methodists and others will
contact their state and federal legislators, as well as the media, about
the need for improved procedures regarding detainees in Iraq.
a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team visiting Iraq last winter, just
before the U.S. bombing campaign began, Boyle said he could attest to
the fact that the Iraqi people bear no ill will to the American people.
"The compassion and the understanding and the love that the Iraqi people
extended was actually quite surprising to me," he said of that
is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media can contact her at (212) 870-3803 or email@example.com.