Thursday, February 27, 2014

Protester At Center of SCOTUS Decision On Military Base Protests Was Catholic Worker Movement Adherent

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Apel, (US Sup. Ct., Feb. 26, 2014), held that a federal statute which makes it a crime to re-enter a military installation after the base commander orders a person not to do so applies to a protest area at Vandenberg Air Force Base that is open to the public.  The Court describes John Dennis Apel, the protester involved in the case, as an antiwar activist. It says nothing about the religious basis for Apel's protests found in his involvement in the Catholic Worker Movement. Here is some insight into Apel's religious beliefs from a Dec. 2013 article reprinted on the Pacific Life Community's website:
[Apel] and a dedicated core of volunteers — including his wife of 15 years, Tensie — provide food and clothes to the community’s poor. They run a summer children’s program and a weekly free medical clinic.
The couple are devotees of the Catholic Worker movement, a social reform cause committed to social justice, pacifism and voluntary poverty that they’ve dedicated most of their adult lives to promoting.
They receive no salary — the couple and their two young children survive on his Social Security income, as well as donations and the charity of others.
For more than a dozen years, as part of Mr. Apel’s deep peace-oriented belief system, he has regularly stood outside the gates of Vandenberg, protesting what he believes is an immoral military mission. He has been arrested 15 times, and received “ban and bar” citations that restrict his ability to protest near the classified military installation.