Protestors plan anti-arms trade vigil at Church House

Christians opposed to the arms trade will hold a vigil outside Church House Conference Centre in Westminster at the end of June.

The campaigners are calling for the Church of England to stop promoting arms trade events.

The conference centre, which is the administrative headquarters of the C of E, will play host to The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference 2015 on 30 June–1 July.

A second RUSI Conference, the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference, will be held at the venue between 15 and 16 July.

Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon MP, will speak at the event which is sponsored by arms companies, including the world’s biggest arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said: “The CofE statement on ethical investment states that its investment bodies do not wish directly to profit from activities that are inconsistent with Christian values. How then is it comfortable to host and accept money from some of the world’s biggest arms companies?”

Emma Anthony, of Fellowship of Reconciliation, said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, should intervene and reject the arms trade for good. Church House Conference Centre’s hire conditions state that not all events are appropriate to the venue; surely this includes arms-funded events? St Paul’s Cathedral will not take money from arms companies and Church House Conference Centre must follow their lead.”

Symon Hill of the Campaign Against Arms Trade Christian Network said: “These companies are not hiring Church House Conference Centre because they want to support the Church. They are doing it because it’s good for business. Unfortunately, Church House Conference Centre is giving practical support and a veneer of legitimacy to an industry that profits from war.”

Robin Parker, general manager at the venue, told CN: ‘RUSI is a long-standing and well-respected client. It provides a forum for debate on military affairs. We are well aware that the  campaigners plan to hold a small silent vigil at the start of event.”

John Keenan

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John Keenan

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