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Inventory of the Pledge of Resistance Collection
GTU 96-7-02  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Pledge of Resistance collection
    Dates: 1982-1993
    Bulk Dates: 1985-1989
    Collection number: GTU 96-7-02
    Collector: Butigan, Kenneth Michael
    Collection Size: 17 boxes 15 feet
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    Abstract: The Pledge of Resistance began in 1984 in response to the threat of U.S. invasion into Nicaragua. The national structure grew as people signed the pledge resisting the U.S. government's policies toward Central America. Signals for actions were sent out from the national center to the local groups whose members committed civil disobedience and protested policies seen as interventionist and repressive. Groups which worked closely with the Pledge included the Inter-Religious Task Force for Central America, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the American Friends Service Committee, and the San Francisco Bay Area's Emergency Response Network, and Bay Area Pledge of Resistance. National Directors were Stephen Slade, Ken Butigan, and Judy Rohrer. Jim Wallis was instrumental in the foundation and early years of the Pledge. Brian Willson was an activist in civil disobedienceThe vast majority of the records are from the Pledge National Resource Center, but also included to a lesser extent records from the Emergency Response Network, also called the Bay Area Pledge of Resistance, located in San Francisco.
    Physical location: 4/H/2-6
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.
    Restrictions: Box 16, containing Personal Reference Sheets, n.d., ca. 4/1987. Closed to public use for 25 years until 2012.
    Box 17, containing Personal Reference Sheets (continued). Closed to public use for 25 years until 2012. Gift Checks received, 1991. Closed for 25 years, until 2016.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    Pledge of Resistance collection, GTU 96-7-02. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Biography / Administrative History

    "The plan began to emerge during a retreat. On November 2-4, 1983, representatives of the Christian peace movement met at the Kirkridge retreat center in Pennsylvania for Bible study, prayer, and political discernment...bringing together those from major denominations and churches, religious orders, national organizations, community campaigns, and local action groups. We met in the aftermath of the Grenada invasion. Some of us were in frequent contact with Nicaraguan churchpeople who were expressing great fear that their country would also be added. ...Witness for Peace, a grassroots effort,...was to be publicly launched in December and was already attracting a great deal of support and enthusiasm. We committed ourselves to that bold initiative and together drew up a statement pledging ourselves to a plan of action in the event of a United States invasion of Nicaragua." ("A Pledge of Resistance", Jim Wallis, in Sojourners August 1984. Box 14, file folder 28.)
    The statement had appeared in the December 1983 issue of Sojourners. "We will resist with our minds, hearts, and bodies any intervention by the United States, directly or indirectly, in Nicaragua. We will call upon our churches, organizations, networks, communities, and friends to join us in such resistance, and we will begin to prepare others for it. Our faith compels us to respond: we are committed to an active nonviolence that confronts the forces of war and the structures of injustice. If such an intervention takes place we will respond. ...We pledge ourselves to work for peace and justice in Central America. ...May peace come to our minds, our hearts, our world." ("A Promise of Resistance", Box 4, file folder 8a.) The original statement came from a faith perspective, but was never exclusive to church-related persons or organizations. The Pledge encompassed a broad range of faith, secular, community, and political persons and groups who shared the common goal of a commitment to peace.
    In the national movement, the plan at first relied on Witness for Peace and the Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America to transmit information and signals for action. As a growing number of people joined the national contingency plan by signing the Pledge of Resistance, and more and more local and regional groups planned responses to military escalations, a national working group developed an organizational structure. By the end of 1984 and into 1985, that structure included a National Resource Center, an executive committee, board of directors, signal group (responsible for initiating calls to action), a national coordinator, and regional coordinators. The Pledge expanded during the Reagan-Bush years to include actions against not only intervention in Nicaragua, but U.S. intervention throughout Central America including U.S. funding of the Nicaragua Contras fighting the Sandinista government (Contra Aid), the embargo against Nicaraguan goods, military exercises in Honduras, the Iran-Contra scandal (Contra-gate), and U.S. support for the repressive Salvadoran government (bombing and death squads). In the early 1990s, actions focused on the Gulf War and intervention in Haiti.
    The National Resource Center was begun in 1985. It was headquartered at different times in Washington D.C. and in San Francisco, CA. Stephen Slade served as the National Coordinator (1985-87). The Center convened the executive committee and national board, collected resources and information, disseminated the information in monthly mailings to regional groups, sponsored an annual national conference, produced a national newsletter, and did fundraising. The Center also received and filed information and materials (i.e. newsletters, flyers, newspaper articles reporting actions, etc.) from regional groups and local affinity groups throughout the U.S. The Center coordinated calls to action, variously called signals or alerts, and kept statistics through response forms on numbers of actions held, numbers of participants who were arrested committing civil disobedience, and other local information. The Center coordinated flyer designs, information, and materials for actions and maintained a phone hotline which gave updated information on events and issues. Slade wrote in 1985, "We pledge to resist as conscience leads. ...Conscience moves each of us differently. ...The Pledge has never been static and never will be. It will continue to change because the conditions that gave it birth have changed and because we change." ("The Pledge One Year Later", Box 1, file folder 5.)
    In the 1988-89 Pledge of Resistance National Resource Center Annual Report, then National Coordinator (later called Director) Ken Butigan (1987-90) reported "Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens - participating in over 300 local affiliates across the country - have engaged in literally hundreds of rallies, marches, vigils, interfaith services, and demonstrations opposing the U.S. war waged against the people of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and throughout the region. Many also have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience, joining the 9,000 people who have been led by conscience to engage in [it] over the last four years in Pledge-sponsored actions." (Box 1, file folder 3.)
    Actions, demonstrations, and protests could be national or local. Over the years, Pledge sponsored actions at federal buildings in cities throughout the U.S., at the U.S. Capitol building, the Pentagon, and CIA headquarters, at military bases throughout the U.S., and at congress-people's offices. Proposals for actions could be made from any part of the overall structure from the national to the local. Local affinity groups, operating by consensus, could choose whether or not to participate, or could pursue their own individual action. Individuals could choose whether or not they were willing to be arrested during actions. Throughout its existence, the Pledge of Resistance worked with other major peace activist groups such as Mobilization for Survival and the American Friends Service Committee, and with Central American focused groups such as CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.
    Judy Rohrer served as National Director, 1991-93. Following the Gulf War and the election of Bill Clinton as President, the "anti-intervention movement" found itself in a dialog process exploring how to re-envision and re-structure in the new reality. The questions were "What directions do you see emerging? What are the crucial issues and how do we organize around them? What role does direct action play in the next period? What is your vision for a national anti-intervention organization/network?" (Dialogue Process Basic Agenda. Box 1, file folder 38.) The National Pledge Board decided to close the national office, and in essence the Pledge of Resistance, effective March 15, 1993. Rohrer sent out a closing notice stating, "Movements have their cycles. At some point in the future anti-intervention activists will be ready to get together to take the next step, and whatever it is we know it will be grounded in the history and experience of the Pledge. ...The heart of the Pledge has always been the work of local groups and in that way we know it will continue. ...We are proud of what has been accomplished. Let's carry what we have learned into this new period and continue the resistance! For Justice." (Box 1, file folder 30.)

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Collection contains five Series: 1) Administration; 2) Fundraising and Financial Records; 3) Projects, Events, and Actions; 4) Regional and Affinity Groups; and 5) Resources.. The Collection was transferred as a whole from a basement in San Francisco where it had been stored. The materials did not have an internal order. The arrangement here has been imposed.


    The Collection contains five Series: 1) Administration; 2) Fundraising and Financial Records; 3) Projects, Events, and Actions; 4) Regional and Affinity Groups; and 5) Resources.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Emergency Response Network (San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.)
    Bay Area Pledge of Resistance (San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.)
    Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (U.S.)
    American Friends Service Committee.
    Inter-Religious Task Force for Central America.
    Protest movements--United States--History--20th Century--Sources.
    Civil disobedience--United States--History--20th Century - --Sources.
    Peace movements--United States--History--20th Century--Sources.
    United States--Relations--Central America.
    Central America--Relations--United States.
    Central America--Politics and government--1979-
    Central America--History--20th Century--Sources.

    Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Butigan, Ken.
    Slade, Stephen.
    Wallis, Jim.
    Rohrer, Judy.
    Willson, Brian.


    Box 16, containing Personal Reference Sheets, n.d., ca. 4/1987. Closed to public use for 25 years until 2012.
    Box 17, containing Personal Reference Sheets (continued). Closed to public use for 25 years until 2012. Gift Checks received, 1991. Closed for 25 years, until 2016.