USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Protests and uprisings are one way that people of faith respond to acts of injustice. Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu exemplify religious leadership that was nonviolent. In Los Angeles, Rev. Cecil (Chip) Murray played a similar role during the 1992 civil unrest, channeling outrage at the actions of the police and courts into constructive engagement with the community. CRCC grew out of a scholarly attempt to understand the faith-based response to the L.A. riots.

Since then, Los Angeles has witnessed large-scale demonstrations related to immigrant rights, protests against war that involved civil disobedience by clergy and faith leaders, and collaboration between people of faith and labor unions supporting income equality. Through song, symbols and ritual actions, many political protests draw on the resources of religion to mobilize people.

Photo Credit: Heather Wilson/FOR-USA

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“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”

Mahatma Gandhi
Non-violence in Peace and War 1942-49