- Alliance of Catholic religious communities that promote “peace and social justice”
- Views the United States as a nation awash in racism, sexism, homophobia, discrimination, economic injustice, and militarism
- Favors open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens
Deriving its name from the Christian maxim stating that “all of life is in the 8th day of creation bringing all to full justice,” the 8th Day Center for Justice (8DCJ) was founded in 1974 by the members of six Catholic religious congregations. Consisting today of more than 35 sponsoring congregations, the Center describes itself as “a progressive Catholic social justice organization that works to dismantle exploitative systems of power such as racism, sexism, capitalism, militarism, and borderism through education, advocacy, grassroots organizing, and direct action with others who are committed to a just and peaceful world.” Toward those ends, 8DCJ regularly sponsors and participates in workshops, conferences, educational initiatives, protests, vigils, and “faith-based justice gatherings” designed to promote “systemic change” in what it views as a highly oppressive American society. Among the Center’s many partners in its activism are such organizations as 350.org, the Arab American Action Network, the American Friends Service Committee, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Leadership Conference on Women Religious, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, School Of the Americas Watch, and Witness For Peace.
8DCJ undertook its first major project in 1975, when it established a Food Justice program that provided a telephone hotline for people who needed food stamps but were unable to navigate their way through the bureaucracy in charge of approving benefits. Also in the ’70s, the Center worked to promote increases in all forms of welfare assistance, as well as more funding for “affordable housing and homeless[ness] prevention.”
On September 12, 2001 – one day after the mass murders of 9/11 had occurred – 8DCJ issued a statement claiming that “such an act of terrorism is a result of systemic violence” of which the United States was a part; “the economic and military policies of the U.S. have resulted in untold poverty and deaths globally, which causes many to view the U.S. as a perpetrator of such violence”; and “an escalation of [retaliatory] violence as proposed by U.S. leaders will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.” By the Center’s calculus, the proper course of action for America would be to respond “with reconciliation based on social justice rather than revenge”; with “open dialogue rather than inflammatory rhetoric”; with “peaceful nonviolent alternatives rather than plans for war”; with “respect for all peoples rather than stereotypes and blame”; and with “restraint rather than retaliation, examining the impact of U.S. policies on the global community rather than proclaiming innocence.”
Also in the post-9/11 era, 8DCJ accused the U.S. government of engaging in “the scapegoating and murder of whole communities, religions and nations to protect national interests.” Along those lines, the Center condemned “the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003” as an “immoral and illegal” undertaking that was based on “inaccurate” rationales put forth by a president who willfully “manipulated the public trust.” The Center further alleged that torture had become “a normal part of the [U.S.] occupation” of Iraq; that America was routinely sending “prisoners to other countries for the purpose of torture”; that Iraq’s infrastructure had been “devastated” by the U.S. military; and that “astronomical military spending” by the American government “steals from people who are made poor through cuts in social programs.” Allying itself with a host of like-minded organizations, 8DCJ was a member of the Abolition 2000 anti-war coalition.
Identifying discrimination and bigotry as two of the ugliest hallmarks of life in the United States, 8DCJ today laments that too many Americans are subjected to persecution and suffering as a result of their “ethnicity, religion, cultural background, gender, socio-economic class, and sexual orientation.” The Center laments, for instance, that suicides by LGBT teens “have been the result of bullying from their peers in school and a society that prioritizes heterosexuality.” Moreover, it asserts that “the teachings of the [Catholic] Church and the behavior of some members of the Church hierarchy have added to this atmosphere of bullying and intimidation.”
8DCJ also condemns the evils of “free trade” and “corporate controlled globalization,” and opposes “any effort to expand the powers of the World Trade Organization.” Instead, the Center favors a socialist economic model aimed at ensuring “a just distribution of resources.”
A strong supporter of the New Sanctuary Movement, 8DCJ in recent years has been an outspoken supporter of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. Indeed, the Center proudly “stand[s] in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers, particularly with those who are the most vulnerable in today’s climate of raids, criminalization and highly politicized debate.”
Regarding the intransigent Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, 8DCJ says that “Jews and Arabs [once] lived together in the territory of Israel peacefully,” but “Palestinians became strangers in their own land starting with the mass expulsion of 800,000 in 1948.”
8DCJ operates on what it calls “a nonhierarchical ‘flat’ organizational model … where power dynamics and top-down relationships [do not] exist.” This model is “rooted in consensus decision-making,” where “everyone comes to the table as an equal partner with equal voice in each decision.”
One of 8DCJ’s more notable former members was the Catholic priest and anti-war activist Bob Bossie.