Sr. Megan Rice, 84, has been sentenced to three years in jail.
What kind of legal system sends an 84-year-old nun to jail for protesting nuclear weapons while leaving Wall Street titans largely untouched after they almost sunk the economy? It's high time we spoke out about such plain injustice.
Holy Child Sister Megan Rice was sentenced to almost three years in prison for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear facility in 2012. U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar in Knoxville said he wanted the sentence to send a signal that others need to work for change within the bounds of the law.
Rice and two other activists got into the facility — used to develop the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 — by using wire cutters to slice through multiple security fences. Once inside, the three spray-painted messages, including “the fruit of justice is peace,” and splattered blood on one of the buildings.
They also beat hammers against the walls of the facility in reference to Isaiah 2:4, “They shall beat swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” When approached by a guard, the three lit candles, sang songs and offered to break bread.
These non-violent actions, which could reasonably be called prophetic, added up to about $53,000 in damages. The defendants were ordered to pay back. Fair enough. They should pay for what they wrecked and maybe do some community service.
But three years in jail?
Compare this to the self-interested financiers who sent us into a recession and devastated many lives, not to mention presiding over a financial system that for decades has stagnated the income of regular people.
The ugliness of the banker fraternity came to light recently when an undercover reporter attended a ritzy drunken party in New York's St. Regis Hotel and saw financial big-wigs dressed in drag, mocking the financial crisis and the people it ravaged. A recurrent topic of jokes was the billions taxpayers gave to financial companies in 2009. Not only were the bankers unthankful to us; they were scornful.
And so, get a picture of these tipsy men, cigar in one hand and bourbon in the other. Then imagine Sister Megan, sitting on her jail cell bunk, eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, praying for peace.
The comparison illustrates that injustice endures in America. Our most cherished Church documents tell us again and again that, in our Christian life, working for justice is not optional.