The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) is a grassroots citizens organization which brings together people of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and political persuasions in support of three goals: global abolition of nuclear weapons, a peace economy, and a halt to weapons trafficking at home and abroad.
In September 1980, a group of religious congregations in the Princeton area joined together to sponsor a Teaching Conference and Interfaith Service on the theme "Can We Reverse the Nuclear Arms Race?" The response was overwhelming - nearly 2,000 attended.
At a follow-up meeting several weeks later, a decision was made to form an ongoing organization dedicated to nuclear disarmament - the Coalition to Reverse the Nuclear Arms Race. In 1981 the name was shortened to the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and the organization expanded beyond Princeton to cover central and southern New Jersey.
In 1982, the Coalition co-led a statewide Nuclear Weapons Freeze referendum that won the support of 66% of New Jersey Voters.
In 1988, to increase coordination and effectiveness, the Coalition's members voted to affiliate with Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace group in the US.
As the Cold War drew to an end in the late 1980's, the Coalition's goals expanded to include the related goals of reaping a major peace dividend - a peace economy - and halting weapons trafficking, both internationally and domestically.
In 1993, to reflect this broader agenda, the members voted to change the name of the organization to the Coalition for Peace Action.
Two closely related non-profit organizations carry out our mission:
Coalition for Peace Action
The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) oversees the advocacy work of the organization, including lobbying our elected representatives and voter education. Donations to the CFPA are therefore not tax deductible.
CFPA has a Political Action Committee that organizes lobbying, demonstrations, vigils, briefings, and similar activities; and has standing with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). There are also currently four active local CFPA affiliates in central and southern New Jersey. A Steering Committee (board) meets monthly to oversee and coordinate policy, budget, and programs.
Peace Action Education
The Peace Action Education Fund (PAEF) has been granted 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status by the IRS and conducts the educational work. Tax deductible contributions can be made to this entity.
PAEF has several working committees:
- The Peace Education Committee organizes the Annual Conference and Interfaith Service for Peace, Week Without Violence, and other community education events as well as sending speakers, fact sheets, videos, and the like to schools, congregations, and community groups.
- The Annual Concert Committee organizes Concerts for Peace to do outreach and raise funds for educational work.
- The Help Increase the Peace (HIP) project , co-sponsored with the American Friends Service Committee, trains youth and adults in the skills of non-violent conflict resolution.
Programs for Peace
The Coalition publishes and distributes non-partisan Voter Guides comparing the stands of the candidates on peace and gun violence issues to educate voters before Election Day. From 1995 to 2000, the candidate who was significantly better on peace and gun violence prevention won in 9 of 10 targeted races.
Annual Conference and Interfaith Service for Peace:
Each fall, the CFPA sponsors a major religious and educational gathering on current peace issues. Speakers have included General William Burns, Ben Cohen, Marion Wright Edelman, Daniel Ellsberg, George Kennan, George McGovern, Mary McGrory, Patricia Schroeder, Cyrus Vance, Bishop Leontine Kelly, and Andrew Young, among others.
Annual Membership Dinner and Gathering:
The CFPA holds an annual gathering and dinner open to all members to learn of and give input to our work. Speakers have included William Sloane Coffin, Admiral Stansfield Turner, Freeman Dyson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, among others.
Annual Concert for Peace:
Annually since 1986, the CFPA has sponsored a Concert for Peace to raise funds and provide cultural expressions for peace. Performers have included David Byrne, the Paul Winter Consort, Richie Havens, Holly Near, Emerson String Quartet, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Baba Olatunji, Suzanne Vega, Dar Williams, Janis Ian, and many others.
Peace Voter Lobbying:
Using petitions, letters, phone calls, and personal meetings, the Coalition lobbies New Jersey elected representatives to sponsor and support specific legislation to advance our goals. With its Urgent Action and Email Networks, over 1,000 households and key organizations are alerted when important legislation needs to be advocated to our representatives.
Gun Violence Prevention:
Working closely with Ceasefire NJ and other groups, the Coalition has played a leading role in gun violence prevention efforts. In 1993, we helped defeat the NRA's effort to rescind New Jersey's Assault Weapon's ban, the first and strongest such ban in the nation. The next year the National Assault Weapons ban and the Brady Bill were passed by Congress. In 2000 the Coalition organized buses to go to the Million Mom March, supervised a Princeton University study on childproof handguns, and successfully lobbied the NJ Senate for passage of the Childproof Handgun bill.
The Coalition organizes vigils, rallies, and other public demonstrations to call attention of the community, the media, and our elected representatives to the urgent need for advancing our goals. At times the CFPA co-sponsors events with other organizations to increase our effectiveness in advocating initiatives such as childproof handguns and projects such as peaceful conflict resolution.
Each year in August the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration is held. Speakers and other cultural elements come together in a program in remembrance of the victims of nuclear weapons.
Through press conferences, press releases, radio and television programs, letters to the editor, and op-ed pieces, the Coalition conveys information and perspectives on our priorities through the mass media.
- Irene Etkin Goldman, Chair
- Mark Tolo, Vice-Chair
- Lawrence Kane, Treasurer
- Carol K. Allen, Secretary
- Robert Moore, Executive Director
- R. Alesha Vega, Assistant Director