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Lowery says Crawford protesters must keep the faith

Lowery says Crawford protesters must keep the faith

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CRAWFORD - Speaking at a sunrise interfaith Easter service, the Rev. Joseph Lowery urged war protesters camping near President Bush's ranch to keep working for peace.

"Easter is the heart and soul of the faith; it is the central theme of creation," Lowery told the crowd of about 150. "It is the promise that right is mightier than wrong, that light will overcome darkness, that love is more powerful than hate."

Lowery, 84, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., said anti-war demonstrators should have faith that the war with Iraq will end soon because of how it has been going.

After the service, Lowery said he sees many parallels between the civil rights movement and the reinvigorated peace movement. That's why he decided to speak at the camp and miss a traditional Easter church service for the first time, he said.

"Being out here in nature with people struggling for peace and justice, in the shadow of the president's ranch, what better place could there be to celebrate Easter?" he said. "Hope is alive in this place."

Lowery spoke on the last day of the group's third protest in less than a year near Bush's ranch. Bush spent the holiday at Camp David, his first Easter away from the ranch since he was elected.

Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey died in Iraq in 2004, started protesting in ditches off the two-lane road leading to Bush's ranch in August during his working vacation. The vigil attracted thousands of fellow demonstrators and grew to a second, larger camp on a private lot where the group returned for a Thanksgiving week protest and the Easter week activities.

The peace vigil also drew scores of counter protests of Bush supporters who said Sheehan was disgracing fallen soldiers and hurting troop morale.

But Sheehan, who said she plans to return to Crawford in August, said she believes the anti-war demonstrations have made a difference.

"I feel we have come so far, and everything that's happened is validating what we started in August," she said. "But we can't rest."

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