Clergy sends letter urging postponing F-35 decision

Dec. 11, 2012

Rabbi Joshua Chasan, [email protected]
Rev. Nancy Wright, [email protected]

Sixteen local religious leaders are urging the members of Vermont’s congressional delegation, Governor Shumlin and the mayors of Burlington and Winooski to advocate for postponing a decision about bringing the F35s to Vermont at this time, given that, if we want them, there will be other opportunities down the road for the jets to come to Vermont.

The full text of their letter follows:

We have listened carefully to the debate about whether or not F35 jets are to be bedded at our airport. Clearly, the community is divided. We appreciate the efforts you have made to sort through all the issues. We have read many of your words and appreciate your clear concern for the well being of all Vermonters.

Given that we are now only in the first of a number of rounds of basing decisions for the F35s, and given the number of unknowns and still unanswered questions, we urge you to advocate for postponing a decision about bringing the F35s to Vermont at this time.

Whatever one’s point of view, it is clear that many people in Winooski, South Burlington and other communities are very fearful of the consequences of the presence of the F35s here in the most densely populated part of Vermont. The seven to nine thousand people directly affected include many low income Vermonters and many people of color, amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens.

We know that you recognize the ways in which these Vermonters already are at risk socially and economically. We ask you to increase the weight of this burden vis-a-vis concern for the over-all economy as you continue to reflect on the issue. We also ask you to continue to investigate and study the unanswered questions and concerns about the environment.

We understand the argument for jobs and remain unsure of the economic impact on the region as a whole—as there is much that is uncertain about the effects of bringing the F35s here. Given this uncertainty, given that this is not the last opportunity for the planes to come here, it seems to us unfair to place the burden of this doubt on those who already struggle the most to achieve social and economic security for themselves and their children

This is not a pro-military or anti-military debate. Amongst those most affected are veterans of World War II and Korea for whom the value of their homes is the whole of their financial equity. We are not asking you to oppose these planes coming to Vermont. We are asking you to advocate for a delay in such a decision by requesting that Vermont be removed from the first round of basing decisions so that we Vermonters can reach a consensus, based on clearing up so many of the questions that remain unanswered in the minds of many residents.

If we can play a role in mediating this debate, we are available. Not to bring the planes now does not necessarily mean that they cannot come. As it is a time for compromise in Washington, it is time for this issue to be resolved, not by decree, but by salient arguments in a civil debate.


Rev. J. Stannard Baker
Rev. Jack Bremer
Rev. Will Burhans
Rev. Adrianne Carr
Rabbi Joshua Chasan
Rev. Roddy O’Neil Cleary
Joanna Cole
Rev. Roberta Finkelstein
Rev. Sarah Flynn
Sr. Arlene Gates
The Rev. Mark H. Hatch
Rev. Debbie Ingram
Sr. Pat McKittrick, SP
Rabbi Jan Salzman
The Rev. Robert K. Stuhlmann
Rev. Nancy Wright

Signatories represent themselves and not the congregations or organizations which they serve.

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3 years 10 months ago
Dear Reverends, Thank the Lord. The religious community is finally speaking up in public. The people need all the help they can get to overcome determined folks who have selfish interests at heart, but use “defend the country” statements to justify their actions. The Canadians just cancelled THEIR F-35 order, because the annual cost of THEIR F-35 program would be 2x estimated. See an article on this site. Here is is some information on noise: The whitewash is on-going. The Air Force is refusing to do some landings, take-offs and maneuvers near the airport to demonstrate to the people… Read more »
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