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James Matthew Branum
James Branum has been a serious force for peace and justice, human rights and personal conscience for many years. His service to these values is multi-dimensional, in line with the multiple hats he wears professionally. He is a pastor as well as an attorney, even a sometimes pedicab driver, and to every endeavor he brings dedication to human dignity, respect for creation, and understanding of the deep need for connection between people, community and the Earth.
Of particular note is his selfless contribution to the needs of those seeking to leave the military as a matter of conscientious objection. As a lawyer he has educated, defended and supported many young men and women with few resources and fewer options. He has stood next to them in a courtroom, visited them in jail or the brig, and comforted them and their loved ones as they face an uncertain future.
He was a key founder of the Center for Conscience in Action (formerly The Oklahoma Coalition for Conscientious Objection) and most recently of the Oklahoma Objector Church, both dedicated to the cause of peace by opposing war and supporting resisters within the military. War is a violation of human rights of the most extreme nature, and James takes this seriously and has dedicated his life to the cause. In doing so, he has foregone financial gain and professional status.
In his new project, The Oklahoma Objector Church, he seeks to create a space where all people can worship or be humanely conscientious, where all faith traditions, as well as non-religious people, can explore their common humanity and become more aware and more empathetic and responsive to one another. This is the basis for the practice of human rights from the personal to the global level.
James Matthew Branum epitomizes that mission and therefore deserves the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.