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Stephen Vincent Kobasa is a Connecticut teacher, journalist, and Christian political activist. He focuses his work “in Colombia solidarity, towards abolition of the death penalty and in opposition to nuclear weapons.”[1] He was “instrumental in reconstituting the state’s death penalty abolition movement”[2] in 2000. The son of a well-known Seymour, Connecticut teacher,[3] Kobasa graduated from Seymour High School in 1965, after which he attended Fairfield University.[4] He holds masters’ degrees from Yale Divinity School and the University of Chicago.[5] Kobasa taught English at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut, during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999 he began teaching English at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He gained national attention when, in October 2005, he was fired from Kolbe for refusing to display the American flag, the presentation of which he viewed as a “contradiction” to the symbol of the Christian crucifix.[6] When his dismissal was reported in the Boston Globe and other major newspapers, his cause was taken up by a number of political and religious publications. To theologian William T. Cavanaugh, Kobasa's action was a protest against “idolatry.” Cavanaugh went on to write that One final irony of Stephen Kobasa’s firing is that it took place at a Catholic school named after St. Maximilian Kolbe. Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who gave himself up to be starved to death at Auschwitz in place of a man who begged to be spared for the sake of his children. Saints like Kolbe keep us alert to the imperative to put loyalty to God over loyalty to the state.[7] Kobasa appealed unsuccessfully to Church authorities, including William E. Lori, the Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese, but has ruled out filing a civil lawsuit. On February 14, 2006, he testified before the Connecticut State Senate’s Labor and Public Employees Committee in favor of a law which would require employers to notify their employees that they are not eligible for unemployment benefits.[8] The bill was signed into law on April 21 by Governor Jodi Rell. Since 2006 he has been a columnist for the New Haven Advocate. In that capacity he was awarded first prize in Arts and Entertainment writing in a regional, non-daily newspaper by the Society of Professional Journalists.[9] In March 2009, he began a series of “object lessons”—brief reflections on art around New Haven—for the New Haven Independent. Twenty-two have been published as of September 2009. Kobasa, whose “seemingly average existence has been punctuated by a dozen arrests and short stints in jail,”,[10] has participated in a range of nonviolent antiwar and human-rights protests since the late 1960s.[11] These demonstrations—and Kobasa's philosophy—are consistent with postmodern Catholic peace traditions, especially liberation theology and peaceful resistance; he became a conscientious objector in 1967.[12] In his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, he is regarded a “regular at anti-war actions around town,”[13] appearing regularly at rallies there. Among his recent activities, Kobasa was the “main facilitator” of an Iraq war memorial established in late 2007 in New Haven's Broadway Triangle,[14] and was a speaker at a 2009 demonstration protesting racial profiling in East Haven, Connecticut organized by Unidad Latina En Acción.[15],[16] Some of Kobasa’s Essays “Allegiance to Conscience.” The Catholic Worker (2006).[17] “Can art change the world?” Yale University Art Gallery (2007) “A Lesson for Martha Stewart—And for Us All” Peacework (2004) “More Lies from a Machine: Revisiting the Enola Gay” The Nuclear Resister (2004) External links The New Haven Advocate Kolbe Cathedral High School The New Haven Independent’s “Hometown Heroes of 2005” Kobasa and conscience: contains Kobasa's statement about his termination from Kolbe Cathedral High School, as well as related media reports and letters. A portrait of Kobasa painted by Nathan Lewis References ^ Jacobs, Ron. Dual Devotions? The Catholic Church and the US Flag. CounterPunch, 10/18/05. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ Bromage, Andy. Anti-death penalty protesters say execution ‘not an end’ to their fight. New Haven Register, 5/14/05. Retrieved on 2009-9-13. ^ Stephen Kobasa’s mother, Vincentena Kobasa (1917-2002) taught first grade for 27 years and served on the Seymour Board of Education for 12 years. After her death, the Seymour Public Schools inaugurated the Vincentena Kobasa Excellence in Teaching Award. See also Bromage, Andy. ‘Dynamic’ Seymour teacher remembered. New Haven Register, 11/2/02; retrieved on 2009-9-13 Villers, Patricia. Seymour recalls LoPresti teacher. New Haven Register, 5/30/03; retrieved on 2009-9-13 ^ Tuhus, Melinda. The View From/New Haven; 25 Years Later, Antiwar Activists Are Still Involved in Cause. New York Times, 4/23/00, §14CN, p. 2. Retrieved on 2009-09-12. ^ Belli, Brita. Of Flags and Crosses. Fairfield Weekly, 10/20/05. Reprinted here; retrieved on 2009-9-13. ^ Rothschild, Matthew. Catholic High School Teacher Forced Out over Flag. Progressive, 10/18/05. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ Cavanaugh, William T. Pledging Allegiance: A Theological Reflection on the Kobasa Case. Catholic Peace Fellowship, vol. 5.1 (Spring 2006). Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ Labor and Public Employees Committee of the Connecticut State Senate report on SB-19, 03/14/06. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ "Courant series, Journal Inquirer editor top SPJ awards." The Day, 05/24/07. Retrieved on 2007-05-31 ^ Tuhus, New York Times. ^ e.g., A Launching at Electric Boat. Associated Press, 10/13/88. Retrieved on 2009-09-13. ^ Jacobs. ^ Tuhus, Melinda. A Lonely Vigil. New Haven Independent, 5/29/07. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. ^ Yu, Lea. Elm City to unveil Iraq war memorial: Design of Red River stones to highlight conflict’s costs. Yale Daily News, 11/8/07. Retrieved on 2009-09-12. The monument was later vandalized. ^ O’Leary, Mary E. Marchers protest police treatment: Peaceful event turns ugly as fight breaks out. New Haven Register, 8/17/09. Retrieved on 2009-9-13. ^ MacMillan, Thomas. Immigrant Advocates, Supremacists Clash. New Haven Independent, 8/15/09. Retrieved on 2009-9-13. ^ Article not available online; see this link. Persondata Name Kobasa, Stephen V. Alternative names Short description Date of birth Place of birth Date of death Place of death