Holding a BA in religious studies from SUNY Buffalo (1972) and a JD from the University at Buffalo Law School (1976), Bill Scheurer was involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement during his college years. After completing his legal studies, Scheurer worked as: a clerk for the New Jersey Superior Court (1976-77); an associate attorney for the law firm of Shanley & Fisher (1977-78); an associate counsel for the Allstate Insurance Company in Illinois (1978-83); CEO of the Welcome America risk-management corporation (1983-2001); founder & CEO of the Internet company PocketCard Inc. (1998-2001); and publisher of Hourglass Books, which produces collections of short fictional stories (2003-present).
Starting in 2001, Scheurer, a self-described “peace activist,” spent a number of years as editor of the Peace Majority Report. Since 2002 he has been a member of Military Families Speak Out. Scheurer has also served variously as: a leader of the Lindenhurst, Illinois-based Congress for Peace, which was part of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition; a participant in the Peace and Security Initiative (2003-09); an initiator (along Kevin Zeese and others) of Voters For Peace (2006); a national council member of the interfaith Fellowship of Reconciliation (2007-present); interim executive director of Beyond War (2007-09); a board adviser to Save-A-Vet (2008-present); a founding participant in the National Peace Academy (2009); co-coordinator (with his wife) of the Peace Garden Project (February 2009-present); and executive director of On Earth Peace, which seeks to overcome “structural violence” with “the power of love” (May 2012-present).
Over the years, Scheurer has run several failed campaigns for political office, including a 2004 bid for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, and four unsuccessful runs for a U.S. House seat representing Illinois's 8th Congressional District—in 2003 as a Democrat, 2006 as an independent peace candidate, 2008 as a Democrat, and 2010 as a Green Party candidate. In his 2006 campaign, Scheurer:
- called for the immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, a war that he said had “undermined our national security and influence in the world, all while eroding our constitutional liberties here at home”;
- charged that both the Republican and Democratic parties were agents of “large corporations” and “related individuals”;
- denounced “the ‘Enron/Halliburton’ energy bill ... that gives ... oil companies billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, while they rake in hundreds of billions in record-breaking profits …”;
- pledged to oppose “an imbalanced budget … [n]o matter which party is in power”—on the premise that expenditures for social-welfare programs should be increased; and
- proposed to fix America’s “serious national crisis in our healthcare system” by means of “a plan of mandatory health insurance … based on the idea of ‘universal coverage, universal responsibility’.”
In October 2007 Scheurer and a number of likeminded activists signed a statement telling the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and all American military personnel that “any preemptive U.S. attack on Iran” and its suspected nuclear facilities would be “illegal” and “criminal.” Fellow signatories included Tom Hayden, Cynthia McKinney, Marcus Raskin, Cindy Sheehan, Alice Slater, Norman Solomon, Gore Vidal, and Kevin Zeese.
In February 2009, Scheurer was a signatory—along with numerous left-wing authors, academics, and professionals—to an anti-Israel letter addressed to President Barack Obama. Assigning a moral equivalence to the Israelis and Palestinians, the letter lamented “the consequences of [the] cyclical violence” between those “two traumatized peoples, [both] gripped by fear and moral outrage, who have spiraled into escalating reverberating reactions of mutually provoked traumatic reenactment, endlessly ricocheting back and forth”; stated that Israel should finally begin “addressing just grievances, and allowing [the Palestinians to experience] life with dignity, self-determination, prosperity and freedom”; asserted that “people [such as the Palestinians] prefer to get their needs met by decent means, and resort to violence [only] when thwarted”; and condemned “Israel’s overwhelming military reaction” to Palestinian acts of terrorism.
In October 2014 Scheurer signed a “National Call” to “Save Civilian Public Education,” a petition demanding an end to “efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the [classroom] learning process.” Fellow signers included such notables as Noam Chomsky, Tom Hayden, Michael Parenti, and Cindy Sheehan.
In 2015 Scheurer, in behalf of On Earth Peace, created an “Anti-Racism Transformation Team.” “Like most institutions that hold most of the wealth and power in U.S. society today,” he explained, “On Earth Peace is a historically white organization, springing from a historically white denomination, both of which are laced with attitudes, policies, and practices that systemically reinforce unearned white privilege and limit full ownership and participation by people of color.” Scheurer further stated that his organization's goal was to “model for other white-majority organizations” the process of “undoing the institutional racism within our own organization and community.”
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