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Martin Sheen Tapes His Mouth Shut -- in Protest

West Wing star Martin Sheen plays a liberal president on NBC, but in real life he goes beyond what a studied politician would do to convey his views.

The activist actor Wednesday covered his mouth with a piece of duct tape that said "peace," in protest of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, then led about 60 protesters in a prayer vigil – sort of.

Sheen, who carried a huge painted cross during the protest, did not speak. Instead, the Rev. Michael Kennedy of Delores Mission Catholic Church in East Los Angeles read a statement from him.

"Nationalism and militarism have become the gods of our idolatry at the expense of our humanity," Sheen wrote. "By some demented form of logic the men, women and children of Iraq are relegated to 'collateral damage' as the dogs of war slouch toward Baghdad."

The vigil was held to pray for the safe return of U.S. soldiers and to express solidarity with two Catholic priests and one peace activist who have been fasting on a liquid diet since March 5, organizers said.

Sheen said recently that he felt pressure from executives at NBC to tone down his very public anti-war stance. NBC denied trying to censor their actor. The West Wing has suffered a precipitous drop in ratings over last two seasons.

The Associated Press contibuted to this report.