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Clergy Against The War In Iraq


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I'm trying to collect as many statements/letters/etc. made by prominent clergy, in any denomination, who have voiced their opposition to the war and/or Bush.

 

I've already come across the Pope's statements, as well as what Rowan Williams has said. The presiding bishop of the ELCA has spoken out against the war and Tony Campolo (a Baptist) has made his views well known.

 

I'm still searching for voices from other mainline denominations, but if there are voices from evangelical/non-denom places, I'd like to know about those as well...

 

Can anyone help me out?

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I know UMC, in fact most mainline denomination have demonstrated

opposition to war in Irak

(except SBC ..)

 

 

http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/full_artic...?articleid=1466

 

http://www.globalministries.org/mee/me021003.htm

 

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1015-04.htm

 

http://www.ctbi.org.uk/intaff/iraq/umn01.htm

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_politics/2175084.stm

 

..

Just use http://www.google.com

 

and type "clergy against war"..

 

Hope it helps

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Not a Just or Moral War. by David Earle Anderson. Sojourners Magazine, January-February 2003 (Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 26-29, 63). Cover.

 

(http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0301&article=030111)

 

On Oct. 7, just hours before President Bush in a Cincinnati speech outlined his case for the "urgent duty" of the United States to launch a pre-emptive military strike against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, some two dozen United Methodists from eight Michigan churches joined some 500 other people in a demonstration in downtown Detroit protesting the Bush preparations for war.

 

"We can't sleep through this rush to war," Rev. Ed Rowe of Detroit Central United Methodist Church told the Michigan Christian Advocate. "Killing innocent victims makes us the terrorists we hate."

 

The Detroit demonstration attracted little national attention. But the demonstration, in itself merely a drop of water, was a drop in what has become an ocean of faith-based opposition to the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld plans for war on Iraq. And for the most part it has been religious leaders and their congregations—especially mainline Protestant, progressive evangelicals, and Catholic pacifists in Great Britain and the United States—who have been the most vocal and visible in raising the alarm.

 

It should not be surprising.

 

Catholic and Protestant churches are in a different place than they were during the Gulf war of a decade ago or the Vietnam War of a generation ago. The churches have been shaped in large part by those two previous wars and, of course, are facing a different situation in that Iraq and the possibility of a new U.S.-led military campaign for a "regime change" has been a concern since 1991.

 

In the first Gulf war, Hussein was clearly the aggressor, and some religious leaders—under just war theory—felt the invasion of Kuwait was a provocation that could ethically be resisted and repelled with the use of military force. At the same time, the way the war was conducted and the subsequent punitive sanctions regime created legitimate concerns over both the question of proportionality and the impact on the Iraqi civilian population. The churches and their humanitarian agencies, as well as independent groups such as Pax Christi and Voices in the Wilderness, have worried about the devastating impact U.N.-imposed sanctions have had, especially on Iraqi children.

 

More than a year and a half ago, before Sept. 11, before the new media focus on Iraq and the region, some of that concern—and the frustration—over American policy was expressed by Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, who has made more than a half dozen trips to Iraq in the aftermath of the 1991 war. "What we are doing must be condemned without equivocation. It is morally bankrupt, totally depraved." From Gumbleton, one of the Catholic Church's leading pacifists, such remarks are perhaps not remarkable. But his venue was—the World Association for Christian Communicators, which held a two-day workshop in April 2001 on "The News Embargo on Iraq."

 

THE ROOTS OF SUCH a stance reach all the way back to the 1960s and the "lessons" learned from the war in Vietnam. The churches, along with much of the rest of the American public, were slow to realize the nature of the war in Southeast Asia and to oppose it. The reasons for that are complex—some benign and some not so benign.

 

In the first place, in the mid-'60s the civil rights struggle was the great social cause of American mainline Protestantism and the Catholic Church, in the pews and parishes and at the national, institutional level. While some leaders and activists—especially among the pacifists—made an early connection between civil rights and Vietnam, most did not. Even Martin Luther King Jr. resisted the connection for a long time, and not until his April 4, 1967, speech at Riverside Church was the link irrevocably joined. The Vietnam buildup through the early 1960s was gradual and conducted under the auspices of a popular, liberal president; at the same time, many in the religious leadership, as in the national political and intellectual leadership, were still in the grips of the Cold War mentality that dominated the nation and put special emphasis on the atheistic character of communism. To stand against communism was to stand for God.

 

What's important for the current context, however, is that the very sharp and sometimes bitter debate waged in many denominations over Vietnam—and, more broadly, American nuclear and foreign policy—was led by young insurgents who now hold power in their churches. Even more important, denominations—most prominently the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with its 1983 pastoral letter "The Challenge of Peace"—made far more explicit the religiously grounded assumption against the use of force.

 

Thus, as the Bush administration zeroed in on Iraq this year, so did the religious community. Voices of concern and caution came not only from New York and Washington, but from Rome, Geneva, London, and Jerusalem as Christian leaders felt the international community was being stampeded toward an ill-conceived and highly questionable conflict.

 

Last August, as the administration threatened what amounted to a unilateral pre-emptive strike, the cautions swelled to a chorus. A group of Protestant and Orthodox leaders from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, attending a Central Committee meeting of the World Council of Churches, issued a statement warning against the "apparent drift towards military confrontation in Iraq." Their spontaneous, independent action was followed within days by a more formal statement from the full Central Committee of the WCC. In many respects this statement set the tone for the flurry of statements and actions that followed from individual church leaders, denominations, and various coalitions such as the theologically broad-based statement "Disarm Iraq Without War," developed by Sojourners' Jim Wallis and the United Kingdom's Anglican Bishop Peter Price.

 

NEARLY ALL THE statements have two things in common: a just-war assessment that finds the Bush-Blair approach to war morally questionable at virtually every turn and a realistic, sharply critical assessment of the Saddam Hussein regime. The joint U.S.-U.K. statement argues: "Let there be no mistake: We regard Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq as a real threat to his own people, neighboring countries, and to the world. His previous use and continued development of weapons of mass destruction is of great concern to us." The statement from the North Atlantic members of the WCC was equally sharp: "We believe that the Iraqi government has a duty to stop its internal repression, to end its threats to peace, to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to respect the legitimate role of the United Nations in ensuring that it does so."

 

Despite administration efforts to make the link between the "war on terrorism," the military action in Afghanistan, and the proposed war against Iraq, the U.S. Catholic bishops, at their November meeting, said that they "continue to find it difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature." The bishops continued: "[W]e fear that resort to war...would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for overriding the strong presumption against the use of military force.... We are deeply concerned about recent proposals to expand dramatically traditional limits on just cause to include preventive uses of military force to overthrow threatening regimes or to deal with weapons of mass destruction."

 

The administration does have some supporters in the religious community. The earliest, and biggest, supporter of a pre-emptive and, if necessary, unilateral strike against Iraq has been Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who put together a supportive letter to Bush with his spin on just war theory. Endorsers of the letter included Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson; Campus Crusade's Bill Bright; and D. James Kennedy, head of Coral Ridge Media Ministries. Land argues a pre-emptive strike against Saddam is a defensive "just cause" because of the Iraqi leader's actions of a decade ago.

 

But most of the religious response to the unfolding of the Bush Iraq policy uses elements of the just war theory—if not always explicitly, at least implicitly—in making its case against the war. In particular, two elements of the Bush-Blair style-passing-as-policy appear especially troubling to church officials: the insistence that a pre-emptive strike was not only permissible and justified but a necessity, regardless of any Iraqi action; and a failure to address consequences—to the Iraqi civilian population people, first of all, but also to the rest of the Middle East and in such Asian states as Indonesia and Pakistan.

 

Bush's unilateralism has gone through a number of different phases as public opinion—and pressure from the churches—has forced the administration to modify its stance. The administration first insisted it needed no new authorization to pursue al Qaeda and the war against Afghanistan, then it agreed to seek congressional authority and, finally, U.N. Security Council authorization. With the Nov. 8 Security Council resolution, it would appear that unilateralism is a dead issue, but administration officials still hold out the possibility of acting alone if the U.N. inspections don't work to their satisfaction.

 

MOST CHILLING for many is the administration's insistent threat on the use of a pre-emptive strike, even in the absence of any imminent Iraqi attack. The overwhelming thrust of just war theory would find fault with the use of pre-emptive military action before diplomacy and other means have been exhausted. "The case for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq has not been made," top officials of the United Church of Christ said in a Sept. 12 statement. "While Iraq's weapons potential is uncertain, the death that would be inflicted on all sides in a war is certain. Striking against Iraq now will not serve to prevent terrorism or defend our nation's interests."

 

Similarly, Bishop Sharon Brown, president of the United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops, in a pastoral letter to the denomination's 8.4 million members—including President Bush and Vice President Cheney—said a pre-emptive strike against Iraq "goes against the very grain of our understanding of the gospel.... Pre-emptive strike does not reflect restraint and does not allow for the adequate pursuit of peaceful means for resolving conflict. To be silent in the face of such a prospect is not an option for the followers of Christ."

 

Finally, the churches—especially Christian-related relief and aid agencies—argue that the Bush-Blair policy has not given enough consideration to the likely military, political, and humanitarian consequences of military attack. These groups have already been concerned about the effect of the decade-old sanctions—and Iraq's response to them—especially on the Iraqi civilian population. According to U.N. officials and Iraqi health workers, some 1.6 million Iraq children have died since sanctions began in 1991—seven times more than in the same period before sanctions—and 1 million children are malnourished. Following a fact-finding mission to Iraq at the end of October, CAFOD—the relief agency of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales—warned that war on Iraq could create a "humanitarian catastrophe" that would "bring shame on the world." The warning follows similar views expressed by Catholic Relief Services and Bread for the World in the United States.

 

One conservative commentator said that church leaders lack the "information and competence" to address the Iraq question, and that "those grave decisions must finally be made by government and military leaders within their sphere of competence and authority."

 

But, church leaders reply, that is precisely what they are doing by raising the ancient Christian teaching of the just war theory and exercising their citizenship by demanding that the administration make not only a profane case for the war but a moral and ethical one as well.

 

David Earle Anderson is editor of Religion News Service.

 

===========

 

Is Bush deaf to church doubts on Iraq war? By Jim Wallis, 12/9/2002

 

RECENT NEWS stories indicate that the White House and new Republican controlled Congress intend to put the president's faith-based initiative high on the agenda for 2003. But the president is not acknowledging another faith-based initiative - the strong majority of Christian leaders opposing a war against Iraq. It took a long time for most of the American churches to come out against the war in Vietnam. This time, the church protest of war is significant, both in its breadth and its early clarity. Opposition to war with Iraq has come from a wide spectrum of the churches - Roman Catholic, Protestant denominations, Evangelical, Pentecostal, black churches, Orthodox. All of the statements, letters, and resolutions from church leaders and bodies take the threat posed by Saddam Hussein seriously, but they refuse war as the best response. Importantly, these church leaders are not making their decision based on whether or not they approve of President George W. Bush - some do and some don't. Rather, they are doing so on the basis of Christian theology and moral teaching. The tradition of Christian non-violence and pacifism, of course, rules out all war as a way to resolve conflicts.

 

Most remarkable, however, in this instance, is that the majority of American church leaders who have spoken against prospective military action are not pacifists. They are opposing war because they believe it does not meet the standards of a ''just war.'' Church leaders have used the traditional just war criteria dating back to St. Augustine in the 4th century. These criteria start with a presumption against war, then apply a series of judgments to determine whether that presumption can be overridden. And most church leaders have concluded that in the current circumstances, it cannot - a war against Iraq would not be just. They have asked whether there is a just cause, and concluded that a doctrine of preemptive war to change a regime, however evil or threatening that regime may be, is not acceptable. They have looked at proportionality - are the damage to be caused and the costs incurred by war proportionate to the good expected? They argue that initiating a major war in an area of the world already in turmoil could destabilize governments and increase political extremism throughout the Middle East and beyond. It could exacerbate anti-American hatred and produce new recruits for terror attacks against the United States and Israel.

 

A unilateral war could also undermine the continued political cooperation needed for the international campaign to isolate terrorist networks. The United States could very well win a battle against Iraq and lose the campaign against terrorism. If a war is launched, would it be proportionate and discriminate? What amount of military force would be used and what is the likelihood of disproportionate damage to civilian life and property? Would care be taken to avoid or at least minimize harm to civilians? Most have concluded that if the military strategy includes massive air attacks and urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad, tens of thousands of innocent civilians could lose their lives. This alone makes such a military attack morally unacceptable. In addition, the people of Iraq continue to suffer severely from the effects of the Gulf War, the resulting decade of sanctions, and the neglect and oppression of a brutal dictator. Rather than inflicting further suffering on them through a costly war, we ought to assist in rebuilding their country and alleviating their suffering. The casualties among attacking forces - our sons and daughters - could also be very high.

 

Church leaders say that the potential suffering of both the Iraqi people and our own society should lead to prudent caution. Finally, is a war at this time really a last resort? Have all peaceful alternatives been tried and failed? It seems clear that, just as UN inspectors are entering Iraq to begin their mission, we cannot say they have failed. Continued diplomatic cooperation with the United Nations in pursuing rigorously effective and thoroughly comprehensive weapons inspections, linked to the gradual lifting of economic sanctions as a reward for compliance, might achieve the disarmament of Iraq without the risks and costs of military attack. Bush has frequently reminded us of Martin Luther King's teaching that ''The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.'' As a war with Iraq approaches, the churches are fulfilling that vocation. Is Bush listening? Jim Wallis is executive director and editor of Sojourners.

 

This story ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 12/9/2002.

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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES NEWS RELEASE

REFLECTION BY DR. BOB EDGAR, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

 

January 28, 2003

 

The President didn't say it, but the country knows it: The union is in a state of great uneasiness. Many people are uncomfortable with a national priority that provides major tax cuts for millionaires and pays for them with funds that ought to go to help children without health care insurance, children who can't get into Head Start, children whose families live on the edge all the time.

 

Other Americans wonder why the President insists on escalating the national debt, saddling their children and grandchildren with an obligation that threatens the well-being of generations to come, just so a relative handful of wealthy Americans can add to their list of luxuries.

 

The creation of a national department for homeland security does little for our sense of safety when the President fails to fund its budget, and when local communities cannot adequately fund their police, firefighters and hospitals.

 

We should all be concerned about the tone of the President's war rhetoric. Americans are right to be uneasy about the morality of a pre-emptive American invasion that, even with extreme care on our part, could kill a staggering number of innocent civilians. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as half a million casualties would result from such a war, and UNICEF warns that three million people would be threatened with starvation.

 

Just as unsettling, a unilateral American assault on Iraq would surely

trigger a massive growth in anti-American terrorism that would make our

homeland far less secure.

 

Counting those costs, our common sense tells us there must be a better way than war. Our faith compels us to search for that better way.

-end-

 

CONTACTS AT THE NCC: 212-870-2252/2025/2048; Cell: 917-821-0852; Cell:

917-690-6075; e-mail news@ncccusa.org; Web: www.ncccusa.org

 

 

------------

March 19, 2002

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

As the possibility of war grows more likely, I am aware that we Minnesota United Methodists do not share the same opinion about it. Throughout the centuries, Christians have wrestled with the words of Jesus and the justification of waging war. In the midst of our differences, I appeal to you to model to the world what it means to live in Christian community with faith, hope and love.

 

I ask you to join me in prayer during this Lenten season of penitence and reflection. Let us unite our prayers with those of other Christian traditions and other faiths. During these anxious times, we need each other. Differences, both real and presumed, fade in importance compared with our common humanity under God. Now more than ever we must commit ourselves to protecting each others' rights to honest expression, regardless of viewpoint or background.

We tell the world that we are a church of open hearts, open minds, and open doors. This is a timely opportunity to open our doors and invite people to church. As our friends and neighbors accept the invitation, let's make an extra effort to make sure they find among us a loving Christian community. While we speak honestly with each other, let us also respect each other in the face of our different viewpoints. May the peace of Christ that we proclaim characterize our life together.

People need a place now to seek solace, reflect on events, pray for peace, and grieve. Those who have loved ones in the service need our compassion, as do those making the sacrifice. Our churches can be sanctuaries in the midst of distressing circumstances.

 

As we raise our voices for peace, let us also call for justice. I encourage you to support the United Methodist Committee on Relief's Iraq Emergency/All Our Children campaign (Advance #623225-4). As the fund's name suggests, children will benefit from the work supported by this Advance.

 

Let us remember always that in Christ we are an Easter people, born anew to living hope.

 

In the name of the Prince of Peace,

 

John L. Hopkins

Bishop, Minnesota Conference, United Methodist Church

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A Statement from Leaders of Friends Organizations in the U.S. Regarding the War in Iraq March 20, 2003

 

As servants of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as citizens of the United States, and as members of the human family, we speak today to express our profound grief and sorrow over our government's decision to go to war against Iraq. This is a choice we know will have enormous and tragic consequences - many as yet unimagined - for the Iraqi people, for our own nation, and for the world. It is a choice we believe was unnecessary, immoral and unwise, especially since it was taken before all the nonviolent and diplomatic alternatives were exhausted; indeed, before some were even explored.

 

The God we worship is a God of love (I John: 4). This Divine Spirit will always guide us into "paths of righteousness" - into lives of caring for, service to, and reconciliation with our fellow human beings - if only we will open ourselves to Divine direction and follow where that leads. This God tells "what is good, and that is to do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). The living Christ, our Teacher, tells us "to love our enemies" (Mt. 6:44). We wonder where the justice, the mercy, or the love is to be found in our government's decision to launch this preemptive attack, and begin a war where so many people will die. We are deeply saddened by the pain and suffering, the destruction and loss of life, and the grief that this war will bring to the Iraqi people. We are deeply saddened as well by the pain and suffering, the loss of life, and the grief that will be experienced by our soldiers, their families, and the many, many others who will be victims of this war. All these people - Iraqis, American, British and others - are children of God. We pray for God' s mercy on us all.

 

If this war goes swiftly, and the military objectives of our government are achieved, some will call it a success. But that can never be true. This war, like every war, represents a profound failure. It shows the failure of individuals and governments to address conditions of poverty, injustice, and oppression that lead to war. It shows our failure as human beings to overcome our own fears and greed, which we are told in Scripture are the root causes of war and strife (James 4:1-2). It shows a failure of will and creativity among those in our own government and others to seek alternatives to military force to resolve our conflicts. Finally, it represents a tragic failure to work through and respect the United Nations as the keystone of an evolving international system of law and diplomacy that can respond to international crises and avert war.

 

On this day, in our sorrow and our hope for a better future, we recommit ourselves to work with all people of faith and goodwill to bring this conflict to an end, and to do whatever can be done to avoid more wars. We believe, as President Carter observed in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, that "war is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." And we pray fervently for that time the prophet Isaiah predicted, when we "shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks; and nation will not lift up sword against nation, and we shall not learn war anymore" (Is. 2:4).

 

Signatories: Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation Bruce Birchard, General Secretary, Friends General Conference Ben Richmond, Director of North American Ministries, Friends United Meeting Steve Baumgartner, Executive Director, Pendle Hill Thomas Jeavons, General Secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Peter Lems

American Friends Service Committee

1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia PA 19102

Tel: 215/241-7170 / Fax:215/241-7177

<http://www.afsc.org/conscience/Default.shtm>

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The World Is at War What Are You Doing About It?

Johann Christoph Arnold (of the Burderhof Community)

<http://www.christopharnold.com/>

 

As Baghdad becomes the focus of a fierce war that is gathering momentum every day, many around the world are fearing the worst. Just in the last few days, American and British troops have experienced serious setbacks, and unexpected casualties and deaths. Even President Bush looked unusually grave as he warned the nation (on March 23) that "this is just the beginning of a tough fight."

But fear is the worst emotion we can give into at this time, for it is the

greatest divider. Fear divides people from one another, and from God. It

paralyzes people and drives them over the edge. But fear doesn't have to do

all these things. It can also drive us to each other in the certainty that

we can do something about this war. And I am not talking about peace

marches…

 

I have great respect for every person who has recently attended a vigil,

protest march, or peace rally. I myself have participated in dozens over the

last four decades. But I am also concerned about the tensions, the

divisiveness, and even open violence that is sometimes a part of these

gatherings.

 

Yes, war is wrong; yes, killing is wrong. I will never waver from that. At

the crucifixion of Jesus, after one of his disciples struck off the ear of a

soldier, Jesus told him to put away his weapon, saying, "He that takes the

sword shall perish by the sword." Jesus was clearly no advocate of armed

force. But nor did he condemn those who used it-even against him. On the

contrary, he prayed for them, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what

they do."

 

How timely Christ's words are for us who claim to follow him! He spoke them

as a sinless man. What about us, who contribute to war in so many ways,

every day of our lives-with our greed and materialism, our backbiting and

gossip, our unfaithfulness and family feuds, our arrogance, our general

selfishness and our disregard for others? How do we stand before God, we who

stand on the sidelines and condemn those who have planned this war, and

those who are now fighting it?

 

The war in Iraq calls each of us who oppose it to make a choice. We can

criticize the White House and the Pentagon. We can antagonize those we

disagree with. We can rub salt into the wounds of families who have lost

loved ones (or who fear losing them). We can look on soldiers and sailors

and airmen as evil-doers.

 

Or we can show them love, as we have never shown love before. We can listen

to those who are angry with us. We can encourage those who are hurt or

bitter. We can take time for the children around us. Many of them will go to

bed tonight with the images of a war that is thousands of miles away, but

still scares and confuses them. And we can support the troops on both sides

of the battle by praying for their safe return, and for a speedy end to

hostilities.

 

By "supporting the troops" I am not talking about waving flags, or calling

them home and hoping they'll get over their nightmares. (As someone who has

counseled veterans of every major war in the last century, including both

World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and Gulf War I, I have learned that

no soldier ever "gets over" a war.) I am talking about recognizing them for

what they really are: the beloved parents, spouses, children, brothers, and

sisters of families no different from yours and mine. Regardless of the

choices they once made, which have since landed them in the Iraqi desert,

they are now cogs in a huge machine. They are leaves in a massive whirlpool

of violence that began turning with Cain and Abel, and has never stopped

since.

 

Who will support these men and women once the last shot has been fired, and

they start showing up in AA meetings and emergency rooms, psych wards and

funeral homes? At the moment, there's plenty of talk about heroism and

sacrifice and God and country. But what's going to happen once the war is

over, and everyone has moved on to the next big thing on the screen? Who's

going to be there for "our boys in the Gulf" when they start turning their

weapons on themselves?

 

The time is past when one can simply be "for" or "against" war. And as this

particular one rages on, each of us has surely felt drawn into it somehow.

Only a heart of stone could stand aside. In my church community (the

Bruderhof), we have been drawn into it through prayer. Senseless as all this

violence is, we believe that God must have some reason for allowing it to

happen. And so, just as we pray for peace, we pray for his will to be done

as well-even as it remains a mystery to us.

 

God is a God of judgment, but he is also a God of endless love. He is a

father, and he sent his only son "not to condemn the world, but to save it."

He has a plan for each person who dies in this terrible conflict, from the

American paratrooper to the Iraqi sniper and the British marine-and all the

civilians caught in between. And we believe that every one of them will one

day end up in his arms. Who knows how powerfully he is already at work amid

all the horror? Surely he is there right now, waiting and watching; leading

(or holding back); chastising, but also comforting and giving courage.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they

shall be called the sons of God." He also said that though his harvest is

great, the workers are few. As the war in Iraq continues, let us remember

his words-and let us be peacemakers worthy of his blessing. As we continue

to work for end to the violence, let us (to quote Gandhi), be the change

that we wish to see in the world. Let us not condemn any man or woman, or

say or do anything that spreads division or fear. Let us rather do what we

can to sow seeds of peace. And let us never give up hoping in the One who

said, "Lo, I am with you to the end of the age." He promises a new heaven

and new earth for all people, one where every tear shall be dried.

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From the Fellowship Of Reconciliation www.forusa.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJANUARY 30, 2003 Contact: Richard Deats

 

PRE-EMPTIVE PEACE, NOT PRE-EMPTIVE WAR: THE FOR RESPONSE TO STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

 

According to President Bush, the regime of Saddam Hussein is the most urgent foreign policy issue we face today. No one contests the ugliness of the Hussein government - but when the President claims that Iraq presents us with a security emergency, the world abounds with skeptics. Now without presenting new or convincing evidence that Iraq is an imminent threat, President Bush, in defiance of global opinion and the deliberation necessary to UN inspections, continues his massive military buildup in the Middle East. He makes the case for a war that we will wage alone if necessary and on our own terms. War is hell. That hell is not being forced on us. Our policies are making it more likely.The costs of this dangerous war are passed over with little comment. Not only will the Iraqi people suffer greatly from a pre-emptive attack, but the possible reverberations at home are enormous. War can destabilize the entire region, triggering the growth of Islamic and nationalist extremism, toppling the governments of such key US-connected states as Jordan and Pakistan, or even Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It could foster terrorist attacks in the West and increase even further the fear and insecurity to which Americans do not wish to become accustomed.Pre-emptive war by the United States encourages other states with serious conflicts, such as India and Pakistan, to go to war themselves rather than patiently seeking a diplomatic solution. It sets up our country as the worst possible example to others. Pre-emptive war weakens the United Nations, international treaties, and the growing framework of international law that encourages the settlement of disputes and crises through peaceful means. The United States devoted much blood and effort throughout the 20th century to establishing this very system.The massive financial costs of war with Iraq will have a devastating impact on the US economy. Rapidly retreating federal and state budgets are already producing severe suffering among the poor and unemployed, gutting our schools and damaging or destroying other public services. The President's main policy for dealing with these problems is to suggest further tax cuts. Gestures of good will toward the bottom four-fifths of our population (and there were many in the speech) cannot mask the social shock of the enormous reductions in taxes paid by the richest 1%.These lopsided tax cuts did not create the jobs promised last year. They won't do it this year, either.The most serious weakness of the President's approach is its moral simplemindedness. In demonizing those he calls "the evil ones" and in exalting the goodness and purity of the United States and its policies, he removes himself from the rational world in which problems can be solved. Evil is not something "out there" in others. Good and evil reside in every human heart, and in every society. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely: nobody is exempt. As the most militarily and economically powerful nation, the United States should beware of hubris and the attitudes and policies that flow from it.Martin Luther King, Jr., whose holiday this country has just finished celebrating, spoke to us of the triple evils of racism, poverty, and war. He called upon us to build the Beloved Community through the work of justice here at home as well as abroad. We need to put our faith and prayers and resources to work in combating poverty, disease, illiteracy, and despair, the pools of misery in which terrorism and violence thrive. That is an American ideal that will win us the world's respect, rather than its contempt.Together the community of nations can marshal the great resources of humanity to bring healing, peace, and hope to all people. This was the vision that led to the founding of the United Nations, and the one that still beckons us today.

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