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STATEMENTS ON IRAQ FROM RELIGIOUS LEADERS

Prepared by the Lutheran Peace Fellowship, 1710 11th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122, 206-720-0313, lpf@ecunet.org ; www.LutheranPeace.org. Feel free to reproduce as a flyer or to enlarge to poster size.

Catholic

We respectfully urge you to step back from the brink of war and help lead the world to act together to fashion an effective global response to Iraq's threats that conforms with traditional moral limits on the use of military force. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Letter to President Bush, Sept. 13, 2002

Episcopalian

The question for us now must be: what is our role in the community of nations? I believe we have the capacity within us to help lead our world into the way of justness and peace. The freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States oblige us to attend not only to our own welfare, but to the well-being of the world around us. A superpower, especially one that declares itself to be "under God," must exercise the role of super servant. Our nation has an opportunity to reflect the values and ideals that we espouse by focusing upon issues of poverty, disease and despair, not only within our own nation but throughout the global community of which we are a part. The Presiding Bishop's statement on military action against Iraq, September 6, 2002

Jewish

International cooperation is far, far better than unilateral action, and the U.S. must explore all reasonable means of attaining such support. Non-military action is always preferable to military action, and the U.S. must fully explore all options to resolve the situation through such means. If the effort to obtain international cooperation and support through the United Nations fails, the U.S. must work with other nations to obtain cooperation in any military action. Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Executive Committee Decision on Unilateral Action by the U.S. Against Iraq

Lutheran

While we are fully aware of the potential threat posed by the government of Iraq and its leader, I believe it is wrong for the United States to seek to over-throw the regime of Saddam Hussein with military action. Morally, I oppose it because I know a war with Iraq will have great consequences for the people of Iraq, who have already suffered through years of war and economic sanctions. Further, I believe it is detrimental to U.S. interests to take unilateral military action when there is strong international support for weapons inspections, and when most other governments oppose military action. I also believe that U.S. military action at this time will further destabilize the region. I call upon members of our congregations to be fervent in prayer, engaged in conversation with one another and with our leaders. In the final analysis, we must stand unequivocally for peace. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson's Statement on Iraq Situation, August 30, 2002

Mennonite

To speak against war and invasion is to hold up a conviction that, in light of all uncertainties, peace and security are enlarged when authorities choose the path of non-violent diplomacy. The concerns noted above convince us that this is both a moral and a practical path. Our call is also a statement of belief that God wills the path of peace and will work alongside those who have the courage to take risks for peace. Statement of the Mennonite Central Committee, April 20, 2002

Methodist

United Methodists have a particular duty to speak out against an unprovoked attack. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are members of our denomination. Our silence now could be interpreted as tacit approval of war. Christ came to break old cycles of revenge and violence. Too often, we have said we worship and follow Jesus but have failed to change our ways. Jesus proved on the cross the failure of state-sponsored revenge. It is inconceivable that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and the Prince of Peace, would support this proposed attack. Secretary Jim Winkler of The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, August 30, 2002

Presbyterian

We urge Presbyterians to oppose a precipitate U.S. attack on Iraq and the Bush administration’s new doctrine of pre-emptive military action. We call upon President George W. Bush and other leaders to: Refrain from language that seems to label certain individuals and nations as ‘evil’ and others as ‘good’; Oppose ethnic and religious stereotyping, Guard against a unilateralism, rooted in our unique position of political, economic and military power, that perpetuates the perception that ‘might makes right’; Allow United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq, without undue pressure or threats of pre-emptive, unilateral action; and End the economic sanctions against Iraq, which have been ineffectual but have done untold damage to the Iraqi people. The General Assembly Council and the staff leadership team of the Presbyterian Church (USA), September 28, 2002

Quaker (Society of Friends)

We call upon Friends to witness and work to prevent this war, to reverse this new military doctrine, to call upon our governments to implement multilateral, diplomatic responses to the threats posed by the government of Iraq, and to continue developing positive, nonviolent approaches to resolving international conflicts. We know that there are millions of people of good will with whom we can join in this work. Joint Statement in Response to Threat of War with Iraq from the General and Executive Secretaries of Five Quaker Organizations, September 24, 2002

Unitarian Universalist

We will not all stand in the same place on this issue. But we can all stand in the same faith. Above all, that is my hope. In these troubling days and all those that lie ahead, my deepest prayer is that we stand in this faith with Universalist Olympia Brown, who wrote, over one hundred years ago, “Every nation must learn that the people of all nations are children of God, and must share the wealth of the world. You may say this is impracticable, far away, can never be accomplished, but it is the work we are appointed to do." Responding to the Threat of War: A Pastoral Letter from the Rev. William G. Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association, September 20, 2002

United Church of Christ

With heavy hearts we hear once again the drumbeat of war against Iraq. As leaders committed to God’s reign of justice and peace in the world and to the just conduct of our nation, we firmly oppose this advance to war. 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. We fear that war would only provoke greater regional instability and lead to the mass destruction it is intended to prevent. UCC leaders, September 13, 2002

Ecumenical

As Christians, we are concerned by the likely human costs of war with Iraq, particularly for civilians. We are unconvinced that the gain for humanity would be proportionate to the loss. Neither are we convinced that it has been publicly demonstrated that all reasonable alternative means of containing Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction have been exhausted. We call upon our governments to pursue these diplomatic means in active cooperation with the United Nations and to stop the apparent rush to war. World Council of Churches, August 30, 2002

We are compelled by the prophetic vision of peace to speak a word of caution to our governments and our people. We represent a diversity of Christian communities - from the just war traditions to the pacifist tradition. As leaders of these communities in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is our considered judgment that a preemptive war against Iraq, particularly in the current situation, would not be justified. Statement from Religious Leaders, October 11, 2002

STATEMENTS FROM INTERNATIONAL FIGURES

Dr. Robert Muller

Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general of the United   Nations, now Chancellor emeritus of the University of Peace in Costa Rica was one of the people who witnessed the founding of the U.N. and has worked in support of or inside the U.N. ever since. Recently he was in San Francisco to be honored for his service to the world through the U.N. and through his writings and teachings for peace. At age eighty, Dr. Muller surprised, even stunned, many in the audience that day with his most positive assessment of where the world stands now regarding war and peace.

" I'm so honored to be here," he said. "I'm so honored to be alive at such a miraculous time in history. I'm so moved by what's going on in our world today."

Dr. Muller proceeded to say, "Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war".

The whole world is in now having this critical and historic dialogue--listening to all kinds of points of view and positions about going to war or not going to war. In a huge global public conversation the world is asking-"Is war legitimate? Is it illegitimate? Is there enough evidence to warrant an attack? Is there not enough evidence to warrant an attack?   What will be the consequences? The costs? What will happen after a war?   How   will this set off other conflicts? What might be peaceful alternatives?   What kind of negotiations are we not thinking of? What are the real intentions for declaring war?"

All of this, he noted, is taking place in the context of the United Nations Security Council, the body that was established in 1949 for exactly this purpose. He pointed out that it has taken us more than fifty years to realize that function, the real function of the U.N. And at this moment in history-- the United Nations is at the center of the stage. It is the place where these conversations are happening, and it has become in these last months and weeks, the most powerful governing body on earth, the most powerful container for the world's effort to wage peace rather than war.   Dr. Muller was almost in tears in recognition of the fulfillment of this dream.

" We are not at war," he kept saying. We, the world community, are WAGING peace. It is difficult, hard work. It is constant and we must not let up.   It is working and it is an historic milestone of immense proportions. It has never happened before-never in human history-and it is happening now-every day every hour-waging peace through a global conversation. He pointed out that the conversation questioning the validity of going to war has gone on for hours, days, weeks, months and now more than a year, and it may go on and on. "We're in peacetime," he kept saying. "Yes, troops are being moved. Yes, warheads are being lined up. Yes, the aggressor is angry and upset and spending a billion dollars a day preparing to attack. But not one shot has been fired. Not one life has been lost. There is no war. It's all a conversation."

It is tense, it is tough, it is challenging, AND we are in the most significant and potent global conversation and public dialogue in the history of the world. This has not happened before on this scale ever before-not before WWI or WWII, not before Vietnam or Korea, this is new and it is a stunning new era of Global listening, speaking, and responsibility.

In the process, he pointed out, new alliances are being formed. Russia and China on the same side of an issue is an unprecedented outcome. France and Germany working together to wake up the world to a new way of seeing the situation. The largest peace demonstrations in the history of the world are taking place--and we are not at war! Most peace demonstrations in recent history took place when a war was already waging, sometimes for years, as in the case of Vietnam.

" So this," he said, "is a miracle. This is what "waging peace " looks like."

No matter what happens, history will record that this is a new era, and that the 21st century has been initiated with the world in a global dialogue looking deeply, profoundly and responsibly as a global community at the legitimacy of the actions of a nation that is desperate to go to war.

Through these global peace-waging efforts, the leaders of that nation are being engaged in further dialogue, forcing them to rethink, and allowing all nations to participate in the serious and horrific decision to go to war or not.

Dr. Muller also made reference to a recent New York Times article that pointed out that up until now there has been just one superpower-the United States, and that that has created a kind of blindness in the vision of the U.S. But now, Dr. Muller asserts, there are two superpowers: the United States and the merging, surging voice of the people of the world.

All around the world, people are waging peace. To Robert Muller, one of the great advocates of the United Nations, it is nothing short of a miracle and it is working.

 

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Statements from International Leaders

Dr. Robert Muller


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