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The Church Positions on Iraq War

Nov 29, 2005

A reader writes:

I thought you might find this article interesting. It's from the November 27 issue of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. I cut and pasted it because you have to be registered to read it online. My question is this: Is this really true?

Churches stood nearly alone in war warnings

By David Waters

So who's to blame for misleading us to war?

Who isn't?

"The problem is that no politician, Republican or Democrat, had the courage to stand up and speak the truth about Iraq," Scott Ritter, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998, told reporters recently.

"Everybody fell right in line and said, 'Yes, Saddam is a threat,' when they knew there was no information out there to sustain this information."

Truth is, the White House failed us. So did Congress, Republicans and Democrats. So did the press.

The only American institution that had the courage to stand up and speak the truth about Iraq was the church.

In early 2003, nearly every major Christian denomination spoke out against a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, and not one spoke in favor of it.

"A pre-emptive war by the United States against a nation like Iraq goes against the very grain of our understanding of the Gospel, our church's teachings, and our conscience," said leaders of the United Methodist Church.

"We believe a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, with the overwhelming force such a strike may require to attain an expedient victory, may have many unintended consequences. . . . We do not support a decision to go to war without clear and convincing evidence of the need for us to defend ourselves against an imminent attack," wrote leaders of the Episcopal Church.

"We do not find any moral justification for a pre-emptive strike in the absence of an attack, or real threat of an attack, upon the United States. A military strike of this nature puts the United States in the posture of aggressive warfare, not defense, which is precisely the behavior we, and your administration, deplore in the Iraqi regime," wrote leaders of the Church of God in Christ.

"Based on the facts that are known, it is difficult to justify resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature or Iraq's involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11," wrote leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Concurring were leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Orthodox Church in America, the Christian Church (The Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Christ, the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the National Baptist Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren and Unitarians.

The church's nearly unanimous position on the war wasn't based on faulty, one-sided, politically expedient, misleading "intelligence."

It was based on centuries of collective wisdom.

We paid little attention.

Now, the church is beginning to stand up and speak out again about Iraq.

Last summer, the National Council of Churches of Christ, a collection of 36 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and African-American churches, called for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"We acknowledge that the freedom promised in the toppling of a dictator has been replaced by the humiliation of occupation and the violence of civil war," the statement read. "The sacrifice of brave men and women has been used to serve policies that have diminished our nation's prestige and our capacity to be agents of justice in the world."

Earlier this month, 96 United Methodist bishops signed a statement calling on the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

"As followers of Jesus Christ, who named peacemakers as blessed children of God, we call upon The United Methodist Church to join us in repentance and renewed commitment to Christ's reign of compassion, justice, reconciliation, and peace," they wrote.

"As elected and consecrated bishops of the church, we repent of our complicity in what we believe to be the unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. In the face of the United States Administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent.

"We confess our preoccupation with institutional enhancement and limited agendas while American men and women are sent to Iraq to kill and be killed, while thousands of Iraqi people needlessly suffer and die, while poverty increases and preventable diseases go untreated.

"Although we value the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the military, we confess our betrayal of the scriptural and prophetic authority to warn the nations that true security lies not in weapons of war, but in enabling the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized to flourish as beloved daughters and sons of God."

Consider us warned again. My comments are in the next posting.

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Category: In The News
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones