Posted by Tony from dsc04-lai-ca-6-9.rasserver.net (126.96.36.199) on Thursday, October 10, 2002 at 10:44PM :
Statement of United Church of Christ leaders opposing U.S. war against Iraq
With heavy hearts we hear once again the drumbeat of war against Iraq. As United Church of Christ 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.
The case for a preemptive attack on Iraq has not been made. 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.
The human cost of war would be enormous, both to the United States and to Iraq. The most severe impact of a military assault on Iraq would be on its already suffering civilian population. Over a decade of containment and isolation, of crippling comprehensive sanctions, and of routine U.S. and British bombing have created miserable conditions inside Iraq. The sanctions have induced poverty, malnutrition, and starvation on the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, including millions of children. These civilians, innocent of the atrocities Saddam Hussein has committed, should not bear the burden of deprivation and death such a war would surely exact on them.
While we condemn Saddam Hussein’s repressive policies, we are alarmed that our nation’s leaders would consider taking unilateral military action to remove him. To do so without any support from our Arab friends, without allied consensus, and without United Nations authorization puts U.S. leadership and credibility under international law at stake. A preemptive war against Iraq also risks the solidarity and good will the global community has shown the United States this past year, already strained in recent months by our nation’s sharpened turn toward unilateralism. U.S. military action and our uncertain plans for Iraq afterward, including the potential for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq, jeopardize most of all our tenuous relations with Arab and Muslim states in the region, in turn severely damaging U.S. prospects of successfully brokering new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ has joined churches around the world in committing to the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence. In that spirit, we call on our leaders to step back from the brink of war. Rather than lining nations up against an "axis of evil," our nation should engage in honest and open consultation with parties around the world and especially in the Middle East to seek a non-military solution to the threat that Iraq may pose. That solution should begin with ending economic sanctions, which have only strengthened Iraq’s leader while weakening its people. A comprehensive approach for U.S. policy in the region should be built on consistent principles of human rights and constraints on militarization and weapons development for all parties. We should more fully explore opportunities for building bridges across ethnic and regional lines in the Middle East. We join with the World Council of Churches in its recent call for the Government of Iraq "to respect the resolutions of the UN Security Council... to cooperate fully with UN inspectors deployed to oversee compliance, and to guarantee full respect of the civil and political, economic, social and cultural human rights for all of its citizens." We call upon President Bush and members of Congress to seek truly global coalitions and solutions to the forces of division and violence in our midst.
The United Church of Christ Collegium of Officers includes: John H. Thomas, General Minister and President; Edith A. Guffey, Associate General Minister; Dale Bishop, Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries; Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries; Jose Malayang, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries.
The following Conference Ministers have indicated their support for the Statement
Jane Heckles, Southern California-Nevada
Dan Romero, Southern California-Nevada
John Deckenback, Central Atlantic Conference
Hector Lopez, Central Pacific Conference
Eugene Ross, Central Pacific Conference
Davida Foy Crabtree, Connecticut Conference
Jane Fissler Hoffman, Illinois Conference
Jorge L. Morales, Illinois Conference
Susan Ingham, Iowa Conference
John Krueger, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference
Jean Alexander, Maine Conference
Nancy S. Taylor, Massachusetts Conference
Clyde Steckel, Minnesota Conference
A. Gayle Engel, Missouri Mid-South Conference
George Worcester, Nebraska
Benjamin C.L. Crosby, New Hampshire Conference
Susan Henderson, New Hampshire Conference
Geoffrey Black, New York Conference
Wade Schemmel, Northern Plains
Ralph Quellhorst, Ohio Conference
Stephanie Haines, Pacific Northwest Conference
Randy Hyvonen, Pacific Northwest Conference
Lyle Weible, Penn Central Conference
Luis A. Rosario, Puerto Rico Conference
Kenneth G. Leischner, Rocky Mountain Conference
Gene E. Miller, South Dakota Conference
Timothy Downs, Southeast Conference
Stephen Camp, Southern Conference
Cally Rogers-Witte, Southwest Conference
Arnold Isidore Thomas, Vermont Conference
The following individuals are presidents of seminaries of the United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President, Chicago Theological Seminary
William Imes, Bangor Theological Seminary
Wilson Yates, United Seminary of the Twin Cities
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