From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCC/CWS Statement on U.S. Domestic Response to Terrorism

From "Nat'l Council of Churches" <>
Date Thu, 20 Dec 2001 11:52:30 -0500

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2227
E-Mail: Web:

By the Rev. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches
And the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director, Church World Service
December 20, 2001

The wounds of September 11 and its aftermath have not yet healed.  As
Christians, we find comfort and meaning as we prepare to celebrate the birth
of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  Yet the deep sense of loss, pain, anger,
fear and vulnerability of these past months lingers.  Our hearts break for
all the families whose New Year will begin in sadness, their loved ones
lost.  We continue to hold in prayer the families, friends and colleagues of
all the victims, as well as all those survivors who now suffer physical and
emotional pain.  We claim Gods promise that all who mourn will not feel
separated from Gods love, but will be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4)

We are resolved to respond to the dreadful deeds of September 11 - and
profoundly concerned that we answer wisely, with restraint, in ways that
will advance peace and justice for all who share this planet.  We lament the
loss of life in any nation because every person is precious and unique in
Gods sight.  We believe that no nation can feel secure by itself if others
are insecure, our General Assembly resolved on November 15 in its
statement, Out of the Ashes and Tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Similarly, military security does not ensure economic security. Nor can
there be true security without adequate food, water, health care,
sanitation, or shelter. The challenge for those who seek justice and peace
is to reinforce the intimate connections between economic, political,
cultural and physical security.

In an interfaith statement entitled Deny Them Their Victory: A Religious
Response to Terrorism, we resolved, We must not allow this terror to drive
us away from being the people God has called us to be.  Nearly 4,000
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other religious leaders now have
signed the statement, which was published on September 12.

In Deny Them Their Victory, we asserted the vision of community,
tolerance, compassion, justice and the sacredness of human life, which lies
at the heart of all our religious traditions.  America must be a safe place
for all its people in all their diversity, we said, adding that it is
especially important that people who share national origins, ethnicity or
religion with whoever attacked us are, themselves, protected among us.

A safe place for all its people.  Yes, but how?  How, without compromising
our legitimate need for security?  How, without throwing away the
fundamental freedoms and principles we value as a nation?  That is - at
least it should be - the subject of broad debate in our land.  Our nation
should model the rights and behaviors that we would hope to see throughout
the world.  If it does not, we should speak up loudly and clearly and say

That is why we feel it is essential to express our deep concern at a number
of measures being taken up by the Administration in its domestic response to
terrorism.  Since September 11, people especially of the Muslim faith and of
Middle Eastern and Central and Southern Asian background have been the
targets of investigations and arrests.  Many long-term residents and their
family members, among them many U.S. citizens, are suffering because of the
Attorney Generals resolve to detain and prevent the release of aliens
who, because of their ethnic background, are seen as possibly posing a
threat to national security.

In particular, we are alarmed at:

7	The expansion of the Justice Departments powers to detain non-citizens
without identifying who has been arrested, what charges have been filed
against them and where they are being held, and to keep them behind bars
even after a federal immigration judge has ordered release for lack of
evidence.  This will most certainly result in indefinite detentions.
7	The proposed military tribunals for alleged terrorists.  The possibility
of secret evidence, the potential lack of due process and the lack of
independent review even of a death sentence have the potential to undermine
legal rights under our Constitution.  We claim that our justice system is
among the best in the world.  Lets use our laws and courts fully.  Lets
let the system work.
7	The proposal that visa applications and immigration status will be
expedited for individuals who provide information to authorities about
terrorist activities.  American citizenship is too important to become a
commodity that is sold."

We believe that the rule of law must be administered fairly, so as to
safeguard and protect civil liberties, even in a time of external threat,
our annual General Assembly said in its November 15 statement, Out of the
Ashes and Tragedy of September 11, 2001.  The Assembly called on the U.S.
government and other governments to ensure the protection of human rights
and fundamental freedoms and to treat all people with dignity, respect and
tolerance irrespective of religion, race, ethnicity or color.

On December 5, a coalition of 16 civil liberties rights organizations filed
a lawsuit against the government demanding that officials identify who has
been arrested, what charges have been filed against them and where they are
being held.  We join them in calling for that information in the belief that
we live in a society that must not allow its law enforcement to act in
virtual secrecy.

Furthermore, we ask families whose loved ones are missing and believed to be
among the arrested to contact us (e-mail We will help
seek information on their whereabouts.  We also call on Attorney General
Ashcroft for help in locating missing persons who have been caught in the
broad net that is being thrown over especially people of the Muslim faith
and of Middle Eastern and Central and Southern Asian background in response
to the events of September 11.

Some characterize criticisms of the Administrations domestic and
international response to terrorism as un-American and unpatriotic.  The
right of open debate is a part of our nations legal and cultural heritage,
a strength not a weakness.  As patriotic Americans, we hold our democratic
freedoms dear.  When we see our government behaving in a manner that seems
contrary to upholding the principles of liberty and justice for all, we,
whose faith is based on the law of love, are moved to speak out of our love
of our country, to call for justice for all people, and to deny the
terrorists their victory by refusing to submit to a world created in their


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home