From the Worldwide Faith News archives

War on Iraq Would Make U.S. Less Secure, Delegation Asserts

From "Nat'l Council of Churches" <>
Date Fri, 3 Jan 2003 19:26:49 -0500

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Info/Interviews: Contact Trevor Fitzgibbon, 202-822-5200 x 255
Carol Fouke, NCC Communication Department, 212-870-2252;


January 3, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - A war against Iraq would make the United
States less secure, not more secure, and would result in widespread
suffering and death for innocent people, U.S. religious leaders say in a
statement, Sowing the Seeds of Peace, following their four-day
humanitarian mission in Iraq.

The 13-member group, led by National Council of Churches General Secretary
Dr. Bob Edgar, says, We believe the entire region, including Israel and the
United States; will be at greater risk of terrorism if war takes place.

The group - which arrived back in the United States this evening -- further
declares preemptive war immoral, illegal and theologically illegitimate.
Members pledge to meet with U.S. administration and Congressional leaders
to urge them to turn away from war and with the permanent members of the
U.N. Security Council to seek a revamped and more humane oil for food
program and to support humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians, especially

A list of participants and their statement follow.

Press Statement
Sowing the Seeds of Peace

We are a delegation of 13 religious leaders and experts visiting Iraq under
the auspices of the National Council of Churches (U.S.A.).  Ours is a
religious and not a political delegation.  We came to see the faces of the
Iraqi people so that the American people can see the faces of children
laughing and singing and also hurting and suffering.  We brought with us
dozens of pictures drawn by American children.	We shared these pictures
with Iraqi children who, in turn, gave us messages to take back to children
in the United States.

We are called by God to be peacemakers.  War is not inevitable and can be
averted, even at this moment.  President Bush reiterated, on New Years Eve,
his desire to reach a peaceful conclusion to this crisis and we are grateful
for his words.

We came as humanitarian inspectors, not weapons inspectors.  We visited
schools and hospitals and saw for ourselves the devastating impact of 12
years of sanctions on the people of Iraq.  We touched babies suffering
illnesses that can be prevented by proper medication currently unavailable
to the people of Iraq.	We held the cold hands of children in unheated
schools with broken windows and underpaid teachers, nurses, and doctors.

UNICEF officials shared heartbreaking statistics of malnutrition, disease,
and hunger with us.  We are concerned by the increasing reliance of Iraqi
people on the food basket provided through the oil for food program, a
program not intended to be the primary source of nutrition or a balanced
diet.  We intend to advocate to our government for changes in the oil for
food program that will allow for humanitarian, educational, and medical
needs to be better met.  We understand the cruelty embedded in the oil for
food program as it affects ordinary Iraqis.

We worshiped with Iraqi Christians and in the presence of Muslims; and, we
prayed with both.  This is the birthplace of Abraham, the father of Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam.  We acknowledged and celebrated our oneness in God.
We attended a New Years Eve Mass at a Catholic Church and a potluck dinner
at a Presbyterian Church-a potluck that would be intimately familiar to
American Christians.  On the street and in informal settings we experienced
the spontaneous warmth, hospitality and openness of the Iraqi people.  We
feel privileged and honored by these human relationships

We asked pointed questions of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz regarding the
human rights situation in Iraq, the opportunities for dissent and criticism
of the government, and choices made by the government with the resources
available to it.  We want to be clear with the American people and the Iraqi
government that we do not support authoritarian governments.

We came with what? questions-whats going on? what can we discover?
but we were met with why? questions-why us? why now?  We have
concluded that we are opposed to this war because:

*a war against Iraq will make the U.S. less secure, not more secure.  All
wars have unintended consequences.  We believe the entire region, including
Israel and the United States; will be at greater risk of terrorism if war
takes place.
*widespread suffering and death will result for innocent people.  So-called
smart bombs do dumb things like missing their targets and destroying
homes, water and sewage treatment plants, schools, churches, and mosques.
*preemptive war is immoral and illegal.  It is theologically illegitimate
and profoundly violates our Christian beliefs and religious principles.  As
disciples of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we know this war is
completely antithetical to his teachings.  Jesus Christ taught peace,
justice, hope and reconciliation and rejected revenge, war, death, and

When we return to the United States:

1.	We pledge support for the All Our Children campaign, a project of
Church World Service and other partners.
2.	We will continue to build constructive, positive relationships
our nations and peoples through our ecumenical and interfaith relationships.
3.	We will meet with U.S. administration and Congressional leaders to
them to turn away from war.  We will ask U.S. government and military
leaders to take the time to learn the names and faces of average, ordinary
Iraqi people.
4.	We will meet with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council
seek a revamped and more humane oil for food program.
5.	We will share our photographs and our stories with the people in our
140,000 congregations so that they may see that, like us, our Iraqi brothers
and sisters are children of God.

The weapons inspectors need to be allowed to do their work.  Now, it is time
for the humanitarian inspectors to do theirs.

In closing, we affirm the words shared with us by the Metropolitan of the
Syrian Orthodox Church:  Together, we must sow the seeds of peace and let
God water and nurture the seeds.

Participants in the Mission:
Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches (U.S.A.) and
a United Methodist minister; New York City; Dr. Huw Anwyl, Minister, United
Church of Christ, Laguna Niguel, Calif.; Rev. Ray Buchanan, President, Stop
Hunger Now and United Methodist Minister, Raleigh, N.C.; Rev. John Buehrens,
minister former president, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Needham,
Mass.  Rev. Buehrens also is a special assistant to the secretary general of
the World Conference on Religion and Peace.
Also, the Rev. Dr. Robert Evans, Executive Director, Plowshares Institute,
Presbyterian Pastor, Simsbury, Conn.; Robin Hoecker, Legislative Assistant,
Unitarian Universalist Association, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Victor Makari,
General Assembly staff, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, Ky.
Don Mosley, co-founder of Jubilee Partners, Comer, Ga.; Ms. Virginia
(Ginger) Paul, Episcopal Church, Executive Committee, Shreveport, La.; Dr.
Samer Shehata, Assistant Professor of Arab Politics, Georgetown University,
Washington, D.C.
Also, Bishop Melvin Talbert, Ecumenical Officer, The United Methodist
Church, Brentwood, Tenn.; JamesWinkler, General Secretary, General Board of
Church and Society, United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C. Ms. Amy
(Kalee) Kreider, Fenton Communications, Washington, D.C., accompanied the
group as media liaison.

See Related NCC News Story 01/02/03 (

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