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|As President Prepares to Announce Wars End
Muslim, Christian, & Jewish Leaders Release Joint Declaration
Issuing Guidelines to Peace
Call On President to "Draw Back From First Strike War"
April 30, 2003, CHICAGO - As President Bush prepared his Thursday evening address to announce "the end of the Iraq war," more than 75 Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faith leaders from across the United States converged on Chicago to issue a set of principles to lead toward a peaceful future. The summit addressed the humanitarian, spiritual and civil costs of war and its ramifications here at home.
The summit participants "Urgent Call for Reflection, Hope and Action" calls on the President to:
The religious leaders also called on all people of faith to make this a time of deliberate reflection and to gather in town meetings, teach-ins and other community forums "to explore what kind of society we seek to become." In a second document, titled "Words of Reflection," they called for a national day of prayer and reflection, with a special emphasis on interfaith gatherings. "We further call on the President to distance himself from religious leaders who demonize the faith of others," they said, and urged Americans not to forget "the continuing suffering of the Iraqi people, which demands large-scale international humanitarian relief."
Full texts of the "Urgent Call" and "Words of Reflection" follow. A list of summit participants also follows.
AN URGENT CALL FOR REFLECTION, HOPE AND ACTION
As people of faith and leaders of diverse religious communities, we recognize that we are at a moment of choice even more urgent than before the war in Iraq began. We are faced with choices between hope and courage or fear and violence; between a future characterized by global solidarity, international cooperation and multilateral action or one characterized by unilateralism and wars by choice rather than necessity; continuing terrorism; unfettered efforts to extend U.S. power, and the exploitation of fear.
Let us not forget who we are as people of faith. We need to go deeper into our religious traditions. Fear is part of the human condition and is only addressed through faith. We are challenged now to trust in God and recognize the source of true security. Our traditions teach us to envision a world of peace with justice. They promise Gods capacity to transform a broken world and Gods expectation that we are partners in the process.
As many Americans celebrate a moment of military victory, we, as people of faith, ask all people to make this a time of deliberate reflection.
As we have since 9/11 and the beginning of the war on terrorism: we call for greater understanding; we seek to dispel ignorance; we ask that this be a time of humility not arrogance; and, we hope that all can be mindful of what we have lost. We are mindful that while a repressive regime has been destroyed, a country has been left in a power vacuum. We know as well that those people experience their daily life as one of enormous needs and insecurity.
War is a blunt instrument, which provides no lasting solution but too often leads to further violence. We ask the American people to reflect now on the price of unilateralism:
In order to reflect most effectively on the choices that we face we call on interfaith leaders in every American community to gather in town meetings, teach-ins and other forms of community reflection to explore what kind of society we seek to become.
Drawing on all of our traditions that are rooted in justice, compassion and peace, we say to the present leadership of the United States:
Finally, we call on our fellow religious leaders throughout the world to join in convening an INTERNATIONAL INTERFAITH SUMMIT that will provide a worldwide forum for religious leaders to meet and discuss in depth ways to eliminate the rhetoric of hate and to end violence perpetrated in the name of religion. Together we must work to find ways to embody the power of love, compassion and justice in this fragile and interdependent world. We live in HOPE!
Words of Reflection
We are thankful for the end of large-scale hostilities, the end of an oppressive regime, and the safe return of our troops.
We acknowledge the many sacrifices, and mourn all the loss of life.
We call for a national day of prayer and reflection, with a special emphasis on interfaith gatherings.
We further call on the President to distance himself from religious leaders who demonize the faiths of others.
We are compelled to call peoples attention to the continuing suffering of the Iraqi people, which demands large-scale international humanitarian relief.
Our religious traditions require that when we exercise power we reflect deeply on the consequences of our actions and the true source of peace and security. In this spirit, we encourage local religious communities to organize interfaith days of fasting, prayer, and dialogue, which will raise, among other vital concerns, those addressed in the accompanying, "Urgent Call For Reflection, Hope and Action," and to commit themselves to donations for humanitarian relief for the people of Iraq.
Note to Readers: The Domestic Interfaith Summit was co-called by the National Council of Churches USA, Islamic Society of North America and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Individuals and groups wanting to endorse the "Urgent Call" and "Words of Reflection" may do so by clicking here.
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