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NCC Board Acts on Development, Security, Middle East, Genocide, Due Process

NCC Endorses U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals

Halving global poverty by 2015 and ultimately ending it altogether is the aim of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. The National Council of Churches USA, at its quarterly Governing Board meeting Feb. 14-15, 2005, in New York City, endorsed the goals and pledged to work for their achievement.

The Millennium Development Goals set specific targets within categories of extreme poverty and hunger; primary education; gender equality and empowerment of women; child mortality; maternal health; HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and environmental sustainability. They call for establishment of a global partnership for development.

The NCC pledged “to support, through advocacy, education and other appropriate means, programs that work toward the achievement of these goals, and urges its member communions to work together with one another and other church and ecumenical organizations that work toward these same ends.” Read the resolution.  Click here for a bulletin insert.

SMART Security Platform Promotes Peace, International Cooperation, NCC Says

What foreign policy alternatives exist to better assure America’s security and address terrorism? The organization Physicians for Social Responsibility offers its “SMART” Security Platform, and the NCC endorsed the platform at its quarterly Governing Board meeting, Feb. 14-15, 2005, in New York City.

“SMART” is the acronym for “Standing for Sensible Multilateral American Response to Terrorism.” The platform makes specific recommendations for strengthening international institutions and supporting the rule of law to prevent acts of terrorism and future wars; reducing the threat and stopping the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and changing budget priorities to reflect “SMART” security needs. Click here for details.

Statement of NCC Middle East Delegation Commended to Member Churches

“Barriers Do Not Bring Freedom,” the statement of the National Council of Churches USA’s official delegation to the Middle East Jan. 21-Feb. 4, has been commended to the Council’s 36 member churches for their consideration.

Delegation members reported Feb. 14 to the NCC’s Governing Board at its regular quarterly meeting. The 11-member delegation met with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, with the aim of understanding current on-the-ground realities in the context of renewed optimism for peace, expressing solidarity with Christians in the region and meeting with new leadership of the Middle East Council of Churches.

The statement, which offers a sobering assessment of the current situation, reflects the delegation’s experiences and insights gleaned from the various meetings. The Board voted to receive the report and commend it to the Council’s members.  Click here for the statement and Weblog.

NCC Commemorates 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

On April 24, 2005, it will be 90 years since the start of the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey died and almost the entire Armenian population was deported from its ancestral lands in Asia Minor.

Many of the methods employed in that genocide - the first of the 20th century - would become models for subsequent genocides, such as under the Nazi regime and in the Soviet Union, Cambodia and Rwanda.

Despite copious documentation and the inter-disciplinary consensus of serious scholars, the Armenian Genocide is still not acknowledged by the present-day Republic of Turkey - nor, officially, by the U.S. government. And despite the lessons of the past, the horrors of genocide continue to the present day, most recently in Darfur, Sudan.

In response, the NCC Governing Board, meeting Feb. 14-15, 2005, in New York City, resolved to ask the Republic of Turkey and the U.S. government to grant official recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and to ask that the world community heed the lessons of the Armenian Genocide.

Specifically, the Board asks recognition and unambiguous acknowledgement of “the early ‘seeds’ of genocide when they arise, to act speedily and decisively in these early stages, so as to pre-empt full-blown genocide” and “to resist and rebuke the deniers of genocide.”

Finally, the NCC joined other faithful, including members of the Armenian Church, in remembrance of the souls of those who perished in the Armenian and other genocides in the past 90 years, in prayers for the peace of those who survived, and in petition that “in the century just beginning, God will free humankind of the scourge of genocide once and for all.” Click here to read the action.

NCC Weighs In, Again, on Due Process for National Security Detainees

The National Council of Churches USA Feb. 15 heard a concern expressed by the NCC’s Interfaith Relations Commission on the effects of the USA PATRIOT Act on civil rights and due process for Muslim people.

The Governing Board of the Council, at its quarterly meeting (Feb. 14-15), voted to receive a statement which noted that in the past the NCC has joined with other organizations “to advocate for tighter controls on current anti-terrorism efforts and the highest standard of scrutiny in laws and policy changes related to civil liberties,” and has spoken out on civil rights and due process for detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib.

The statement asked that the NCC speak out more directly about the USA PATRIOT Act in order to express its solidarity with Muslims and others whose well-being continues to be threatened by some of its provisions. “This is especially important in view of the upcoming Congressional debates on certain provisions of the Act,” it said.

The Interfaith Relations Commission, in meetings last weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., with representatives of a Florida social advocacy organization, HOPE (Hillsboro Organization for Peace and Equality) and the Tampa chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), heard about the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian.

Emphatically noting that it is not taking any stand on Dr. Al-Arian’s guilt or innocence but rather on his right to due process and humane treatment, the Council resolved to make known the plight of the former professor at Florida State University, arrested in February 2003.

CAIR “shared with us statistics and concerns about civil rights in the Muslim community since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act,” the Commission reported. “The Muslim community came to us as an authoritative Christian body and said, ‘We are hurting over this. Please stand up and be counted,’” said Betty Gamble, a member of the NCC Interfaith Relations Commission.

Asserted Mia Adjali, United Methodist Church, “We are using this person as an example of so many others. Whatever this man may have done or not, the issue is the inhumane treatment that’s befallen Muslim people, Arab people, anyone who looks like an Arab.”

In addition to the Board’s action, the NCC’s Justice and Advocacy Commission is developing a new policy on civil liberties. Click here to read more.

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NCC Media Contact: Carol Fouke
212-870-2252; cfouke@ncccusa.org

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