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NCC's Edgar 'horribly saddened' by Iraqi deaths

New York City, October 11, 2006 "When I first heard that nearly two-thirds of a million Iraqis have been killed I was shocked and horribly saddened," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA. 

 "The perpetrators of this war can no longer tell us this is 'collateral damage' as they prosecute this war.  They must face up to the widespread death and destruction that is being inflicted daily upon innocent men, women and children living in a country that never attacked the United States," Edgar said. 

A Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released this morning estimates the number of Iraqi civilian deaths to be more than 650,000 since the invasion of Iraq three years ago. 

The report, conducted by American and Iraqi epidemiologists, puts the number of civilian deaths at more than 20 times the estimates calculated by the Bush administration and the Pentagon.   

"Nearly every major Christian church leader spoke out against this war before the invasion," said Edgar.  "They warned that such a war did not remotely meet the criteria of a just war.  If these new estimates are true, the criterion of avoiding the deaths of noncombatants has been shattered," he said. 

Religious leaders from the late Pope John Paul II, to Orthodox and mainstream Protestants, all expressed opposition to the war before it began.  Only the Southern Baptist Convention and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported the war effort. 

"I attended a 2002 New Year's Eve service at a Presbyterian church in Baghdad where I met Caroline, a four year old Iraqi," Edgar recalled.  "Her picture hangs near the door to my office (above, with her mother).  I pray for her, her family and all of the Iraqi people who have endured unspeakable horrors.  May a just and lasting peace be found by good and faithful people to bring an end soon to this dreadful war in Iraq," said Edgar. 

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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