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years, Iraq war still 'immoral'
New York City, March 16, 2007 – The leader of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) reiterated the Iraq war is "immoral" as he prepared to take part in peace actions tonight and tomorrow in Washington, D.C., marking the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
"It is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that prompted our stand then and compels us now to reiterate the continued prosecution of this war is immoral. It should be ended as quickly as possible," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, NCC's general secretary, in a statement [see below] issued today.
The Rev. Edgar joined thousands Friday in a Christian peace witness at the Washington National Cathedral. Following the service a candlelight march to the White House is expected to join many more thousands "to surround the White House with the bright light of Christ," according to event planners.
"There is a numbness that seems to have overcome America about the purpose, cost and effects the Iraq war has had on our country's soul," Edgar said. His prescription for healing the soul of the nation is a time-honored, Biblically-based action.
"In church language, when you make a mistake you examine your conscience, promise not to do it again and change the direction of your life. It's called repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation," Edgar said.
The NCC leader also spoke of the toll to America's soul due to the torture of human beings in secret prisons and abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
of the Rev. Bob Edgar
Looking back at rhetoric, war, torture, and death
In some ways it is hard to believe it's been four years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. There is a numbness that seems to have overcome America about the purpose, cost and effects the Iraq war has had on our country's soul.
In church language, when you make a mistake you examine your conscience, promise not to do it again and change the direction of your life. It's called repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Only recently have we heard from Washington the classic political language that "mistakes were made." Even President Bush acknowledged responsibility for some of those mistakes but the change in direction he asked for was more of the same. More troops to go to a war that has lost its focus, direction and purpose. More troops for a war that ostensibly was started to eliminate weapons of mass destruction that could, could be used against the U.S. or Israel.
Looking back on the run up to the war it is easy to forget the God language used by those who continually beat the drums of war. Our troops were told they were on a mission to spread democracy which was God's gift to humanity.
The rhetoric used by presidential speechwriters constantly borrowing Biblical phrases – such as the "light that shines in the darkness" (Gospel of John, chapter 1) – to characterize the U.S. lifting our country to Messiah status. Plagiarizing the Bible is never a good idea. At worst it is blasphemy.
The soul of our country has been sickened and damaged by revelations of torture, secret prisons, abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Americans have grown numb to the realization we are no longer the human rights champion we once aspired to be.
Leaders from Christian churches and other faith traditions sought peaceful solutions before the March 19, 2003 invasion. A delegation went to Iraq in December 2002. They met with government officials and prayed with Iraqi Christians.
At the same time 46 religious leaders, many from the member communions of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), representing millions of faithful Americans, sought a meeting with President Bush to discuss the threat of war. Exactly two weeks before the invasion a letter from the White House stated the president's schedule would not permit such a meeting.
The leaders of nearly every major religious body in the U.S. had spoken out against the Iraq war. The NCC delegation called such a preemptive war, immoral, illegal and theologically illegitimate.
It is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that prompted our stand then and compels us now to reiterate the continued prosecution of this war is immoral. It should be ended as quickly as possible. Our troops should be brought home and cared for in decent military hospitals to repair their broken bodies and damaged minds.
Our churches will offer our
returned soldiers safe places to soothe their souls. Our churches will
offer millions of dollars to relief agencies to help rebuild Iraq and
comfort the innocent victims of a war they did not ask for. Our churches
will continue to pray for peace. And we will pray for forgiveness and
seek repentance for our nation for the unnecessary deaths and destruction
caused to God’s family.
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