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Religious leaders: time to bring
Afghanistan war to an end

Washington, June 21, 2011 -- As President Obama prepares to announce the number of troops he will withdraw from Afghanistan, nearly 40 religious leaders with national constituencies have sent him an open letter: "It is time to bring the U.S. war in Afghanistan to an end."


Noting the cost of the war in lives and property, the open letter called for increased aid to Afghanistan. "The past ten years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force," the leaders said. "It is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans."


Writing as a "Faith Roundtable on Afghanistan," the religious leaders acknowledged that the situation the president faces is complex and involves such issues as protecting the lives of Coalition servicemen and women, protecting Afghan civilians, defending the rights of Afghan women, supporting democracy, and saving innocent lives.


"We humbly believe," the religious leaders wrote, "there is a better way than war to address these important issues." 


The signers of the letter include Catholic, ecumenical, denominational, Jewish and Muslim leaders.


The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said he signed the open letter because it was consistent with a resolution on Afghanistan adopted by the NCC and Church World Service during their November general assembly in New Orleans.


"Among other things, the resolution called for the President to, 'negotiate a withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan to be completed as soon as possible without further endangerment to the lives and welfare of U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan troops and Afghan civilians.'" Kinnamon said. "The time has now come to act upon our common resolution."

Several heads of NCC member communions and leaders of their peace fellowships joined Kinnamon in signing the letter.


The letter said an alternative path to peace in Afghanistan "is not without some risk, but it is preferable to the known dangers of war."


The full text of the letter can be read here.

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),


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