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An Appeal from Lutheran Peace Fellowship

Our nation has moved another step closer to war with Iraq. Congress by a 2 to 1 margin voted in favor of resolution to give Pres. Bush authority to "use all means that he determines to be appropriate" to "restore international peace and security in the region." Pres. Bush needs no more authority to proceed with military attacks on Iraq. But this is not the last word for those of us who do not want war.

As Lutherans, we are called to be faithful to the way of Jesus, and to seek nonviolent alternatives to this conflict. We must have the integrity to apply our religious values of compassion and justice, nonviolence and service, to our actions in the world. Therefore we must speak out against fighting terror with violence. We can point out the devastating effects of military means and direct our country towards justice, reconciliation, and nonviolent alternatives.

It is crucial that we raise our voices and let our fellow citizens and leaders know immediately that a resolution authorizing unilateral war against Iraq or anyone else in the Middle East is unacceptable. War is neither a moral nor a practical solution (see talking points, and Bishop's statement, over). We must urge the pursuit of alternatives to violence including support for renewed UN weapons inspections.

And so we ask you to join your fellow citizens in speaking out against this war, and insisting that our government be responsive to its citizens, and responsible in its international relations. Our faith empowers us to join with others to take a stand against all violence, in particular, military action in Iraq. There is an alternative to violence or passivity: Jesus' Third Way of caring, nonviolent discipleship.

A Call to Action

Act! There are countless ways to voice your opinion:

  • Attend vigils and protests against war. Become active in a local nonviolent peace coalition. Read alternative sources of news.
  • Create a space for authentic conversation with your neighbors and friends. Raise the deeper questions and the alternatives to war.
  • Write letters-to-the editor, your note helps other letters critical of war to get published. Join a signature ad in local newspapers.
  • Sign the Peace Pledge co-sponsored by LPF. Participate in non-violent civil disobedience. Encourage local groups to organize trainings on nonviolence as well as forums on alternatives.

Be creative! The most effective actions convey humanity, send a clear message, are strong visually, and are inviting, for example:

  • A candlelight vigil surrounding a lake or local landmark
  • Hold a "Peace Paint-in" to create banners for peace by students or Sunday Schools to display on cars, freeway overpasses…
  • Sit-ins at federal offices or symbols of military power
  • Large puppets, replicas, or clowns dramatizing your concerns

Stay informed: Among many good sources are Ask for LPF's e-mail package of analyses and op-eds. See the fine editorial in the October Lutheran, as well as the strong "Statement by Religious Leaders,"

Filling in the Missing Pieces…
Sources of Information on the Impending War
on Iraq and Key Underlying Issues: A Brief Guide

What can we say to our elected officials, neighbors, and in letters-to-the-editor?

Talking Points On Iraq

1. The Iraqi people have already suffered enough in more than two decades of war; eleven years of US-backed sanctions alone have killed more than a million innocent civilians, half of them children.
2. Military action could result in a large number of civilians casualties and increase the suffering of many innocent people. A war could cause serious damage to the environment and to the US and world economy, damage which falls most heavily on the most vulnerable.
3. It is not in the US interest to take unilateral military action opposed by most of the world. Instead, we should cooperate with international efforts like UN inspections to control weapons of mass destruction.
4. Unilateral overthrow of an enemy government heightens fears and concerns within other countries for international law and American respect for the rights of other nations.
5. The preemptive use of military force by the US sets a dangerous precedent. Think of all the reasons a nation might claim to justify their own preemptive strikes in the future, from past grievances or fights over resources to weapons of their neighbors or ethnic differences.
6. US military action at this time is very likely to further destabilize the region. Militants in Arab and Islamic countries are likely to seize the opportunity to recruit more adherents and further incite people against the United States and allied countries.
7. A war with Iraq will divert attention from sound, lasting ways to address the root causes of international conflict and terrorism, and from other issues like our economy, schools, and environment.
8. Rather than attacking Iraq, we urge that the US priority in the Middle East be an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire and peace settlement.

Voice of Religious Leaders

"As do many in the world, we look to the United States government to set an example for the international community. As Christian religious leaders responsible for millions of U.S. citizens we expect our government to reflect the morals and values we hold dear - pursuing peace, not war; working with the community of nations, not overthrowing governments by force; respecting international law and treaties while holding in high regard all human life."

Signed by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and top leaders of almost every religious denomination in the United States.


ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson's
Statement on Iraq
an excerpt:

While we are fully aware of the potential threat posed by the government of Iraq and its leader, I believe it is wrong for the United States to seek to over-throw the regime of Saddam Hussein with military action. Morally, I oppose it because I know a war with Iraq will have great consequences for the people of Iraq, who have already suffered through years of war and economic sanctions. I do not believe such a war can be justified under the historic principles of "just war." Further, I believe it is detrimental to U.S. interests to take unilateral military action against Iraq when there is already strong international support for weapons inspections, and when it is apparent that most other world governments oppose military action. I also believe that U.S. military action at this time will further destabilize the region….
So, we continue to reject violent action and are renewed in our resolve to find peaceful, nonviolent solutions. I call upon members of our congregations to be fervent in prayer, engaged in conversation with one another and with our leaders.… We must oppose racist and enemy images that dehumanize, deny the love of God for all people and do not help in resolving conflict. In the final analysis, we must stand unequivocally for peace.
For the FULL TEXT see: Statement on Iraq Situation

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