I have joined with about 200 faith leaders, signing a new call to our government and everyone concerned to return to diplomacy and avoid another disastrous war in the Middle East. Please add your signature and encourage your friends to do the same.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.– Matthew 5:9
Jesus’ words, “children of God,” are directed not to those who merely proclaim their opposition to violence and war, but to those who seek better, life-saving ways to resolve inevitable human conflicts.
A United States war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster, morally and religiously indefensible; U.S. faith leaders must be among the first to rise up, say “No!”—and call for better, more effective, and life-saving ways forward.
Given the escalation of confrontation between the United States and Iran, it is time for leaders from our faith communities to point to more effective ways to transform conflict and to speak strongly against military action that could have enormous human and financial costs, and which could easily and broadly escalate.
With tensions rising over attacks on chemical tankers, the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, and threatened retaliatory air strikes, urgent action is needed now, particularly in the context of an unraveling Iran nuclear deal from which the U.S. irresponsibly withdrew.
Therefore, we as U.S. faith leaders demand that our political leaders seek real diplomatic and humanitarian solutions to the current crisis and refrain from military confrontation with Iran.
While we agree that Iran should repudiate terrorism and not increase uranium enrichment, we stand as religious leaders to say that war is not the answer with Iran and is unjustifiable on moral and religious grounds. Such war would likely have disastrous human and environmental consequences, would be strategically unnecessary, and would lead to regional destabilization, increased terrorism, and unsustainable financial burdens..
Since the start of the war in Iraq, the cost of wars in the Middle East has been almost $6 trillion and 500,000 lives lost. As people of faith, we are motivated by the humanitarian needs and suffering of all people, including the Iranians, who are already afflicted by severe sanctions and who would be the principal victims of military confrontation. We urge our political leaders to learn from the failed policies of the past. Preventing another costly and unjust U.S. war in the Middle East is a moral imperative.
It is time for a different approach.
1. The United States should offer to return immediately to the Iran nuclear deal and use the resulting discussions with Iran to engage in an effective diplomatic process for enhancing regional security. In the meantime, we urge the United Nations and governments in Europe and beyond to create a new forum for diplomacy with Iran, an international platform that could help restore the positive momentum created by the Iran deal and address the multiple geopolitical issues at the roots of the current confrontation, some of which were not covered in the agreement.
2. The United States should end its policy of harsh and punitive trade sanctions against the Iranian people. Some targeted sanctions may be appropriate to counter Iranian support for armed militancy and weapons proliferation in the region, but these measures should be multilateral in nature and targeted against Iranian officials, not against the entire economy or the general population.
3. If necessary, establish safeguards for commercial shipping in the Gulf. The international naval patrols that have helped to stem piracy off the coast of Somalia may provide a model. This would require agreement from multiple countries and a willingness by the United States to cooperate with other states in coordinated operations. In an atmosphere of close confrontation, blunders must not be used as a pretext for escalating military conflict.
In all of these actions, we pray that our government will step back from military action as an option in this crisis and instead be guided by political wisdom, international legal standards, and the ethical principles of peacemaking, humanitarianism, and civilian immunity. Threats, tearing up diplomatic agreements, and punishing the Iranian people have not worked and are making matters worse.
We call for a different way.
Our scriptures instruct us to avoid war and to live as peaceably as possible with all. We call on all our religious leaders, theologians, clergy, and laypersons to speak out against the option of war with Iran. Loving peace is never enough; we must stop making war and do the hard work of learning to make peace, which will require courage, calm resolve, and responsible leadership.
SIGNED: BishopClaudeAlexander,The Park Church; Rev. Dr.ChrisAntal,Center on Conscience and War; ArchbishopVickenAykazian,Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; BishopCarrollBaltimore,Global Alliance Interfaith Networks;MarianBatho,Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston;Sr.BarbaraBattista SP,Sisters of Providence; Rev. Dr.ClintonBennett,Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church; Dr.RuthBentley,National Black Evangelical Association;Rev.Traci D.Blackmon,The United Church of Christ; PattyBowman,Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center; Dr.AmosBrown,Third Baptist Church San Francisco; Rev.JuliaBrown Karimu,Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); WalterBrueggemann,Columbia Theological Seminary; Dr.JamalBryant,New Birth Missionary Baptist Church;Sr.MaureenBurke,Sisters of Charity; J RonByler,Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Rev. Dr.MalcolmByrd,Philadelphia Forum for Faith, Law and Civics; Dr.TonyCampolo,Red Letter Christians; Rev. Dr.Mae EliseCannon,Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP); PatrickCarolan,Franciscan Action Network; Sr.JoanChittister; Dr.ShaneClaiborne,Red Letter Christians; Sr.Mary AnnConnolly,Sisters of Charity; ProfessorDavidCortright,Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame; Rev. Dr.KendrickCurry,The Pennsylvania Ave Baptist Church; Rev.JosephDarby,Nichols Chapel AME Church; Rev.PaulaDempsey,Alliance of Baptists; MarieDennis,Pax Christi International; Rev.JulianDeShazier,University Church Chicago; Sr.JudithDesmarais,Sisters of Providence; Rev. Dr.GeraldDurley,Interfaith Power & Light;Rev. Dr.RobertFranklin,Morehouse College; RichelleFriedman,PBVM Sister of the Presentation; Sr.Mary DeloresGatliff, SND,Sisters of Notre Dame; Rev.WesleyGranberg-Michaelson,Reformed Church in America; Rev.EbonyGrisom,Emergency Food and Shelter Program;SusanGunn,Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Rev.JeffreyHaggray,American Baptist Home Mission Societies;Rev. Dr.CynthiaHale,Ray of Hope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Dr.RichardHamm,Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Lisa SharonHarper,FreedomRoad.us;Rev.FredHarrell,City Church of San Francisco; Rev.JimmieHawkins,Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness; Rev. Dr.PeterHeltzel; Rev.SusanHendershot,Interfaith Power & Light; Rev. Dr.KatharineHenderson,Auburn Seminary; Dr.OberyHendricks,Columbia University; Rev. Dr.SusanHenry-Crowe,Church and Society, The United Methodist Church; Rev. Dr.NathanHosler,Church of the Brethren; Rev. Dr.Joel C.Hunter,Community Resource Network of Central Florida; BishopReginaldJackson,AME Church; Rev.GregJarrell,QC Family Tree; Rev. Dr. AmbassadorSuzanJohnson Cook,Former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom; KathyKhang,Author;MadeleineKirkconnell,Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose; Rev.TonyLee,Community Of Hope AME Church; Rev.BenLowe,Evangelicals for Social Action; RonnieMacDonald,Sisters of Charity; Rev.Carlos L.Malave,Christian Churches Together;Rev.MichaelMata,Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene; Rev. Dr.WalterMcCray,National Black Evangelical Association; Sr.JudyMcDonnell,Dominican Sisters of San Rafael;Rev.BrianMcLaren,Auburn Senior Fellows; Rev. Dr.A. RoyMedley,American Baptist Churches; JonathanMerritt,Author and Columnist; Bishop W. DarinMoore,AME Zion Mid-Atlantic District; Rev. Dr.JamesMoos,United Church of Christ; Sr.MaryannMueller,Felician Sisters of North America; Rev. Dr.J. HerbertNelson,Presbyterian Church (USA); Rev.MichaelNeuroth,United Church of Christ; Rev.DexterNutall,New Bethel Baptist Church; JamesPerkins,Greater Christ Baptist Church; DianeRandall,Friends Committee on National Legislation; Senior BishopLawrenceReddick,Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr.AlexiaSalvatierra,Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork;Dr.RobertSchenck,The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute; Dr.StephenSchneck,Sojourners; Sr.DorisSchoner;MickyScottBey Jones,Faith Matters Network; Sr.MaryannSherlock, S.C.,Sisters of Charity; Dr.ScotSherman,Newbigin House of Studies; RobertShine,Pax Christi USA; Dr.Ronald J.Sider,Evangelicals for Social Action;Rev.JasonSmith,Alliance of Baptists; BishopMarcStenger,Pax Christi International; MarySullivan,Sisters of Charity; Rev.LoriTapia,Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);Rev.AdamTaylor,Sojourners;Rev. Dr.AlTizon,North Park Theological Seminary; Sr.ElizabethToohig,Sisters of Charity; NikkiToyama-Szeto,Evangelicals for Social Action;Rev.Sandra MariaVan Opstal,Chasing Justice; GreetVanaerschot,Pax Christi International; JoetteVenneman,Sisters of Charity; Rev.JimWallis,Sojourners;Sr.TeresiaWamuyu Wachira,Pax Christi International; Rev. Dr.SharonWatkins,Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); PastorColinWatson,Christian Reformed Church in North America; Dr.BarbaraWilliams-Skinner,Skinner Leadership Institute;Rev.JonathanWilson-Hartgrove,School for Conversion; JimWinkler,National Council of Churches; SarahWithrow King,CreatureKind; Rev.JamilaWoods,Jabez Christian Community Church
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