Received May 6, 2003
Summit of religious leaders considers consequences of Iraq war

by James Solheim

See below also, please, the CMEP message about the same issue





(ENS) As Americans celebrate the military victory in Iraq, a
group of about 80 interfaith religious leaders--most of whom
opposed military action in Iraq--gathered in Chicago April 30 to
consider the humanitarian, spiritual and civil consequences of
that war.

"The purpose is to look at the next steps in the healing process
and to talk about the consequences of war," said the Rev. Robert
Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches,
the ecumenical organization that called the summit.

In a joint statement, "An Urgent Call for Reflection, Hope and
Action," the Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders argued that
American society is "at a moment of choice even more urgent than
before the war in Iraq began. We are faced with choices between
hope and courage or fear and violence; between a future
characterized by global solidarity, international cooperation
and multilateral action or one characterized by unilateralism
and wars by choice rather than necessity; continuing terrorism;
unfettered efforts to extend U.S. power and the exploitation of
fear."

The statement added, "As many Americans celebrate a moment of
military victory, we as people of faith ask all people to make
this a time of deliberate reflection... War is a blunt
instrument which provides no lasting solution but too often
leads to further violence." Therefore the church leaders urged
religious leaders to "gather in town meetings, teach-ins and
other forms of community reflection to explore what kind of
society we seek to become."

International faith summit

Noting that the religious traditions in all three faiths "are
rooted in justice, compassion and peace," the statement calls on
political leaders in the U.S. to "draw back from the use and
threat of first strike war," reconsider unilateral control over
the reconstruction of Iraq and seek a role for the United
Nations.

Finally, the statement calls for an International Faith Summit
to "provide a worldwide forum for religious leaders to meet and
discuss in depth ways to eliminate the rhetoric of hate and to
end violence perpetuated in the name of religion."

In another short statement called "Words of Reflection," the
participants expressed gratitude for the end of hostilities,
"the end of an oppressive regime, and the safe return of our
troops." They also called for "a national day of prayer and
reflection, with a special emphasis on interfaith gatherings,"
and called on the president to "distance himself from religious
leaders who demonize the faiths of others."

"What does 'just war theory' mean in an age of nuclear weapons?"
asked Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action
League (or Center?) of Reform Judaism that concluded that the
use of military force in Iraq was "a morally justifiable act."
Yet he participated in the summit because of a commitment to
"developing an ethical and moral foreign policy for
America.something that urgently calls us to come together and
find common ground," he said in an interview with the Chicago
Sun-Times.

"The role of religion on the international scene can be an
enormous sense of healing and coalition building, or can be
enormously divisive and a factor in justifying violence," he
said.

Secretary General Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of
North America said that, despite opposition to the war, "we can
still be of influence in bringing people back together." In an
interview with the Associated Press he thought that the
influence of the religious leaders had actually increased as
they pulled together to oppose the war. "We may not have stopped
a major storm, but what was started has taken on a life of its
own."

Common commitment to peace

Bishop Christopher Epting, the Episcopal Church's deputy for
ecumenical and interfaith relations, said that it was "a very
exciting gathering. It could be the beginning of a new
nationwide--or even international--network of interfaith
organizations and individuals building upon the wonderful things
that are going on locally in this many parts of our country and
the world."

Not only was it possible to build consensus around the
statement, Epting reported, "but even more importantly we found
ourselves becoming friends and colleagues after only a few hours
together. Surely our common commitment to the one God and to
that God's yearning for the healing of the world unites us on a
deep level."

The Rev. Jackie Lynn, executive director of the Episcopal Peace
Fellowship, also attended the meeting and supported the
statement. She said that EPF members across the country will
review the document and continue to work in interfaith settings
seeking nonviolent solutions to the issues at hand. "This is a
crucial time to reach out to our sisters and brothers in the
Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S. and the Middle East, to
build unity and to work together to prevent discrimination and
oppression."

====

May 6, 2003

TO: Churches for Middle East Peace Email Network
FROM: Corinne Whitlatch

RE: Interfaith on Iraq war aftermath

Over 75 religious leaders came together in Chicago on April 29 and 30 to consider what their traditions teach about the present stance of the US in the world especially as related to the aftermath of the Iraq war and its meaning. The official inviters were Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of North America.

A number of CMEP Board members and heads of CMEP member churches and organizations took part in this gathering and have signed the statement.

As President Prepares to Announce War's End ůMuslim, Christian, & Jewish Leaders Release Joint Declaration Issuing Guidelines to Peace
Call On President to "Draw Back From First Strike War"

April 30, 2003, CHICAGO - As President Bush prepared his Thursday evening address to announce "the end of the Iraq war," more than 75 Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other faith leaders from across the United States converged on Chicago to issue a set of principles to lead toward a peaceful future. The summit addressed the humanitarian, spiritual and civil costs of war and its ramifications here at home.

The summit participants' "Urgent Call for Reflection, Hope and Action" calls on the President to:

* draw back from the use and threat of "first strike" war;

* draw back from unilateral US control over the reconstruction of Iraq;

* bring the US occupation to a prompt end by transferring to the United Nations and multilateral, non-governmental organizations the authority to work with the Iraqi people toward Iraq's own reconstruction;

* make available US resources as part of a world effort to serve the needs and decisions of the Iraqi people.

The religious leaders also called on all people of faith to make this a time of deliberate reflection and to gather in town meetings, teach-ins and other community forums "to explore what kind of society we seek to become." In a second document, titled "Words of Reflection," they called for a national day of prayer and reflection, with a special emphasis on interfaith gatherings. "We further call on the President to distance himself from religious leaders who demonize the faith of others," they said, and urged Americans not to forget "the continuing suffering of the Iraqi people, which demands large-scale international humanitarian relief."

Full texts of the "Urgent Call" and "Words of Reflection" follow. A list of summit
participants also follows.
 

AN URGENT CALL FOR REFLECTION, HOPE AND ACTION
Interfaith Summit
Chicago, Illinois
April 30, 2003



As people of faith and leaders of diverse religious communities, we recognize that we are at a moment of choice even more urgent than before the war in Iraq began. We are faced with choices between hope and courage or fear and violence; between a future characterized by global solidarity, international cooperation and multilateral action or one characterized by unilateralism and wars by choice rather than necessity; continuing terrorism; unfettered efforts to extend U.S. power, and the exploitation of fear.
Let us not forget who we are as people of faith. We need to go deeper into our religious traditions. Fear is part of the human condition and is only addressed through faith. We are challenged now to trust in God and recognize the source of true security.

Our traditions teach us to envision a world of peace with justice. They promise God's capacity to transform a broken world and God's expectation that we are partners in the process.

As many Americans celebrate a moment of military victory, we, as people of faith, ask all people to make this a time of deliberate reflection.

As we have since 9/11 and the beginning of the war on terrorism: we call for greater understanding; we seek to dispel ignorance; we ask that this be a time of humility not arrogance; and, we hope that all can be mindful of what we have lost. We are mindful that while a repressive regime has been destroyed, a country has been left in a power vacuum. We know as well that those people experience their daily life as one of enormous needs and insecurity.

War is a blunt instrument, which provides no lasting solution but too often leads to further violence. We ask the American people to reflect now on the price of unilateralism:

* The cost of war and militarism
* The human toll of the war in Iraq
* The erosion of civil liberties in the United States
* The shift of resources away from human need to military purposes

In order to reflect most effectively on the choices that we face we call on interfaith leaders in every American community to gather in town meetings, teach-ins and other forms of community reflection to explore what kind of society we seek to become.
Drawing on all of our traditions that are rooted in justice, compassion and peace, we say to the present leadership of the United States:

1. draw back from the use and threat of first strike war
2. draw back from unilateral U.S. control over the reconstruction of Iraq
3. bring the U.S. occupation of Iraq to a prompt end by transferring to the United Nations and multilateral, non-governmental organizations the authority to work with the Iraqi people toward its own reconstruction
4. make available U.S. resources as part of a world effort to serve the needs and decisions of the Iraqi people.

Finally, we call on our fellow religious leaders throughout the world to join in convening an INTERNATIONAL INTERFAITH SUMMIT that will provide a worldwide forum for religious leaders to meet and discuss in depth ways to eliminate the rhetoric of hate and to end violence perpetrated in the name of religion. Together we must work to find ways to embody the power of love, compassion and justice in this fragile and interdependent world. We live in HOPE!

Words of Reflection
April 30, 2003
From Domestic Interfaith Summit
Chicago, IL

We are thankful for the end of large-scale hostilities, the end of an oppressive regime, and the safe return of our troops.

We acknowledge the many sacrifices, and mourn all the loss of life.

We call for a national day of prayer and reflection, with a special emphasis on interfaith gatherings.

We further call on the President to distance himself from religious leaders who demonize the faiths of others.

We are compelled to call people's attention to the continuing suffering of the Iraqi people, which demands large-scale international humanitarian relief.

Our religious traditions require that when we exercise power we reflect deeply on the consequences of our actions and the true source of peace and security. In this spirit, we encourage local religious communities to organize interfaith days of fasting, prayer, and dialogue, which will raise, among other vital concerns, those addressed in the accompanying, "Urgent Call For Reflection, Hope and Action," and to commit themselves to donations for humanitarian relief for the people of Iraq.
-end-

Summit Participants:
1. Mr. Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis,
2. Rev. Patty Ackerman, Fellowship of Reconciliation,
3. Dr. Scott Alexander, Catholic Theological Union,
4. Dr. Mujahid Al-Fayadh, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center,
5. Mrs. Najla Al-Kaisi, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center,
6. Very Rev. Mourice Amsih, Syrian Orthodox Church,
7. Commissioner Ken Baillie, The Salvation Army,
8. Dr. John Borelli, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
9. Rev. John Buehrens, First Parish in Needham,
10. Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution,
11. Mr. Eli Chamoun, Syrian Orthodox Church,
12. Sr. Joan Chatfield, MM, Maryknoll Sisters International,
13. Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte, American Baptist Churches in the USA,
14. Rev. Seung K. Choi, Lorean Presbyterian Church in America,
15. Ms. Pat Clark, Fellowship of Reconciliation,
16. Rev. Dr. Keith Clements, Conference of European Churches,
17. Very Rev. Nicholas Dahdal, St. George Orthodox Church of Cicero, Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of North America
18. Fr. Stan De Boe, Conference of Major Superiors of Men,
19. Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA,
20. Rev. Dr. Charles Emery, Northern Illinois Conference - UMC,
21. Bishop Jon Enslin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
22. Bp. C. Christopher Epting, The Episcopal Church,
23. Mr. Dennis Frado, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
24. Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, The Interfaith Alliance,
25. Rev. S. George, Chicago Mar Thoma Church,
26. Dr. Inam Haq, Benedictine University
27. Mr. Amer Haque, Wiseman Systems, Inc.
28. Mr. Ammar Haque, Wiseman Systems, Inc.,
29. Mr. Syed Haque, Wiseman Systems, Inc.,
30. Ms. Layne Hawley, Presbyterian Church USA,
31. Ms. Judith Hertz, Union of American Hebrew Congregations,
32. Rev. Dr. Edgar L. Hiestand, Jr., Northern Illinois Conference - UMC,
33. Mr. Syed Shamshad Husain
34. Ms. Elenie Huszagh, Esq., National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA,
35. Mr. Chuck Hutchcraft, American Friends Service Committee,
36. Mr. Kareem M. Irfan, Esq., Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Area Muslim Americans,
37. Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Temple Kol Tikvah,
38. Thomas H. Jeavons, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends,
39. Mr. Kudama Kawan, Life for Relief and Development,
40. Dr. Nazir Khaja, Islamic Information Services,
41. Mr. Antonios Kireopoulos, United States Conference of Religions for Peace,
42. Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America,
43. Mr. Tarek Kudaimi, Illiana Islamic Association,
44. Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine,
45. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund,
46. Rev. Michael Livingston, International Council of Community Churches,
47. Dr. Janice Love, University of South Carolina,
48. Ms. Jackie Lynn, Episcopal Peace Fellowship,
49. Rev. Dr. Victor Makari, Presbyterian Church USA,
50. Rev. John McCullough, Church World Service,
51. Ms. Retha McCutchen, Friends United Meeting,
52. Dr. Shakir Moiduddin, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Area Muslim Americans,
53. Mr. A. Malik Mujahid, Sound Vision,
54. Rev. John Paarlberg, Reformed Church in America,
55. Rev. John Pawlikowski, Catholic Theological Union,
56. Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, Ellis Avenue Church,
57. Rev. David Radcliffe, Church of the Brethren,
58. Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism,
59. Rev Dave Schwinghamer, MM, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns,
60. Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, The Islamic Society of Orange County,
61. Mr. Fawad Siddiqui, Islamic Horizons,
62. Mr. P. J. Simmons, Rockefeller Brothers Fund,
63. Ms. Arunima Sinha, Hindu Community of South Carolina,
64. Rev. William Sinkford, Unitarian Universalist Association,
65. Ms. Jean Stokan, Pax Christi, USA,
66. Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Islamic Society of North America,
67. Ms. Oscar Tatosian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America,
68. Rev. John H. Thomas, United Church of Christ,
69. Mr. Md. Imtiaz Uddin
70. Dr. William Vendley, WCRP-International,
71. Sr. Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, Mount Saint Benedict Monastery,
72. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center,
73. Rabbi Zari Weiss
74. Rev. Robina Winbush, Presbyterian Church USA

Note to Readers: The Domestic Interfaith Summit was co-called by the National Council of Churches USA, Islamic Society of North America and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.  Individuals and groups wanting to endorse the "Urgent Call" and/or "Words of Reflection" may do so by writing vmanning@ncccusa.org Please give your name, city, state, affiliation (if relevant) and which statement(s) you are endorsing.

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.  For further information, see www.cmep.org.