U.S. church leaders slam Iraq war

By on April 1, 2006

Porto Alegre, Brazil
A group of religious leaders from the United States has issued a public letter criticizing the war in Iraq and acknowledging their churches’ inability to stop it.

“We confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war,” the Feb. 18 letter to the assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) states. It notes that it came from the WCC’s United States Conference, a grouping of 34 U.S. member churches of the Geneva-based council. There were no individual signatures on the letter.

“There is division within our churches,” Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, a member of the Orthodox Church in America and moderator of the U.S. Conference, told journalists in Porto Alegre. “We cannot speak authoritatively for any church, but we are responsible leaders elected by our churches and we feel compelled to speak.”

Mr. Kishkovsky said that “around the world the U.S. Christian voices that are heard support President (George) Bush and the war. We want the world to know that there’s a serious moral struggle going on and in reality a majority of Americans do not support this war.”

Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said the letter was not intended to undermine U.S. troops in Iraq. “They are our sons and daughters and the sons and daughters of our neighbors,” she explained. “We honor their courage and sense of duty.”

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