Religious Leaders Express their Thoughts on the War

Mar 25, 2003 10:24 AM EST

With the outbreak of the highly forecasted war between the United States and Iraq, there has been mixed feelings in the Christian Clergy. While some adhere to the “just war?argument, many other leaders say they are wary of an unnecessary war. Nonetheless, there is a uniting voice calling for prayer from across the denominational borders.

The following are a list of quotes from seven Christian leaders in America.

D. James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries and senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida said, “Along with its allies, the U.S. has at long last drawn the sword.... Christians should be in fervent prayer. Ask God to protect our troops and give victory in this just war to remove a wicked tyrant from power and to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction. Pray as well that innocent civilians will be spared, that victory will come quickly without a huge toll in human life, and that peace and true freedom will come to the Iraqi people. War is a horrible business, but this, I believe, is a just cause. If we had failed to act now, it would only invite worse consequences to come.?

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, said, “With American troops in harm's way, let us pray earnestly for a quick resolution to the present conflict in Iraq with a minimum amount of bloodshed on both sides. We pray for our military personnel and for their families. May God keep them safe from harm and bring them home to us as soon as possible. We also pray for the long-suffering Iraqi people. May God comfort them in this time of uncertainty and fear. This military intervention must be followed by serious, long-term efforts by the U.S. and other countries to create a just peace in Iraq and the region. Failure to do so may further destabilize the Middle East and fuel distrust of Western motives and intentions.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, says, “I join people of faith everywhere who are praying for our military personnel and their families. I daily pray for them myself, and in addition, I pray especially for the children and all innocents in Iraq. I also pray for the leaders of all nations of the world. We have an obligation to the innocent. For as [historian] Howard Zinn says, "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention says, “In Scripture, we find comfort and wisdom for troubled times. Let me share with you two points we can address as a denomination while we step into this battle. Prayer: Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age." The war we are facing is not simply a physical one. Each of us should be on our knees, praying for our nation, our president, and the military.... Fears: A terrorist's greatest tool is fear. And Satan, the ultimate terrorist, will be trying harder than ever to paralyze us with fear so we are useless as witnesses. Remember Psalm 27:1 and 3, "The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? ... Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." When Jesus is your Savior and your home in heaven is secure, nothing on this Earth should make you tremble. Fear God and serve only him.... In many ways, this is a dark day as we face fears abroad and at home. But there has also never been a better time to share Christ and our hope in him. In a day with a lot of bad news, we have good news and a reason to give thanks. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has saved us. In him, we already have the victory.?

Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, says, “We pray unceasingly that the peace of God may abide everywhere on our planet Earth and that places of conflict may be transformed into places of life and freedom. We pray for the courageous men and women who serve in our armed forces and who face uncertain dangers and the threat of death.... We pray for the safety of all who peacefully inhabit areas of conflict, especially for the innocent children of our world, for their well-being, and for the realization of the beautiful potential of their lives as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Further, we pray that the wisdom of God may abide in the hearts of the leaders of our nation as they make decisions that will undoubtedly affect millions of human beings.?

Father Canice Connors, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Mary Ann Zollmann, B.V.M., president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, says, “We are deeply saddened by the course of events that have led our nation to war with Iraq. After months of negotiations, arms inspections and diplomatic efforts, President Bush has decided to act with little support from the international community and without the sanction of the United Nations to oust Saddam Hussein from leadership in Iraq. He has also ignored the widespread voices of religious leaders around the world, including the unequivocal voice of John Paul II, who condemns the doctrine of preemption upon which the attack is based. We now live in a much less safe world than we did before the attack. This approach to self-defense could well be used to justify a much more violent world.?

The Rev. Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, says, “The beginning of the war against Iraq ... seems to have thrown us back quite brutally into a world governed by the law of the strongest. The delicate fabric of an international legal order and the functioning of the United Nations, which was founded upon the commitment to "liberate the world from the scourge of war," seem to be undermined. The voice of millions in all corners of the world who have protested the preparation of this war scenario has gone unheard. The warning by government leaders and diplomats who have pointed to the wider dramatic consequences of war against Iraq has been pushed aside.?

By Pauline J.