Reflected by Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches

Jan 29, 2003 02:35 PM EST

The President didn’t say it, but the country knows it: The union is in a state of great uneasiness. Many people are uncomfortable with a national priority that provides major tax cuts for millionaires and pays for them with funds that ought to go to help children without health care insurance, children who can’t get into Head Start, children whose families live on the edge all the time.

Other Americans wonder why the President insists on escalating the national debt, saddling their children and grandchildren with an obligation that threatens the well-being of generations to come, just so a relative handful of wealthy Americans can add to their list of luxuries.

The creation of a national department for homeland security does little for our sense of safety when the President fails to fund its budget, and when local communities cannot adequately fund their police, firefighters and hospitals.

We should all be concerned about the tone of the President’s war rhetoric. Americans are right to be uneasy about the morality of a pre-emptive American invasion that, even with extreme care on our part, could kill a staggering number of innocent civilians. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as half a million casualties would result from such a war, and UNICEF warns that three million people would be threatened with starvation.

Just as unsettling, a unilateral American assault on Iraq would surely trigger a massive growth in anti-American terrorism that would make our homeland far less secure.

Counting those costs, our common sense tells us there must be a better way than war. Our faith compels us to search for that better way.