Prayer for peace, Shalom, Salaam, Shanti, Amani 

"Cowardice asks the question--is it safe? Expediency asks the question--is it politic? Vanity asks the question--is it popular? But conscience asks the question--is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right." --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We are religious people from the variety of faith traditions that abide in the Detroit area. We are citizens who love our country and the best of its history. And we are among the many who, in prayer and conscience, have come to an agonizing conclusion: a US war against Iraq will be unjust and immoral, a crime against humanity, an affront to God.

We are painfully aware that such a war will inevitably mean terrifying and massive casualties to Iraqi civilians, including many children, elderly and other defenseless people whose lives are sacred in the sight of God. They are no less sacred than the lives of American soldiers who will be lost in such a war. Even now we intercede for them all.

Many of us have long been grieving the Iraqi children, hundreds of thousands, killed in the last decade of bombing and sanctions. We do not cease to beg forgiveness.

Many of us are horrified by the notion of "pre-emptive" war, a principle of first-strike international aggression, which, if unleashed as normative and legitimate, would haunt our world. For this very reason, pre-emptive war is against international law, including the UN charter. We pray against it.

Many of us regard Saddam Hussein as ruthless and reckless, but believe he knows that he could not use weapons of mass destruction without bringing ruin down on himself. A potential threat is neither legally nor morally sufficient for war against his people. We cannot support it.

Many of us taste the bitter irony of inveighing against weapons of mass destruction as though the US had not invented any--and used them more than once against human beings, built them into the foundation of our foreign policy for over 50 years, and even now threatens to employ them in a war against Iraq. We must be in repentance.

We remain unconvinced that reasonable remedies to our government's concerns, and the world's, have been exhausted. Inspections, for example, have been effective in the past, and are proving so in the present. They could be part of a continuing plan of peace and containment. We won't pretend this is a war of last resort.

Many of us believe the US war against Iraq has less to do with terrorism, than with control of oil resources and oil prices, with economic and military hegemony. For us, this is grievous and scandalous.

Many of us consider that a US war against Iraq will violate our Constitution whose clear wording grants legitimate authority to declare war to Congress alone. Many of us observe that only the UN has authority to enforce its resolutions, not the US and the UK on their own. It is not credible to decry violations of UN resolutions by our enemies while discounting those by our friends. We will not legitimate this with silence.

We condemn terrorism--be it by individuals, networks or states, including terrorism carried out by technological means. Many of us believe that a US war against Iraq will contribute, in itself and in its consequences, to terror. We see it undermining genuine efforts against terrorism.

Most of us look around our cities and see the faces of need in our streets. We know that $200 billion in emergency war funding (this over and above the $15.3 billion increase of the Pentagon budget now up to $380 billion) is just plain wrongly spent. We choose to live by different priorities. We seek the "revolution of values" which Dr. King invoked. We know another world is possible.

All of us come from spiritual traditions that peace and pursue it. We honor one another's faith, and we encourage each other to speak and pray and act from the strength of those traditions. To this end, to this beginning, we are coming together in prayer and worship. We witness to the common source of peace and raise our voices against war.


Imam Abdullah El-Amin
Muslim Center of Detroit

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

Reverend Robert Smith
New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit

Rabbi Ernst Conrad
Temple Kol Ami, W. Bloomfield

Rev. Richard O. Singleton
Metropolitan Christian Council

Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim
Chaldean Catholic Diocese of the USA

Read this week's SCREED column

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