On Jan. 30, citing the "utmost urgency" of their request, 46 religious leaders who have been working "to slow the rush to war" with Iraq petitioned President Bush for a face-toface meeting.
War is not only a military matter, write the leaders from 11 denominations and four organizations, including five from the UCC and its partner church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "It is a moral and ethical matter of the highest order, one that we have made a priority for many months as the possibility of war has loomed on our national horizon."
The 46 leaders of tens of millions of Protestant and Orthodox Christians across the United States note that they are in communication with their clergy, lay leaders and church members across the nation and with their counterparts in Europe and elsewhere around the globe on this issue. The group includes 20 bishops of the United Methodist Church, in which President Bush is a member.
Active in the search for peaceful solutions to the Iraq crisis since August, religious leaders "have become all the more alarmed as U.S. military activity keeps escalating," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, which circulated the letter for signatures. He is also a United Methodist minister and a former Member of Congress. "We want to meet with the president before he decides to go to war with Iraq," he said.
Among the religious leaders who signed the letter are the Rev. John H. Thomas and the Rev. Richard L. Hamm, General Ministers and Presidents, respectively, of the UCC and the Disciples; the Rev. Lydia Veliko and the Rev. Robert Welsh, ecumenical officers, respectively, of the UCC and the Disciples; and Audrey Miller and the Rev. Bertrice Y. Wood, both UCC and both officers of the National Council of Churches.
As of press time, the group has had no response to its request from the White House.