Las Cruces Religions for Peace

David M. Boje, Ph.D. Vitae  January 21, 2003 (revised Jan 26) www.PeaceAware.com 

Basis for Boje & Rosile Letter to Editors "Miracle on Church Street."

and Peace and Civil Liberties Resolutions for Las Cruces & Mesilla City Councils, and Dona Ana County

Goal - put together an Interfaith Search for Peace Symposium, to be held on the 15th of March 2003 at the New Mexico State University Campus. We are inviting religious leaders of all faiths in New Mexico to attend and look for peace alternatives to war. If you would like to nominate a  religious leader as a delegate to the Interfaith Search for Peace Symposium, contact Professor David Boje dboje@nmsu.edu (505-532-1693). 

CLick to go there

Please Click on Image to see the New Mexico Interfaith for Peace Event and Results

As of Jan 20 2003, the Majority of USA Religious Leaders are in Favor of Peaceful Resolution to Iraqi Crisis. Las Cruces religious leaders can speak-out in support of their national leaders. We call for Las Cruces, Mesilla and all Dona Ana Church, Synagogue, Temple, and Mosque leaders to sign a Peace and Civil Liberties petition, and to attend, and support Peace Vigils. We intend to deliver the petition to Las Cruces, Mesilla Valley city councils, and Dona Ana Board of Commissioners. National religious leaders have joined together for peace and the protection of civil liberties. Local religious leaders can tip the scales. Currently less than 52% of the public supports this War. 

This photo was taken Jan 20th on Martin Luther King Jr. day. (Left to right) Marian Wright Edelman, Jim Wallis, John Bryson Chane, Douglas Fromm, Bob Edgar, Lydia Veliko and John Thomas lead the Jan. 20 peace march from the Washington National Cathedral to the White House.  Their banner reads: Pray & Act for Peace and Justice.  Photo by John Paarlberg

CALL to STOP the RUSH to WAR. August 29 2002, Geneva, Switzerland - Thirty-eight Christian leaders from Britain, Canada and the United States, gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for a meeting of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. They issued an urgent call to the American government to pull back from its unilateral movement toward pre-emptive military action against Iraq, and to seek the appropriate counsel of the Congress, the United Nations, and U.S. allies. 

Re ad former President Jimmy Carter's article on Just and Unjust War in Iraq. Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/opinion/09CART.html

On Sept. 12, 2002, Fifty-one heads of American Protestant and Orthodox churches and organizations and of Roman Catholic religious orders announced their opposition to U.S. military action against Iraq.  

On April 4, 2002, An International Interfaith Peace Declaration was drafted. 17 religious leaders have signed on thus far. It says for example, "it is essential that peace efforts move beyond military interventions and diplomatic relations to a new level of intercultural-interfaith dialogue and cooperation to achieve a consensus for peace on the grass roots level within the borders of every nation."

Some Facts: Sanctions have claimed the lives of  1.5 million Iraqi, 500,000 of them are children. Pre-emptive strike is against international law (provisions of the Geneva Convention). It was religious leaders who led the marches for civil rights and religious leaders who spoke out against the war in Vietnam.  

Religious leaders in cities in New Mexico, like Las Cruces, Mesilla, and throughout Dona Ana County could come out against the war and the erosion of civil liberties. Martin Luther King said "I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation."

Moira Kanim has been visiting Las Cruces religious leaders, asking, “Please sign a Peace and Civil Liberties resolution we are placing before Las Cruces City Council.”  We invite Las Cruces religious leaders to be associated with peace. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” We ask others in Las Cruces who support the National Council of Churches to speak out for peace. Now is not the time to be silent.

National Council of Churches, a Win Without War member organization, launched a TV ad in which United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert cautions against attacking Iraq. View QuickTime video

Virtual March on Washington Headquarters - The following national religious groups are participating in the  February 26th Virtual March.  Every Senate office will receive a call every minute from a constituent, as they receive a simultaneous crush of faxes and email. In Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, "anti-war rooms" will highlight the progress of the day for national media. Local media will visit the "anti-war room" online, to monitor this constituent march throughout the day. See http://www.moveon.org/winwithoutwar/ for details. Here is the list of religious groups:

Below is a partial list of positions on War With Iraq by Religious Leaders in the USA. All but Southern Baptists oppose this war.  There is a wide breadth of national religious support for peace. 

Bahai - Bahai News -- Interfaith celebration promotes peace -attended the celebration to ask God to intervene so the United States will not go to war with Iraq.

Baptists (Southern)- "It appears in the case of Iraq that the world has exhausted all of its options for peace" (Tomlin, 2002). Bush's policies regarding Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction "fall well within the time-honored criteria of just-war theory." — Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Bill Bright, chairman of Campus Crusade for Christ International; Chuck Colson, chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries; D. James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries; and Carl Herbster, president of the American Association of Christian Schools. [Read Article].

James Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute and is a member of the Democratic National Committee, said Bush was reading the polls carefully and had concluded that his political base was secure. "The peace movement is not the administration's base vote... Among white evangelical Christians, Bush has 70 percent support. Among blacks and Hispanics, 70 percent oppose war," Zogby said (article by Alan Elser, Reuters, February 6, 2003 -Peace Activists Frustrated by Bush Over Iraq).

Catholics - Oppose unjust war. 

Church of Religious Science -  CREATIVE WAYS TO PROTEST THE PROPOSED WAR ON IRAQ Church of Religious Science, 505 Camino de los Marquez See Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

Episcopal Church, USA As disciples of Jesus Christ, we abhor violence and war. Our faith requires us to strive always for justice and peace. We believe that restraint and the ongoing commitment to international cooperation are the means toward peace that we all desire. With you, we recognize the possibility that war is sometimes unavoidable, but we do not believe that war with Iraq can be justified at this time. — The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate
[Read Entire Statement]. See http://www.episcopalchurch.org/peace-justice/article_67.asp 

Evangelical Lutherans - The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, came out against the Iraq War Aug. 30 2002 http://www.elca.org/bishop/iraq.html 

Evangelical Protestants - call Iraq War a just cause and most ask their followers to back Bush Jr. "Five influential evangelicals signed an Oct. 3 letter comparing Saddam Hussein's treaty violations to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and warning against appeasement" (Rodgers-Melnick, 2003). 

Bush's policies regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory," said the letter from Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Liberty Commission of the 15.7 million-member Southern Baptist Convention; televangelist D. James Kennedy; campus ministry pioneer Bill Bright; public policy activist Chuck Colson; and Carl Herbster, the president of the American Association of Christian Schools.

Islamic - oppose unilateral military action.. See The Muslim Peace Fellowship

Jains -  Jains are opposed to violence of any kind, particularly war. Jains follow Ahimsa (non-violence) and support reverence for all life. 

Jesuits - Father John Dear, a Jesuit priest, author, and  activist in the tradition of Thomas Merton. Check out his speech, delivered on October 26 to a group of anti-war activists in front of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Taos, NM home.

Jewish - support unilateral military action if diplomacy fails ( Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and the Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations). There are also Jewish voices for peace: A Jewish Voice for Peace (San Francisco). Jewish Peace Fellowship http://www.jewishpeacefellowship.org/ 

Mennonites - urge prayer to prevent war on Iraq -- Along with Christian Peacemaker Teams, representatives from various Mennonite bodies, including Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church-USA and Mennonite Church-Canada, are encouraging churches to take prayerful action during August under the slogan: "The Fruit of Peace is Security, Terror the Harvest of War." This campaign invites individuals and congregations to participate by praying for peace with Iraq and the Iraqi people, engaging in public worship and action for peace, and communicating concerns to government leaders. http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/iraqaugust/index.html  There is a Boulder Colorado Mennonite Church that is organizing a mail protest to President Bush. It is important that as many people participate as possible and that they do this immediately. If you have a moment and can participate, here are the simple directions. 
Put half a cup of rice in a sandwich bag. Squeeze out the air as you are sealing it. Put it in a standard business envelope with a note. Mail it to President George Bush, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20500

Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)  - The Mormon Church took its Anti-War Stance on Sun Oct 6,2002 in SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church issued a strong anti-war message at its semiannual General Conference, clearly referring to current hostilities in the Middle East, advocating patience and negotiation, and urging the faithful to be peacemakers (Click here).

National Council of Churches - The delegation, sponsored by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S. (NCC), was led by the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the NCC, along with representatives of the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Episcopal Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association along with an Iraq expert from Georgetown University.

Presbyterians - National leaders of the 2.5 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) had already spoken out against the war. 

Quakers - The Quakers' national organization encourages peaceful activism. Quakers are flat out opposed to war. American Friends Service Committee on September 24 2002 came out against the Iraq war http://www.afsc.org/news/2002/quakeriraq.htm See also http://www.afsc.org/iraq/activism.shtm 

United Church of Christ  - United Church of Christ leaders opposing U.S. war against Iraq - With heavy hearts we hear once again the drumbeat of war against Iraq. As United Church of Christ leaders committed to God's reign of justice and peace in the world and to the just conduct of our nation, we firmly oppose this advance to war. [Read Entire Statement]

United Methodist Church - Council of Bishops, Sharon A. Brown Christopher (President of the Council) came out against preemptive strike against Iraq on October 4, 2002. http://www.umc.org/headlines/newsflash/default.htm United Methodist Church "With unprecedented disregard for democratic ideals and with an astonishing lack of evidence justifying such a pre-emptive attack, the president has all but given the order to fire. I ask United Methodists to oppose this reckless measure and urge the President to immediately pursue other means to resolve the threat posed by Iraq....Our Church categorically opposes interventions by more powerful nations against weaker ones. We recognize the first moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among nations." — Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society
[Read Full Statement]

United Religions Initiative Produces and distributes interfaith educational materials http://www.uri.org/abouturi/contact/index.asp 

Unitarian Universalist Church - "We are called to ask questions and search for paths that can open the way for peace." — Rev. William G. Sinkford, President of the UU Association [Read Entire Statement]. See also Unitarian Universalist Association calls for alternatives to preemptive attack. A thirteen-member interfaith delegation which  included two Unitarian Universalists returned on January 3 from a compelling trip to Iraq as the United States edges closer to war with that country. The  Rev. Dr. John Buehrens, former president of the UUA and currently minister of the First Parish in Needham, MA, represented UUA President Bill Sinkford on the trip.

Given the views of the majority of USA religious leaders,  our local leaders have the opportunity to come together to oppose the war in Iraq and seek peaceful alternatives.  Here is your invitation - 

WEEKLY PEACE VIGIL
Wednesdays
4-6 pm
Federal Building
Downtown Las Cruces, corner of Church and Griggs

SATURDAY PEACE VIGIL
Saturdays (see www.PeaceAware.com for location in Las Cruces).
1-2 pm
(We will be doing this at a different high traffic location every Saturday.)


Most Importantly, please sign the Southern New Mexico Resolution for Peace and Protection of Civil Liberties at www.PeaceAware.com  Cities that have already passed similar resolutions include   Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore, Des Moines, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, and in New Mexico, Santa Fe. See http://www.ips-dc.org/citiesforpeace/resolutions.htm  for complete listing of the 53 cities that passed a Peace resolution.

Thank you - David Boje and Moira Kanim

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). 

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

References

English, Lisa (2003). The Theology of Peace. http://www.nowarblog.org/archives/000076.html 

Interfaith Alliance (2003). http://www.interfaithalliance.org/rresource/iraq/statemen.htm 

Rodgers-Melnick, Ann (2003).  In Iraq debate, peace vs. patriotism issue again confronts churches. Opponents of war more vocal, but not necessarily more numerous. Sunday, November 10. Post-Gazette. Jan 21 2003 http://www.post-gazette.com/world/20021110peacechurches1110p6.asp

Tomlin, Gregory (2002). War with Iraq: wrestling with peace or indifference. FIRST-PERSON. Sep 24, 2002. http://www.baptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=14315

www.PeaceAware.com