National Council of Churches deplores Syrian chemical attack, and urges President Obama to use restraint in military response
Washington, August 30, 2013 – As the United States considers a military response to the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria, the National Council of Churches has issued the following statement:
1. In any political dispute, we deplore the use of military solutions. Since its founding in 1950 in the wake of World War II and at the beginning of the Korean War, the NCC has declared its conviction that war is always contrary to the will of God.
2. We particularly deplore the horrendous violence unleashed by both sides in the Syria civil war that has resulted in a dismaying loss of life and property, and has placed severe burdens on the entire region as thousands of refugees seek safety outside the borders of Syria.
3. In particular, we condemn the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syria that has killed and maimed thousands of innocent children, women, and men. This senseless, evil act is horrifying, even against the background of the unspeakable carnage each side has already wrought against the other. All who have been responsible for this chemical attack, from the President of Syria to the soldiers following orders to unleash the attack, must search their consciences and ask God for forgiveness and for the courage to refuse to participate in future attacks.
4. We welcome the resolve of President Obama and other leaders to stop future chemical attacks against an innocent populace. However, we are deeply skeptical that U.S. military action against Syria will prevent future attacks. Indeed, we fear such action may have consequences beyond U.S. planning and control, including more death and widespread destruction.
5. We acknowledge the courage of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said the United Kingdom will not participate in punitive attacks on Syria because of the clearly stated opposition of the British people and the House of Commons. We call on President Obama to listen carefully to similar debates in the U.S. Congress and among the U.S. public.
6. We urge President Obama to use restraint in deciding upon military solutions, and to renew his efforts to build a political coalition within the United Nations to continue to isolate the Syrian government from the family of nations and place irresistible moral and economic pressure on Syria to refrain from the use of chemical weapons against innocent people.
7. We call on all persons of faith to pray for all leaders who are faced with the terrible decisions of war, including the President of the United States whose clear intention is to protect the innocent.
The Episcopal Church is a member of the National Council of Churches.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) unequivocally opposes a military strike against Syria.
Other links about the situation:
This chart explains the complicated relationships in the Middle East.
Here are 9 questions about Syria you were afraid to ask.
Wondering what to pray? From the Book of Common Prayer:
4. For Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn
but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the
strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that
all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of
Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and
glory, now and for ever. Amen.
5. For Peace Among the Nations
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the
world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among
them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they
may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
28. In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.