We Do Not Necessarily Serve The "god" Of Bishop Sprague
From: William Hamilton
Subject: Bishop Sprague's Commentaries (October 2002)
In the attached link, Bishop Sprague closes his October 25th comments in opposition to war against Saddam Hussein published in the Northern Illinois Conference Edition of the United Methodist Reporter with the statement "As for the United Methodist house, we will serve the God of peace with justice". This follows his statement that "It is time to choose whom we will serve" with the clear supposition that to take any position other than his own would be to serve other than the God of Peace and Justice. While I take issue with the entire piece, I agree that we as United Methodists will serve the God of Peace and Justice. However, Bishop Sprague is not ordained to define the political situation in Iraq with such simplistic rhetoric for ALL United Methodists. For him to insinuate that only those United Methodists who agree with him serve the God of peace and are a part of the "United Methodist house" is presupposing episcopal leadership for the worldwide United Methodist Church. I was unaware of his elevation to such a position.
Just say ‘No!’ to war in Iraq because it is morally wrong
(October 25) (Following is the text of anti-war presentations I have made recently in Chicago and Washington, D.C., specifically urging my audiences to “Say ‘No!’ to war in Iraq.” Please feel free to share it with others.)
Why have we gathered to say “No!” to war in Iraq? The reasons are multiple, and they include the following: Such a war is morally indefensible; such a war is theo-logically reprehensible; and such a war is politically lamentable.
Do not be mistaken. There is no way to read or apply the criteria of the Just War Theory that could justify this foolhardy adventure: It is not an act of self-defense; all other options have not been exhausted; the devastation envisioned is in no way proportional to the perceived original aggression of Saddam Hussein; as was and is the case in Afghanistan, only far more so, innocent civilians — particularly women and children — will not be protected; and, there is not a reasonable prospect of success.
Remember, it was U.S. involvement in so-called regime changes earlier that gave Osama bin Laden credibility and twice elevated Hussein to higher positions of dictatorial power.
United Nations Resolution 661, championed by the United States when enacted on Aug. 6, 1990, placed a full trade embargo on Iraq and, by the U.N.’s own estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have died as a result — most of them children.
War has been in effect against the Iraqi people for more than a decade. Such a malignant policy is bad enough. In fact, it is unconscionable. Now our government is advocating all-out military action against these same people. Not Hussein, but the people of Iraq will be the victims again. This is morally indefensible, and it would be both unpatriotic and unfaithful for us not to just say “No!” as clearly as we can.
A Muslim physician, the head of Global Trust in Kabul, Afghanistan, said to a group of us in June, as we partici-pated in the detonation of the 1 millionth land mine by that non-governmental organization (860,000 in Afghanistan alone): “We are all part of the one trunk. Muslims, Jews and Christians are branches of the one holy trunk.” Dr. King was right: “We are all tied together in one mutual garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Jesus was clear about how his disciples were to treat others, including perceived enemies. The United Methodist Church is equally clear about the reprehensibility of war. Our Church officially says: War is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as a usual instrument of foreign policy and insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises.” (The Book of Discipline, page 121.)
Let it be said now: This proposed war is so theologically reprehensible to believers in the one God of all, that people of faith, including United Methodists, must be prepared for massive protests, including ongoing acts of civil disobedience, should our government say “Yes” to war with Iraq.
It defies international law, including Article 51 of the U.N. Charter; it will destabilize further the Middle East and exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; President Bush’s first strike rhetoric is anti-American and belies the best of U.S. ideals; war in Iraq will risk the use of weapons of mass destruction in the region; it will cost somewhere between $100 and $200 billion dollars, thus further neglecting the basic health, education and welfare needs at home and abroad; it will establish the need for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq and the region, which presence would be suspect, at best, in the world community; and, it will further incense and radicalize the Islamic people thus creating a wider chasm of misunderstanding and hatred between the Islamic world and the U.S.
Our children and grandchildren, as well as the children of Islam, will pay the long-term price for such ignorance and vengeance.
Now is the time for people of faith to urge citizens and friends of this nation to awaken, to gain knowledge and understanding, and to join in saying an unequivocal “No!” to war with Iraq.
It is time to choose whom we will serve. Will it be the God of Abraham and the Prince of Peace, or the perpetrators of a morally indefensible, theologically reprehensible and politically lament-able foreign policy of pre-emptive first strikes in the idolatrous pursuit of war?
As for the United Methodist house, we will serve the God of peace with
justice. I urge you and your house to do the same.
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