Shuck and Jive

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Presbyterians: Iraq and Iran

Iran? What do you think? Is the U.S. going to attack or find a way to attack, or support an attack by another nation on Iran? Thanks to Rachel for posting this video from Tehran, Iran.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) didn't think an attack on Iran would be a swell idea. They easily passed this amended commissioner's resolution by a voice vote:

[The 218th General Assembly (2008) directs the Stated Clerk to send the following resolution to the President of the United Stated of America and the United States Congress:]

1. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) supports a peaceful, diplomatic means to resolve the tensions developing as a result of Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program, between the United States and Iran.

2. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for direct, unconditional negotiations between the United States and Iran with the goal of finding and implementing a peaceful resolution.

3. [That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is opposed to military action against Iran.] [That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is opposed to preemptive military action by any nation against Iran.]

4. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for a renewed effort at all levels—people-to-people, interfaith groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government—to help the United States and Iran eliminate the tensions that have existed between our two nations and to unite the American and Iranian people in a common effort to solve the problems of poverty, illness, and climate change.

The General Assembly debated the situation in Iraq, especially #5. Through the voting process, a third of the commissioners wanted complete withdrawal of troops immediately, but the majority of commissioners (505-152) eventually settled on the following:

Final Text:

That the 218th General Assembly (2008) to do the following:

1. Pray, in a spirit of deep [sorrow and confession humility], for God’s justice and peace to prevail in Iraq; and recognizing and heeding God’s call to love all persons as made in God’s own image, and even to pray for our enemies, encourage all Presbyterians to be in intentional and regular prayer for everyone in and of Iraq: for Iraqi civilians, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Yezidi; for soldiers and armed actors; for the refugees and the displaced; for the tortured and their torturers; and for insurgents, kidnappers, and terrorists, for all are God’s beloved, all are in need of the transformation of God’s love and God’s peace.

2. Commend and thank the peacemakers who have worked nonviolently to end the war in Iraq through prayers, vigils, and acts of resistance and witness such as the actions organized by the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq; and encourage all Presbyterians to participate enthusiastically in peacemaking efforts to end the occupation of Iraq.

3. Commend and thank members of the armed forces, and their loved ones, for their service and sacrifice.

4. Call upon the United States government to support our military personnel by granting speedy discharges to conscientious objectors; fully funding veterans’ benefits; ensuring that injured service personnel and veterans have the best medical, mental health, and rehabilitation care available; and providing generous benefits to surviving family members.

“5. [Call upon the government of the United States to end its military presence in Iraq by withdrawing all troops, hired soldiers, and contractors, and permanently closing all military bases in Iraq.] [Call upon the United States government to develop and implement a lasting peaceful solution, responsibly bring the troops home, and reaffirm the call of the 216th General Assembly (2004) for the United States government to engage with the international community through the United Nations and other international agencies to cooperate with the government of Iraq in providing security, peacekeeping forces, and funding the rebuilding of the country.]

6. Call upon the United States and all member states of the United Nations to establish and fully fund a United Nations peacebuilding mission for Iraq to work in partnership with Iraqi leaders, neighboring nations, and appropriate international governmental and nongovernmental organizations to establish security in Iraq, rebuild institutions and infrastructure, resettle and assist refugees, and initiate a process of truth and reconciliation to promote healing and forgiveness.

7. Call upon the United States and other responsible nations to voluntarily make restitution in an amount adequate to repair war damage; to fully investigate, and where appropriate, in accordance with the principles of due process recognized in U.S. and international law, to prosecute all charges of war crimes including torture and mistreatment of prisoners; and to cooperate completely with any international investigations of war crimes committed by any party to the conflict in Iraq.

8. Call upon the United States to remove all weapons, mines, depleted uranium, and other military waste products from Iraq; to repair other damage to the environment, including priceless archaeological sites.

9. Call upon the United States to return full direct control of Iraq’s oil resources and oil revenues to Iraq.

10. Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this action to the president of the United States, members of the U.S. Congress, and the secretary-general of the United Nations.

“[11. to receive the study paper (of 11-24), "To Repent, To Restore, To Re-Build, and to Reconcile" and direct that it be posted on the website of the Office of the General Asembly and be commended for study throughout the church.]”

12. Commend to the church the call of the 216th General Assembly (2004) for the church to express its pastoral concern for and offer pastoral care to members of the United States armed forces serving their country in the war in Iraq and their families as well as for veterans of the war who have returned home (Iraq: Our Responsibility and the Future, Minutes, 2004, Part I, pp. 864ff).

13. Direct the General Assembly Council to continue and expand the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s commitment to relief efforts in Iraq in cooperation with our ecumenical partners, to ministries that address human needs in Iraq caused by the war, and to long-term development efforts to assist in the rebuilding of the country.

14. Call upon all presbyteries, congregations, and members within the PC (USA) to intentionally, personally, and concretely work to bring healing, peace, justice, and care to all affected by the war in Iraq, not only through our prayers but through the giving of our resources, time, money, and very selves to improve the lives and future of all involved, especially the hurting, the poor, the oppressed, and those whose lives have been damaged by the war.

15. Pray for, call for, and work for a just and peaceful future for the nation and people of Iraq which includes the establishing of a just, stable, and democratic government and the timely departure of U.S. military forces and their contractors as soon as it is possible to leave the nation in an appropriately stable, just, and self-sustaining form.

Stories about actions regarding peacemaking at the General Assembly can be found at the Presbyterian News Service.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Have you heard of the $400 million for Bush to fund his new private war? This time, we get to be greeted as liberators in Iran. It'll take a few weeks, tops. Trust him. The best part is, he never has to tell us what it's being spent on.

    If we keep bombing and shooting in the Middle East, maybe Jesus will come back.

    It's sure worth a try.

  3. It'll take a few weeks, tops. Trust him.

    I think the word you're looking for is "cakewalk".

    To be honest, I'm very scared about an attack on Iran, especially after reading Seymour Hersch's column on the subject. What a disaster this would be.

  4. I just finished reading The Islamist by Ed Husein. Not available in the US yet, but a fantastic and harrowing tale of his journey through Islamism and Wahhabism to land in the safe loving arms of Sufism.

    Two reactions from this: I have a profound sense of respect for Sufi Islam and Muhammad now that I had not had before. I have a new fear of radical Islam I had not had before. The Iranians and the Saudis do not want to stop until not only the west is destroyed, but that all Muslim nations that do not have their brand of Islamism at the head of the state are wiped out. They are looking to install a new caliphate and are politically motivated with the fuel that religious fervor can supply them with - a supply greater than oil.

    It's left me clueless what to do with Iran. Bomb them and the Islamist Wahhabi will act like shark's teeth replacing their martyred leaders with new leaders. Ignore them and they will become more powerful as they convert other Arabs not only in the Middle East, but abroad.

    So the question is, how can you stop a religious/political revolution, because that's really what this is all about.

  5. That video made me cry.

    God help us all.

  6. Thanks for posting the GA'a resolution on Iran and Iraq. It's good to know where church organizations stand. I hope all church (and other) organizations take a similar stance.

  7. Thanks all:

    Drew, insightful stuff. Looking at the pics from the video on the post, I can't think that those folks are all out to destroy the world. Nor do I think Americans are out to destroy the world.

    Propaganda is so powerful and persuasive, turning peaceful people into monsters for some ideology.

  8. Iran has given me no reason to believe they are a threat to the US. They are a threat to Israel, but I think Israel (because of its strong ties to and financial support from the US)is a greater threat to Iran. Saudi Arabia is a great threat to us because of our financia dependency on them.

    But still, what troubles me most is that there is talk at all of the US bombing this country or that, simply because of what it considers threatening ideology. Why has this seemingly become the "solution of choice" for the US, which is assumed to be the strongest country in the world?

    Sadly, though, it has become the solution of choice, and Bush is working with his marketing group to figure out a way to sell it to Congress.

    I am not hopeful that we can hold him off until a change in administration occurs - if it occurs. The fact that he hasn't been pulled out of the White House in chains and brought before The Hague tells me that he is not going to be stopped by anyone in office at this point.

    As for Doug's comment that "maybe Jesus will come back", I suspect if that does happen he won't be as charitable towards the US as people think.

  9. "Bush is working with his marketing group to figure out a way to sell it to Congress. "

    The way that he is marketing it to Congress is callled H.J. Res 362.

    You should read this document. The way they have made out Iran, I think I would hope that my Congress leader went along with it. Besides I have emailed my representavies on bills like these (e.g.the homegrown terrorism act), and they always respond that they think it is in the best interest of national security to pass these resolutions. It seems like all the bills that get passed these days to "protect" us are making us less free and less safe. Can anyone tell me if it is worth our freedom? Is Iran really as big as threat as this resolution makes them out to be? Oh and what did you think of Kucinich's Independence Day Speech to Impeach Bush?

  10. It is worth noting that Wahhabism is a movement that grows out of the Sunni tradition and the Iranians are almost uniformly Shi'ite. The Sunni/Shia divide in Islam is as profound, if not more, than the division between the Roman and Orthodox churches in Christianity (it's taken a mere 1000 years for the Pope and the Patriarch to speak to each other), in a region where grudges go back centuries. The Iranians and Al Qaeda hate each other for this reason. Weirdly enough, Al Qaeda would probably cheer our nuking Iran, as it would not only freak out every Muslim on Earth, it would also do away with one of bin Laden's biggest rivals.

  11. Thanks flycandler for pointing out another issue that shows how misinformed our House, Congress and public is. You never hear anything about this on mainstream media. All they talk about is how the Iranian President supports terrorists, denies the Holocaust, and wants to wipe Israel off the map. Americans are going to have to look beyond the mainstream media if they want to see through the lies.

    Since this is a Christian site, I thought I would share a video of how freaking scary some christians can be. Check this video out. It was taken when Iran's president came to speak at Columbia University last fall. Over 10,000 people stood outside the university to protest him being there. This video of the coalition of Christians against Iran scared the crap out of me, and personally it reminded me of a KKK meeting that my brother showed me on video back in high school. At least now I know why so many christians are for war with Iran.