As US President Barack Obama prepared plans to bring a number of US troops home from Afghanistan, a group of 40 religious leaders called for the president to "bring the war in Afghanistan to an end."
Signers of an open letter, including high-profile religious leaders such as Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, expressed frustration over the "deteriorating" state of affairs in Afghanistan and the rising military and civilian death toll, saying "the military situation is at best a stalemate," Religion News Service reports.
The letter, dated 21 June 20011, acknowledged that "legitimate ethical and moral issues are at stake" in Afghanistan, including US national security and women's rights, but said "there is a better way than war to address these important issues."
Developmental aid provided by nongovernmental organisations was championed as an alternative to war, with the signers saying "it is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans."
The letter admitted that some signers initially supported military action in Afghanistan as a "justified response" to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but said the representatives are now "united in the belief" that the war should end.
The letter boasted a number of signers affiliated with the National Council of Churches, including NCCUSA General Secretary Michael Kinnamon. Several leading NCCUSA member churches - including the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - were notably absent.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]