British church leaders criticise use of military force in response to 9/11

By staff writers
9 Sep 2011

A decade on from the 9/11 attacks, senior British Free Church leaders are calling on the Government to re-examine its use of military force in response to violent extremism and to reject the supposed logic of a 'war on terror'.

Britain's role in promoting the international arms trade, which fuels conflicts and entrenches dictatorships, is also criticised, with the upcoming London Arms Fair particularly mentioned.

The comments from senior Christian figures in the UK come on the impending tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terror strikes in the United States, which were followed by protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They form part of in a joint statement issued by the leaders of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church.

They nonconformist church heads say: “It is clear that our [Britain and the West's] reaction to the attacks on 9/11 has caused more suffering and loss than the original attacks. The ‘War on Terror’ has done little to make anyone safer, but has harmed human rights, depleted our coffers and damaged our standing in the world, and at a cost of many lives.”

The churches in Britain are due to celebrate Peacemaking Sunday on 18 September 2011. A service booklet and worship resources are available to download online at: http://jointpublicissues.org.uk/peacemakingsunday/?dm_i=BVI,J7TI,35NNYU,...

The full Free Church statement on the 9/11 anniversary is as follows:

The ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will be a day of huge sadness for the whole world and our hearts and prayers are with all those who continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones in the terrible atrocities of 9/11. We remember those who died in the attacks, and those who died in the wars that followed.

A decade on, it is also an appropriate moment to pause and consider what lessons we have learned as a nation in the intervening years. Our military action in Afghanistan and Iraq has taught us that defeating an enemy may take only days, but rebuilding a just and inclusive society will take many years.

It is clear that our reaction to the attacks on 9/11 has caused more suffering and loss than the original attacks. The ‘War on Terror’ has done little to make anyone safer, but has harmed human rights, depleted our coffers and damaged our standing in the world, and at a cost of many lives.

It is sad and ironic that regimes that seek to maintain their rule through military force have often purchased their weapons from Britain, such as Libya, which has purchased 120 million Euros worth of British arms since 2005.

Our government aspires to support democratic reform in the Middle East, but at the same time tax-payers’ money is being used to support the London Arms Fair, hosting 1,300 weapons companies from around the world.

There can be no future security if we place our trust in more sophisticated weapons. We cannot rely on military intervention but must concentrate on supporting the principles of political progress, human security and economic justice if we are to achieve a better and more secure world for all.

As Christians we follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace. We pray for world leaders, for peacemakers and for those suffering violence everywhere, and we look to the future with hope.

Signed by:

Rev Jonathan Edwards
General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain

Rev Lionel E. Osborn
President of the Methodist Conference

Rev Roberta Rominger
General Secretary of the United Reformed Church

[Ekk/3]

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