Bring troops home from Afghanistan, says Kirk minister

By staff writers
28 Sep 2011

A Kirk leader has repeated calls on the Westminster government by the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly to take immediate steps to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.

In May 2011 the Kirk’s governing body voted to oppose the continuation of the war in Afghanistan.

Now the Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, says: “By working with Church partners from other traditions including Anglicans, Catholics and Quakers, we assessed the Afghanistan war against the criteria for a Just War, which many Christians have used for centuries when considering a response to the use of armed force. We found that the war in Afghanistan cannot be supported. That is why we are calling for our service men and women to be brought home.”

The Just War tradition needs a set of criteria to be met which the report by the Church and Society Council to the General Assembly did not find.

Mr Galloway commented: “There are two aspects of the war. One is the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) set up under a UN mandate which is designed to support the Afghan National Army and police.

“The second is Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) which aims to eradicate Al Qaeda and defeat the Taliban. The report concluded that while the ISAF mission could be considered legitimate, the OEF aspect is no longer tenable, as there is no direct threat to our own security and the UN has not given any explicit authorisation for OEF.”

Mr Galloway made his comments in connection with the recent UN International Day for Peace and the World Council of Churches International Day of Prayer for Peace - and in the midst of party conference season.

Many mainstream Christian denominations make 'Just War' criteria for limiting the use of armed force central to their ethical approach to conflicts like those in Afghanistan. But a sizeable and growing minority believe that - as Anglican bishops stated at the Lambeth Conference in 1978 - war is per se incompatible with the life, teachings and work of Jesus Christ.

[Ekk/3]

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