Evangelical Lutherans pledge opposition to Iraq war escalation

By staff writers
August 9, 2007

The highest legislative assembly of the 4.8 million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has declared its opposition to "any escalation of the war" in Iraq and called upon the US government to "take immediate and comprehensive steps to end the violence and establish a peaceful, stable, and just society in that country."

The resolution, passed with no discussion and by a vote of 874 to 78, also urged Lutherans to engage in "moral deliberation about the situation in Iraq and the policies and actions of the government of the United States of America in relation to them" and urged expanded concern for military personnel and their families. Lutherans should also make their views known to members of Congress, the resolution said.

The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting from 6-11 August 2007 at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,071 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is 'Living in God's Amazing Grace: Thanks be to God!'

The resolution did not contain any specific criticisms of US policies on the Iraq war. But the action grew out of memorials passed in six synods, regional units of the denomination, and some of those declarations accused the United States of being in a "first strike, pre-emptive war," with "little or no national debate," and lamented the effect the war is having on the U.S. economy and the stature of the United States in the world.

In one of the memorials passed on to this Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA Southwest California Synod of the ELCA declared that "the war in Iraq is morally wrong and cannot be justified with the teachings of Jesus Christ." A similar memorial from the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod said that the Iraq war "does not meet the criteria of a 'just' war."

Other memorials passed on to the assembly came from the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod, the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, the ELCA La Crosse (Wisconsin) Area Synod, and the ELCA Metropolitan Washington Synod.

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