US faith leaders call nationwide fast against the war in Iraq

By staff writers
13 Sep 2007

Leaders from many religious communities across the United States have urged Americans of all faiths and none to join a fast from dawn to dusk on Monday 8 October 2007 to call for an end to the Iraq War. They want to send out a clear message to government and society.

"This war must end!" say the religious leaders in their statement about the interfaith fast. "We must end the shattering of Iraqi and American lives by offering American generosity and support - but not control - for international and nongovernmental efforts to assist Iraqis in making peace and rebuilding their country, while swiftly and safely bringing home all American troops."

"On this day, people of faith in local communities across our nation will act as catalysts to transform the meaning of the day from one of 'conquest to community and from violence to reverence,'" writes the Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, associate general secretary for interfaith relations, National Council of the Churches of Christ USA (NCCUSA), in his September newsletter [http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/IFRsep07newsletter.pdf].

The leaders of these many faith communities are inviting millions of Americans to organize joint interfaith events in local communities on 8 October to fast and break the fast together. Groups may register their events at www.interfaithfast.org where groups may also find an organizing toolkit to assist in putting together such gatherings. A church bulletin insert on fasting for Christians may also be found at the website.

"American culture, society, and policy are addicted to violence at home and overseas," says the organizing statement. "In our time, the hope of a decent future is endangered by an unnecessary, morally abhorrent, and disastrous war. Ending this war can become the first step toward a policy that embodies a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world."

Among those religious leaders organizing or endorsing this event are: Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center, Philadelphia; Dr Sayyid M. Sayeed, Islamic Society of North America, Plainfield, Ill.; Rev Dr Shanta Premawardhana, NCCUSA Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations and Rev Michael Livingston, NCC President; Jean Stoken, Pax Christi Roman Catholic peace ministry; Dr Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Moderator of Religions for Peace USA; Jim Winkler, United Methodist Board for Church and Society; Rick Ufford-Chase, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Christian Peace Witness, and Bishop Christopher Epting, The Episcopal Church.

Some of those organizers will participate at a news conference in Washington, DC, Wednesday morning, 26 September, to stand in prophetic witness for a policy that invites peace and nonviolence instead of death and destruction.

The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America's Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These member communions represent 45 million Christians in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.

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