Questions over government agenda for Armed Forces Day

Questions over government agenda for Armed Forces Day

Resources produced for churches and others to think realistically about role of military

London, UK - June 16, 2009 Following the announcement that the Iraq war inquiry will be held in private, the thinktank Ekklesia has today proposed that Armed Forces Day should be an opportunity to think honestly about military intervention rather than an excuse to divert attention away from the realities of war.

Ekklesia has also produced a collection of online resources to assist churches and others in engaging with the issues raised by the Day, which will be held for the first time this year on 27th June.

"We should use this new official day not to exonerate government policy but to question it" said Ekklesia's associate director Symon Hill, who in a previous role was involved in the legal case to stop the Serious Fraud Office dropping an investigation into arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

He continued: "It is now widely recognised that the UK's recent military actions have been disastrous and counterproductive. Thousands have died and many problems remain unsolved. We need a different approach - not least the development of unarmed forces: people going into situations of conflict with peacemaking skills, not guns or contracts."

Hill stressed that Ekklesia's call for an alternative perspective reflected its respect for members of the armed forces by addressing at a deeper level the conflicts which end up making them, as well as millions of civilians, the victims of an unending cycle of violence.

Ekklesia is urging churches which are observing Armed Forces Day to pray for members of the armed forces and for all those affected by war, without being drawn into a government agenda.

It is also drawing attention to a number of church- based initiatives around the world including Christian Peacemaker Teams and The World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, which help to build a just peace in areas of conflict.
ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. Ekklesia is an independent, not-for-profit Christian think-tank promoting transformative theological ideas and solutions. See: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/about/about.shtml

2. Armed Forces Day will take place on Saturday, 27th June 2009. This is the first time such an event will be held in the United Kingdom. It was launched following recommendations in a report produced for the government by Quentin Davies MP. The report suggested that Armed Forces Day should be a new bank holiday, but it was later reported that the CBI had lobbied the government against this and so it will take place on a Saturday.

3. Ekklesia's resources for Armed Forces Day can be found here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/resources/armed_forces_day

4. Ekklesia works closely with a number of peace groups in the UK, and is a member of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations. It is a partner of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Keywords: armed forces day