War in Iraq
Indexing reports and comments from July through December, 2005
This page lists all postings
from July - December, 2005
Click here for
For earlier stories:
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of
Christian Peacemaker Teams respond to Bush address on
progress in the war in Iraq [12-24-05]
One said simply, "I tried to watch President Bush's speech,
but I couldn't; there was no electricity."
But others had more to say.
Peggy Gish, 63, commented in Amman, "based on my three
years of listening to Iraqis who have suffered the pain of war, U.S. and
Iraqi forces' 'on the offensive,' means continued mass arrests, house raids
and bombing of civilians, continued illegal detentions, torture, and abuse."
So ... how many have died in Iraq?
The President was asked yesterday how many people have
died in Iraq. He answered smoothly that it’s about 30,000. Estimates of the
numbers differ widely, and perhaps the total doesn’t really matter, for each
death is unique and for some people, that one is all that matters.
We invite you to take a moment to watch a moving, short
film about the human cost of the Iraq war. (And then forward it to your
friends.) It's a powerful reminder of the individual lives lost, and a call
to take action to stop the carnage. If the pro-peace majority can grow --
and make ourselves heard -- we can end this war!
The online film – about 3 minutes long – has been produced
by the American Friends Service Committee. It tells the truth about the
ongoing loss of life in Iraq – and encourages viewers to sign our petition
to bring the troops home.
View the film >>
|More on the costs of the war
For a more statistical consideration of the human costs
of the war check out "The Iraq Index," an article in The Nation which
surveys the numbers, noting that about 26 percent of the Americans
killed have been minorities, and that the number of Iraqis killed by
American forces may be more than 100,000.
And then there’s the financial cost. The article
states: "Each day an estimated $195 million is being spent--money that
could provide twelve meals to every starving child in the world,
according to Senator Ted Kennedy's office."
2000 U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq -- along with
Faithful America invites all
of us to join in services of remembrance this weekend. They provide
resources from various faith traditions for the occasion.
Violence finds refuge in falsehood
George Hunsinger, McCord Professor of
Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (N.J.), reflects on
the biblical recognition that violence depends on falsehood for its
justification, just as falsehood often relies on violence to enforce
people’s acceptance of it.
Read the essay in Presbyterian Outlook.
Note: This website now requires that you
registration to read a complete article, but it’s free.
Generals say U.S. troops are part of the problem in Iraq
Last week, U.S. generals in charge of the war in Iraq told
members of Congress that "The 149,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq are
increasingly part of the problem," according to the L. A. Times in a
report dated October 1 .
The generals have begun to acknowledge that U.S. forces
will not be able to defeat the insurgency, and that it will continue long
after U.S. troops have left.
And in an op-ed essay on October 3, Bob Herbert wrote in
the New York Times, in a piece headed "For No Good Reason," that
"it's finally becoming clear on Capitol Hill, and maybe even in the White
House, that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq. The only question
still to be decided is how many more American lives will be wasted in George
W. Bush's grand debacle."
The article >>
[You can also read this in the
York Times, but you must now be a subscriber to the paper to access
their op-ed pieces.]
Presbyterian peacemaker Beth Pyles
reports from Baghdad
Among the people, she finds
deep anger toward the US, but not hatred – and great courage just to go
about living and worshiping [9-26-05]
Beth Pyles is in Baghdad as a short-term member of a
Christian Peacemaker Team. This report was dated September 19.
Thanks to Len Bjorkman of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship for passing it
As many of you know by now, I arrived in Iraq last
Thursday to spend the next seven weeks or so here with Christian Peacemaker
Teams (CPT), who work to witness the gospel by trying to eliminate or reduce
violence in places of conflict around the world.
So early in my sojourn, I have no answers, but lots of
impressions. When I traveled to Colombia earlier this year, I was struck by
the absence of the men; so many of them have been killed or disappeared. In
Iraq, it is the women who are absent: women no longer eat in restaurants;
they seldom go out and never unaccompanied; and many are returning to
wearing the hijab (head covering), as a safety measure.
Coming in from the airport, traffic came to a virtual halt
as there was a convoy of U. S. soldiers ahead, who apparently shoot if
anyone gets too close in light of the many car bombings. It was a bit
startling to have the guns of my own country trained on me; but other than
that, the trip into town was a safe and uneventful one.
The apartment building where CPT members live is next to a
block of buildings controlled by the communists. They are good neighbors, I
am told, but they too have guns at the ready and guards surrounding their
block night and day.
The electricity comes and goes; sometimes the landlord's
generator kicks in, sometimes not. After a few days, I find that I barely
Someone invited me to watch television (we don't have
one). It seems the favorite show right now in Iraq is a series of
'confessions' of claimed insurgents (an Iraqi journalist investigated and
found that many had 'confessed' to killing people who are still alive). The
two I saw were barely more than boys and one had obviously been beaten.
Someone asked me how it would be back home if detainees from Guantanamo were
paraded on television sporting injuries and reciting their confessions. I
don't know, but I suspect it might be a big hit.
As the killings continue, on Sunday evening I go to Mass
at a nearby Catholic church; the service is beautiful. As I look around at
the quiet worshippers surrounding me, I realize that on Friday, Muslims
gather in similar fashion at their mosques, in far greater numbers here in
Iraq, of course. But what moves me to tears is the great courage it takes
all these people, Christian and Muslim alike, merely to leave their homes
and go to worship. It is very humbling for this American Christian to
An Iraqi man tells me that he and his friends were
startled to hear George Bush claim that 'they hate us', he being one of the
'they', his response to me was, "do not mistake our anger for hatred. We are
angry with you, but we do not hate you. No; we pray for you." This is not a
violent man and he does not pretend to speak for all of Islam, but I heard
only sadness in his voice.
I wish I were a better writer to convey to you the
constant sounds of a city of millions with all its usual noise, along side
shepherds ushering their flocks across the highways, along with sounds of
mortar attacks (that sound a bit like a truck dropping a heavy load); that I
could create the scent in your nostrils that fills mine when I walk the
streets, of sewage and garbage; that I could convey to you the sights of
people sad, people numb, and most remarkably of all, people laughing and
living their lives, ordinary people like you and me. I really wish I could.
I have no great revelations, but this seems true: peace
must be lived, not wished for. Please pray for me that I inhabit this time
and space as a peaceful presence. Please remember the people of Iraq in your
Good night and God's peace from Baghdad,
Sojourners reminds us –
protect our children from military recruiters
Buried deep within the No Child Left
Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over
students' private contact information to military recruiters. If a school
does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds. As if that
weren't bad enough, the Pentagon has now built an illegal database of 30
million 16 to 25-year-olds as another recruitment tool.
Cindy Sheehan's action, saying No to the war
Cindy Sheehan’s vigil for peace
and truth [8-17-05]
If you’re following the many reports of one mother’s act of
conscience on behalf of her son, killed in Iraq,
here’s one great collection of
articles and photos, including Ms. Sheehan’s own comments.
And William Pitt reports on the creation of the "Arlington
West cemetery" by the activists who are accompanying Cindy Sheehan in
Crawford, TX – and the harassment of the group, expanding finally to the
deliberate desecration of the grave markers by one Larry Northern of Waco,
Join a vigil tonight!
Tonight, Wednesday August 17, vigils are being held across
the nation in support of Cindy Sheehan's witness for peace.
prayer service will be held at the Camp Casey Memorial in Crawford,
TX, Friday August 19, 2005, at Noon - U.S. Central Daylight Time.
prayer for use in the vigils is offered by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of
the Shalom Center in Philadelphia
Cindy Sheehan’s vigil is of course being attacked from
If you have more to add --
news of activities, opinions of your own --
please send a note
to be shared here.
Support Cindy Sheehan
MoveOn is taking out an ad in President Bush's local newspaper in support of
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is camped outside
Bush's ranch in Texas asking for a meeting with the president. They'll
publish the number of signers and the best comments in a full two-page
spread in the newspaper nearest to Crawford (The Waco Tribune Herald)
while Cindy holds her vigil. Can you sign and spread the word before the
3:00 PM Friday print deadline?
Sign the ad and send
your comment >>
More on Ms. Sheehan’s witness to the real costs of this war:
Rage Against the Killing of the Light
Mid-August 2005 may be remembered as a moment in US
history when the president could no longer get away with the media trick
of solemnly patting death on its head. Unreality is a hallmark of media
coverage for war. Yet - most of all - war is about death and suffering.
War makers thrive on abstractions. Their media successes depend on
President Bush has tried to keep the loved ones of
America's war dead at middle distance, bathed in soft fuzzy light: close
enough to exploit for media purposes, distant enough to insulate the
commander in chief's persona from the intrusion of wartime mourning in
What's going on this week, outside the perimeter of the
ranch-style White House in Crawford, is some reclamation of reality in
public life. Cindy Sheehan has disrupted the media-scripted shadow play of
The full article >>
Maureen Dowd asks, "Why No Tea and Sympathy?"
She notes: "It's amazing that the White House does not
have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the
driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But
W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is
burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may
be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't."
Read the whole column >>
Here’s help in getting the Pentagon recruiters to
"Leave my child alone!"
Witherspooner Amy Ukena suggests this website, which
offers practical help in writing letters to "opt out" from your school’s
military recruitment lists, by sending letters both to the school and to the
Pentagon, as well as supporting the proposed Student Privacy Protection Act.
aren't giving "aid and comfort to our enemies"
Berry Craig, a professor of history at the West
Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, reflects on our
nation's mixed responses to anti-war protests. While some (including
no less an authority than the President) view dissent and protest as acts of
disloyalty, and as giving support to "the enemy," he notes that David
Greenberg, an author and a Rutgers professor writing in the online magazine
Slate, surveys the history of protest and concludes that "critics of
war -- even when they've been wrong, or their comments distasteful -- have
done far more good than harm." Greenberg argues further that "the mere
expression of opposition has never materially hurt any U.S. military
bombings in London [7-8-05]
Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase spent Thursday, July 7, the day
of the bombings in London, with a group of sixty teenagers from the United
States, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel, and Palestine – Jewish,
Muslim and Christian – are all participants in a program sponsored by Auburn
Seminary in New York called "Face to Face/Faith to Faith."
The young people were nearing the end of two weeks
together at a Presbyterian camp, getting to know one another, learning and
practicing the communication skills necessary to share and listen to one
another’s difficult stories, and becoming a new generation of practitioners
Watching them deal with this latest blow to peace, Ufford-Chase
saw "the Church being Church."
|Seeking (fair) treatment in Iraq
A Chicago Presbyterian tells a painful tale of frustration
Len Bjorkman, co-moderator of the Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship, introduces this report:
Anita David, an active member of the Lakeview
Presbyterian Church in Chicago, is in Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker
Team from June to September. As a full-timer with CPT, she was there in the
summer of 2004, and is again there during the extremely hot weather.
One of the main activities of CPT is to work with families
whose members have been taken by the US military and who endeavor to
find out where they are or to visit them. CPT also helps Iraqis who have
been injured in the fighting.
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship considers Anita to be
"our person in Baghdad" and forwards her reports to anyone who requests
them. If you’d like to receive her reports, send an e-mail to PPF
Here is a portion
of one of Anita’s emotion-packed reports, sent after very exasperating
days of being caught in the bureaucratic maze.
Religious Leaders 4th of July message to Bush:
Don't let Iraq become another historic quagmire
June 30, 2005, New York – Three religious leaders representing the Governing
Board of the National Council of Churches USA announced today that about 630
religious leaders and nearly 16,000 people of faith in 44 states have
endorsed a Fourth of July declaration that urges President Bush to develop
an "early fixed timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops," to listen to a
wider range of religious advisers and to re-evaluate his policy on Iraq.
"It's clear that the administration has listened more closely to far-right
religious leaders who agree with them," said the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC
General Secretary, in an audio news conference Thursday. "It's a hard task
to get the administration to listen to a broader evangelical and religious
The statement is an effort to give visibility to a widely held, more
moderate religious point of view, one that the group says has been
underreported in the national media -- and to attract the administration's
attention to the urgency of having an exit strategy for Iraq. America's
foreign policy, said the Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and
President of the United Church of Christ, has made others around the world
"view us as a dangerous nation."
Read the full text of
the statement; you may choose to add your own signature -- just scroll
down to the end of the statement.
Down in Afghanistan
During the war in Viet Nam, we watched the news at six and
ten, and after 22 years, grew weary of war. We watched the killing and
maiming of a generation of brave and patriotic young men and women who
fought the war in Viet Nam, and the concurrent alienation of a generation of
brave and patriotic young men and women who fought the war in the streets,
on the Capitol Mall, at Woodstock, and at Kent State.
The voices of dissent against the war in Iraq are quiet
and reluctant. We understand the wrongness, but find no meaningful
definition of rightness. Very few, if any, of us can claim the moral
astuteness of knowing the moment or the intersection of our wrong turning.
The certainty of our opposition is lessened by the absence
of the draft. We don’t speak of lotteries, deferments, burned draft cards,
or evasion or desertion. We now wage war with an all-volunteer force. The
believers offer their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and
wives, while the unbelievers watch in anguish and awe at the bravery, the
dedication to a cause, and the sacrifice of human life.
Sooner or later, as the death toll nears 2000, the horror
of war finds its way into every town, into the inner circle of friendship,
into neighborhood and kinship. And weariness becomes frustration and
ultimately takes on the color of sorrow.
Those of us who have chosen not to adorn our cars with
yellow loops, flags, and simple W’s, shed no fewer tears, feel no lesser
pain at the sight of flag-draped coffins. We offer the same prayers for
those in harm‘s way, and pray for peace to the same God.
Sanctity of life does not differentiate between the
willing and the unwilling, between civilian and soldier, between Muslim and
Christian, between brother and nameless impersonal stranger. War, with its
heroism and gallantry, and its eventual necessity for the survival of
civilization, is not pro-life, nor Christian, nor moral.
192 Hillhaven Lane
Franklin, TN 37064
This page lists all postings
from July - December, 2005
Click here for
For earlier stories:
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries,
confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.
We provided resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest have been:
which removes the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
Confessions. Disapproved, because as an amendment
to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not
10-1, which adopts the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. Approved.|
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
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Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
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