Sunday, February 9, 2003

Spiritual leaders differ on potential war

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's spiritual leaders are disagreeing over the morality of a U.S.-led attack against Iraq.

The Kentucky Council of Churches, which represents 11 denominations, has called on the Bush administration to show "restraint in the use of military action against Iraq and stop the rush to war." But other area pastors and Christian scholars believe an attack against Saddam Hussein is justified.

So far, religious leaders against the war have been more visible - marching, lobbying, and speaking at candlelight vigils and teach-ins.

The National Council of Churches, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and even leaders in President Bush's denomination - the United Methodist Church - have opposed the war buildup.

The Lexington Herald-Leader contacted several church leaders to seek their opinions.

Kentucky Council of Churches executive director Nancy Jo Kemper, said she is "horrified" by the possibility of U.S. "imperial aggression" and warned that the war could have far-reaching consequences. "I believe it will only reap ill will and hostility toward America for generations to come," she said.

The Lexington Catholic Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement in January warning that war with Iraq "will gravely damage our national spirit."

"Borrowing an image from the Epiphany story, we urge our national leaders to become like the Wise Men and travel from the land of smart weapons and military might to the land of light through creative nonviolence," the group said.

Lexington rabbi Jonathan Adland said he doubts Iraq poses an "imminent threat."

"This war is not a justifiable war. What we're doing is morally wrong," Adland said.

But Russell Moore, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, disagrees, saying the U.S. shouldn't be afraid to use its might to unseat the dictator.

"I think the president has established that there is a genuine threat to our national security coming from the Saddam Hussein regime," Moore said. "Not only does the American government have the right to confront this situation, but the American government has the responsibility to protect its citizens."

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