|Statement from Leaders of Friends Organizations in the U.S.
Regarding the War in Iraq
March 20, 2003
As servants of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as citizens of
the United States, and as members of the human family, we speak today to
express our profound grief and sorrow over our government's decision to go
to war against Iraq. This is a choice we know will have enormous and tragic
consequences - many as yet unimagined - for the Iraqi people, for our own
nation, and for the world. It is a choice we believe was unnecessary,
immoral and unwise, especially since it was taken before all the nonviolent
and diplomatic alternatives were exhausted; indeed, before some were even
The God we worship is a God of love (I John: 4). This Divine Spirit will
always guide us into "paths of righteousness" - into lives of caring for,
service to, and reconciliation with our fellow human beings - if only we
will open ourselves to Divine direction and follow where that leads.
This God tells "what is good, and that is to do justice, and love mercy, and
walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). The living Christ, our Teacher, tells
us "to love our enemies" (Mt. 6:44).
We wonder where the justice, the mercy, or
the love is to be found in our government's decision to launch this
preemptive attack, and begin a war where so many people will die.
We are deeply saddened by the pain and suffering, the destruction and loss
of life, and the grief that this war will bring to the Iraqi people. We are
deeply saddened as well by the pain and suffering, the loss of life, and the
grief that will be experienced by our soldiers, their families, and the
many, many others who will be victims of this war. All these people -
Iraqis, American, British and others - are children of God. We pray for God's
mercy on us all.
If this war goes swiftly, and the military objectives of our government are
achieved, some will call it a success. But that can never be true.
This war, like every war, represents a profound failure. It shows the failure
of individuals and governments to address conditions of poverty, injustice,
and oppression that lead to war. It shows our failure as human beings to
overcome our own fears and greed, which we are told in Scripture are the
root causes of war and strife (James 4:1-2). It shows a failure of will and
creativity among those in our own government and others to seek alternatives
to military force to resolve our conflicts. Finally, it represents a tragic
failure to work through and respect the United Nations as the keystone of an
evolving international system of law and diplomacy that can respond to
international crises and avert war.
On this day, in our sorrow and our hope for a better future, we recommit
ourselves to work with all people of faith and goodwill to bring this
conflict to an end, and to do whatever can be done to avoid more wars.
We believe, as President Carter observed in accepting the Nobel Peace
Prize, that "war is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to
live together in peace by killing each other's children." And we pray
fervently for that time the prophet Isaiah predicted, when we "shall beat our
swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks; and nation will
not lift up sword against nation, and we shall not learn war anymore"
Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Bruce Birchard, General Secretary, Friends General Conference
Ben Richmond, Director of North American Ministries, Friends United Meeting
Steve Baumgartner, Executive Director, Pendle Hill
Thomas Jeavons, General Secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia PA 19102
Tel: 215/241-7170 / Fax:215/241-7177