Thursday, May 19, 2005

ACTION ALERT: Religious Leaders Condemn $82 Billion for War

ACTION ALERT * UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE http://www.unitedforpeace.org |
212-868-5545 ============================================
RELIGIOUS LEADERS CONDEMN $82 BILLION WAR BILL Clergy and Laity Concerned
About Iraq releases open letter http://www.unitedforpeace.org/faith
============================================

Last week, in a sad and outrageous sign of this country's appalling
priorities, President Bush signed into law the $82 billion supplemental war
appropriations bill, providing ongoing funding for the U.S. military
occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also includes the viciously
anti-immigrant Real ID Act, which will strip immigrants of many basic
protections.

To highlight the immorality of the $82 billion appropriation, Clergy and
Laity Concerned About Iraq (CALC-I) is circulating the following open
letter, signed by more than 70 prominent leaders from different
denominations and religions. This is the first time since before the Iraq
war began that so many religious leaders have issued a public statement
opposing the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

CALC-I is a national coordinating body for over 150 religious institutions
and faith based groups working to end the war and occupation in Iraq. Housed
within United for Peace and Justice, CALC-I encourages your participation.
For more information about CALC-I, visit http://www.unitedforpeace.org/faith
Religious leaders who would like to join the list of signers to the open
letter should contact Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, the National Coordinator of
Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq, at revsekou@unitedforpeace.org

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND U.S. CONGRESS

We, the undersigned, write this letter to express our deep disappointment
and moral outrage at the passage of the $82 Billion supplemental budget for
the continued war against and occupation of Iraq. We as people of faith
stand firmly against this war. The best support for our troops would be to
bring them back to their families. It is highly disingenuous on the part of
the administration to attach the war appropriation bill to the funds for the
Tsunami relief efforts and other humanitarian aid. We see this as a
political ploy to secure votes and make Tsunami victims no more than
political pawns. We write this letter in the light of the above to remind
ourselves and others including our national leadership of the following:

First, our nation entered into the war on false pretense and fear and
violated international law. Religious leaders from every faith tradition
opposed the preemptive war on the people of Iraq because of half-truths, our
administration's haste to make war, and the reckless abandonment of
democratic processes. The facts remain clear and evidential. After over two
years, there has been no discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
and there was no Iraqi connection to the terrorist attacks of September
11th.

Second, the continued presence of American troops in Iraq only heightens
the risk to the newly formed and fragile government of Iraq. The rising
insurgency in post-election Iraq is a symptom of the occupation. The over
1500 U.S. casualties and over 15,000 injured American soldiers combined with
the innumerable Iraqi lives lost and destroyed continue to bring dishonor to
the precious name of democracy.

Third, against this backdrop of violence and manipulation, the current
federal budget, with its cuts in social programs and attempt to privatize
Social Security while increasing tax breaks that reward the wealthiest
citizens, represents a domestic war on the poor and middle class. This
budget supports the dual violence of war, which is the use of resources to
kill abroad while depleting social programs at home. We raise this concern
for justice for the poor of the world as one great unifying theme in the
religions of the world which call for those in power to care for the most
vulnerable among us.

Therefore, out of our diverse faith traditions, in humble prayer, we issue
these demands:

1. We call for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq
by the ceasing of all U.S. military action and the deployment of U.S. troops
to the borders of Iraq.

2. We demand that no U.S. military bases are left behind to insure
that no vestiges of occupation remain.

3. We call upon the U.S. and its interests to relinquish all control
over reconstruction funds, including Iraqi ministries, new police, and
security forces. This relinquishment in support of Iraqi sovereignty and
reparations means termination of contracts with U.S. companies and the
turning over of projects to Iraqis, while providing transparent accounting
for all contracts, including all oil contracts.

4. We call for full funding for Veteran Affairs to provide
psychological counseling, health care, and benefits to returning Iraq war
veterans and their families as an expression of care for those who have gone
to war.

5. We call upon our government to honor the rights of those in the
armed forces who seek conscientious objector status until such a time that
the war has ended.

It is with our faith in a higher power and our traditions of religious
dissent that we strongly urge our government to honor the voice of the
faithful and bring our troops home now. Out of our faith commitments, we
will continue to speak out about the immorality of the war and occupation of
Iraq.

For a look at the signers, click on the link. Fairly impressive group.

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