The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has issued a statement urging the U.S. government "to develop and implement a plan for the withdrawal of its troops" from Iraq. If you want, you can click here to read the statement in its entirety. The statement also calls for support of the "Homeward Bound Act" in the House (H.J. Res. 55), cooperation with UN in rebuilding Iraq, and prayer for "just, equitable peace" for the people of Iraq.
Now, technically the General Boards of our denomination do not "speak for the church." Only General Conference can officially do that. But their words should carry a lot of weight with United Methodists. The GBCS upholds the Social Principles of the UMC, which say, "We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ," and are quite strong in condemning war and the "militarization" of society. Our denominational principles are pretty wishy-washy regarding some issues - but not so with war. I am glad to say that the stance of the Methodist church is staunchly opposed to war.
John Wesley called war an "Inhuman Folly." He wrote, "What must mankind be, before such a thing as war could ever be known or thought of upon earth? How shocking, how inconceivable a want must there have been of common understanding, as well as common humanity, before any two Governors, or any two nations in the universe, could once think of such a method of decision!" I am drawn to Wesley's emphasis on reason here. He seems to say, "Just think about it! It doesn't make any sense at all!"
I like this current GBCS statement, and the Homeward Bound Act. They don't say, "Get them all out immediately," which would lead to unimaginable disaster. They just ask for a plan. A workable plan to withdraw peacefully and turn the country back over to its own people. I think the GBCS has articulated a healthy alternative to both immediate withdrawal and indeterminate occupation.
It's time. I am going to write Sam Graves tomorrow and ask him to support the Homeward Bound Act. I hope that you do the same (except you should probably write your own Representative; Sam Graves is mine). It's time for this war to be over. It's time for our government to have a specific, attainable, measurable plan, the goal of which is withdrawal of "coalition" troops from Iraq and autonomy for that nation's people. It's time for peace.
P.S. The UMC.org website told me that I have to tell you that the Cross and Flame is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church - Legal Department, 1000 17th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37212.