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March 28, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500-0001
Dear President Obama,
“Fear not!” *
The people of the United States have been living in a state of fear for too long. Far too many policies – bad policies – have been made based on this fear. It is time to turn toward faith and hope and peace. This is especially true as yet another round of warmongering begins over Iran.
The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America speaks on behalf of a network of Baptists who understand that peacemaking is hard work. We add our voice to other peacemakers who desire diplomacy over bombs and urge talks over threats. We know another way is possible. Jesus’ insistence on loving enemies precludes the willingness to kill them. Waging peace requires at least as much commitment – as much courage, pride, honor and ingenuity – as the pursuit of war. We urge you to make that commitment to peace.
We call on the US and its allies to use ethical, humanitarian principles regarding Iran. It appears political leaders in the United States and Israel may be seriously calculating the benefits and risks of attacking Iran. If so, they are pushing the world to moral, financial, ecological and diplomatic peril. This we vigorously protest.
In the same way, we pledge vigorous support for any leaders willing to consider Iran’s security concerns and national interests alongside those of Israel and the United States. Competition in belligerent behavior carries catastrophic risks.
Recent history proves war isn’t working. We urge you to use every means at your disposal to prevent a strike on Iran by Israel and to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the dispute over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
We are clear that a nuclear-armed Iran could be disastrous – for Iran, for the region, for Israel, for the US and the whole world. We believe a military attack on Iran will bring about worse outcomes – for Iran, for the region, for Israel, for the US.
The Apostle Paul’s instruction to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21b)—is both a spiritual truth and the foundation for politically realistic strategies to transform conflict. Therefore, we urge you to use the strategies of multilateral diplomacy and other nonviolent initiatives.
This would include acting in a manner so the behavior of the US enhances Iran’s sense of national security, to convince them that they do not need nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the US. In the long term, the US must lead the way in creating a world without nuclear weapons.
Sanctions over the past three decades have not persuaded Iran to be transparent about their nuclear program. Continued sanctions, and the resulting marginalization of Iran, may give Iran’s hardliners the excuse to continue this policy and escalate the nuclear dangers in this region. We urge you to find ways to keep Iran within the international community, opening more lines of diplomatic communication and reducing the incentives for Iran’s leaders to take their nuclear capabilities to the next level.
There is within Iran, as within all countries, a core group of those committed to peacemaking. We must not undercut their efforts by playing into the hands of the warmongers. Instead, let us heed the example set by the Israeli couple Ronny Edry and his wife Michal Tamir and make clear our love and concern for the people of Iran.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus urges his disciples to “Fear not!” That call reverberates down the centuries, calling us to a life of faith, hope and peace. It is our prayer that you will find ways to heed that call today and turn to waging peace. We pledge our active support for all of your actions that move toward reconciliation and peace with the Iranian people.
Cheryl F. Dudley, President
Board of Directors, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
*(Mt. 28:10; Lk. 12:4; Jn. 14:27)