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National Baptists Call for Withdrawal from Iraq, Intensification of Katrina Rebuilding


February 2, 2007 | bpfna

Delegates to the midwinter meeting of the National Baptist Convention USA have adopted a resolution calling for a phased end to US military operations in Iraq and intensified rebuilding efforts in areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. This marks the third time since January 2003 that the body has publicly stated its opposition to the war, including a joint statement issued at a historic gathering of four major black Baptist conventions in 2005.


Presented during the Midwinter Meeting of the NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION, USA, INC.
DR. WILLIAM J. SHAW, President
January 25, 2007
Birmingham, Alabama

WHEREAS, on January 24, 2003, during its 2003 Mid-Winter meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. unanimously resolved that we were "prayerfully and publicly opposed to our beloved country going to war against the people of Iraq." That resolution further declared that "The President, Officers, Board of Directors, Auxiliaries, Boards, and Commissions of NBCUSA, Inc. firmly believe that non-violent social change and international peace-making are the most desired methods to address any and all infractions of Iraq against the United Nations Resolutions passed relative to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq's possession." The 2003 resolution further observed that President George W. Bush "appears to be unchangeably bent on waging war against Iraq at the expense of millions of innocent Iraqi men, women, and children, and thousands of men and women filling the ranks of our United States Military Forces, regardless of the findings of the United Nations weapons inspectors currently in process in Iraq;" and

WHEREAS, on January 28, 2005, following a historic gathering of the four black Baptist bodies (National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., National Baptist Convention of America, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and National Missionary Baptist Convention of America), the leaders of those bodies issued a joint statement calling for an end to the U.S. military involvement in Iraq by invoking the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist preacher, who said: A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: 'This business of settling differences is not just.' This business of ... filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ... There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war."

WHEREAS, as of January 24, 2007, 3057 U.S. defense personnel have lost their lives and 23,114 have been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over 10,200 of the wounded have been unable to return to action. According to some estimates, the war in Iraq is costing more than $2 billion a week. We now repeat what was said by black Baptist leaders two years ago following our Joint Midwinter Meeting:

As National Baptists, we look upon the sorrow, suffering, and financial cost of the war in Iraq and remember Dr. King's outcry against the military engagement in Vietnam more than two generations ago, and his prophetic message about the wicked and tragic folly of our nation's self-righteous choice for war rather than peace and nonviolent change. Unnecessary and unjust war does not produce genuine peace, only death, suffering, more violence, and hate.

Because President Bush defied calls from the international community to not invade Iraq, the United States is now mired in a civil war. As religious leaders whose constituents have family members in the U.S. armed forces serving in Iraq and elsewhere around the world, we pray for the security of our nation and the safety of our military personnel. We weep with families who mourn the deaths of their loved ones and we share the anxiety of families for those who press on in service. Our call that our nation end its military involvement in Iraq does not rise from lack of support for our armed forces, disregard for national security, or lack of resolve concerning freedom and democracy. Rather, we are concerned about our troops and our military families whose loved ones have been ordered to fight and continue a war that has created a hell for the people of Iraq and quagmire for our military forces. It is not just or patriotic for our leaders to subject the sons and daughters of this nation to a sectarian war that was started based on grossly inaccurate, if not false, information and assumptions.

FURTHERMORE, the present investment for the war in Iraq is happening while New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast remain damaged and in dire need of rebuilding. There is no just or righteous reason why New Orleans and other areas of the U.S. Gulf Coast should languish from the effects of Hurricane Katrina when the nation is spending billions of dollars each week in to maintain a military presence in Iraq. The recent decision by President Bush to commit more than 20,000 additional military personnel to Iraq in coming months, with the costs associated with that investment, is especially disappointing when one considers that federal resources have not been equally committed to rebuild New Orleans and restore other areas of the Gulf Coast.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. renews its call for an end to the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, and urges President George W. Bush and the United States Congress to immediately begin an orderly withdrawal of military personnel from that nation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the constituent churches, associations, and state conventions of our religious body to exhort their members and neighbors to join in this call by appeals to members of Congress and President Bush to begin an orderly withdrawal of military personnel from Iraq.

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED, that we urge President Bush and Congress to redirect federal resources so that New Orleans and other areas along the U.S. Gulf Coast can be restored, repopulated, and made safe.

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