Church Report Responds to War on Terrorism

06 December 2001

"We do not support people using one violent act to justify other violent acts" says a position paper released today by the National Social Responsibility and Justice agency of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church.

The National Social Responsibility and Justice Agency of the Uniting Church has responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent war with a position paper, Uniting for Peace.

Uniting for Peace joins with other international and humanitarian groups calling for an end to the use of weapons which kill indiscriminately especially 'Cluster Bombs' (both Red Cross and the National Council of Churches in the USA, have issued a similar call).

The Acting National Director for the Social Responsibility and Justice Agency of the Uniting Church responsible for Uniting for Peace, Ms Rosemary Hudson Miller said "We have examined the war in Afghanistan in the light of the Christian just war tradition, Australia's international obligations and the Uniting Church's resolutions. This war is found lacking in all three areas."

Uniting for Peace is an extensive document, which discusses a wide range of issues in relation to September 11, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, including:

  • Condemnation of terrorism, noting that terrorism can be both the result of individual or state actions, and says perpetrators of terrorist acts should be brought before an international tribunal or court;
  • Calls for Australia and the international community to participate in humanitarian and reconstruction programs;
  • Calls on the Australian government to become involved in peace-making efforts in Afghanistan;
  • Calls for an end to the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan, and warns of the impact of unexploded ordinance and land mines - especially on children and non-combatants;
  • Provides an evaluation of the "just war" criteria against the reality of the war in Afghanistan;
  • Warns of the possibility of war crimes in Afghanistan, especially the massacre of prisoners of war;
  • Offers a theological reflection on what constitutes a "just war";
  • Shares liturgical resources for individuals and congregations on peace and reconciliation;
  • Calls on Australia to better understand and respond to the situation of Afghan refugees, especially as Australia is a part of the US led coalition against terrorism;
  • Notes the dire situation of Afghan people, following years of civil war, the Taliban regime, famine and now the current war.

The document notes that "Christians believe God is on the side of humankind, not any one nation - God loves all people". The document says churches support human rights and the rule of law, but do not support aggression, or retaliation.