No War with Iran Rally-Penn Square

No War with Iran Rally sponsored by Lancaster Stands Up on Penn Square in Lancaster Wednesday Jan. 8, 2020.

Noting that “the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, and the Iranian missile strike on Jan. 7 against US and Iraqi bases in Iraq, have left us deeply disturbed,” U.S. faith leaders on Thursday sent a letter to members of Congress urging that body  to assert “your war powers authority and move the U.S. away from the precipice of war.”

The letter was signed by 19 leaders from across the Christian spectrum. It included members of traditional peace churches, mainline Protestant churches, Catholics  and organizations that have worked in the Middle East.

The letter states that “Actions of violence will only exacerbate the situation, leading to increased violence, hatred and discord between the U.S and Iran. The way of peace is not easy, yet we believe it will result in lasting security and justice for the people of Iran and the United States.”

It further reminds members of Congress that it is they “not the president, that must approve the U.S. entering into a new war and Congress has the authority to stop the U.S. from funding future military activities against Iran.”

It also encourages Congress  to pass legislation “that will bring us back to the negotiating table with Iran.”

Among the signatories with ties to Lancaster County were J Ron Byler,  executive director of Mennonite Central Committee; the Rev. Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA; and the Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, associate General Minister for Justice & Local Church Ministries,  United Church of Christ who has spoken at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

This is the second statement by faith leaders since Soleimani’s death  on Jan. 2. Last Friday, many of the same  faith leaders signed a statement condemning “the United States’ dangerous aggression towards Iran”  and urged the Trump administration “to step back from the brink of war.”

In an interview with LNP this week, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, MCC Washington Office Director, said the various faith-based organizations in Washington felt “it was  important for faith leaders and organizations to speak out at that time.”

MCC has previously worked in Iran, said Ruth Clemens, MCC's director of International Programs, but currently does not have any programs there. MCC is involved with partner churches in Iraq to encourage peacebuilding among ethnic and religious groups and provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people.

The organization has urged people to contact their congressional representatives to oppose further military action against Iran.