Several newspapers this morning report clergy members' reaction to President Bush's address last night (text | audio | video ) promising military action if Saddam Hussein does not go into exile. Given denominational leaders' earlier comments opposing any U.S. military action in Iraq, it's not surprising that most clergy members still oppose it.
"It's not Thomas Aquinas, who gave reasons for a just war, but the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, who said 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God,' " J. Alfred Smith, senior pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, said at a news conference. "If it's wrong for blacks to kill each other in the Oakland flatlands, it's also immoral for them to participate in a war where they would be pouncing on a small country."
The Vatican, which has opposed an attack on Saddam Hussein, responded to Bush's speech in a somewhat cloudy one-line statement: "Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience, and history."
But there's some indication through other newspapers that clergy are supporting Bush now that war seems more inevitable. "I respect President Bush and his moral character," Mark Eaton, pastor of Porterfield Baptist Church in Little Hocking, Ohio, told the Marietta Times. "I know he would not send our troops to war without a real threat from Saddam Hussein. … For weeks, months, our church has been praying for Bush, for his advisers, for Congress. We have been praying for wisdom to do what is right."
"I am not in favor of a total anti-war movement. I stand opposed to that," Lawrence Richmond of Anchor Baptist Church in Ledyard, Connecticut, ...1