This article is based on reports from Prague by Maynard Shelly, editor of “The Mennonite”:
While Washington and Hanoi volleyed negotiation sites, the third Christian Peace Conference assembly, not satisfied with President Johnson’s peace moves, called for a “complete, final, and unconditional” bombing halt and withdrawal of all U. S. troops so “the admirable Vietnamese people can finally make its own decisions.”
The assembly seemed less opposed to the war itself than to U. S. involvement in it. Delegates took two collections, totaling $1,500, for the National Liberation Front, then noted “with sadness that many Christians remain silent in the face of a war of annihilation by a world power against a small nation—which one can almost call genocide.”
The hardly hawkish American delegation, which had been more hopeful about Johnson’s peace moves, objected to the word “genocide.” Delegation leader Charles G. West of Princeton Seminary doubted that even anti-war groups would consider the statement “the word of God” or “an effort of Christians to understand themselves as under the Word of God.”
Masahisa Suzuki, moderator of Japan’s United Church of Christ, said “there is not the same criticism of what the countries of the East are doing.” Indeed, Westerners who often opposed their governments were disappointed that many Easterners were not even mildly critical of theirs and—in fact—did not take criticism by others kindly. Because socialist groups predominated, their thoughts usually colored official statements.
The Christian Peace Conference was organized in East Europe in 1958 to talk about world peace back when that was all the Stalinist regimes let the churches do. Now, as satellite countries move toward openness, the CPC seems to ...1
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