Few evangelical churches provide a forum for considering issues of war and peace. When they do, they tend to use information that advocates certain public policy positions, such as a nuclear freeze or military superiority over the Soviet Union.

Those findings are based on a poll conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). TO help churches study the issue, the NAE plans to launch a Peace, Freedom, and Security Studies Program from its Washington, D.C., office.

The program will not advocate policies, said coordinator Brian O’Connell, but instead will encourage churches to begin studying the issue. It will assist churches by identifying speakers and resource materials; by developing “model programs” for discussions of war and peace; and by sponsoring meetings among evangelical leaders. O’Connell said he also plans to provide guidelines to frame the debate and “clarify the biblical, theological, educational, and political standards” that are necessary. The effort is an outgrowth of NAE’s participation in a conference last year in Pasadena at which evangelicals debated the issue of war and peace.

In a report prepared for NAE, O’Connell pointed out that “there is little activity detected, beyond occasional sermons, aimed at clarifying the biblical and theological points of reference for the individual’s conscience when faced with personal civic choices about America’s proper role in world affairs.”

If evangelicals remain sidelined on the issue, O’Connell said, they will be “highly vulnerable to partisan political pressures seeking to enlist [them] in one or another faction of the present argument.” He said he intends to see both liberal and conservative views challenged by the process of systematically studying the ...

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