The Uniting Church in Australia has joined a world-wide call by many Christian churches for a re-evaluation of the so-called “war on terror”.
In a document named Uniting for Peace: a Christian perspective on the war in Afghanistan, the National Social Responsibility and Justice Agency of the Uniting Church claims the USA and its allies may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Convention by deliberately targeting Afghan civilian infrastructure using weapons of low accuracy or that affect large areas.
Landmines and unexploded ordinances have been responsible for 88 recorded casualties per month half of which were under 18 and half the injured dying before they could reach medical facilities.
The report also points out that 70% of the population of Afghanistan is malnourished and that half the children in Afghanistan were suffering from malnutrition before the war started.
“Even before the US-led war in Afghanistan there were 3.7 million Afghan refugees, among them an estimated two million children,” the report claims.
In the United Kingdom a group of Church of England bishops also issued a 100-page report criticising American foreign policy, the US war on terror.
The bishops charged some American Christians with the use of biblical texts to support a political agenda in the Middle East, and accused the US of using illegitimate and dangerous rhetoric.
The Church of Scotland has rejected ‘war on terror’ language and the Church of Norway stressed that the aim of terrorism is to create discord. “It must therefore be combated through cooperation, measures that engender trust between ethnic groups and religious communities, and respect for diversity,” the Church of Norway said.
The World Council of Churches condemned terrorism but also urged its members to challenge the idea of the “war on terror”, warning that anti-terrorist legislation risks violating human rights. “Every attempt to intimidate others by inflicting indiscriminate death and injury upon them is to be universally condemned,” the WCC assembly meeting in Brazil stated in a resolution adopted on 23 February 2006. “The answer to terrorism, however, cannot be to respond in kind, for this can lead to more violence and more terror.”
The Church of England bishops report argued that churches have a vital role to play in combating the threat and promoting Christian principles in a world characterised by power and violence. “It needs to be recognised that Christianity is not always seen as a benign influence in world affairs, always on the side of peace, nor has it historically always been so,” the bishops said.
Many religious leaders in the USA have signed an interfaith statement that says if nations turn to violence to defeat terrorism, then the terrorists have won.
The Uniting Church report condemns the current military action against Afghanistan and calls for the international community to provide sufficient famine relief, drastically reduce the number of weapons circulating in Afghanistan, and to provide de-mining programs to remove unexploded devices.