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Lutheran Presiding Bishop Asks U.S. Religious Leaders to Call for Mideast Peace

Contact: John R. Brooks, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 773-380-2958, john.brooks@elca.org


CHICAGO, Aug. 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Out of concern for growing casualties and human suffering in the Middle East, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has asked other U.S. religious leaders to join him in calling for "the cessation of all violence, for an international peacekeeping force and a negotiated agreement for a just peace."


Hanson made the plea in an open letter this week to several U.S. Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders.  The full text is at http://www.elca.org/bishop/m_060809letter.html on the Web.


Hanson asked the religious leaders to publicly:

  • call for a global consultation of leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths to develop principles for a just peace in light of contemporary conflicts and warfare

  • reject growing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the marginalization of Arab Christianity

  • reject violence and call for an immediate end to all hostilities

  • reject the perception that violence can be justified on the basis of the Abrahamic religions

  • bear witness that all people are created by God and share a unity far deeper than their divisions

  • testify that religious faith is not to be used as an instrument of war and violence, but as a living testimony to the God of peace

  • pray for a just and lasting peace


"The world daily sees how religion is used to divide and destroy. It is time for us together to publicly, clearly and courageously give witness that the One in whom we believe unites us in our diversity rather than divides us in our hostilities," Hanson concluded.


The open letter was the second public statement from Hanson this week on the Middle East. Hanson, who also serves as president of the Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, also called for an end to the fighting in Lebanon and Israel, and the conflict in Gaza.   He was joined in a public appeal by the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the general assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), and the Rev. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).  WARC and the WCC are also based in Geneva.


The text of the church leaders' appeal is at http://www.elca.org/bishop/m_endviolence.html  on the Web.