Churches call for U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan

June 22, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) As President Obama prepared plans to bring a limited
number of U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, a group of 40 religious
leaders called for the president to "bring the war in Afghanistan to an
end."

Signers of an open letter, including high-profile religious leaders
like Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, expressed frustration over the
"deteriorating" state of affairs in Afghanistan and the rising military
and civilian death toll, saying "the military situation is at best a
stalemate."

The Tuesday (June 21) letter acknowledged that "legitimate ethical
and moral issues are at stake" in Afghanistan, including U.S. national
security and women's rights, but said "there is a better way than war to
address these important issues."

Developmental aid provided by nongovernmental organizations was
championed as an alternative to war, with the signers saying "it is time
to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides
economic alternatives for Afghans."

The letter admitted that some signers initially supported military
action in Afghanistan as a "justified response" to the 9/11 terrorist
attacks, but said the representatives are now "united in the belief"
that the war should end.

The letter boasted a number of signers affiliated with the National
Council of Churches, including NCC General Secretary Michael Kinnamon.

Several leading NCC member churches -- including the Episcopal Church
and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- were notably absent.