Clerics Pray For Peace, But Some Still See Need For War

Is Military Force Ever Justified?

County's Religious Leaders Disagree

War In The Gulf

January 23, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

Though united in their prayers for peace, members of Carroll's religious community differ in their views of the nations' involvement in the war against Iraq.

To some, war is unacceptable in any instance.Others say Saddam Hussein will be defeated only through use of force.

"I'm terribly distressed, as I have been with the preparations and even more so with the attack," said Charles Swet of the Pipe Creek Friends Meeting in Union Bridge.

As a Quaker, he and the other members of his congregation oppose fighting because Christ spoke out against it, he said.

"Jesus didn't make any qualifying statements," Swet said. "If something is evil and wrong and you're not to do it under one circumstance, then you never do it."

Edward Woodward, pastor of Taneytown Baptist, also referred to Jesus' remarks about lovingyour enemies.

"Do we feel this situation justifies ignoring the teachings of Christ, particularly for an issue like oil," he said. "I don't believe the issue of protecting the Kuwaiti people is (really) the priority."

Many say economic sanctions should have been given more time.

"I think the whole situation is a tragedy," said Jamie Wehler, president of the B'nai Israel Reform Congregation. "(The United Nations) could have sealed off more and imposed sanctions against the countries violating the sanctions.

"I find it hard to justify a war that is not a war of survival."

Isaac Karoor, associate pastor at St. John's Roman Catholic Church, said a meeting of religious leaders could have avoided the conflict.

"Religion is involved withall of this," he said. "With religious leaders at a higher-level meeting, all these elements could have been brought together."

Otherssay they are torn between distaste for violence and the feeling thatthe president was forced into war.

"As a church, we don't believein war," said Irvin Martin Jr., a pastor at Mount Airy Mennonite. "Usually wars don't solve problems, they make more problems."

But Martin also said he felt the president used force reluctantly.

"I think President Bush felt it's the only thing he could do," Martin said. "He's made the decision, and I guess we have to respect him for that."

Kenneth Holniker of the Beth Shalom congregation said he felt the president had made the correct decision.

"I believe the course(Bush) has set will prove to be the right one, but it will take sometime to show that," he said. "People don't like war and are afraid of it, but I'm more afraid of Iraq."

Dale Kidd, pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Westminster, said, "Anyone in his right mind doesn't like war. But Hussein is a tyrant and a dictator that has overstepped his bounds.

"If he's not stopped, how far would he go?"

Some say the United Nations influenced the U.S. government's decisionto enter the war.

"I don't know that (Bush) had many options," said Bruce Weaver, pastor of Edgewood Church of the Brethren. "It was aU.N. decision. And while we may have influenced the decision, the deadline locked us into this kind of action."

All say they were impressed with the restraint Israel showed after being attacked.

"The longer Israelis show restraint, the more they do for their credibility with other Arab nations and other parts of the world," said Weaver.

"Right now, Israel is being very patient," Kidd said. "But they don't mess around." He said he thinks Israel will join the fighting.

"Israel can take care of itself, and I say that admiringly," Wehlersaid. "If the Israelis retaliate, it will be over in two days. They'll turn Iraq into a parking lot."

All say they are praying for thesafety of those involved on both sides of the war.

"Part of our prayer is that God's children are on both sides," said Weaver. "But itis God's desire that all know Him and come to repentance."

Laura Lee Wilson, pastor of Shiloh United Methodist, said she is concerned for innocent children.

"I have a great deal of concern for those who will be left orphaned or affected mentally and psychologically, aswell as those whose parents have been sent over," she said.

"Theystruggle with feeling abandoned and lonely and scared whether or notMom or Dad -- in some cases Mom and Dad -- will be coming back."

All express hope that increased spiritual awareness will result from the war.

"This is a realization that we should come closer to God," Karoor said. "This is an opportunity for a religious revitalization."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.