Iraq war 'unjustifiable', says Bush's church head
Ed Vulliamy in New York
[The Observer - 20 Oct 2002]:
President George Bush's own Methodist church has launched a scathing attack
on his preparations for war against Iraq, saying they are 'without any
justification according to the teachings of Christ'.
Jim Winkler, head of social policy for United Methodists, added that all
attempts at a 'dialogue' between the President and his own church over the
war had fallen on deaf ears at the White House.
His remarks came as the US continued its efforts to achieve agreement on a
UN resolution that would open the way for a tough programme of weapons
inspections in Iraq. France is believed to be concerned that the current
draft resolution might still act as a trigger for military intervention
without a full Security Council debate if Iraq fails to comply.
Winkler is general secretary of the Board of Church and Society for the
United Methodist church, which counts the President and the Vice-President,
Dick Cheney, among its members. The church represents eight to nine million
regular churchgoers and is the third biggest in America.
The Methodist Church, he says, is not pacifist, but 'rejects war as a usual
means of national policy'. Methodist scriptural doctrine, he added,
specifies 'war as a last resort, primarily a defensive thing. And so far as
I know, Saddam Hussein has not mobilised military forces along the borders
of the United States, nor along his own border to invade a neighbouring
country, nor have any of these countries pleaded for our assistance, not
does he have weapons of mass destruction targeted at the United States'.
Winkler said his church was 'keenly aware' that it counted the President and
his deputy among its members, and that he was therefore 'frequently
encouraged by others to be very careful about how I say things'.