NEW YORK (UMNS)—United Methodists and other religious leaders have condemned the targeted attacks on Iraq’s Christian minority.
what appeared to be coordinated car bombings, explosions occurred at
five churches during the customary period of Sunday evening mass on Aug.
1, killing at least 10people and wounding about 47 others.
Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries, expressed deep grief for the innocent children and
adults killed and noted that both Christians and Muslims were among the
victims of the bombings. “All of the people of Iraq are God’s children
and we at the General Board of Global Ministries mourn the loss of each
and every life,” he said.
continue to condemn, in the strongest terms, all acts of violence, by
individuals and institutions both domestic and foreign, in Iraq, a
country that has suffered far too much to date,” Day added.
to various news sources, the targeted churches included the Armenian
Catholic Church in the Karrada District of central Baghdad; the Syrian
Catholic Church at Saydat Al Najat, about a half mile away; the Korkis
Chaldean Church in Doura, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad; an
Assyrian church in the New Baghdad District and the Mar Boulos Chaldean
Church in Mosul.
Rev. Larry Pickens, chief executive of the United Methodist Commission
on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, also condemned the
bombings. “The direct attack upon people of faith in the holy sites does
not in any way further any agenda other than the fostering of hatred
and disunity,” he said.
is our hope that an environment of greater tolerance will prevail and
that those who are responsible for this targeted violence would cease
these senseless acts,” Pickens added.
Rev. Robert Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and chief executive of the
National Council of Churches, has visited churches and met with church
leaders in Iraq. “These communities trace their heritage in Iraq two
thousand years and during much of that time both they and their Muslim
neighbors have lived peacefully side-by-side,” he said.“This destructive action against the churches by extremists betrays that history of coexistence.”
Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and
Society, also pointed to the long history of Christian communities in
Iraq. “I pray that we United Methodists will be generous in our
assistance to them in this time of need and loss,” he said. “Let us also
work to bring this war to an end as soon as possible.”
said the NCC has worked with the World Conference of Religions for
Peace, whose moderator has met with Iraqi religious leaders forming an
an Aug. 2 statement, The Religions for Peace moderator, His Royal
Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal, called the church attacks “a new
escalation in the extremists’ effort to incite a religious war” and “a
particularly obscene blasphemy against the spirit of Islam and the
character of Iraq.”
pointed out that Iraqis had never attacked a church before. “The
international Muslim community has always justly taken pride in our
protection of religious minorities who lived and took shelter among us,”
The New York Times.
an Aug. 2 statement, the Middle East Council of Churches called upon
Iraq’s authorities “to cooperate intensively in order to prevent
intercommunal discord and to frustrate the machinations of the evil ones
who want to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims who have long
lived together as one people.”
Eastern Christian leaders attending a World Council of Churches meeting
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, also condemned the attacks.
said his agency would continue to support “the vital work” of the
Middle East Council of Churches – whose own offices near the Armenian
Catholic Church were damaged – as well as work with others on
humanitarian relief efforts and Christian-Muslim dialogue in Iraq.
humanitarian workers are beginning to return to Baghdad despite the
ongoing violence, according to Rick Augsburger, director of emergency
programs for Church World Service (CWS).
and the “All My Children Campaign” have supplied aid to children there
by working with local Iraqis to deliver supplies and services. Since the
campaign started 14 months ago, its projects have directly benefited
more than 200,000 children through assistance to clinics, hospitals, a
children’s theater project and safe water supply projects. The United
Methodist Committee on Relief has been a participant in the campaign.