News Archives

Bishop criticizes press, White House on Iraq

10/23/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

A photograph is available with this story

By Tom Burger*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Bishop Grove and Dr. Edwin Welch, President, University of Charleston (W.V.). Photo number W03061, Accompanies UMNS#507
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (UMNS) - The press has largely ignored and underreported the fact that leaders of a majority of U.S. churches oppose the continuing unilateral occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration's pre-emptive war policy, a United Methodist bishop has charged.

The press has given the administration "a free ride" on its Iraq policies, said Bishop William Boyd Grove. A former ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Grove went to Rome earlier this year to encourage Pope John Paul II to use his influence to avert a war on Iraq.

"The press served as a cheerleader for the war," Grove said. "Such a role was not envisioned by the founders of our country when they built freedom of the press into the Constitution."

He said he was hopeful that more citizens would begin to question U.S. intervention in Iraq. "Pre-emptive strikes should be condemned by the American people," the bishop said. "What would (the world) be like if every country did this?

"Why do we have a right other governments do not?" he asked.

In making a case for last spring's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bush cited reports of dictator Saddam Hussein building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

Grove, retired and living in Charleston, noted that a first strike does not conform to the "just war" theory that has evolved in the Christian church over the centuries. According to this position, war can be justified only to redress a wrong already committed, he said.

President Bush was late admitting that no direct link existed between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Grove said.

"Still the administration cites Iraq as its centerpiece of the war on terrorism," he said.
The bishop said Bush handled the aftermath of Sept. 11 magnificently, but since then has squandered the international goodwill engendered by the tragedies that day.

He criticized the administration for its "scornful and arrogant attitude toward our European allies."

Speaking at an Oct. 21 forum at the University of Charleston, where he is a member of the board of trustees, Grove said the "holy war" rhetoric of Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the Pentagon officer charged with finding high-profile targets such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, fuels the hatred Muslims have for western nations.

Bringing back the ugly specter of the Crusades and demonizing Islam makes it easy for extremists to recruit terrorists, the bishop said.

"The power of Saddam Hussein was demonic," Grove said. "But it is very dangerous spiritually and arrogant politically to assume that we as a people bear no responsibility for what is wrong in the world. The illusion of our own national purity leads to the very hubris which has been so characteristic of our national leadership in this terrible time."

The bishop agreed with writer Edward Abbey, who said, "Every patriot should be prepared to defend his country against its government."

Said Grove: "This time in the life of our country calls for just such patriotism."

# # #

*Burger is director of communications for the West Virginia Annual Conference.

Back : News Archives 2003 Main

Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.


*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add to your list of approved senders.