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77 bishops urge troop pullout from Afghanistan

U.S. troops and Afghan national police walk up a hill in Afghanistan.
United Methodist bishops hope President Obama will withdraw
troops by the end of 2010. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force.

By Kathy Gilbert*
Nov. 13, 2009 | LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)

Bishop Marshall L. Meadors


As President Barack Obama considers new military strategy for Afghanistan, at least 77 United Methodist bishops are praying he will withdraw troops by the end of 2010.

“We believe there is no path to military victory in Afghanistan,” the bishops stated in a letter sent to Obama Nov. 10. The letter was signed by bishops attending the Nov. 1-5 Council of Bishops meeting.

Obama has rejected the Afghanistan options before him and asked for revisions, according to news reports. U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry has voiced dissent against sending more troops, while Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander, is seeking thousands more troops. Several senior administration officials also reportedly favor sending more troops.

“We wanted to get this to Obama before he made his decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan,” said retired Bishop Marshall L. Meadors. Meadors drafted the letter with assistance from retired bishops Kenneth L. Carder, Clifton S. Ives and Donald A. Ott.

“I have struggled with the war in Iraq,” Meadors said. “I held public prayer services when the 3,000th and 4,000th soldier was killed in Iraq.”

The most recent letter also addressed the war in Iraq. “Several years ago, more than 120 bishops issued a ‘Statement of Repentance’ for our failure to speak out early against the war in Iraq,” the letter stated. “We do not want to make that mistake again of remaining silent in the face of another widening war.”

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Meadors said he wants to remember and honor those who have died or been wounded, and to support their families and loved ones.

The bishops pledged to uphold the president with prayers “as you seek a just and peaceful resolution to the tragic war in Afghanistan.”

“I have 10 grandchildren,” Meadors said. “I want to do everything I can to leave them a world without war.”

The 77 bishops who signed the letter are part of the larger Council of Bishops, which includes 69 active and 94 retired bishops from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.  

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