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'Win Without War' stages virtual march on Washington


NOTE: This report is a sidebar to UMNS story #107. A photograph is available.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
The Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist who heads the U.S. National Council of Churches, introduces some of ecumenical leaders who will sign a 3-foot-by-5-foot card objecting to a war with Iraq during a protest near the U.S. Capitol. They are, from left to right, the Rev. Alan McDonald of the Church of Scotland, Edgar, the Rev. Jean Arnold de Clermont of the French Protestant Federation (partly behind Edgar) and Bishop Manfred Kock of the Council of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (Germany). A UMNS photo by Lionel Meyer. Photo number 03-65, Accompanies UMNS #108, 2/27/03
WASHINGTON (UMNS) - On the day President Bush sought public support for war with Iraq on prime-time TV, U.S. citizens staged a virtual march on the White House and Congress, and international church leaders braved a snowstorm for a ceremonial signing of a statement against the war.

Tens of thousands of phone calls, e-mail messages and faxes were sent to the White House and Senate offices Feb. 26 in a "virtual march" organized by Win Without War, a coalition formed last year to coordinate and lead efforts to stop the Bush administration's move toward war with Iraq.

Win Without War, which includes the National Council of Churches among its 32 participating organizations, said that more than a million calls and faxes sent a clear message against invading and occupying Iraq. The virtual march organizers also sent gift baskets to Senate staff, who were kept busy handling calls and faxes.

"The outpouring of support for tough inspections to disarm Saddam Hussein, and against an invasion and occupation of Iraq, got through loud and clear," said former Congressman Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War. "Well over 1 million phone calls were made in just eight hours by people from every state in the country."

Many people who don't participate in demonstrations took the opportunity to "let their fingers do the marching," Andrews said.

Meanwhile, international ecumenical leaders held a briefing for legislative aides and the media, outlining their opposition to the war. They then met briefly with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in the United Methodist Building across the street. Afterward, they trooped outside, where the U.S. Capitol provided the background - though nearly obscured by blowing snow - for signing an oversized protest statement.

"We affirm that war against Iraq would be immoral, unwise and the cause of untold suffering," the 3-foot-by-5-foot statement reads. "As international religious leaders, it is our spiritual obligation, grounded in God's love for all of humanity, to speak out against war in Iraq."

The large card, to be delivered to the White House at a later date, also contains a quote from Isaiah 2:4: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Those who took part in a brief ceremony and signed the document included Lee; the Rev. Jean Arnold de Clermont, president of the French Protestant Federation; Bishop Manfred Kock, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (Germany); the Rev. Alan D. McDonald, an official of the Church of Scotland and representative of the churches of the United Kingdom; and Salpy Eskidjian, program executive for the World Council of Churches' work on international affairs, peace and human security.

The Rev. Robert Edgar, staff head of the U.S. National Council of Churches and co-president of Win Without War, led the group in prayer before the signing. The signers also included Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

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