DOC and UCC Leaders Oppose Deployment of THAAD in South Korea

July 18, 2016

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Ashton B. Carter
US Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Mr. President and Mr. Secretary,

On behalf of members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and of the United Church of Christ, we request you to withdraw the US government’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). We do not believe that deploying such a missile defense system in South Korea will promote or secure a permanent state of peace in Northeast Asia. This military act rather provokes serious military and political reactions from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and even offers justification for their attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

As you are aware, as soon as South Korea’s government and US military officials announced this decision, North Korea tested another long-range missile and declared it would regard US citizens in its custody as war-time prisoners. China and Russia, which have played important roles at the 6 party-talks, also strongly oppose the US government’s plan to expand the US military presence in the Korean Peninsula. For the past several days, there have been harsh criticisms on deploying the THAAD in South Korea from Chinese and Russian officials who regard the US missile defense system not as a defense system but as a potential military threat to their countries.

Our churches have long opposed the Cold War logic of missile defense systems. We are afraid that this decision to deploy the THAAD in South Korea has been only considered from a confrontational perspective that believes increased military pressure from the US will ease the military tension between North Korea and other neighboring countries and the US. However, now that the UN has put more economic sanctions on North Korea, and in response, North Korea has summoned its ambassador to the UN who served as a communication channel to the US, it is likely that additional military pressure from the US in the Korean Peninsula will cultivate more tension in the region and may culminate in another major military conflict.

We also request you to consider serious economic consequences that the US taxpayers have to bear in operating this expensive missile defense system abroad. This decision will cost the US taxpayers about 1.6 billion dollars in this slowly recovering economy. We believe it is unreasonable to spend more tax dollars on a military system that will not satisfy its original intention to deter North Korea’s attempt to test missiles.

We hope that you listen to the voices of disapproval also from the people of South Korea. This decision has politically and socially divided the people of South Korea and has created tension within the South Korean society. Our partners in mission in South Korea, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), have clearly denounced this decision and have requested us to speak to you, Mr. President and Mr. Secretary.

The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), meeting in Columbus, OH, July 18-22, 2015, and the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, meeting in Cleveland, OH, June 26-30, 2015, each clearly expressed its commitment to end provocative military exercises on the peninsula, to reduce military expenditures, and to eliminate nuclear weapons on the peninsula, establishing a model for peace and demilitarization in Northeast Asia. In contrast to an escalation of military force and provocation on the Korean Peninsula, we encourage US leadership to pursue a policy that prioritizes vigorous diplomatic solutions and seeks a final Peace Treaty for Korea as a proximate objective in negotiations. We as national leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ have diligently tried to be faithful to our commitment to bring just peace to all and have faithfully abided in our resolution concerning well-being of the people in Northeast Asia. Thus, we again strongly request you to reconsider the US government’s decision to deploy the THAAD in South Korea.

Let us conclude this letter with the Words from the Hebrew Bible.

[T]hey shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
(Isaiah 2:4b)

We pray that this word of God may direct your administration’s future military policies.

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins 
General Minister and President, 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 

Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister and President,
United Church of Christ

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu 
President, Division of Overseas Ministries 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and 
Co-Executive, Global Ministries 

Rev. Dr. James A. Moos
Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ, and
Co-Executive, Global Ministries

Rev. Ronald J. Degges 
President of the Disciples Home Missions 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 

Rev. Traci Blackmon
Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Geunhee Yu and Rev. Chung Seong Kim 
Executive Pastors, 
North American Pacific/Asian Disciples 

Rev. Seung Un (Paul) Tche
President of the Council on Christian Unity
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Dr. Xiaoling Zhu
Executive for East Asia and the Pacific
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ


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