As a Just Peace Church, the United Church of Christ has long advocated for diplomatic and peaceful engagement with Iran. We have spoken out on multiple occasions in opposition to inflammatory rhetoric and direct provocation that could ultimately lead to war. In response to recent events, our UCC leadership has issued a call to prayer and fasting for peace during this season of Epiphany, to bring us back from the brink of war with Iran.
What has brought us to this point? In a drastic escalation of violence this week, the U.S. on Thursday initiated a targeted drone strike against several Iranian leaders at the airport in Iraq. This strike killed Iran’s highest-ranking military official, Maj. General Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds force. The drone strike has come after months of the administration ratcheting up its “maximum pressure” policy of sanctions against Iran, and Iran responding in kind with acts of defiance and violence. Several recent attacks have been attributed to Iran, including a recent attack at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. News broke on Friday that thousands of U.S. troops are now being deployed to the region. All of this followed the US’ unilateral abrogation in 2017 of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement) that the US and its allies negotiated in 2015, despite certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran was in compliance with the agreement.
While we denounce all acts of violence and provocation on all sides, we urgently call on our own government to end the cycle of violence and escalation and avoid inciting a regional war.
As people of faith, we believe another way is possible. In our 2009 General Synod resolution, “Solidarity and Friendship with Iran”, we professed:
“Our sacred scriptures all point to our calling as disciples and peacemakers, to do what we can to bring healing into the world, not hurt, to end bloodshed, not to initiate it, to stop the killing and terrorizing of children and adults, and to make all of God’s Creation a safe place in which to live.”
A return to diplomacy is the only way forward. We must remind our officials of the shared humanity between our nations and find creative ways to build peace. This Epiphany let us pray and fast for peace with Iran and use our collective voice as people of faith to stop the drumbeat to war.
Call on Congress today to assert its constitutional war powers and prevent any funds from being used for war with Iran.
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Leadership statement (Jan. 8, 2020)
- Heads of US Churches and Christian agencies letter to Congress calling for de-escalation and to consider diplomacy rather than approving funding for war (Jan. 9, 2020)
- National Council of Churches in the USA statement, "NCC Urges De-escalation of Hostilities Between US and Iran (Jan. 3, 2020)
- World Council of Churches urges "maximum restraint" in escalating conflict between US, Iran (Jan. 3, 2020); WCC leaders reiterate need for restraint (Jan. 8, 2020)