World Council of Churches
Beyond 11 September:
Implications for US Churches and the World
5th – 6th August 2002
World Council of Churches
150, route de Ferney
1201 Geneva 2
Telephone: +41 22 791 61 11
Fax: +41 22 791 03 61
Thanks to Jan Love and Lois Dauway for moderating the meeting, to Bishop Steven Bouman
and Rev. Renta Nishihara for leading us in worship, to Elizabeth Ferris for providing
organizational leadership and for writing this report and to Fei Chin, a CWS intern for
helping with the many organizational details. Thanks, most of all, to the participants for their
willingness to engage in frank and sometimes painful discussions about these burning issues.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE MEETING .................................................................................................................................................... 4
SETTING OUT THE ISSUES .................................................................................................................................... 5
ETHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ....................................................................................................... 6
INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES .......................................................................................................................... 9
GLOBAL SECURITY/NATIONAL SECURITY......................................................................................................... 13
HUMAN RIGHTS ................................................................................................................................................. 16
INTERFAITH RELATIONS .................................................................................................................................... 19
ECUMENICAL RELATIONS ................................................................................................................................. 20
FINAL SESSION .................................................................................................................................................. 22
OVERVIEW STATEMENT; ELIZABETH FERRIS ........................................................................................ 23
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................. 23
THIS MEETING AND PROCESS ............................................................................................................................. 23
TO BEGIN THE DISCUSSION… ............................................................................................................................ 25
US POWER......................................................................................................................................................... 25
US UNILATERALISM ......................................................................................................................................... 27
US INTENTIONS................................................................................................................................................. 28
ANNEX. ............................................................................................................................................................. 29
MESSAGE TO THE WCC CENTRAL COMMITTEE, AUGUST 2002 ........................................................... 31
DRAFT GUIDE FOR REFLECTION ............................................................................................................... 32
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................. 32
REFLECTIONS ON THE SITUATION OF THE CHURCHES OF THE UNITED STATES .................................................. 34
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS ................................................................................................................................. 40
The changes in the United States and in the world since 11 September have been far-
reaching. People and governments in every region of the world have had to react not just to
the violent attacks on Washington and New York, but also to the consequences of the US
“war on terrorism.”
In late November 2001, the World Council of Churches convened a meeting to discuss some
of the possible implications of these events in the specific areas of global governance and
disarmament, the economy, inter-faith relations and human rights, and humanitarian issues.
That meeting produced lively discussion and a deepened understanding of the unfolding
consequences of 11 September and the US military response to terrorism. Participants called
for the convening of similar meetings in other regions, particularly in the United States. At its
meeting in February 2002, the WCC Executive committee asked that a meeting be organized
with US churches and international participants to discern together the consequences of the
post-11 September events, and that a report of this meeting be shared with the WCC Central
Committee meeting in August 2002.
Thus, the World Council of Churches, in consultation with the National Council of Churches
of Christ of the USA and Church World Service, convened a second meeting in Washington
to bring together representatives of US churches and churches from other regions to discern
together the implications of the events of 11 September and their aftermath. The letter of
invitation to the consultation noted that there seemed to be a wide gap between mainstream
public opinion in the US and the rest of the world about the US “war on terrorism” and that
many in the world have the impression of a certain “quietism” among the US churches when
it comes to expressing their views of the policies and actions of their own government.
The purpose of the meeting was not in the first instance to come up with concrete
recommendations for action, but rather to deepen the analysis of what these events mean for
the United States and for the world. In the course of the discussion, participants indicated
that their priority must be to engage their congregations to discuss these issues in a different
way and they agreed on the outlines of a “guide for reflection” guide to be adapted and used
by denominations in the congregations. This guide (attached) poses questions to encourage
congregations to think beyond the “common wisdom” that presently characterizes much of
the public discourse on these issues in the United States. The meeting also adopted a short
message to the WCC Central Committee in hope that it would feed into deliberations by that
body on public issues.
This was a rich and dynamic meeting. The introductory presentations were substantive and
thought-provoking. The international participants brought questions and challenges to their
US counterparts, but they also came to listen and understand. Although it was painful to
consider the consequences of US policies, the tone of the meeting was not one of “we versus
they” but rather of a common seeking for truth and understanding. For two days, participants
struggled with questions of power, ethics, security and fear. Given the complex reality in
which we are now living, they found no easy answers, but the process of open discussion and
dialogue stimulated analysis and a commitment to do more to encourage similar discussions
at the congregational level.
This report includes summaries of the main presentations and a brief description of the
discussions that took place. Quotations from participants are included throughout the report
to give a sense of the flavor of the discussion.
Setting out the issues
“The pain is still very raw. It is always just below the surface. It doesn’t help to
be told that it’s time to move on. The grief is still there.”
Following opening worship and introductions, Elizabeth Ferris explained that this meeting
had been called to offer an opportunity for US churches to meet with international church
representatives to analyze together some of the implications of the tragic events of 11
September and the US reactions to those events. While there is no shortage of analyses or
media coverage of these issues, there is a need for alternative interpretations and especially
for ethical and theological perspectives. She briefly reviewed the response of the World
Council of Churches to these horrific events, including statements and letters, a “Living
Letters” delegation to the United States in November, the organization of inter-faith
encounters, the development of an alternative news service to lift up voices which are not
generally heard, and the November 2001 meeting which began to analyze some of the
implications of these developments. Decisions taken in the United States have repercussions
throughout the world, and churches in other parts of the world are yearning to hear from and
to engage with their US counterparts. After reviewing the agenda, she suggested three
themes that run throughout all of the specific issues to be discussed: US power in the world
today, US unilateralism, and US intentions, particularly now with respect to Iraq. The United
States is by far the most powerful nation in the world today. Increasing expressions of US
unilateralism and US threats against other countries are challenging the very basis of
international law and distorting global governance. (See attached statement.)
“I believe that the United States today is the principal subverter of the international
In terms of process, she indicated that in organizing this meeting, the possibility of a
collective statement or message from the group had been left open but that WCC had not
come with the draft text for such a statement. In the course of the discussions, US
participants indicated that they did want to send some kind of a message, but that it should be
directed towards their congregations. While church leaders are aware of many of the
consequences of US actions, many in the parishes and congregations around the country just
don’t know what’s going on. They need to be challenged, but they also need to be heard. A
small drafting group was set up to work on the outlines of a study guide for congregational
use. When the draft document came back to the final plenary, participants affirmed its
importance (and made numerous suggestions for strengthening the document) but they also
indicated their desire for a message to the WCC Central Committee to be used by that body
in its deliberations on public issues.
Ethical and theological Perspectives
Dr. Walter Altmann (Lutheran, Brazil) began by expressing the wave of solidarity which
Latin American people felt with the people of the United States on 11 September. Even
while that solidarity was being expressed, they knew that the US would likely respond with
military action. Latin Americans hoped that if such a response were to come it should be a
multilateral and not a unilateral one. In the initial aftermath of the attacks, there was a hope
that these universal feelings of solidarity would lead to renewed efforts to create a more just
world - but these hopes have now largely vanished.
Ethical assessments about the use of power and the use of military force must be applied to
all phases of the process – not just from the “starting point” of 11 September. We must reject
the idea that because 11 September was evil, the US response to that expression of evil is
therefore good. Furthermore, we must consider whether there was a “necessity of war” in
responding to the 11 September attacks. How did we move from viewing the appropriate
response as an issue of police enforcement to an issue of war? War is not an effective answer
to ending terrorism, but rather will entrap us in a spiral of violence. War will never change
people’s hearts. The use of violence in responding to terrorism would give rise to the
permanent use of violence.
We must recall the fundamental dignity of human life. All human beings are made in the
image of God, thus solidarity must be universal and expressed towards all those who suffer
disease, poverty, hunger, war and despair. Recognizing the universal dignity of every human
being does not exclude a preferential option for the poor. How can one justify the result that
more and more resources are being made available for war while assistance to those suffering
from HIV/AIDS or hunger is diminishing? The Biblical understanding of shalom goes
beyond military security. It has to do with fundamental well-being for all that is the only
basis for true human security.
We need to reflect on God’s will and vulnerability. It is God’s will to rescue every human
being from bondage and that we recognize the precariousness of our own existence.
Vulnerability is intrinsic to the human condition. In spite of the pain, the experience which
American people have of their own vulnerability should be seen as a positive development.
Efforts to create an international order which seeks absolute protection runs counter to human
life. People need a consciousness of shared vulnerability and must always be open to
criticism of how they respond to their own sense of insecurity.
Already in the 1997 CLAI (the Latin American Council of Churches) selected “the need to
build up peace” as the theme for its 2001 assembly held in Barranquilla, Colombia. This
theme was rooted in the deep desire of the Colombian people to have peace, but in
recognition of the fact that peace needs to be built. In the Assembly’s deliberations on the
theme, it recognized that in order to build peace people need to be free. Given the prevailing
culture of violence, such freedom does not come readily. By the time the Assembly was held
in 2001 this theme had a new resonance and meaning.
Mary Lord (Quaker, USA) began her remarks by noting that on 11 September she faced a
dilemma of how to carry on with a planned peace network meeting scheduled for the days
immediately after the attacks. Earlier the network had decided to meet in New York and to
focus on Africa. In the immediate aftermath of the 11 September attacks, there was some
question about whether the agenda and focus of the meeting should be changed in light of the
attacks in New York. The network decided to go ahead with their planned agenda. One
million people have died in Congo, ten percent of the Quaker population in Burundi has been
killed. The discussion of ‘what does it mean to forgive and work for peace in the midst of
war?’ in the African context offered insights which could be helpful to Americans struggling
with similar questions in their context.
God is present in all places and in all people. We must remind ourselves, for example, of
God’s love for soldiers who are doing what they think communities want them to do. Work
for peace must never demonize persons; we are all children of God.
As a country we seem to be moving towards becoming a “new Rome” and we should seek
repentance. We are crossing a threshold when we talk of nuclear weapons not only in terms
of their use as a deterrent but for use in pre-emptive strikes. It is dangerous even to
contemplate the use of nuclear weapons. It is unbelievably arrogant to assert that any human
being could be trusted with decisions to use nuclear weapons. Our government is now
pursuing a military policy of “full spectrum dominance” - a belief in the need for US
dominance in all aspects of military force - rather than a commitment to pursuit of objectives
through multilateral means. This is the policy our leadership has chosen and thus far as a
people we have been silent in challenging it.
Pacificsts are often depicted as naïve, but we need to argue that war, not peacemaking, is
naïve. It is naïve to believe that war works and that spending $4 billion on weapons makes us
safe. Militarism is express blind faith in and practice idolatry of weapons. History shows that
peacemaking works. We need to tell the stories of successful conflict prevention, redemption
and reconciliation. People do not know that peacemaking is effective and practical – that
there are alternatives to violence. Yet this information is available and one is prompted to
ask, to what extent is the US population willfully ignorant?
The prophet Ezekiel was told by God to deliver a message to the people which he did not
want to give. God tells him that if he speaks and the people listen, they will be saved. If he
speaks and they do not listen, the fault is with the people. If the prophet knows the message,
but does not deliver it, both the people and the prophet are lost. Today in the United States
our people are afraid and lost, and yet Christians do have an answer – the Gospel of Peace.
In the discussion, participants asked about the role of religion in conflicts, noting that in some
university settings, people are trying to push religion to the side in the debate. Another
participant remarked that in comparison with other Western countries, Americans are a
deeply religious people. Can we take the best learnings from Christianity and from the other
world’s religions to give us examples of best practices to live together? At the same time,
another participant remarked we are living in a time of civil religion. Americans live with
compartmentalization, putting their religion into little boxes. There is a tension between
living out civil religion and living out our faith. Another participant raised the question of
what is our critique of just war? How glibly we have supported US “holy war” through
military intervention, another participant commented, even as we have criticized jihad.
Walter Altmann responded that while it has not been given to him to be a pacifist, he would
like to see non-pacifist churches take the just war theory seriously. The concept of just war
was intended to limit the use of force by setting out criteria and conditions. If the criteria
were truly applied, there would be almost no cases where war was legitimately used. In
today’s context of high technology weaponry, we should be raising questions about whether
any war can any longer be regarded as just.
“Just war theory includes the criteria that those using force be willing to assume
some personal risk. But with today’s military technologies, there is little personal
risk. Look at NATO bombing of Yugoslavia a few years ago. Using this
criterion, Vietnam may have been a more humane war.”
Participants emphasized that in order to reach the people in the pews, we need to begin by
listening to people’s fears and helping congregations to hear what people in other parts of the
world are feeling and saying. We must learn to listen. Another participant commented that
churches outside the United States have been very critical of US policies and of US churches
for not speaking up more. But we here who can hear this criticism must not be arrogant for
we do not represent the majority opinion in the United States. How can we help change the
mood and the mindset? Mary Lord commented that there is a fundamental difference
between war-making and peace-making. When you are going to make war, you cannot listen
to what the “enemy” says. When you are making peace, you have to listen and to see the
humanness of the other. Today it is perceived as unpatriotic to try to understand the other
side’s viewpoint. To hear the other voice is to weaken the resolve for war. Perhaps this is
the reason that pacifists were ridiculed after 11 September.
The pressures for militarization in US society are growing. Participants affirmed the need to
look at the economics of war and the role of the profit motive in driving the war machine.
One participant asked: did a desire for profit play a role in determining the nature of the US
“Presently half of the world’s military expenditures are made by the US
government. Our public sector is becoming militarized as is evidenced by what is
happening in the schools. The only way many poor kids can go to university is
with a military scholarship through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC.)
ROTC has long been in our high schools, now it is moving into our middle
Many participants raised questions about what the church is saying in the midst of these
pressures towards war. US churches were prophetic in the months leading up to the 1991
Gulf war. They took the risk of speaking out on unpopular issues, but why are they silent
“The church has a role in comforting the victims, in offering a moral perspective
on the world, but the church also has a role to play in disturbing us. The US
churches appear to be accomplices to the state. I say this not to make you feel
guilty but to stimulate your thinking.”
A New Yorker spoke of the immediate aftermath of the attacks where the graffiti was raw –
racist, violent. But the families and friends of the immediate victims were not calling for
revenge. In fact, the immediate impulse of many Americans was to protect the stranger.
We need to trust people’s better instincts and recognize that these got hijacked by the drive to
“On 11 September we were meeting in South Carolina in a church that had been
burned by hate crimes in domestic terrorism. People in that church prayed for the
perpetrators of that crime against them. What does this say to us?”
Participants grappled with the issue of how we relate to the ‘other.’ How ready are we, one
asked, to allow the ‘others’ to interpret themselves? Don’t we interpret jihad, for example, in
the way it suits us? How can we use concepts of restorative justice in the aftermath of the
attacks of 11 September?
“I was in a Liberian church recently where 675 worshippers had been killed in a
senseless attack. The women of that church presented a petition for peace – not a
cry for vengeance – for that atrocity. A message of that kind from Ground Zero
would be a powerful message for peace.”
As the scope and depth of the problems emerged, some participants struggled to find hope for
the journey. As one participant said: “Sometimes I feel like I just can’t go on. There is so
much despair. We need hope.” Some participants lifted up examples of just peacemaking as
signs of hope and stressed the need to make these actions toward peace as practical and as
concrete as our present understandings of military action.
Ernie Regehr (Mennonite, Canada) explained that the current security debate in Canada is
often depicted as between multilateralism and continentalism. Is Canadian security better
furthered through alliance with the United States or through multilateral bodies? While it is
sometimes useful for Canadian leadership to criticize US policies, there is also a sense that
Canadian interests are inextricably linked with those of its southern neighbor. Since
territorial defense is not a major issue for Canadian security, the question is whether Canada
should shape its armed forces primarily for participation in UN peacekeeping operations or
for participation in “coalitions of the willing” - which in practice means allying with the
United States. There is a perception in the United States that its border with Canada is porous
and insecure, although none of those implicated in the 11 September attacks were found to
have crossed the US-Canadian border. Presently Canada is spending $7 billion on issues of
homeland security in response to US security concerns rather than Canadian interests. Much
of Canada’s defense policy is undertaken to reassure its southern neighbor that US assistance
with security issues is not necessary.
Dora Arce (Presbyterian, Cuba) remarked that even in that small, isolated country that has
suffered greatly from US intervention, there was a popular outpouring of grief and mourning
with the victims of the 11 September attacks. But the attacks also provoked fear and
uncertainty about the nature of the US military response. If there is any question about the
effectiveness of hostile military actions, one only has to look at Cuba. Forty years of a
blockade against Cuba has not brought about meaningful change or increased US security. In
fact, US policies toward Cuba seem to be driven by internal US political interests,
particularly the impact of right-wing Cuban emigrés in Florida. Violence by the powerful
leads to further violence against those who are weaker. Or as one writer explains: “just as the
husband beats the wife who beats the child who beats the younger child who kicks the dog
who chases the cat who eats the rat.” When we talk of power, we also have to talk of
“I ask you, representatives of churches in the most powerful country in the world,
what are your responsibilities?”
Paul Renshaw (Methodist, UK) said that in Britain, the 9/11 experience was, of course,
shocking in many deep ways and all-absorbing in its dramatic, media-facilitated immediacy.
But it was not apocalyptic in the same way as some have felt it in the USA. In Britain, there
are a number of human rights concerns, including the radically strengthened European anti-
terrorism legislation and the violation of the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The
UK’s political stand in support of the USA has been strongly articulated by Prime Minister
Tony Blair. However, as the apparent clarity of objectives of the original “international
coalition” has faded, so has the political space that would allow Tony Blair to remain
unequivocally “shoulder-to-shoulder” with George Bush. Churches’ responses to 9/11
(available at www.ctbi.org.uk.) focused on a number of concerns including: talk at the
earliest stage about “waging war” as opposed to “counter-terrorism;’ the “proportionality”
and justice” of the coalition’s war aims; the lack of transparency that prevents the
Government’s own choice of “just war” language from being evaluated; the humanitarian
crisis in Afghanistan; civilian casualties in general and the vulnerability of civilians to cluster
bombs in particular; and the (ab)use of the UN at different times, a concern surfacing again
over Iraq and US (and, perhaps, British) intentions. At the bottom of all of this is the
dilemma of how to find a language with which to engage politicians who see their role in
managerial, problem-solving terms as being more important than short-term electoral
John Langmore (Anglican, Australia, UN) shared some insights from his experiences at the
United Nations, noting that relations with the United States are at the center of foreign policy
concerns for most countries of the world. While US unilateralism has been most vividly
illustrated in discussions around the International Criminal Court, it was also in evidence in
the UN Conference on Finance for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico. This well-
prepared meeting had elicited good cooperation within the international financial institutions
and major preparatory meetings. But US actions weakened the Conference’s final outcome.
At the meeting itself the European Union announced a $7 billion increase in foreign aid
which was followed by President Bush’s announcement of an increase in its foreign aid of $5
billion over the next five years. However, even with this increase, the US still ranks in last
place among Northern governments in terms of foreign aid as a percentage of GNP. The
continuing US failure to pay its full UN dues undermines the UN’s ability to act. There is
great fear that the UN will be further weakened if the US decides to engage in military action
against Iraq without formal consultation with the UN Security Council.
Eunice Santana (UCC, Puerto Rico) reported that surveillance is coming back in cruder
forms. Airports are now under federal control, there is new talk of the police coming under
military control, treatment of political prisoners has become harsher since 11 September, and
non-violent protests at Vieques have become more difficult. The behavior of military
personnel has become more aggressive and the US federal courts are imposing longer
sentences, encarcerating protesters for as long as six months. Puerto Ricans have long been
divided on the question of Puerto Rico’s status vis-à- vis the United States but united over US
military occupation of island of Vieques, there are now new divisions over Vieques where
protest is seen by some as unpatriotic or unsympathetic. At the governmental level, there is a
general sentiment that ‘we do not want to upset the USA.’ On an unofficial level there is
religious intolerance, with people being ridiculed for their religious beliefs. There is also a
perception that the role of Christians is to help Israel. The case of Jose Padilla, a Puerto
Rican detained by US authorities for alleged cooperation on terrorism, is a particular concern.
Renta Nishahara (Kyodan, Japan) reported that since 11 September and the US military
response to terrorism, the Japanese government has also steadily progressed towards
readiness for war under the new guidelines for Japan-US Defense cooperation. This
emergency legislation, submitted to the Japanese Diet in May, requires ordinary citizens to
cooperate in their workplaces and local areas to support US military actions for the war on
terrorism and Self-Defense Force operations. It violates the war-renouncing article of our
Peace Constitution. Japanese churches feel that the legislation is excessive and dangerous
and are continuing to work for its rejection. The churches are also concerned about the US
inclusion of North Korea in the ‘axis of evil’ and about Japanese cooperation in this
endeavor. Japan, which is partly responsible for the division of the Korean Peninsula, is
preventing the peaceful unification of North Korea and South Korea.
Archbishop Nicolae (Orthodox, Romania) reported that Romanians too experienced a deep
wave of compassion for the victims of the 11 September attacks but that there were
differences of opinion about the US military response. The majority of the population
initially opposed a military response to Afghanistan, but after a few months the worsening
economic situation dominated public opinion. The question of Romanian integration into
NATO has thus been the focus of much of the debate. The Romanian government has a clear
interest in working towards NATO membership and supports US policies.
Abla Nasir (Orthodox, Palestine) began by noting that security was weakened throughout the
world as a result of the attacks of 11 September.
“It wasn’t only Americans who felt vulnerable after 11 September. We all felt
frightened. Our whole sense of security was shaken. When Bush said that “you’re
either with us or you’re against us,” we Palestinians knew that we would be put on
the side of the ‘other.’ In a conflict between good and evil, we would be seen as
the evil ones.”
The Israeli government took this opportunity to launch the fiercest war ever against the
Palestinians. Now all of the Palestinian territories (except for Jericho, which is a closed area)
are under occupation. While Palestinians are seen as terrorists, Israel got a green light to go
ahead with its policies; the leader of the Palestinian people is not trusted by the US, but
Sharon is depicted as a man of peace. Israeli officials have emphasized the similarities
between 11 September and the suicide bombings. Suddenly, the legitimate right to resist
occupation is called terrorism. The Palestinians are being blamed for everything – even for
Israel’s aggression against us when in fact it is Sharon’s policies which are responsible for
the increase in the number of suicide bombers.
Today 700,000 people live under curfew and limitations of movement. Travel from
Ramallah to Jerusalem, for example, involves passing through a series of humiliating
checkpoints. The war on terrorism has a high human cost. Recent surveys show that 30
percent of Palestinian children screened suffered from chronic malnutrition and 21 percent
from acute malnutrition, while in 2000, only 7.5 percent and 2.5 percent of children suffered
from chronic and acute malnutrition respectively. More than 30 percent of the 3.5 million
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are dependent upon food handouts from NGOs and
international institutions. Surveys show that 50 percent of people need to borrow money to
purchase basic foodstuffs while 16 percent are selling assets for the same purpose.
Interruptions in electricity supplies cause vaccines to spoil and the child immunization
programme is breaking down. 70 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live
below the poverty line of less than $2 per day. These things are being allowed in the name of
the war against terror.
“Great power has to come with great responsibility. We don’t know what kind of
Palestinian state Bush envisions. Perhaps spiritual power through faith in God can
overcome the political and military power. It has to. We’re giving up on
Carmencita Karagdag (Philippines Independent Church, Philippines). People’s power
catapulted Gloria Arroyo into the presidency, raising high expectations for positive political
and economic changes in the country. But her brazen support for the US war on terrorism
has widened the gulf between Arroyo and those who originally supported her. She opened
Filipino territory to US troops and totally reversed the gains of the nationalist movement.
Those opposing her policies are seen as disloyal. With the impending signing of the Mutual
Logistics Support Agreement, the Bush administration managed to circumvent the Philippine
constitution that bans US troops and bases. What was not possible before has now become
possible. Over 3,000 US troops participated in recent military exercises and there is fear that
the Philippines will be used as a springboard to other countries in the region where the US
has vast economic interests. Some 8,000 US troops are expected to arrive in the Philippines
for nine months of ‘military exercises’ this fall. Christian-Muslim relations have been
affected and human rights abuses are increasing. These are all very important issues for the
churches. While the Catholic Church openly welcomed foreign troops, the National Council
of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) is trying to educate people about the realities of the
situation. NCCP is convening a meeting, together with WCC and the Christian Conference
of Asia, on “Terrorism in a Globalized World” in September 2002.
Bishop Mano Rumalshah (Church of Pakistan, Pakistan). With the US military action against
Afghanistan, Islamic militants have changed tactics; they have gone underground and
diverted activities into other areas, as evidenced by the increasingly aggressive militant
activity in Kashmir. In Pakistan, President Musharref is living on borrowed time. He came
out in support of US policy because a gun was held to his head. While he is trying to seek
acceptance in the Western world, the price at home is very high. There are fears that he will
not be toppled politically, but rather that he will be ousted through an act of violence.
Relations between Christians and Muslims have deteriorated. Just yesterday the government
announced a change in the “minority seats” policy which has long been sought by Christians.
The very next day a Christian school was attacked. Within the broader region of South Asia
(a region of 1.5 billion people), there have been other consequences. Religious militancy in
India has been validated and made acceptable. In Sri Lanka there is a ray of hope and a
conscious movement toward peace, but it is still very fragile.
“Popular feelings against US arrogance are great. We feel that the US just doesn’t
give a damn. We don’t know where it will lead. But until the Palestinian issue is
faced – which means more than the creation of a Palestinian state – there won’t be
a big change in the West’s relations with the Islamic world.”
Walter Altmann reported that there has been an increased interest in religions in Brazil,
especially Islam, and in looking at the relationship between religions and peace. There is a
great deal of concern about US double standards. For example, while the US talks about free
trade and about working together against terrorism, tariffs are raised on Brazilian exports to
the US. The landmines treaty is another example. Brazil has been a big exporter of
landmines to Africa. But in spite of its significant economic interests, Brazil signed the treaty
and is helping with de-mining in countries such as Angola. At the same time, the US
government says that it cannot afford to sign the treaty. On the economic front, US Treasury
Secretary O’Neill said no new loans would be extended to Brazil and Argentina, causing our
currency to be devalued by 20% in a single day. The Brazilian public avidly follows the
daily risk indicators for loans to Brazil; presently we are paying around 25.5% interest rates
“The National Council of Churches of Brazil organized a prayer service for the
victims of the 11 September attacks at the US Embassy. Now the Ambassador has
called and asked us to participate in organizing an anniversary event. But things
have changed. What was quite natural last year has now become almost
Global Security/National Security
Ernie Regehr structured his remarks around five points:
1. Unilateralism. Central to US unilateralism is the fact that the US equates its own self-
interest with the general public good. This “unilateral perception of the public good”
leads the US government to cast its own strategic interests in universal terms. US
relations with the rest of the world are defined in terms of its own strategic interests rather
than based on multilaterally-defined international law or international standards of human
rights. Thus US interests in bringing about a peace agreement in Sudan were driven
almost entirely by its own perception of US strategic advantage rather than by a concern
with the victims of the conflict. We need to press for a multilateral definition of the public
good. The public good can only be legitimately defined through multilateral means.
2. Interdependence and vulnerability. Rather than inter-dependence experienced as
vulnerability or mutuality of interests, the US perceives that stability depends on its
ability to override the international order. This gives rise to the military policy of “full
spectrum dominance” ideology that Mary Lord has discussed. This policy will continue
until the US sees interdependence as a source of strength rather than weakness.
3. Extraordinary times. It has become commonplace to assert that “everything changed on
September 11th,” but the subtext to that is that the old rules are no longer applicable.
There is a sense that this extraordinary crisis requires extraordinary measures. This claim
implies that the US cannot be constrained by the ordinary rules of the game. This
approach is in sharp contradiction to understandings of common security or mutual
security in which one’s own security is enhanced when the security of others is increased.
An approach based on human security argues that the well-being of people is a measure
of true state security. Implicit in discussions of human security is the international
community’s obligation to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. We
should recognize that this is inherently an interventionist philosophy – that we have a
common obligation to those who are vulnerable and threatened even if that goes against
the interests of their government.
4. A lesson for peacebuilding. Peace is built – not defended. We have to recognize that
terrorism has a history and a past. Seeking to understand the causes of terrorism does not
justify its use. We know that taking military action against the perpetrators of the attacks
is not effective. While we argue that the perpetrators of the crime need to be brought to
justice, we are a bit uncertain in proposing ways in which this could be done. It is ironic
that the US undermining of the International Criminal Court and the arbitrariness by
which perpetrators are pursued is radically undercutting current efforts to challenge
5. Arms control and disarmament. There is a long list of international arms control
agreements that the US is weakening. At the nuclear level, the US nuclear posture review
shows a recommitment to nuclear unilateralism which will add unbearably to the
proliferation of nuclear weapons. If NATO (which includes Canada) can assert that
nuclear doctrine is essential to its security, India and Pakistan can make a similarly
credible claim. On the other end of the arms spectrum, the refusal of the US government
to agree to the establishment of global norms on small arms is deeply troubling.
There is a profound ambivalence about US policies with envy and admiration of the United
States mixed with a profound distrust of US motives. The fact is that the world desperately
needs the United States. At a time when the Nonproliferation Treaty was being devastated by
US action, criticism was muted precisely because US Secretary of State Colin Powell was in
the Middle East. We need the US to play a role in bringing about a peace agreement in the
In the discussion, participants noted the domestic and international impact of major increases
in US military spending, the pushback on human rights, the resumption of arms sales to
countries that violate human rights, and the ideological shift from seeing the situation in
Colombia as a ‘war on drugs’ to a ‘war against terrorism.’ If nuclear arms are good for the
United States, why not for other countries?
Particular concern was expressed at the slow pace of refugee resettlement as a result of
heightened security concerns – even though resettled refugees are the most vetted groups of
immigrants entering the USA. The detention of asylum-seekers, including detention of
children, is continuing both in the United States and in many other countries.
“If the ‘eye for an eye’ approach worked, the safest place to be in the world would
The people designing US foreign policy seem to have a view that military force is the only
way to protect the world and multilateral approaches are not to be trusted. One participant
remarked that the US relies on military force in order to protect its wealth. Some commented
that Third World people in the United States have long lived with the experience of terrorism
and harassment. We also need to recognize that the world is in the United States. In many
ways, New York is a microcosm of the world.
One participant asserted that we need to unpack the word “terrorism” - others spoke of their
communities – of new interfaith peace and justice networks emerging in one while in another,
a White Pride Fest was organized.
“How can we recognize the genuine need to grieve without being swept up in the
patriotic tide? Can we prevent the anniversary of 11 September from becoming
another 4th of July? The victims of 11 September have been exploited. We have
an obligation to explore this and to bring their exploitation to light.”
Several participants decried the emphasis on patriotism and efforts to push patriotism on
young people, including in the schools. We need a strong message from the churches against
the peddling of fear, one participant said. This fear reinforces the insistence on strengthening
national security and militarization.
“Fear is gripping the country. There is fear of the unknown, fear of terrorism.
Some people do not want to move to Washington because it is seen as too
dangerous. There is also fear of war in Iraq and of its consequences. There is a
sense that such a war would last a long time, and would directly impact people in
the United States. And there is a generalized fear of “big things” – of big
government, of big bureaucracies, of big corporations. I’d like to invite US church
people to reflect on how other people have lived with these fears. We have a lot to
We need to face the tough questions, several participants remarked. In the immediate
aftermath of 11 September we asked: ‘Why does the world hate us so much?’ We still need to
face those questions - but that kind of soul-searching is seen as unpatriotic. One participant
asked: how did our leaders – our political leaders, our church leaders – allow the dialogue to
be stopped? It will take a lot of courage to open the debate again.
“God has a bias for the terrorized. No one deserves to be terrorized. God is on the
side of the victims.”
Wendy Patten (Human Rights Watch, USA) began by detailing the situation of detainees in
the US in the aftermath of 11 September, with emphasis on three groups of people: those
detained on Guantanamo Naval Base, those detained inside the US on immigration charges
and as material witnesses, and those detained in the US as enemy combatants, e.g. Jose
Those being held on Guantanamo were apprehended on the battlefield in, or around
Afghanistan. While the military has the authority to detain people, they are obliged to follow
the humanitarian standards set out in the Geneva Conventions. There are two primary
concerns about this group. While most international lawyers agree that those fighting with
the Taliban should be considered as prisoners of war, the Bush administration sees them as
unprivileged combatants. Under the Geneva Conventions, in cases where there is doubt
about the status of those apprehended, a special tribunal should be set up to judge the merits
of the case. This has not happened. Secondly, there is concern about the length of detention.
Under international law, they can be held until the cessation of active hostilities, but what
does that mean if the relevant war is a rhetorical “war on terrorism?” There is fear that the
length of detention will be far higher than it should be.
The second group of people, known as INS detainees, are being held on immigration charges.
Although the exact number of these detainees is unknown, they are estimated to be about
1200 and have been designated as special interest cases by the Justice Department. The
detainees are being held not on probable cause, but on immigration charges though they are
being questioned about possible involvement in terrorism. While the government has the
right to apprehend those suspected of immigration fraud, the rules of criminal justice should
apply, such as the right to counsel and to open proceedings. It appears that the government is
avoiding the protections inherent in the criminal justice system by holding people on
immigration charges. None of the INS detainees has been charged with a terrorism-related
crime. The names of those being held have not been released. Every time a district court
rules that the names must be made public, the Justice Department appeals, effectively
freezing the case. A second concern about this group is the fact that secret immigration
hearings are taking place. While usually there are hearings to determine if a person facing an
immigration violation should be detained or can be released on bond, this has not occurred
with those detained in the aftermath of 11 September.
The third category of detainees is that of Jose Padilla – a US citizen apprehended in Chicago
whose custody was transferred from the Justice Department to the Defense Department as an
enemy combatant. The concern here is that a person can be detained solely on the president’s
authority with no effective checks or balances.
In addition to concerns about the detainees, Wendy Patten highlighted some overall themes
and questions about civil liberties in the United States.
1. What is to be the balance between national security and human rights – and who
decides what that balance is to be?
2. The scope of executive authority is being re-defined. The Justice Department has
imposed draconian measures, including refusing to release the names of detainees,
imposing secret immigration proceedings and lengthy detention, and giving greater
surveillance powers to intelligence agencies. Yet Congress is not exercising an
assertive oversight function and judicial checks have been minimal. This raises major
questions about checks and balances in the US political system as well as about due
process of law. Even fundamental principles such as habeas corpus are being
3. Secrecy. Court decisions requiring the release of names have been and will
probably continue to be appealed by the government. The government has been
unwilling to let independent human rights groups visit Guantanamo Naval Base to
monitor the detainees. While the International Committee of the Red Cross has been
given access, their reports are not public.
4. Fundamental to the US legal system is the presumption of innocence. This is
presently being turned upside down as people are being detained in secret, with no
access to counsel or to trial.
“President Bush asserted that it was our values which were attacked on 11
September. But now those values are being undermined in the war on terrorism.
In times of fear, we have seen that innocent people have been scapegoated which
has later been regretted. This was the case, for example, with the internment of
Japanese-Americans during World War II. Are we doing the same thing again?”
Clement John (WCC) began by affirming the important role which US churches have played
in the international cause of human rights for more than 50 years. The US churches were
pivotal in contributing to ecumenical social thought and to the creation of international
standards and UN mechanisms for upholding human rights. In the 1970s and 1980s,
churches in other regions would not have been able to challenge unjust structures in their own
societies without the support of US churches. Support for human rights is central to the
churches’ work and WCC seeks to shed light on the Gospel promotion of one human family
for the benefit of all. WCC is often asked, what are US churches doing about those detained
in the aftermath of 11 September? The fact is that most statements of concern about the
detainees have come from human rights groups, not from the churches.
Worldwide, those most affected by the measures implemented in response to 11 September
have been mainly religious minorities and political dissidents. In Pakistan, for example,
Christian churches and institutions have been targeted because they are perceived to be
aligned with the ‘Christian West’.
In the 1970s the ideology of national security was used against human rights activists. Today
the ideology of anti-terrorism is being used against them. In this ideology, the face of the
enemy is blurred, widening the scope of possible repression. The US Patriot Act in 2001 and
the UK Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002 are paralleled by similar restrictive legislation in India,
Malaysia and the Philippines. The war on terrorism is being used to justify repression of
Clement John then outlined some of the challenges for the churches. How do churches react
to the trend of governments’ using statutory violence through anti-terrorism measures?
Governments are increasing their military budgets leading to violations of basic human
rights. Anti-terrorism measures are directed towards Muslim minorities in Europe and North
America and towards Christian minorities in Asia. What can churches do? How can inter-
faith dialogue be more effective? Presently, this dialogue largely takes place among the
liberal and progressive sectors of both faiths, but we need to ask: how does dialogue filter
down to the grassroots level? As religions are not monolithic entities, we need to encourage
intra-religious dialogue as well. The regions still look to US churches for solidarity. What
can churches do to counter terrorism without brutalizing the civilized impulse? A climate has
been created which is anti-foreigner, xenophobic and where the persecution of minorities is
on the increase. How can churches be encouraged to address this climate?
In the discussion, participants commented on the role of public opinion. Polls indicate that
Americans are willing to give up some of their fundamental rights in return for greater
security. For example, a recent poll indicated that a majority of young people would be
willing to spy on others to enhance their security. Another questioned the reference to polls,
noting that most polls are quite superficial and depend on the way a particular question is
phrased. Deeper polling shows popular support for the war on terrorism but a preference for
multilateral and UN responses. (See for example: www.pipa.org)
“We’re now asking police and postal workers to report on suspicious activities by
ordinary people. This is like East Germany or the Soviet Union during the Cold
There was considerable discussion about whether we are indeed living in extraordinary times.
One participant insisted that if we do not acknowledge the extraordinary nature of the attacks,
we will lose all credibility. That corresponds to people’s understandings of the situation. We
have to acknowledge that things have changed.
“The administration argues that these are extraordinary times which require
extraordinary measures. But when the ‘extraordinary times’ are extended over
several years, they don’t seem so extraordinary. How long will these
extraordinary times last?”
“Churches need to give leadership in going beyond a fixation on the events of 11
September. Once the anniversary has passed, we need to talk in terms of the
global context. A focus on September 11th is becoming harmful as a reference
Several participants raised the issue of the interrelatedness of human rights; although we have
focused discussion here on civil and political rights, it is important to bear in mind the inter-
connected issues of economic, social and cultural rights. Others indicated a preference for a
focus on justice rather than human rights. Several also pointed out that the decline of civil
liberties in the United States makes it more difficult for the US to advocate for human rights
in other countries.
“As a nation we are losing our moral authority. When we challenge undemocratic
governments in the Middle East, for example, it seems like a farce. How can we
now challenge Egypt which has been living under emergency laws since 1973?
The US has been an international precedent-setter on human rights, in part because
of its power and in part because of its commitment to principles of human rights.
But that is now being lost.”
Victor Makari (Presbyterian, USA) began this discussion by reporting that immediately after
the attacks, Muslim leaders issued statements condemning the violence. They did not want to
be associated with these evil attacks. There were attacks on Middle Eastern and Islamic
centers in the US in the aftermath of 11 September, but there were also many spontaneous
cases of churches and communities responding to counter this violence. While interfaith
tensions were brought out, so were many efforts to bridge these tensions. Popular interest in
Islam increased dramatically and copies of the Koran were sold out. There was renewed
interest in inter-faith initiatives and many inter-faith services were carried out. Shortly after
the attacks, a beautiful interfaith service was held at the National Cathedral. The service was
a wonderful image of diversity and inter-faith cooperation until the President of the United
States spoke – in a sort of benediction to the service – by issuing a call for war. The use of
the term “crusade” by US President Bush provoked a strong negative reaction for Muslims
around the world. While Bush later moved away from using this term, the memories
lingered. There have been some consequences for churches entering into an inter-faith
approach, particularly the case of a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor who was
removed from his position for appearing publicly at an Inter-faith prayer service for the
victims of the tragedy. Victor Makari closed by noting that churches are taking a number of
initiatives to improve inter-faith relations. His church, Presbyterian Church (USA), has
invited interfaith teams, each composed of one Muslim and one Christian from 10 different
countries to meet with local congregations around the country over a 2½ week period.
Bishop Rumalshah began by noting that Islam is part of the lineage which we take from
Abraham. Islam is the only other religion that gives space to Jesus Christ in its holy book.
While we assume that Islam is monolithic, in fact, there are major divisions and schisms
within Islam which should be recognized. While most South Asian religions have a cyclical
view of life and death and are non-competitive in approach, Christianity, Islam and Judaism
all have a linear approach which stresses missionary activity and competition. We have to
acknowledge the diversity within the religious communities. Numbers and location matter in
inter-faith relations. Muslims act differently when they are in the minority than when they
are in the majority. Muslims behave differently in different parts of the world and even in
different parts of the same country. Muslims in Delhi are different than Muslims in Lahore.
While Western faith is individual and privatized, Muslims see faith as relational and
community based. We need to recognize this difference in inter-faith dialogue. We need to
follow a policy of conscious engagement with the world of Islam and of conscious seeking
toward a common goal.
“I do not know what it is like to be normal. In Pakistan, as a Christian, I am a
minority because of my religion. In Britain, where I live, I am a minority because
of my race.”
Oscar Bolioli (NCCCUSA) began his reflections on ecumenical relations in the United States
by recounting that when news of the 11 September attacks came, NCC General Secretary
Bob Edgar immediately began drafting a statement by the churches which was the only tool
available at that time to make the case against a vengeful response. The “Deny them their
victory” statement was eventually signed by over 4000 religious leaders. The National
Council of Churches of Christ in the USA received 70 messages of condolences from
different ecumenical bodies around the world while denominational bodies received many
more messages of support from their partner churches in other countries.
The churches were deeply involved in the tasks of healing within their communities and in
providing pastoral care to the many who were traumatized by the events. Church World
Service, building on experiences of the Oklahoma City bombing, developed programs to
provide pastoral care and counseling to people affected by the attacks. Some 65,000 people
in New York were treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and many more for
depression. Local mental health authorities reported that 120,000 people received treatment
in the nine months after the attacks.
Churches issued statements and the peace churches took the lead in arguing for a nonviolent
response to the attacks. But of all these statements, only three raised the issues of the reasons
for the attack – on why it happened and why “they hate us.” Islamic centers opened their
doors, inviting the public to visit and to learn about their religion. The NCCCUSA General
Secretary met with Muslim leaders and they agreed to continue to meet on a monthly basis –
a pattern that has continued. Some 500 cases of violence against foreigners were reported.
The NCCUSA mission book on Islam was reprinted. While churches took the lead in inter-
faith dialogue and in providing pastoral care for the victims, they were not so strong in
speaking out on the political issues of power and abuse although the NCCCUSA statement on
15 November did refer to the impact of these events on the rule of law and the protection of
civil liberties. The strongest statement was that issued by the National Council of Churches
on 27 June which denounced the limitations being imposed on civil liberties. But we are still
not dealing with some of the issues – particularly the reasons behind the attacks. We are still
focused on “us” rather than on the consequences of US actions for others. We need to talk
about our ecclesiology. Mission work still has not educated Americans about the reasons for
poverty. We are concerned about our security when others are concerned about justice.
“Justice for others means that we must give up something. Our way of life is built
on the insecurity of others.”
Elizabeth Ferris then spoke about global ecumenical developments, noting that in the months
following 11 September, there was little direct contact between US churches and ecumenical
bodies who were struggling to formulate a common response. In the months following 11
September, WCC responded with prayer, letters, statements, a pastoral visit to the US, an
alternative news service, inter-faith meetings and a brainstorming meeting to begin to look at
the consequences. These are dangerous times and unfortunately ecumenical structures are
weak. Ecumenical bodies throughout the world are experiencing difficulties with a
resurgence of denominationalism and dwindling financial support for ecumenical
organizations at the regional and global levels.
Yet in spite of these difficulties – or perhaps because of these difficulties - we need to find
new ways of working together. If there is a US military intervention against Iraq, how will
churches worldwide respond? Will each one respond on its own? Can we develop means
now to consult one another? What does it mean to be a fellowship of churches if we respond
to dangerous developments by turning inwards?
The events of 11 September changed the dynamics of how churches in other parts of the
world view the United States. There was an initial opportunity to show solidarity towards the
US – as US churches have so often demonstrated toward churches in other regions in the
past. There was a new awareness of the vulnerability of US churches on the part of churches
in other regions and a yearning to engage, to listen, to learn, to share, and to accompany.
There is a renewed emphasis on churches in the US on the part of the WCC. This meeting,
for example, was called for by the WCC Executive Committee. There are new opportunities
to deepen the fellowship even in a time such as this.
Discussion focused largely on the need for inter-faith dialogue and the need for intra-faith
discussions on what it means to engage in interfaith dialogue. While interfaith dialogue has a
long history in the United States, it did not become a passionate issue until 11 September.
One participant remarked that we have seen a sharpened theology of intolerance since 11
Many participants talked about the challenges to ecumenism today. There are fierce battles
within our denominations about where the church ought to go, one participant remarked. We
have a huge ecumenical challenge within our own denominations, another added. We need to
regard the other within our own denominations, to reach out and talk with people who hold
different views. Sometimes it is easier to talk with progressives in other traditions than to
reach out to fundamentalists within our own churches. We have to struggle to maintain a
sense of the dignity and that of God which is within each person. At the same time, another
remarked, there is a huge evangelical constituency within the country and we need to begin
the conversation with them. At the same time, another participant reminded the group, we
cannot allow the prophetic voice to be silenced in the name of tolerance. Another participant
commented that while the dialogue between global partners is not always self-evident,
Americans attending their local congregations usually do not even see the global church.
How do we make the church the conscience of this country? One participant remarked that
while we may feel powerless and our sermons do not move people, we have a powerful
constituency which we are not using. It is not our power, one participant reminded the group,
it is the power of the Spirit that moves through us.
Discerning the “signs of the times” is a difficult and on-going task. The discussions in
Washington, D.C. represented a small “window” of time during which participants could
work together to try to understand what is happening in the world and what the churches are
called to do at this particular moment in time. The presence of international participants and
the rich worship life of the meeting enabled participants to discuss their fears, their
frustrations, their uncertainties and their hopes. Throughout the meeting, however,
participants recognized the need for further discussions. They expressed a need to broaden
the debate and particularly to engage their congregations in discussions about the
implications – for the United States and for the world - of the “war on terrorism.” In the final
session, participants agreed on the outlines of a study guide consisting largely of questions
for use incongregations, understanding that these questions may be adapted by denominations
for their own constituencies. Participants also agreed to send a message to the WCC Central
Committee for its use in drafting a public statement on the issues emerging from the attacks
of 11 September and the response to those attacks. Although time did not permit universal
agreement with the text of that message during the meeting, almost all of the participants
subsequently indicated their support for the final message by electronic mail a few days after
the meeting. The message will be shared with the WCC Central Committee meeting in
Geneva from 26 August - 3 September 2002.
Overview Statement; Elizabeth Ferris
Beyond 11 September: Implications for US Churches and the World
5-6 August 2002
World Council of Churches
WCC, in consultation with NCCCUSA and CWS, has convened this meeting as part of an
on-going process of discernment among the churches about the way forward in this post-11
September world. Since the attacks on the US and the subsequent military response, reams of
media reports, statements, analyses, and reflections have taken place. There is no shortage of
media coverage or written analyses on the consequences of 11 September for the world. But
these developments are not just political events; they are also areas which cry out for
theological and moral perspectives and which challenge us to find new ways of
understanding, interpreting, and acting. International ecumenical gatherings, by bringing the
richness of different Christian traditions and different regional perspectives, offer a unique
opportunity to look beyond the headlines to discern the “signs of the times.”
In November 2001, WCC convened a meeting at short notice, to begin to explore some of the
consequences of the attacks. At that meeting, participants identified a particular need to
organize a meeting in the United States with representatives of US churches. At times in the
past 11 months, it has seemed that there has been a gap between churches in the USA and in
the rest of the world. Sometimes we have seen that churches in other parts of the world are
not aware of what the US churches have said and done, asking for example: where is the US
church response to US President Bush’s statements about an “axis of evil?” Sometimes we
get the sense that US churches have turned inward and have felt defensive at queries from
other parts of the world. Sometimes we have felt a yearning on the part of churches in other
parts of the world to hear from their US brothers and sisters about their interpretation of
events and about how they are responding.
This meeting and process
This meeting seeks to analyze, reflect and pray together – to try to understand what is
happening, to draw the attention of the global church community to the implications of
current political developments, and to try to discern together a way forward. As Konrad
Raiser said in November 2001, “The churches are called to an act of discernment in trying to
understand the significance of the events on 11 September. Such discernment must include a
critical evaluation of the interpretations given to the events. This is all the more important
since the interpretation determines to a large extent the nature of the response. The official
interpretations offered by the Government of the United States and by other centres of
political authority, including the Security Council of the United Nations, have set an agenda
which is presently being implemented. Can the churches go along with these interpretations
and the form of response?”1
In the months since these remarks were made, we have seen that decisions made by US
officials to respond to a new sense of vulnerability are having major consequences in the US
(homeland security, financial implications, the relative power of the President vis-à-vis the
Congress, civil liberties, spending on social issues, etc.) But decisions made by US officials
to respond to that vulnerability also have major consequences for the rest of the world and are
carried out in a context where US unilateralist behavior was a cause for concern long before
11 September. What are the consequences for international law and the United Nations (both
of which the churches have long supported)? What are the consequences of living in a world
with one superpower? What are the moral and theological insights which can churches offer?
We have deliberately left the agenda of this meeting fairly loose – not wanting to impose a
prearranged outcome on the meeting. But participants here can choose to draft a statement
which can be widely shared among both the US and the international community. The
Central Committee of the World Council of Churches is meeting later this month and is open
to receiving words of guidance from this group. The National Council of Churches of Christ
in the USA will hold its Assembly in November of this year. Church World Service has set
up a committee to examine some of these consequences. There are representatives from all
of these bodies here with us – as well as representatives of many churches who can feed
whatever “outcome” there is of the meeting into their own processes. We can choose to
draft something from this meeting – and there are some excellent drafters with us – this
evening to consider tomorrow afternoon. This could perhaps be based on the observations at
the WCC’s CCIA meeting in June (attached) which drew attention to some of the concerns
about the implications of 11 September.
Since time is limited, we may also choose to use these two days to deepen the analyses of
what is taking place in our world and to share the analyses with the broader ecumenical
community without worrying about how to reach consensus. Or we may leave it open and
come back at the end of the day to see where we want to go with all of this discussion –
whether we want to ask a small drafting group this evening to work on a draft statement or
We have structured the agenda around 6 themes:
Ethical and theological perspectives
For 5 of the 6 themes, we have asked two people – one from the US and one from the
international fellowship – to begin the discussion by posing questions or reflections (in only
5-10 minutes each) . For the session on international perspectives, we are asking each of the
international participants to give us a very short sketch of how current events are perceived in
Konrad Raiser, “Beyond 11 September: Implications for the Churches,” from Beyond 11 September:
Assessing Global Implications, Geneva: WCC, 2001, p. 15.
The issues are many and our time together is short, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we
hope to be able to move toward a greater understanding of the challenges which we face in
this post-11 September world.
To begin the discussion…
“The smoke from the explosions is part of a larger smoke screen that blocks our view.
As vengeance breeds vengeance, each act of terrorism sends us stumbling deeper into
We see “through a glass darkly” and our analytical tools seem inadequate to understand what
is happening at a global level. In the November meeting, Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of
the World Council of Churches, suggested that what is fundamentally different about this
conflict is its symbolic nature. Unlike previous conflicts, this is not a struggle for resources,
trade routes or territory but for symbolic hegemony. This is one of the reasons that our
traditional analytical models are inadequate to understand the conflict and why theology and
religious insights are needed. Power is legitimized through symbols and religion is the
strongest carrier of the symbolic.”3
Insights from theological and ethical perspectives bring a needed dimension to the analysis of
the current state of affairs. In particular, I would like to highlight three global trends which
cut across all the issues to be discussed here and which are in desperate need of theological
“It is true that no nation since Rome has loomed so large above the others, but even
Rome eventually collapsed”
Many have written about the dominance of US power. The United States will spend more on
defense in 2003 than the next 15-20 biggest spenders combined. The US “enjoys”
overwhelming military superiority on all levels: nuclear, conventional, air force, and navy.
This trend is likely to continue as US spending on research and development is far ahead of
all other countries. “The US spends more on military research and development than
Germany or the United Kingdom spends on defense in total…No state in the modern history
Eduardo Galeano, “A Tragedy of Errors: No one yet knows who is who” The New Internationalist, no. 340,
Raiser, WCC Report, p. 13.
Joseph S. Nye, The Economist, 23 March 2002, p. 23. (author of the Paradox of American Power: Why the
World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go it Alone, Oxford University Press, 2002.
of international politics has come close to the military predominance these numbers
As The Economist pointed out in its special issue on US power in the world, on traditional
measures of power, the US ranks far ahead of all other countries:
Global population – US 4.7% of total
Global GDP – US 31.2%
Global defense spending – US 36.3%
Global spending on research and development – US 40.6%
Global cinema box office revenues – 83.1%6
But the United States was the most powerful nation in the world before 11 September. What
has changed since then? A partial response would include: the painful realization of US
vulnerability, the resurgence of US nationalism/patriotism, and a growing willingness to use
US power to confront enemies who do not play by the rules. How can Christian perspectives
on power be introduced into the debate – power not as military might or economic superiority
– but power to nurture and protect and confront injustice. What do churches have to say
about a world order dominated by one superpower?
US President Bush has cast the struggle as a conflict between the forces of good and evil. In
his June address at the West Point graduation ceremony, he cast the present conflict in moral
terms: “some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite the speak the language of
right and wrong. I disagree. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in
every place.” In other statements, he and members of his administration have made it clear
that they intend to use this power for good. For example, Richard Falk cites military
commentator Eliot Cohen: “in the twenty-first century, characterized like the European
Middle Ages by a universal (if problematic) high culture with a universal language, the US
military plays an extraordinary and inimitable role. It has become, whether Americans or
others like it or not, the ultimate guarantor of international order.”7 What are the theological
and ethical perspectives which churches bring to this debate, couched as it is in moral terms?
How can churches “speak truth to power” in this context? How can they challenge the use of
moral language by politicians? What do churches have to say about nationalism? How can
the positive advantages of affirming a sense of community and belonging be affirmed while
challenging the uses to which nationalism and patriotism have been put?
“The United States has been fading as a global power since the 1970s and the US
response to the terrorist attacks has merely accelerated this decline.”
While there are few analysts who challenge the primacy of the United States, there are a few
lone voices, such as Immanuel Wallerstein, who question how long the US can maintain this
position. He argues that in spite of this dominance, the seeds of US decline are already
evident. The US currently finds itself “a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world
Brooks and Wohflorth.
“A survey of America’s world role,” The Economist 29 June 2002, p. 4.
Article in Foreign Affairs, cited by Richard Falk, “The New Bush Doctrine,” The Nation, 15 July 2002. Falk
discusses the implications of this far-reaching assertion, including its assumptions about the role of democratic
institutions and about the international order.
Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Eagle has Crash Landed,” Foreign Policy, July-August 2002.
leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global
chaos it cannot control.”9
“At the moment the United States is unlikely to face a challenge to its pre-eminence
from other states unless it acts so arrogantly that it helps the others to overcome their
Questions about the dominance of US power are inextricably linked to concerns about US
Before 2001, there was ample evidence of US unilateralism. Even before the election of US
President Bush, the US had failed to pay its UN dues, expressed reservations about the
International Criminal Court, refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and failed
to ratify a number of other international treaties and conventions, such as the Landmines
treaty and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.11 President Bush continued and
intensified this unilataralist trend, with US withdrawal from the 1972 AntiBallistic Missile
Treaty, beginning work on a national missile defense system, adoption of a critical posture
toward UN negotiations on small arms, withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocols on climate
change, opposition to proposed talks to prevent the weaponisation of space, failure to ratify
UN conventions on the international control of terrorism, and withdrawal from the World
Conference against Racism only weeks before the 11 September attacks.
There were some initially encouraging signs in the months immediately after the 11
September attacks as the US government hastily paid some of its outstanding UN dues
(although leaving US$1 billion as yet unpaid) and began negotiations to put together a
coalition against the perpetrators of the attacks and more generally, against terrorism. UN
Security Council resolutions authorized strikes against Afghanistan and NATO, for the first
time in its history, invoked Article 5 calling for collective defense.
“We’re so multilateral it keeps me up 24 hours a day checking on everybody.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell12
Since then, however, the trend toward unilateralism has accelerated. The US has withdrawn
from the International Criminal Court (the first time any country has formally withdrawn its
signature from an internationally-agreed convention) and held UN peacekeeping operations
hostage until US forces could receive an exemption from the provisions of the ICC. The US
has pulled out of efforts to agree on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons
Convention. It has disregarded the Geneva conventions on prisoners of war in determining
the legal status of people captured in Afghanistan and taken to Guantanamo Bay for
Wallerstein, July-August 2002.
Joseph S. Nye, The Economist, 23 March 2002, p. 25.
Note that the US has not ratified a number of other important conventions, including the Convention on
Racial Discrimination, Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, American Convention on Human Rights,
Convention to Eliminate Discrimination against Women. The Economist, 29 June 2002, p. 22.
Quoted in James B. Steinberg, “Counterterrorism: a new Organizing Principle for American National
Security,” The Brookings Review, vol. 20, no. 3. Summer 2002, pp. 4-7.
questioning. President Bush has said he will not resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
to the Senate for ratification (which was rejected in 1999) On the economic front, the US has
imposed new trade barriers on steel and agricultural products.
The churches have long advocated for the rule of international law and the strengthening of
international institutions to promote peace and justice for all. How can churches continue to
advocate for international law and institutions in a climate of increasing unilateralist
behavior? What role do US churches play in this regard? How can churches in other parts of
the world continue their advocacy for a just world order?
Among the many troubling signs of US unilateralism, the assertion by US President Bush that
the United States has the right to use military force against any state that is seen as hostile or
makes moves to acquire weapons of destruction -- nuclear, biological or chemical13 stands
out as particularly dangerous. This claiming of a right to pre-emptive strikes, although in
clear contradiction of international law, raises the specter of new US military actions.
“I very much fear that we are on the eve of a new and terrible global war.”
The danger inherent in a war against terrorism is that it is a war without limits and a war
where the enemy is defined by the dominant power. President Bush’s statement that the US
would confront the “axis of evil” and naming of North Korea, Iran and Iraq has led to fears
that further military action is imminent. Recent press reports indicate planning for such
military action against Iraq is well underway. Richard Sale, for example, reports that plans
are for round-the-clock air strikes, US ground forces numbering 200,000 (with an additional
25,000 troops to be provided by Britain), operations to be carried out from staging areas in
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and with casualty estimates of 2,000.15
Some US church leaders have spoken out against plans to topple Iraq’s president as they
would endanger civilian lives in Iraq and also be de-stabilizing for the region.16
How can churches challenge the mindset of power, the assumptions that a military response
is the best way to achieve security? How can churches respond more effectively at a time
when war scenarios are being painted in the media and the signs are present that further US
military actions may be forthcoming? How can the international ecumenical movement take
steps now to prevent further wars and rumors of wars? How can churches hold governments
accountable for the actions they take?
These are just three of the trends which shape the world in which we are called to witness and
which cry out for moral perspectives and theological insights. As religious leaders from the
Cited by Richard Falk, “The new Bush doctrine,” The Nation, 15 July 2002.
Mary Lord, “Reflections on Friends Peace Testimony: A New Global War,” presented to the Annual Meeting
of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, 15 March 2002.
Richard Sale, “US plans massive invasion of Iraq,” UPI, 10 July 2002.
ENI – check date – Bob Edgar and John Thomas.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stated in a different context, “these are issues that
are too important to leave to the politicians.
At its 2002 meeting the Commission of the Churches in International Affairs reviewed the
implications of the tragic events of September 11th for the ecumenical movement as follows:
The global situation has become more complex, making a coherent and effective ecumenical
response more difficult to shape. The proliferation of internal and international conflicts has
placed unprecedented challenges to the churches at all levels.
There has been an accelerated attack on the framework of global governance, the rule of law
and the institutions painstakingly built over the past fifty years to apply it. Treaties have been
abrogated for the first time in many decades, and a systematic effort is being made from
several quarters to weaken the system of obligations freely entered into by states and to erode
international protections. The USA has led this trend, withdrawing its signature from the
Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court and giving notice that it would no longer
abide by the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Taking advantage of the climate created by the “War on Terrorism,” a number of states have
resorted to “states of emergency,” undermining due process of law with respect to dissidents,
minority groups and persons suspected of involvement in terrorism. This has resulted in
grave violations of human rights and threatens a return to national security doctrines.
Major increases in military budgets have been made in a number of countries, further limiting
resources available for economic, social and environmental needs.
Efforts to control the production, transfer and use of weapons, has been slowed in the
conventional sphere, and despite the new agreement between the USA and Russia on
decommissioning nuclear weapons, for the first time in decades a new generation of nuclear
weapons is being developed and new threats of the use of such weapons in regional wars
1. The process of globalization and economic neoliberalism has reduced the capacity of
many nation-states to determine and implement strategies to meet the needs of their own
people, strengthening the powers of the major industrialized nations and weakening those
of most developing nations, widening the gap between rich and poor.
The blatant unilateralism of the USA and its attempts to impose its own will and standards on
the entire world has severely weakened the project of world order provided by the UN
Charter which foresaw a form of governance in which all nations, small and large, rich and
poor would have a say.
Religion has been pushed back into the center of world affairs and that of the peoples,
reversing the trends of secularization that dominated in previous decades and calling into
question many of our previous assumptions based on the secular society. It has become a
central factor in many open conflicts, making them more resistant to peaceful resolution.
There has been a political backlash in many countries of the North that is deeply troubling. It
has a particular impact on human rights, particularly those of the uprooted. It also has had
serious implications for the churches.
At the same time, the churches, the ecumenical movement and its institutions, including the
WCC have seen their resources dwindling to an extent unprecedented since the WCC was
formed. The resultant weakening of ecumenical structures has been accompanied by trends
toward uncoordinated and sometimes competing responses to crises by churches and related
Message to the WCC Central Committee, August 2002
Message to the WCC Central Committee from participants in the meeting “Beyond 11
September: Implications for US Churches and the World,” organized by the World
Council of Churches in consultation with the National Council of Churches of Christ in
the USA and Church World Service from 5-6 August 2002 in Washington, DC.
As the anniversary of 11 September 2001 approaches, we came together as Christians from
the United States and other parts of the world to discern together the challenges which we
now face as a result of the horrific events of 11 September and the US response. Our prayers
are with all those who suffered loss in the events of September 11 and acts of terror around
the world. While much of our discussion focused on peace and security, as Christians we
affirmed that true security comes only from Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the
life” (John 14:6)
We have come to understand that ongoing dialogue, with churches worldwide and other faith
communities, is essential to formulating a constructive Christian response to the insecurities
and vulnerabilities that we and other people around the world experience. We encourage our
churches – from the global to the congregational levels – to engage in sustained study and
reflection on the meaning and sources of true peace and security in the present age.
In looking at threats to peace and security, we particularly lift up the concerns in the Middle
East. We call on U.S. churches to press their government to work for a just resolution of the
Palestine-Israeli conflict, without delay, which will result in a viable and secure Palestinian
state and a secure Israel at peace with its neighbors. Furthermore, at this particular moment
in history, U.S. churches are called to speak out against the threat of a military attack by their
government against Iraq.
Our discussions affirmed certain fundamental principles:
*Security must be grounded in respect for human rights, due process, and international law.
Security does not result from military actions.
* Moreover, human security and national security depend on economic justice and peace, in
our own countries and throughout the world. We fear that the military response to terrorism
will further divert needed resources away from meeting human needs.
*Peaceful relations among nations and peoples are achieved through multilateral decision-
making, not by the unilateral economic and military actions of one country. The current US-
led “war on terrorism” undermines these principles and threatens genuine peace and justice.
*As Christians we put our security in the hands of Jesus Christ and the biblical witness which
says “perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18a
Draft Guide for Reflection
Beyond 11 September: Implications for US Churches and the World
Orthodox Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
Anniversary of the Dropping of the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima
6 August 2002
The Prophetic Voice of the Churches
For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the
wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no
Jeremiah: 6: 13-15.
Across the ages, the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures have warned their people to
turn from their wicked ways, to speak out against injustice and to put their faith in
God. Sometimes, prophets, such as Ezekiel, resist delivering God’s message to their
errant people. But God tells Ezekiel that he will be held responsible if the message is
not delivered and if people perish because they did not hear the prophecy (Ezekiel
3:17-24). Speaking out against the prevailing powers is often uncomfortable. But the
experience of the prophets compels us to speak even when it is uncomfortable to do
A group of Christians from various churches gathered in Washington, D.C. from 5-6
August 2002 at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in
consultation with the National Council of Churches of Christ USA (NCCC) and
Church World Service (CWS) to discern together the implications of the 11
September attacks for the US churches and the world. Participants at the two day
meeting included representatives of churches in the United States and from churches
located in other parts of the world, as well as staff from the WCC, NCCC and CWS.
It was an intense meeting as participants struggled to understand what is happening in
our world and to discern God's will for themselves and for their churches. With the
approach of the anniversary of the 11 September attacks, participants expressed their
continuing grief and solidarity with those who lost family members and friends in the
attacks. At the same time, participants felt called to extend their solidarity to the many
who are suffering from the consequences of US policies in the aftermath of the 11
There have been many efforts by ecumenical organizations to express solidarity and
to discern the meaning of these events17 and this meeting sought to build on these
There was a sense among those gathered at the meeting that immediately following
the attack, a window of time opened during which people from every corner of the
world stood with the people of the United States, sharing their horror, outrage and
grief. And there was a moment in time when the people of the United States stood
with the rest of the world with a new understanding of the horrors of vulnerability
many others had been experiencing long before September 11. The sense of global
community deepened. The window seemed to provide an opportunity for people to
listen to one another and for Americans to recognize US interdependence with the rest
of the world. The sense of global community deepened with the possibility that a US
response to these horrific attacks could lead to a more just world where all would be
more secure. Now this window seems to have closed.
US policy internationally -- particularly in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Iraq --
and also domestically has eroded the goodwill born of the tragedy of September 11
and has alienated many who were predisposed to stand in solidarity with the United
States. In considering military response, many in the United States feel so violated by
the events of 11 September that no response by the United States would have seemed
too severe. Others are horrified by the intensity of the response and a perception that
undisclosed motives underlie both the choice of aggressive action abroad and the
undermining of constitutional principles at home. The United States government is
seen as embracing a policy of “America first and foremost” and to be pursuing
unilateral policies based on its own self-interest rather than working to support
multilateral efforts to promote the common good.
US churches are still responding to grief, to broken communities and to the shock of
unfamiliar vulnerability, but some are also beginning to raise larger questions about
the meaning of these events and about US policies in the world. They are grappling
with these many issues without clear consensus within their own countries or among
their leadership. There is also a sense that the influence of US church leaders has not
been felt or, in some cases, sufficiently exercised.
At the meeting, the international participants expressed their solidarity and support for
the pastoral responsibility of the US churches. However, they also expressed their
A number of initiatives were organized WCC, including letters to the US churches and the UN Secretary-
General; inter-faith meetings; the November 2001 visit to the United States of an international delegation of
religious leaders as “Living Letters” to the churches and people of the United States; the November 2001
meeting whose report is entitled “Beyond 11 September: Assessing Global Implications,” and an alternative
news service known as “Behind the News: Visions for Peace, Voices of Faith , For further information on these
ecumenical perspectives see: http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/behindthenews/index.html. The National Council of
Churches of Christ in the USA has issued a number of statements and collected resources, including a liturgy to
mark the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. See http://ncccusa.org. A collection of US church statements
on 11 September is available at http://www.ecumenismnow.org. Churches in other parts of the world have also
organized initiatives to express solidarity with US churches and to try to understand the consequences of the
changing world. See for example: “Bridging the Gaps: Report on an ecumenical visit to the USA March 2002 –
six months after 9/11 by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland,” May 2002.
concern that US policies intended to respond to terrorism may undermine
fundamental responsibili8ties in the global system, such as commitment to
multilateral actions, respect for human rights, acceptance of cultural diversity,
national sovereignty and social justice.
Those gathered at this meeting have chosen to offer the following questions for
further reflection by the churches of the United States and by churches throughout the
world through the ecumenical fellowship of churches. They do so in the conviction
that all people of faith are called to live their lives in a manner consistent with that
Reflections on the situation of the Churches of the United States
Many people in the United States continue to grieve, both for those lost directly
in the attacks and for the loss of their sense of security.
How do churches help people to heal from grief, hurt and trauma so that they can
move toward reconciliation and forgiveness?
Can individual experience of fear and vulnerability move us to greater compassion
towards all those whose lives have long been characterized by fear and
How can the churches help define the difference between justice and vengeance?
What is the responsibility of Christians in the United States to learn about US
policies abroad and their consequences?
In thinking about forgiveness, whom should we forgive and from whom should
we seek forgiveness?
The people killed on September 11, 2001 included citizens of nations from every
corner of the globe and adherents of many different faiths. The US population
includes people from nearly every religion, and race. As the people of the world
gathered in prayer, faith communities were challenged to recognize in one
another a common humanity and kindred spiritual quest. The search for
restoration of a sense of security challenges assumptions about “we” and “they.”
God’s love extends to the whole world.
How do US churches witness to the Christian understanding that each and every
human being is made in the image and likeness of God?
How do Christian churches maintain the full integrity of faith in Jesus Christ
while embracing people of other faith traditions?
What can the churches do to promote inter-religious dialogue as a vehicle to
protect and promote human rights of all people?
How can churches work together to overcome the fear of the “other?”
How should the churches of the United States engage in dialogue on these issues
with other Christian churches and ecumenical partners?
What can churches contribute to the public debate about the use of political
discourse to classify some nations or peoples as “evil?” and to classify ourselves
What does the response of the United States to September 11 show us about
racism, both domestically and in US foreign policy?
Soon after September 11, the genuine sense of national unity experienced by
many Americans was directed into the expectation that patriotic citizens would
acquiesce to all decisions by the country’s political leaders. Criticism of the
government, its actions, direction or motivation, whether by elected officials,
public figures, church leaders or anyone else, was portrayed as disloyal and
“Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” Psalm 51:15.
How can churches find their prophetic voice in critiquing policies of the US
government during times of uncertainty and fear?
Is there danger that ‘worship of nation’ has replaced worship of God?
Has use of the language of religion and moral authority been manipulated by
governmental officials? Does this affect the authentic voice and moral authority
of the churches?
How can Christians honestly confront the causes of terrorism without justifying its
What should be the role of the church when statutory violence is used by
government to counter “terrorism” that may have political, social, religious or
The United States embarked on a war against Afghanistan described as a
justified response to the September 11 attacks and is threatening unilateral war
against Iraq without consultation with other countries through the UN Security
Council. The United States spends more on its military than do all of the other
nations of the world combined. Many Americans are questioning the influence
of economic and corporate interests in their political system and their military
policies. The international community fears the unilateral exercise of military
power by the world’s most powerful country.
Do Christians need to re-examine the long-standing debates on “pacifism” and
“just war” in light of the continuing development of new weapons of mass
destruction and the preponderance of bombing campaigns from the air in recent
US military attacks?
What does “just war” mean in the context of the present situation? Do US
military actions fulfill the criteria of just war theory? For example, was the
military campaign in Afghanistan a proportionate and just response to the attacks
of September 11?
What is the role of the churches in responding to current discussions about
increasing US security? What are the tradeoffs for Americans of trying to
What are the consequences for other countries of US efforts to achieve greater
security? What has it meant in places like the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the
What is the role of US churches in speaking to military engagement and
intervention by the US government?
To what extent is US foreign policy driven by the desire to preserve the wealth of
its citizens? What is the relationship between policies to assure the comfort and
well-being of US citizens and poverty elsewhere?
Are Christians called to be peacemakers? What does Christian peace-making
mean in today’s world? How can churches do more to lift up peacemaking as an
alternative to military action?
The United States sees itself as having been uniquely injured by “terrorism” on
September 11 and thus as uniquely entitled to retaliate globally and
preemptively against terrorism. Many countries have lived for decades with
uncertainty in an atmosphere constantly at risk from terror. In the United
States, September 11, 2001 is seen as a turning point in international affairs;but
in other countries, there are other turning points, e.g. HIV/AIDS, poverty. The
terms “terrorism” and “war on terrorism” have often been used in other
countries and contexts to justify heightened military activities, violations of
human rights and repression of political dissent.
How can churches contribute to the effort to counter terrorism without
condoning the brutalization of civil societies?
What are the similarities between the actions of 11 September 1973 – when
the CIA supported a military coup in Chile – and the attacks of 11 September
2001? Are there other dates which mark turning points in our understandings
of international events and the exercise of power?
How can churches provide a historical memory of events which have marked
turning points in regions without the massive media coverage which marked
the events of 11 September 2001?
How do churches in areas of the world that have endured violence and
terrorism for decades or generations support the churches of the United States
in their pastoral work with Americans?
How can churches help to ensure that all victims of violence are given a
How should the churches support and protect non-violent movements for
justice and freedom?
The United States is the richest nation in the world, although there are
significant inequalities in the distribution of that wealth. The ethical and moral
justification for policies of the United States that place the United States and its
citizens first as an individual nation rather than as part of the global community
have been called into question by the international community.
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of
my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40.
What is the relationship of the US churches to the parable of the rich man and
Lazarus? Is it wealth or the indifference to the suffering of poverty that
condemns the rich man in the parable?
What does the separation of church and state mean in the current crisis?
What is the responsibility of the church in the development and preservation
of international law and cooperation?
How do we find the words and actions that can change the agendas of
Is the United States self-interest equivalent to the public good?
This is an extraordinary time in the history of the United States. It is a time that calls
the religious community to articulate a faithful response and to speak truth to power.
Christian churches have a particular message rooted in their understandings of the
Gospel and must not be silent. The power of the churches is not solely in its human
institutions but in the presence, inspiration and grace of God. It is the power of the
Holy Spirit which brings peace and speaks the truth.
This meeting encourages the churches in the United States to give attention to these
and related questions and concerns as they assess the ongoing response of their
government, not only to the events of September 11, 2001 but also to the exercise of
US power in the world. The way in which this power is exercised has major
consequences for all people living on earth.
Among many such challenges, the discussions identified a number of areas where
further discussion and reflection are needed, including:
1. The impact of the “war on terrorism” for human rights and security in the US
The erosion of constitutional principles and civil liberties at home,
including the treatment of detainees
The impact of US policies on human rights in other countries
US policies toward states it has identified as supporters of terrorism, with
particular emphasis on Iraq
The contrast between national security and global security
2. US policies toward specific countries directly impacted by the US response to the
attacks of 11 September
Israel and Palestine
Pakistan and India
Afghanistan and its efforts to recover from war
3. National defense and arms control
The impact of the US assertion of a right to make preemptive strikes,
including with nuclear weapons
The consequences of US resumption of nuclear testing
The effects of US policies toward the sales of small arms, including to non-
The impact of diversion of scarce resources to military forces
The need to develop alternatives to war
4. The United States as a member of the Global Community
The impact of US unilateral actions in areas such as the environment, UN
conferences, UN peacekeeping operations, and disarmament for global peace
The effects of US opposition to the International Criminal Court and
weakening of other international treaties
The extent to which US actions are undermining international law and global
The perception that the US has abrogated its moral authority to mercantile
Those gathered at this meeting urge the churches of the United States and the
leadership of the churches to engage in dialogue on these issues and to make the
opportunity to consult with and listen to their ecumenical partners from the
Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the
yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I
am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall
rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your
bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
Isaiah 58: 6-12.
List of Participants
Beyond 11 September: Implications for US Churches and the World
World Council of Churches
5-6 August 2002
Ms Mia Adjali Rev Oscar Bolioli
UMOUN PCUSA / National Council of Churches USA
777 UN Plaza, 11th fl. National Council of Churches USA
New York, NY 10017 475 Riverside Drive, Room 812
United States of America New York, NY 10115
Work tel: +1 212-682-3633 United States of America
Work fax: +1 212-682-5354 Work tel: +1 212- 870 24 21
email@example.com Work fax:+1 212- 870 22 65
Dr Walter Altmann Bishop Stephen P. Bouman
Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Confession in Brazil 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1620
Rua Pastor Rodolfo Saenger 284 New York
Sao Leopoldo / RS NY 10115
BR 93035-110 United States of America
Brazil Work tel:+1 212 665 0732 ext 234
Work tel:+55 51 592 6835 Work fax:+1 212 665 8640
Work fax:+55 51 589 6439 firstname.lastname@example.org (c/c
Rev. Dora Arce Mr Jim Bowman
Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba Lutheran World Relief, Office of Public Policy
Reforma 560 e/Sta.Ana y Sta. Felicia 122 C Street, N.W., 125
C. Habana 10700 Washington D.C. 20001-2172
Cuba United States of America
Work tel:+(53 7) 33 96 21 Work tel: +1 212-783-6887
Work fax:+(53 7) 98 48 18 Work fax: +1 212-783-5328
Mr Liberato Bautista Mr Dale W. Brown
General Board of Church and Society Church of the Brethren
777 UN Plaza, 11th fl. 1101 College Avenue
New York, NY 10017 Elizabethtown, PA 17022
United States of America United States of America
Work tel:+1 212 682 3633 ext 3112 Work tel: +1 717 361 9020
Work fax:+1 212 682 5354 Work fax: +1 717 361 1443 (c/o Young
Mr Vernon S. Broyles, III Dr Elizabeth Ferris
Presbyterian Church (USA) World Council of Churches
National Ministries Division International Relations
100 Witherspoon Street 150, route de Ferney
Rm 4607 P.O. Box 2100
Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1396 1211 Geneva 2
United States of America Switzerland
Work tel: +1 502 569 5812 Work tel: +41-22-791 6318 / 791 6111
Work fax: +1 502 569 8116 Work fax: +41-22-791 03 61, 791 4122
Mr Daryl J. Byler Mr Dennis Frado
MCC U.S. Washington Office Lutheran Office for World Community,
110 Maryland Ave. NE #502 Division for Church in Society, ELCA
Washington, DC 20002 777 United Nations Plaza
United States of America New York, NY 10017-3521
J._Daryl_Byler@mail.mcc.org United States of America
Work tel:+1 212 808 5360
Work fax:+1 212 808 5480
Mr Steven Cupic email@example.com
Office of International Affairs of the Serbian
Orthodox Church in the US and Canada Ms Anne Glynn-Mackoul
2311 Street, Suite 402 Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and
Washington, DC 20037 All the East
United States of America 25 Gallup Road
firstname.lastname@example.org Princeton, New Jersey 08540
United States of America
Work tel:+1 609 924 60 47
Ms Lois McCullough Dauway Work fax:+1 609 279 14 54
United Methodist Church email@example.com
Women's Division: General Board of Global
Ministries Ms Catherine Gordon
United Methodist Church Global Ministries Presbyterian Church (USA)
475 Riverside Drive, #1502 110 Maryland Avenue, N.E. 104
New York, NY 10115 Washington, D.C. 20002
United States of America United States of America
Work tel:+1 212 870 37 34 Work tel:+ 1 202 543-1126
Work fax:+1 212 870 37 36 Work fax: +1 202 543-7755
Ms Marie Dennis Mr. Gabriel Habib
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Peace, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and
Social Justice and Integrity of Creation All the East / National Council of Churches in
P.O.Box 29132 the USA
Washington, D.C. 20017 5500 Holmes Run
United States of America Parkway
Work tel: +1 202 832-1780 Alexandria, VA 22304
Work fax: +1 202 544-2820 United States of America
firstname.lastname@example.org Work tel: +1 703 751 5844
Work fax: +1 703 751 5844
Mrs Carmencita Karagdag
Mr Chris Hobgood National Council of Churches in the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Philippines
11501 Georgia Avenue 879 Epifanio de los Santos Avenue
Wheaton, MD 20902 Quezon City, Manila
United States of America Philippines
Work tel: +1 301-942 8266 Work tel:+63 2 928 86 36
Work fax: +1 301-942 8366 Work fax:+63 2 926 70 76
Ms Mary Yoder Holsopple Ms Kathleen Kern
Peace and Justice Collaborative Representative of the Mennonite Church USA
3003 Benham Avenue 293 Brooksboro Dr.
Elkhart, IN 46517 Webster, NY 14580
United States of America United States of America
Work tel:+1 574 596 6276 Work tel:+1 585-265-4313
email@example.com Work fax:+1 585-265-4313
Mr Victor Hsu Mr John Langmore
Church World Service and Witness ILO Liaison Office to the UN
475 Riverside Drive, Room 700 220 E. 42nd Street, Suite 3101
New York, NY 10115 New York, NY 10017
United States of America United States of America
Work tel:+1.212 770 23 73 Work tel: +1 212 697 3030
Work fax:+1.212 870.35.23 Work fax: +1212 963 3062
Mr Philip Jenks Ms Mary Lord
US Office - World Council of Churches American Friends Service Committee
475 Riverside Drive, Room 915 1501 Cherry Street
New York, NY 10115 Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States of America United States of America
Work tel:+212 870 3193 Work tel: +1 215 241 7000
Work fax:+212 870 2528 Work fax: + 215 241 7000
Mr Clement John Dr Janice Love
World Council of Churches United Methodist Church
International Relations 419 Edisto Avenue
150, route de Ferney Columbia, SC 29205
P.O. Box 2100 United States of America
1211 Geneva 2 Work tel:+1 803 777 7363,
Switzerland +1 803 799 4332
Work tel: +41-22-791 6317 /6041 Work fax:+1 803 777 0213,
Work fax: +41-22-791 6122 +1 803 777 8255
Rev. Dr Victor Makari The Rev Renta Nishihara
Presbyterian Church (USA) The Anglican Church in Japan
100 Witherspoon Street 1-12-31-B1 Yoga
Room 4412 Setagaya-ku
Louisville, KY 40202-1396 Tokyo 158 0097
Work tel:+1 502 569 5314 /+1 888 728 7227 Japan
ext 5324 Work tel:+81 3-3701-8324
Work fax:+1 502 569 8039/8040 Work fax:+81 3-3701-8324
Dr Belle Miller McMaster Mr Ernie Regehr
Presbyterian Church (USA) Project Ploughshares
52 Lakeshore Drive Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies
Avondale Estate, GA 30002 Conrad Grebel College, University of
United States of America Waterloo ON N2L 3G6
Work tel: +1 404 - 284 6676 Canada
Work fax: +1 404 - 727 2494 Work tel:+1 519 888 6541 x263
firstname.lastname@example.org Work fax:+1 519 885 0806
Ms Jennifer Morazes Mr Paul Renshaw
US Office - World Council of Churches Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
475 Riverside Drive, Room 915 35-41 Lower Marsh
New York, NY 10115 London SE1 7SA
United States of America United Kingdom
Work tel: +1 212 870 2522 Work tel:+ 44 20 7523 2112
Work fax: +1 212 870 2528 Work fax:+ 44 20 7928 0010
Ms Abla Nasir Bishop Mano Rumalshah
YWCA Palestine U.S.PG
P.O.Box 20044 Parternship House
Wadil joz Street, Cheikh Jarrah Quarter 157 Waterloo
Jerusalem London SE1 8UU
Israel United Kingdom
Work tel: +972 2 628 2593 or 6282 087 Work tel:+44 171 92 88681
Work fax: +972 2 6284 654 email@example.com
Archbishop Condrea Nicolae Rev. Eunice Santana
Romanian Orthodox Church Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Windsor P.O Box 2244
Work tel: +1 519 948 0818 Puerto Rico
Work fax: +1 519 948 0818 Work tel:+1 787 878 5427
firstname.lastname@example.org Work fax:+1 787 880 9287
Mr Joe Volk
Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Work tel: +1 202 547 6000
Work fax: +1 202 547 6019
Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith
National Baptist Convention USA
Church ederation of Indianapolis
1100 West 42nd Street, Suite 345
Indianapolis, IN 46208
United States of America
Work tel: +1 317 926 5371
Work fax:: +1 317 926 5373
Bishop C. Dale White
117 Eustis Ave
Newport, RI 02840
United States of America
Work tel: +1 401 847 3419
Ms Lisa Wright
Church World Service and Witness
110 Maryland Ave., N.E. #108
Washington, DC 20002
United States of America
Work tel: +1 202 544 2350
Work fax: +1 202 543 1297