Faith Leaders Issue Emphatic 'No' to War with Iran | Sojourners

Faith Leaders Issue Emphatic 'No' to War with Iran

The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

American church leaders are saying a clear and emphatic NO to a war with Iran. Diplomacy is the effective and necessary alternative to what would be a disastrous and indefensible war.

Nearly 200 church leaders have signed this essential statement embracing peacemaking over war making. They are now asking you to join them by signing on, giving the statement to your pastors and churches, sending it to your networks, and sharing it on social media. Make your convictions clear to a dangerous administration that War Is Not the Answer to Iran. Your signatures and all the others we collect together will be shared with media and with Congress, and used to tell the White House that we people of faith will not support the administration's war.

Editor's Note: This action is now closed. See other ways to get involved here.

Back from the Brink: #NoWarWithIran

Download the pdf version here.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

Jesus’ words, “children of God,” are directed not to those who merely proclaim their opposition to violence and war, but to those who seek better, life-saving ways to resolve inevitable human conflicts.

A United States war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster, morally and religiously indefensible; U.S. faith leaders must be among the first to rise up, say “No!”—and call for better, more effective, and life-saving ways forward.

Given the escalation of confrontation between the United States and Iran, it is time for leaders from our faith communities to point to more effective ways to transform conflict and to speak strongly against military action that could have enormous human and financial costs, and which could easily and broadly escalate.

With tensions rising over attacks on chemical tankers, the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, and threatened retaliatory air strikes, urgent action is needed now, particularly in the context of an unraveling Iran nuclear deal from which the U.S. irresponsibly withdrew.

Therefore, we as U.S. faith leaders demand that our political leaders seek real diplomatic and humanitarian solutions to the current crisis and refrain from military confrontation with Iran.

While we agree that Iran should repudiate terrorism and not resume uranium enrichment, we stand as religious leaders to say that war is not the answer with Iran and is unjustifiable on moral and religious grounds. Such war would likely have disastrous human and environmental consequences, would be strategically unnecessary, and would lead to regional destabilization, increased terrorism, and unsustainable financial burdens..

Since the start of the war in Iraq, the cost of wars in the Middle East has been almost $6 trillion and 500,000 lives lost. As people of faith, we are motivated by the humanitarian needs and suffering of all people, including the Iranians, who are already afflicted by severe sanctions and who would be the principal victims of military confrontation. We urge our political leaders to learn from the failed policies of the past. Preventing another costly and unjust U.S. war in the Middle East is a moral imperative.

It is time for a different approach.

1. The United States should offer to return immediately to the Iran nuclear deal and use the resulting discussions with Iran to engage in an effective diplomatic process for enhancing regional security. In the meantime, we urge the United Nations and governments in Europe and beyond to create a new forum for diplomacy with Iran, an international platform that could help restore the positive momentum created by the Iran deal and address the multiple geopolitical issues at the roots of the current confrontation, some of which were not covered in the agreement.

2. The United States should end its policy of harsh and punitive trade sanctions against the Iranian people. Some targeted sanctions may be appropriate to counter Iranian support for armed militancy and weapons proliferation in the region, but these measures should be multilateral in nature and targeted against Iranian officials, not against the entire economy or the general population.

3. If necessary, establish safeguards for commercial shipping in the Gulf. The international naval patrols that have helped to stem piracy off the coast of Somalia may provide a model. This would require agreement from multiple countries and a willingness by the United States to cooperate with other states in coordinated operations. In an atmosphere of close confrontation, blunders must not be used as a pretext for escalating military conflict.

In all of these actions, we pray that our government will step back from military action as an option in this crisis and instead be guided by political wisdom, international legal standards, and the ethical principles of peacemaking, humanitarianism, and civilian immunity. Threats, tearing up diplomatic agreements, and punishing the Iranian people have not worked and are making matters worse.

We call for a different way.

Our scriptures instruct us to avoid war and to live as peaceably as possible with all. We call on all our religious leaders, theologians, clergy, and laypersons to speak out against the option of war with Iran. Loving peace is never enough; we must stop making war and do the hard work of learning to make peace, which will require courage, calm resolve, and responsible leadership.

Editor's Note: This action is now closed. See other ways to get involved here.


Bishop Claude Alexander, The Park Church

Rev. Dr. Chris Antal, Center on Conscience and War

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

Bishop Carroll Baltimore, Global Alliance Interfaith Networks

Marian Batho, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston

Sr. Barbara Battista, SP Sisters of Providence

Rev. Dr. Clinton Bennett, Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church

Dr. Ruth Bentley, National Black Evangelical Association

Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, The United Church of Christ

Patty Bowman, Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center

Dr. Amos Brown, Third Baptist Church San Francisco

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

Dr. Jamal Bryant, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

Sr. Maureen Burke, Sisters of Charity

J Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Rev. Dr. Malcolm Byrd, Philadelphia Forum for Faith, Law and Civics

Dr. Tony Campolo, Red Letter Christians

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)

Patrick Carolan, Franciscan Action Network

Sr. Joan Chittister

Dr. Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christians

Sr. Mary Ann Connolly, Sisters of Charity

Professor David Cortright, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Rev. Dr. Kendrick Curry, The Pennsylvania Ave Baptist Church

Rev. Joseph Darby, Nichols Chapel AME Church

Rev. Paula Dempsey, Alliance of Baptists

Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International

Rev. Julian DeShazier, University Church Chicago

Sr. Judith Desmarais, Sisters of Providence

Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, Interfaith Power & Light

Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin, Morehouse College

Richelle Friedman, PBVM Sister of the Presentation

Sr. Mary Delores Gatliff, SND Sisters of Notre Dame

Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Reformed Church in America

Rev. Ebony Grisom, Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Susan Gunn, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Rev. Jeffrey Haggray, American Baptist Home Mission Societies

Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Dr. Richard Hamm, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Lisa Sharon Harper,

Rev. Fred Harrell, City Church of San Francisco

Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness

Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel, Disciples Justice Action Network 

Rev. Susan Hendershot, Interfaith Power & Light

Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, Auburn Seminary

Dr. Obery Hendricks, Columbia University

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, Church and Society, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Nathan Hosler, Church of the Brethren

Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter Community Resource Network of Central Florida

Bishop Reginald Jackson, AME Church

Rev. Greg Jarrell, QC Family Tree

Rev. Dr. Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

Kathy Khang, Author

Madeleine Kirkconnell, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

Rev. Tony Lee, Community Of Hope AME Church

Rev. Ben Lowe, Evangelicals for Social Action

Ronnie MacDonald, Sisters of Charity

Rev. Carlos L. Malave, Christian Churches Together

Rev. Michael Mata, Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene

Rev. Dr. Walter McCray, National Black Evangelical Association

Sr. Judy McDonnell, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Rev. Brian McLaren, Auburn Senior Fellows

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, American Baptist Churches

Jonathan Merritt, Author and Columnist

Bishop W. Darin Moore, AME Zion Mid-Atlantic District

Rev. Dr. James Moos, United Church of Christ

Sr. Maryann Mueller, Felician Sisters of North America

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev. Michael Neuroth, United Church of Christ

Rev. Dexter Nutall New Bethel Baptist Church

James Perkins, Greater Christ Baptist Church

Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork

Dr. Robert Schenck, The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute

Dr. Stephen Schneck, Sojourners

Sr. Doris Schoner

Micky ScottBey Jones, Faith Matters Network

Sr. Maryann Sherlock, S.C. Sisters of Charity

Dr. Scot Sherman Newbigin, House of Studies

Robert Shine, Pax Christi USA

Dr. Ronald J. Sider, Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. Jason Smith, Alliance of Baptists

Bishop Marc Stenger, Pax Christi International

Mary Sullivan, Sisters of Charity

Rev. Lori Tapia, Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Adam Taylor, Sojourners

Rev. Dr. Al Tizon, North Park Theological Seminary

Sr. Elizabeth Toohig, Sisters of Charity

Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. Sandra Maria Van Opstal, Chasing Justice

Greet Vanaerschot, Pax Christi International

Joette Venneman, Sisters of Charity

Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners

Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, Pax Christi International

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Pastor Colin Watson, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Skinner Leadership Institute

Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, School for Conversion

Jim Winkler, National Council of Churches

Sarah Withrow King, CreatureKind

Rev. Jamila Woods, Jabez Christian Community Church

Sr. Elizabeth Bickar, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Danielle Bonetti, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Laura Bregar, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Rita Bregenhorn, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Joan Brown, NM Interfaith Power and Light

Sr. Betty Cawley, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Janice Cebula, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Marge Clark, BVM Sisters of Charity

Sr. Mary Brigid Clingman, OP Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids

Sr. Judith Costello, Sisters of St. Joseph

Lawrence Couch, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Sr. Colleen Dauerbach, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA

Sr. Carol De Angelo, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Kathleen Desautels, SP Sister of Providence

Sr. Marie Dio, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Laura Donovan, Sisters of the Divine Compassion

Sr. Kathryn Dougherty, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Marian Durkin, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Susan Durkin, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Sara Dwyer, ASC Adorers of the Blood of Christ, US Region

Sr. Margaret Egan, Ed.D Sisters of Charity

Sr. Barbara Einloth, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Durstyne Farnan, School Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Suzanne Gallagher, Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community

Sr. Elise García, OP, Adrian Dominican Sisters

Sr. Patricia Gardner, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Alice Marie Giordano, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Mary Katherine Hamm, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Colette Hanlon Sisters of Charity

Sr. Patricia Harvat, Dominican Sisters of Adrian, MI

Sr. Sharon Havelak, Sisters of St. Francis

Sr. Eileen Haynes, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Jayne Helmlinger, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Mary Jane Herb, IHM, IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan

Sr. Martha Herkness, Sisters of St. Francis

Dr. Beatrice M. Hernandez, Wheaton Franciscan Justice and Peace Office

Sr. Carmen Hernandez

Sr. Jean Hopman, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Barbara Kane, Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sr. Kathleen Kelemen, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary

Sr. Mary Kerins, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Margaret Kimmins, Franciscan Sisters of Allegany

Alice Kitchen Loretto

Sr. Donna Marie Korba, IHM Office of JPIC, Sisters of IHM, Scranton, PA

Sr. Julie Kubasak, DC Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Sr. Janet Lander, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Sr. Toby Lardie, HM Sisters of the Humility of Mary

Sr. Brigid Lawlor, Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Sr. Mary Ellen Loch, Congregation of St. Joseph

Sr. Margaret Magee, Franciscan Sisters of Allegany

Sr. Ellen Maroney, IHM Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton

Sr. Anne McCarthy, OSB Erie Benedictines for Peace

Sr. Patricia McDermott, RSM Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Sr. Katherine McGrath, Sisters Of Charity

Brother Brian McLauchlin

Sr. Maryann McMahon, OP Racine Dominicans

Sr. Rita Menart

Sr. Dorothy Metz, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Angela Milioto, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary

Sr. Catherine Minhoto, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Province

Sr. Jean Murin, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, Pax Christi USA

Sr. Mary Jo Nelson, Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters

Sr. Rose Therese Nolta, SSpS Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, USA-JPIC

Sr. Mary Margaret Pachucki, Adrian Dominican Sisters

Sr. Mary Pendergast, Sisters of Mercy

Sr. Joy Peterson, Sisters of the Presentation

Sr. Claire Regan, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Rosemary Riggie, Sisters of St. Mary of Namur

Sr. Cecile Roeger, Dominican Sisters of Houston

Sr. Theresa Sandok, Ladysmith Servite Sisters

Sr. Joellen Sbrissa, Congregation of St. Joseph

Sr. Patricia Siemen, OP Adrian Dominican Sisters

Sr. Diane Smith, JPIC

Bishop John Stowe, Pax Christi USA

Sr. Phyllis Tierney, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Sheilamarie Tobbe, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Joan Verner

Sr. Anne Wambach, Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA

Sr. Maureen Welch, Ursuline Sisters

Sr. Veronique Wiedower, Sisters of the Holy Cross

Sr. Susan Wilcox, Sisters of St. Joseph

Sr. Amy Willcott, Sisters of Charity

Sr. Carol Zinn, SSJ Leadership Conference of Women Religious