From WILL - The Public Square -

Jan Kruse of Urbana Working for Peace During the Holiday Season

Recently a working group of AWARE the local Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort has decided to stand outside of various local churches not in disrespect, but rather as an invitation to the church members to join us in calling for our government to end this immoral and illegal war in Iraq.

We ask that our troops be removed from Iraq as immediate as practical and safe. In the spirit of this Christmas season, what better time for Christians and people of conscience to proclaim and act upon Christ's message of Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Others than by calling for the end of the US military occupation of Iraq.

We are sure that most church members now know that the war in Iraq was based on false and distorted intelligence. The leaders of our country claimed as fact that we were in imminent danger from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was linked to the attacks of September 11th.

Today we know this was not true. In fact, much evidence demonstrates that the leaders of our government knew their intelligence to be faulty before we invaded Iraq on March 19th. 2003. But half-truths and contrived evidence was still used to persuade the American public this war against evil was necessary for the very survival of our country and our way of life.

As a result in this, our country's war of choice, we preemptively invaded another sovereign nation and its people against the wishes of the UN weapons inspectors, many of our traditional allies, and literally millions of people worldwide. Many prominent religious leaders spoke out strongly against this war. They pleaded for more diplomacy, cooperation with other nations and respect for international law.

As a result of our haste, today tens of thousands of US servicemen and women have been killed, injured, or psychologically wounded. Equally as sad, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and families have also experienced these similar tragedies of war. Today Iraq is a country in turmoil, disarray, and of unspeakable violence. The United States, by its unilateral actions, is largely responsible for the dire state of affairs in Iraq. Our government's policies and actions have turned Iraq into an unstable country and terrorist breeding ground.

Is it not time for people of faith and conscience to stand up and proclaim an end to this madness of preemptive and perpetual war and constant use of fear to scare the public? Should not people of faith and conscience be proclaiming an end to militarism, occupation, and torture in our names? Should we not be acting upon Jesus' proclamation to be peacemakers and not war makers by calling for a more hopeful and life affirming direction for our country?

AWARE members would gladly meet with members of local congregations to discuss these issues in a respectful and educated dialogue. We also invite church and members of any places of worship to join us as we meet on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM. at the Independent Media Center in downtown Urbana at 202 E. Elm in our work for peace and justice.

It is our hope that those in the religious community who share similar life affirming values might also actively work for peace with a message of hope during this Season of Peace on Earth.