By Bob Allen
Directors of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America adopted a statement March 28 urging “diplomacy over bombs” in the United States’ relations with Iran.
“The people of the United States have been living in a state of fear for too long,” said the statement in the form an open letter to President Obama signed by BPFNA President Cheryl Dudley. “Far too many policies — bad policies — have been made based on this fear. It is time to turn toward faith and hope and peace.”
Baptist leaders said that is “especially true as yet another round of warmongering begins over Iran.” They asked the president to commit instead to “waging peace” and called on the U.S. and its allies to use “ethical, humanitarian principles” in responding to the threat posed by the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons.
“It appears political leaders in the United States and Israel may be seriously calculating the benefits and risks of attacking Iran,” the letter said. “If so, they are pushing the world to moral, financial, ecological and diplomatic peril. This we vigorously protest.”
The letter recognized that a nuclear-armed Iran “could be disastrous” for Iran, the region, Israel and the U.S. but argued a military attack would only make matters worse.
“Recent history proves war isn’t working,” the Baptist leaders said. “We urge you to use every means at your disposal to prevent a strike on Iran by Israel and to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the dispute over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”
Instead of engaging in “competition in belligerent behavior,” the peace group called for “strategies of multilateral diplomacy and other nonviolent initiatives.”
“This would include acting in a manner so the behavior of the U.S. enhances Iran’s sense of national security, to convince them that they do not need nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the U.S.,” the letter said. “In the long term, the U.S. must lead the way in creating a world without nuclear weapons.”
The leaders called for lifting sanctions against Iran, which they said have been ineffective and could give hardliners in Iran an excuse to expand the country’s nuclear program.
“We urge you to find ways to keep Iran within the international community, opening more lines of diplomatic communication and reducing the incentives for Iran’s leaders to take their nuclear capabilities to the next level,” the letter said.