News Release

Some Religious Perspectives on the War in Yugoslavia


General secretary of the National Council of Churches, Campbell was co-leader with the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the recent U.S. religious leaders’ mission to Belgrade, which culminated in their winning the release of the three captured American soldiers. “The National Council of Churches is a faith-based community that reaches out across boundaries of state and creed — even when our nations are at war,” she says. “That is why I went to Belgrade along with my fellow Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders from the United States. In our time there with our Yugoslav counterparts, who had invited us, we struggled together to define positive options for peace. We were ecstatic to achieve the release of the three American soldiers. But our joy is framed against the reality of violence being suffered by the people of Yugoslavia — including the thousands of refugees from Kosovo and the civilian Serbs losing life and livelihood from the NATO bombing. There is no easy solution to the conflict, but I believe there are steps we can and must take in the hope that they might bring an end to the violence. As our delegation noted, ‘Bombing and more war cannot bring peace.’ ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ brings mutual blindness and disfigurement.”
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Pacific Regional Director for the American Friends Service Committee, Riles said: “Dr. Martin Luther King once said that the bombs we are dropping in Vietnam are exploding in our ghettos. If ground troops are sent into Yugoslavia, poor boys of color will be, as we have seen historically, disproportionately represented in the frontlines. In addition, urban poor communities will suffer disproportionately as federal resources dry up and funds are shifted to the already bloated military budget… None of that takes into account the insane ratcheting-up of the culture of violence and vengeance which adds to the turmoil of personal tragedy on our streets caused by the false legitimization of violence as a solution to anything.”
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Coordinator of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s National Disarmament Program, Ramey said: “NATO, a relic of the Cold War, has been recast as a violent instrument of Western foreign policy, and not as a defensive alliance. Far from bringing relief to the Albanian Kosovars, the NATO bombing of Serbia will only fill more mass graves with Muslims and Christians alike. In practical political terms, this military violence, already responsible for the deaths of so many Serbs and Kosovars, will only serve to harden the anti-NATO resistance and fan the flames of even more extreme ethnic hatred in the region. There is no such thing as ‘humanitarian’ bombing. There is no such thing as a war that does not slaughter innocent non-combatants.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167