WASHINGTON - June 15 - With today's announcement of the death of the 2,500th soldier in Iraq, thousands of religious congregations are preparing to take part in a nationwide effort to toll bells on the weekend of June 23-25 to honor soldiers' sacrifice to their country and to draw attention tothe ongoing human and financial costs of the Iraq war.
As of June 15, 2,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed in the war in Iraq.
More than 2,500 churches, synagogues, mosques and peace organizations are expected to participate in the nationwide interfaith initiative, "Ring in Remembrance," reported officials at FaithfulAmerica.org (www.faithfulamerica.org).
Congregations will ring bells, light candles, gather in silence, or engage in other sacred gestures to remember all soldiers, their families, and the thousands of innocent civilians who have died in the Iraq war. People of faith will also strongly urge U.S. and international leaders to consider alternatives to the open-ended occupation of Iraq.
The "Ring in Remembrance" initiative is organized by FaithfulAmerica.org and DemocracyRising.US. FaithfulAmerica.org, a program of the National Council of Churches USA, is an interfaith electronic advocacy community dedicated to advancing justice in public policy. DemocracyRising.US is a national peace project that seeks to end the occupation of Iraq.
"Thousands of congregations across the country have been mobilized to participate in this historic occasion," said Vince Isner, director of FaithfulAmerica.org. "The bell ringing effort will show that people of all faiths are standing together in solidarity to remember the profound loss of lives to our nation and the world and will usher in a season of peace."
Communities of faith will begin lighting candles on June 23 and will culminate the effort with bell ringing on June 25. A national event will be held on June 25 in Washington.
"By stopping and acknowledging those who have died in Iraq -- the 2,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians -- we will bring a more rapid end to this carnage. It is time to exit this deadly quagmire. Every day the U.S. keeps troops in Iraq results in an escalation of violence and places U.S. soldiers in the middle of a civil war," said Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of Democracy Rising.
"As persons of faith, this tragic milestone marking the death of the 2500th soldier, as well as the countless Iraqi civilians, is stark reminder to our leaders that we need to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing war in Iraq," said Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA.
"The ringing of the Bells of Remembrance on this solemn occasion may persuade more of the large majority of Americans opposed to this war-quagmire to act," said Ralph Nader, founder of DemocracyRising and former U.S. presidential candidate. "The people can make the White House and Congress stop the destruction and end the occupation."
For more information on the "Ring in Remembrance" initiative, visit the FaithfulAmerica website at www.faithfulamerica.org
or Democracy Rising at www.democracyrising.us.