President George Bush's own Methodist church has launched a scathing attack
on his preparations for war against Iraq, saying they are 'without any justification
according to the teachings of Christ'.
Jim Winkler, head of social policy for United Methodists, added that all attempts
at a 'dialogue' between the President and his own church over the war had fallen
on deaf ears at the White House.
His remarks came as the US continued its efforts to achieve agreement on a
UN resolution that would open the way for a tough program of weapons inspections
in Iraq. France is believed to be concerned that the current draft resolution
might still act as a trigger for military intervention without a full Security
Council debate if Iraq fails to comply.
Winkler is general secretary of the Board of Church and Society for the United
Methodist church, which counts the President and the Vice-President, Dick Cheney,
among its members. The church represents eight to nine million regular churchgoers
and is the third biggest in America.
The Methodist Church, he says, is not pacifist, but 'rejects war as a usual
means of national policy'. Methodist scriptural doctrine, he added, specifies
'war as a last resort, primarily a defensive thing. And so far as I know, Saddam
Hussein has not mobilized military forces along the borders of the United States,
nor along his own border to invade a neighboring country, nor have any of these
countries pleaded for our assistance, not does he have weapons of mass destruction
targeted at the United States'.
Winkler said his church was 'keenly aware' that it counted the President and
his deputy among its members, and that he was therefore 'frequently encouraged
by others to be very careful about how I say things'.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002