Photo Credit: Peter Snoopy / Wikimedia and Gage Skidmore
Church leaders in Korea and the United States of America have appealed for dialogue to replace the conflict between the two countries’ political leaders. In separate moves, the National Council of Churches in Korea, which includes the Anglican Church of Korea; and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, which includes the Episcopal Church, are calling on politicians and Christians to push for peace.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea, Archbishop Onesimus Dongsin Park, joined his counterparts from the Presbyterian, Methodist, Salvation Army, Evangelical, Assemblies of God, Orthodox and Lutheran churches in a joint statement yesterday urging both sides to switch to dialogue.
They urge the US to “immediately halt its military threats as well as sanctions on the North Korea and create an atmosphere for a peaceful dialogue”; and the urge North Korea to “stop its nuclear tests and respond to the dialogue requests of the neighbouring countries including South Korea and the US.”
They demand the denuclearisation of both sides, as part of the “denuclearisation of the whole world”.
And they ask the South Korean government to “consolidate all its efforts to bring the US and North Korea to the table for dialogue” and to “immediately dispatch special envoys to North Korea, the US, China, Russia and Japan in order to deescalate the present tension and seek ways for peace.”
The Church leaders say that the “dangers of war pose [an] imminent threat to the Korean peninsula.”
They continue: “There has been an ongoing ‘war of words’ even in the United Nations, where peace should be pronounced. This war of rhetoric has led to the United States’ Air Force deployment of B1-B bomber beyond the Northern Limit Line (NLL) under South Korea’s silent consent. As a response, North Korea has claimed to exercise self-defence procedures against the US.
“Peace cannot be achieved through arms. Armaments would only lead to the destruction. As apostles of peace, the Korean churches, together with 10 million followers, strongly oppose a second war in the peninsula and therefore would not tolerate any forms of military actions aggravating the situation.”
Over in the US, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, which brings together some 38 denominations, is organising an open letter from “people of faith” to President Donald Trump. The letter, which at the time of writing has attracted more than 1,100 signatures, expresses “profound concern over the rise in tensions between the United States and North Korea.”
It says: “We recognise the unfortunate choice of language and careless posturing of Kim Jong Un. For the sake of peace, however, we urge you to cease utilising bellicose language and name-calling in your public speeches and Tweets and instead pursue diplomacy as befitting the leader of the free world.
“Put simply, nuclear war must never take place. You are the leader of the world’s strongest nuclear superpower, and therefore you have a responsibility to act with probity, tact, and care. While we do not defend Kim Jong Un or condone the dangerous rhetoric employed by his regime, equally reckless talk by you could lead to a miscalculation in which millions of lives could be lost. Nuclear war that can destroy millions of people puts the whole world at risk and is fundamentally immoral. For this reason, we urge you to take the higher road, and thereby project strength that comes through silence.”
Like their Korean counterparts, the US letter also calls for nuclear disarmament, saying: “we urge you to launch a new, bold, and comprehensive diplomatic appeal to find a permanent solution to the problem of nuclear proliferation worldwide. Indeed, we are reminded of the words of President Reagan, who sought to abolish nuclear weapons while, at the same time, facing an existential threat from another nuclear power: ‘I can’t believe that this world can go on beyond our generation and on down to succeeding generations with this kind of weapon on both sides poised at each other without someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us.’”
The letter concludes: “Mr President, no threat of nuclear annihilation, nor even the limited use of nuclear weapons, can be justified by any form of moral thinking. We, as Americans of faith, urge you cease use of threatening speech, and redouble attempts to find peaceful and just solutions to the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide.”