As Orthodox Christians, we seek the conversion of enemies to friends in Christ. Saddam Hussein is an enemy of the United States and of the people of Iraq, but we declare that there are better ways to respond to terrorism than to respond in kind.
We do not argue against attacking Iraq because of any admiration for Saddam Hussein. He carne to office by intrigue and murder, and remains in power by the same means; he is his own country's worst enemy. The Iraqi people deserve to be rid of him.
The United States is ready to overthrow him by any means, including an attack which would kill thousands of civilians and maim many more, justifying such an attack on the possibility that Hussein's regime is producing weapons of mass destruction and preparing to use them against America and Israel and their allies.
Because we seek the reconciliation of enemies, a conversion which grows from striving to be faithful to the Gospel, the Orthodox Church has never regarded any war as just or good, and fighting an elusive enemy by means which cause the death of innocent people can be regarded only as murder. Individual murderers are treated by psychiatrists and priests and isolated from society. But who heals the national psyche, the wounded soul of a nation, when it is untroubled by the slaughter of non-combatant civilians?
Well known Orthodox convert and publisher of Regina Orthodox Press, Frank Schaeffer, son of the famous Evangelical Philosopher Francis Schaeffer, was offended by the OPF "Plea for Peace" Statement. With a son on the verge of being deployed to the Middle East, Mr. Schaeffer writes,
"The doctrine of moral equivalency holds that war is the greatest of all evils. Any government engaged in warfare shares the same moral culpability for the conflict as its enemy. A just war is a moral impossibility.
"A Plea for Peace" asserts that American action in Iraq is morally equivalent to the terror of the Iraqi regime. Reports about the brutality of Saddam's regime prove that OPF is wrong, but don't expect them to change. Peace activists rarely abandon the doctrine even when the judgment of history is against them."
"...I believe they have simplistically misrepresented the teachings of my church. But that is not the point. They are entitled to say or believe anything they want, as individuals and private citizens.
I am saddened because so many of my bishops and priests have signed this antiwar statement in the name of my church and my God. They have dragged not only my church but Jesus into their stand against our government and the war in Iraq.
It is cruel to try to hijack the authority of a church to advance political views for or against this war. I would never sign a letter for a "Council for the Orthodox Pro-War Fellowship" just because my son is serving his country in the military. I'd assume that it would be preposterous for me to speak for my fellow Orthodox Christians on such matters of individual conscience, over which honest and honorable people can disagree."
AUOCC is in agreement with Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama's position on Iraq as he has stated it in his debates with his opponent, (we paraphrase:), 'The Bush Administration failed in its policy on the war against terror by taking its eye off of Al-Quida and bin-Laden who were hiding in Afghanistan to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.' We shall address this directly in future posts. In the meantime, you can read more on the debate over the OPF "Plea for Peace" (including Frank Schaeffer's remarks in its entirety) here.