Plan to Eliminate Terrorism
Biblical visions of a new heaven and a new earth speak of a time when there will be no more death and suffering (Revelation 21) and of a time when swords shall be turned into plowshares and none shall be afraid (Micah 4: 3-5). Toward this end, all biblically based codes of ethics, beginning with the Ten Commandments, prohibit the killing of others.
Horrific terrorist attacks of recent years have caused fear and desperation among many people around the world, contributing to feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. During the past four decades, many nations have suffered acts of terror perpetrated by diverse political and religious groups. In the past several years, however, this tragic global phenomenon has assumed an even greater prominence, and debates over "fighting terrorism" have taken on broader and more varied meanings.
The September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States perpetrated by the al-Qaeda terrorist network that killed more than 3,000 persons from at least 78 countries were a terrible watershed in the world's experience with international terrorism. The attacks galvanized a strong response from the United Nations and the international community, which joined together to fight terrorism through enhanced law enforcement, diplomatic and intelligence cooperation, and actions to restrict terrorist financing. Despite such cooperation, however, thousands of additional persons have been killed since September 11 by acts of terror in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Africa, East Africa, and Europe; and the threat of other catastrophic attacks continues to challenge governments and societies around the world.
Global terrorism reminds us of how fragile our global community is and points up the continuing weaknesses in the international system. As God's children, all of us are united in an increasingly interdependent world linked in myriad ways, both good and harmful.
The church has a prophetic message to proclaim in what some have called an age of global terror. The image of God and the sacrifice of Christ bestow a worth and dignity on each human being that cannot be rightfully ignored or violated by any human institution or social movement. For this reason, we condemn all acts of terrorism, with no exception for the target or the source.
There is no significant difference between "state terrorism," as the disproportionate response of a state, and group terrorism, whether in the international arena or on the home front. The killing of innocent persons in horrific bombings, hijackings and other malicious acts of violence cannot be justified by any political or other objective.
Working to prevent further acts of terror clearly is a central responsibility of governments and the international community. Unilateral and preemptive actions and policies of nations including the "doctrine of preemption" and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, are disproportionate, deeply disturbing and counter-productive, as they undermine the international cooperation that is key to preventing further terrorist attacks.
We are equally concerned about repressive governments that brand those who oppose them as "terrorists;" this label should not be an excuse to justify government oppression or to support colonial or repressive rule.
Therefore, The United Methodist Church:
1. stands against acts of terror of all kinds and condemns them unequivocally;
2. urges all world leaders to repudiate violence and the killing and victimizing of innocent people;
3. pledges to examine critically the causes of terrorism and affirm the primacy of international cooperation to confront terrorism effectively;
4. firmly supports the United Nations as an agency for conflict resolution, as a viable alternative to resorting to war or terrorism, and as an effective body to promote cooperation against terrorism, through the Security Council and its Counter-Terrorism Committee;
5. urges support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 and other UN resolutions that urge greater international cooperation to prevent acts of terror, and commends the cooperation of many nations to take steps to halt financing for terrorist organizations, to prevent movement of terrorists across borders, and to take other steps to help prevent further destruction by terrorists;
6. commends the hard work and dedication of persons across the globe who engage in appropriate law enforcement actions, consistent with internationally recognized human rights standards and due process, to prevent further acts of terror;
7. opposes the use of indiscriminate military force to combat terrorism, especially where the use of such force results in casualties among noncombatant persons who are not themselves perpetrators of acts of terror;
8. calls for tolerance toward and dialogue with Muslims to prevent the "war on terrorism" and actions against al-Qaeda from poisoning relations between Christians and Muslims;
9. urges that concerns about acts of terror not be used to impose discriminatory restrictions on immigration and freedom of movement among countries; such restrictions cause unnecessary harm and suffering to many individuals and families and can prove counter-productive;
10. Oppose governmental policies or actions which, in the name of combating terrorism, violate civil and human rights protected by national and international laws and conventions.
11. condemns the use of extremist tactics by groups around the world that resort to violence because of ideological differences, racism, and anti-Arab and anti-Jewish attitudes; and
12. urges churches and United Methodist Christians to support the activities and program of the "Decade to Overcome Violence" led by the World Council of Churches.
To further these objectives, we urge United Methodist Church members and congregations to utilize the study on terrorism produced by the General Board of Church and Society. In an "age of terror" the church needs—more than ever—to respond prophetically and pastorally to this critical issue of our time.
See Social Principles, ¶ 165B and D.