Time to Ban Cluster Bombs: A Call for Religious Leaders to Speak Out

The world has an opportunity to ensure that no more children lose thier limbs to cluster bombs.

The world has an opportunity to ensure that no more children lose thier limbs to cluster bombs.

Cluster bombs are a menace that keep killing and wounding civilians long after combat has finished.

That’s why nations around the world have signed a global treaty for efforts to stop their production, sale, and use.

Sadly, the United States has been missing from this effort. As Michiganders concerned about this issue, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice is calling on Michigan faith leaders to endorse the following sign-on letter to Senator Levin.

This letter requests that Senator Levin use his authority as head of the Senate Armed Services Committee to support U.S. signing and ratifying of the treaty, Convention on Cluster Munitions drawn up in Dublin last May. As a leader in the Senate, Carl Levin is in a position to influence President-elect Obama on this issue.

Rabbis, Imams, Priests, pastors, and other faith leaders can sign on to this letter by emailing their name, title, affiliation, and how they would like to be listed among the endorsers to chuck@icpj.net, or by using the form below.

Please direct questions to Chuck Warpehoski at 734-663-1870 chuck@icpj.net. For more information on the issue, please visit the Friends Committee on National Legislation or the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Dear Senator Levin:

Our faith calls us to work for peace and to protect the poor and the innocent. As religious leaders in our communities, we are alarmed by the many well-documented reports detailing the huge numbers of civilian casualties that have resulted from the use of indiscriminate cluster munitions around the world.

These weapons scatter deadly explosives over wide areas of land, making it very difficult to avoid civilian casualties. Moreover, while designed to explode on impact, many of the sub-munitions initially fail to detonate, leaving behind large numbers of hazardous explosive “duds.” These duds are akin to landmines that injure and kill civilians and contaminate the land long after conflict has ended. The U.S. has used cluster bombs in civilian populated areas of three countries in the last 10 years, and the cluster bombs the U.S. dropped in Laos more than three decades ago are still killing civilians today.

All of our faith traditions as well as international humanitarian law insist that the use of force during wars be discriminate so as to protect human life and dignity. The indiscriminate nature of this weapon violates these accepted principles.

The use of cluster bombs has already been condemned by such people and organizations as Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, USA; Chief Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, Israel; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; the International Committee of the Red Cross; UNICEF; the American Academy of Pediatrics; and the Christian relief group, World Vision.

More than half the world’s governments responded to this call by agreeing in late May to a global treaty banning the use, export and procurement of cluster munitions. The Convention Cluster Munitons officially opened for signatures on December 3. Among those agreeing to the ban are major U.S. allies, including the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and Japan. The U.S. was not among them. Instead, the Pentagon released a “new” cluster bomb policy in early July that allows continued use of even the most unreliable of these weapons through 2018.

We welcome this international movement and join with these world leaders in calling on the United States to take action to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. As part of this effort, we, the undersigned members of Michigan’s faith community, urge you to support efforts to prohibit both the use of cluster munitions in or near civilian populated areas and the use, sale and transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of over one percent.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Respectfully yours,

[insert organizational/congregation leader signatures]

One Response to “Time to Ban Cluster Bombs: A Call for Religious Leaders to Speak Out”

  1. Chuckon 27 Feb 2009 at 8:05 am

    Here are our signers so far:

    1. Pastor Tom Reynolds, Community of Christ, Union Ave Congregation, Grand Rapids, MI
    2. Margaret Nielsen, Member, Red Cedar Friends Meeting, East Lansing, MI
    3. Rev. Irving (Gus) Nussdorfer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Brighton
    4. Rev. Dr. Paul Versluis, pastor Shalom Community Church, Ann Arbor Mi.
    5. Rev. Lori Carey (Trinity Lutheran Church)
    6. Rev. John Boley, Mt. Pleasant First United Methodist Church, Mt. Pleasant, MI
    7. Pastor Ian Reed Twiss, Holy Faith Church, Saline, MI
    8. Rev. Rey Mondragon, First United Methodist Church of Ypsilanti
    9. Ms. Stahl, chair, Church & Society, Methodist, East Lansing
    10. Fr. Dan Reim, Society of Jesus
    11. Rev. Dr. Irvin Green, Memorial Christian Church
    12. Pastor Susan Bock, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Eastpointe, MI
    13. Rev. Deon Johnson, Episcopal
    14. Rev. Chris Yaw, St. David’s Episcopal Church
    15. Fr. Fred Thelen, Christo Rey Church
    16. The Rev. Barbara Cavin, Church of the Holy Spirit, Livonia, MI
    17. The Rev. Dr. Ruth H. Strang
    18. The Rev. Elizabeth Morris Downie, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Grand Blanc, MI
    19. Rev. Russell Fuller, Pastor Emeritus, Memorial Christian Church, Ann Arbor, MI
    20. Imam Ahmat Salie, coordinator of the Islamic Studies program at Oakland University
    21. Mark Wenzel, St. Clare Episcopal, Ann Arbor, MI
    22. Edward Davidson, Ann Arbor, MI
    23. Dan Lombardo, Catholic
    24. Rev. Dr. JoAnn Kennedy Slater, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal, Ypsilanti
    25. Rev. Rey Mondragon, Associate pastor, Ypsilanti First United Methodist
    26. Rev. Joe Summers, Vicar, The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation
    27. Executive Pastor Don Bromley, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor
    28. Rev. John A Byers
    29. Rev. Thomas Brennan (Senior)