Church leaders voice concerns to Tony Blair

 Churches Together in Britain and Ireland sent the following letter to the Prime Minister yesterday: Dear Prime Minister: It was good to hear that you met yesterday with a number of faith community leaders. As leaders among the Christian churches we want to assure you of our prayers, conscious as we are of the grave responsibilities which the terrorism crisis has placed on your shoulders. We will be praying also for those in the armed forces, and for the people of Afghanistan. In these early days of military action, we would like to re-emphasise a number of points which are important to us, as churches together. 1. We encourage you and your colleagues to remain true to an understanding that justice, not revenge, is at the root of your response. 2. We acknowledge your declared intention not to wage war on the Afghan people, but are anxious about initial indications that civilian lives have been lost, and about the plight of those fleeing the military action. We want to affirm that Afghan lives matter as much as Western lives. 3. We share in your deploring of any suggestion that this is a war between civilisations, whether cast in terms of East and West or Christian and Muslim. We are thus calling on Christians in Britain and Ireland to stand up for their Muslim neighbours. 4. We would wish to remind Government of the risk of creating Muslim solidarity against the West if energy is not also perceived to be put into dealing with long-standing concerns over the Israel-Palestinian crisis and the situation in Iraq. 5. We urge HMG to support the vision of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, in his belief that the UN provides the necessary forum to build a universal coalition against terrorism and ensures global legitimacy for a long-term response to it in the interests of deepening rather than fracturing global unity. Signed Rev Tony Burnham, Free Churches' Moderator Most Rev Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Acting President of the RC Bishops' Conference of Scotland Most Rev Bruce Cameron, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Rev David Coffey, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain Rev David Cornick, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church Rev Tom Bruch, General Secretary of the Lutheran Council of Great Britain Rev Archie Ford, Moderator of the General Assembly, United Free Church of Scotland William Gabb, General Secretary of the Independent Methodist Churches Mrs Jackie Morten, Chairman of the Provincial Board of the Moravian Church The Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales, Church in Wales Rev Dr Christina Le Moignan, President of the Methodist Conference Roger Sturge, Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings, Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends Rt Rev Barry Rogerson, Bishop of Bristol, Church of England Special Apostle Sam Abidoye, Cherubim and Seraphim Council of Churches Commissioner Alex Hughes, Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army in the UK

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