Bush’s bishops: Exit Iraq now

by Matthew Hay Brown, updated

President Bush’s church, long at odds with him on matters of public policy, called on the United States and its partners today to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq immediately.

The Bishops of the United Methodist Church approved a resolution calling on Bush, Congress and leaders of the other coalition partners to begin the “immediate safe and full withdrawal” of all troops, declare that there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq, increase support for veterans of all wars and initiate a reconstruction plan to address the humanitarian, social and educational needs of the Iraqi people.

The 125 current and retired bishops now meeting in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina represent more than 11 million Methodists worldwide – including the current occupant of the White House, a member of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

In issuing the call, the bishops said their position is based on the denomination’s belief that “war is incompatible with the teachings and examples of Christ,” and on the call of Jesus Christ for “his followers to be peacemakers.”

“Every day that the war continues, more soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed and carnage,” the bishops said in their resolution.

In a response, the White House said that Bush “believes our moral and strategic imperatives are one.”

“We must defeat the violent extremists who threaten the future of Iraq and threaten the United States,” spokesman Scott Stanzel said in an e-mail. “Our men and women in uniform are protecting Iraqi citizens from violent terrorists who want to indiscriminately murder innocent civilians by the tens, hundreds and thousands. Our effort to protect innocent life is a noble cause for which the American people should be proud.”