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2010-11-01 issue:

Pastors called to preach on death and torture

by Anna Groff

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Mennonite pastor Isaac Villegas calls on pastors to preach on the Iraq war logs leaked that were in October. These reports reveal the American and British complicity in the deaths of civilians in Iraq, including deaths by torture.

"Proper 29 Project," started by Villegas and three other individuals, asks that from now until Nov. 21, pastors address the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nov. 21 is Reign of Christ Sunday (Proper 29).

"As pastors, priests, theologians, and seminarians in the United States, we cannot remain silent in the face of these acts of violence," states the project's website,

Villegas is pastor of Chapel Hill (N.C.) Mennonite Fellowship and a columnist for The Mennonite. He informed all the pastors he knows about the project--many of which are Mennonite. As of Nov. 4, several Mennonite pastors told him they would participate.
Some of the non-Mennonite pastors told him they would receive negative response if they preached about this issue. 

"It's hard here in North Carolina," said Villegas on Nov. 4. "Our economy is tied to the military-industrial complex. Preaching about the suffering cause by U.S. forces in Iraq hits too close to home in a state that has such a high military population."

Villegas told one story he read that he cannot forget: "In 2006, in the town of Samarra, 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, Khalib was in a rush to get to the hospital. His pregnant sister, Nabiha, was his passenger. She was in labor and Khalib had to get her to the hospital. They made their way down the usual streets. But down one street the U.S. military set up a checkpoint. 

"The soldiers perceived the approaching vehicle as a threat, so they opened fire and ended up killing Nabiha and the child in her womb. She was 35, and the dead baby was a boy. War is never kind to women and children, especially to pregnant women."

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  • Posted by joelipj at Tuesday, November 09, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    For those pastors who already have preaching planned out for the next couple weeks, but would like to try and include a mention of the Wiki leak papers and the wars, you might consider a mention in the first Advent sermon, Nov. 28. Isaac's story at the end of this article about the pregnant woman ties well into the Matthew 24 text for Advent 1. Although it isn't a part of the reading (24:36-44), Matt. 24:19 mentions the plight of pregnant women in times of war and conflict. Still brutally true. Ties well into the theme of waking up from sleep and reading the signs of the times. Thanks Isaac and others for pushing us to speak to this. Joel Miller, Cincinnati

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