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The Work Ahead: Start a Dialogue; Take a Stand

The 2004 elections confirmed deep divisions in our nation, not only politically but in Christians' interpretation of God's will. Strongly felt differences over public and private moral values resulted in the painful spectacle of Christians demonizing one another.

National Council of Churches members, meeting in General Assembly days after the elections, asked the Council to engage Christians from across the spectrum in dialogue about Christian values. We will pursue this urgently needed conversation.

In the process, the NCC will continue to affirm boldly that regardless of who leads our country, Christians' faith requires work to eliminate poverty, preserve the environment, promote peace and protect human rights. For us this includes:

•    Our Mobilization to Overcome Poverty, with particular attention to state and federal budget and tax fairness, a living wage, and the well-being of children.

•    Interfaith work for eco-justice, including a first-time gathering in May of young adults for environmental justice. Foci in 2005 include land protection and water issues.

•    Promotion of a peace-centered U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. must fix what it has broken in Iraq, ensure Afghanistan's stability, and lead boldly toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians. All over the world—from Korea to Iran, from Indonesia to Sudan—peacemakers are needed.

•    Protection of human rights everywhere, demanding particular accountability from our own government for its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and in U.S. prisons.

•    Rejection of a politics of fear that is used to rob Americans of their civil liberties, punish innocent immigrants, and justify unjust war at heavy human cost.

The NCC is planning a rollout of study materials for local churches on the current state of world affairs and the place of the United States within that world context. We also are planning continued work for better interfaith understanding through regular meetings with Jewish and Muslim leaders, co-sponsorship of the itineration, in April, of an Arab Christian-Muslim delegation, and development of a new curriculum on Islam for local churches.

Reverend Edgar is the general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA.

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