Interfaith Capitol Rally Seeks Peace in Iraq

WASHINGTON – More than 500 Christian, Jewish and Muslim protestors pledged to become “peacemakers” in a world of violence, inequity and war, during an interfaith prayer vigil in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday.

“Our hope for peace burns like an eternal flame,” said the Rev. John McCullough, executive director and CEO of Church World Service.

“We live with the expectation that the day of conflict will eventually end, and that broken relationships will one day heal,” he said of the war in Iraq.

The prayer vigil marked the last session of a four-day ecumenical Christian conference that addressed “critical issues” from both the international and domestic arena. Based on the theme “Challenging Disparity: The Promise of God, the Power of Solidarity,” attendants explored solutions to the world’s largest economic, environmental, and social woes, such as the genocide in Darfur, the AIDS epidemic, torture, climate change, and the war in Iraq.

The rally also came as President Bush called on Iraqis to embrace compromise and work toward a united government and asked Americans to show patience with the war even after weeks of “images of violence and anger and despair.”

“The Iraqi people made their choice. They looked into the abyss and did not like what they saw," Bush said Monday. "By their response over the last two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace and they will oppose a violent minority."

According to the latest AP-Ipsos poll, only 39 percent of Americans support the way the president has handled the war in Iraq and nearly four out of five Americans believe civil war will break out in Iraq.

Speakers at the rally referenced such concerns over possible civil war, and sought help from God for “true peace, security and welfare for the Iraqi people.” Participants responded with a resounding, “Gracious God, hear our prayer.”

Vigil participants also made a pledge of commitment to work for a more just and peaceful world.