TV spot features Methodist bishop questioning war on Iraq

February 3, 2003

United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, appearing in a 30-second commercial for cable television, asserts that an attack on Iraq 'violates God's law.'

As the ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, Talbert's remarks questioning Iraq's war policies are aimed at U.S. policymakers. The commercial is expected to air on CNN and Fox cable news in New York and Washington and during CNN's 'Larry King Live' program. Talbert appears with actress and political activist Janeane Garafalo.

The bishop says there is no need for an attack on Iraq and that the United States has no authority to remove dictator Saddam Hussein from power. 'No nation under God has that right,' Talbert says. 'It violates international law. It violates God's law and the teachings of Jesus Christ.'

Sponsored by the National Council of Churches, the commercial is one in a series developed by a group of religious and civic groups questioning the need for war. 'Iraq hasn't wronged us. War will only create more terrorists,' Talbert said. The bishop has a long history of advocacy for peace and the innocent victims of war. He visited Iraq in 1991, before the Persian Gulf War, and more recently participated in an ecumenical peace mission there. On that December 29-January 3 trip, he witnessed the impact that years of sanctions have had on Iraq's citizens.

'I don't see that small nation as being the kind of threat to our nation that the media portrays,' he said. 'War will result in the suffering of masses of children, among others. And what will happen to the rest of the Arab world? Waging war will remove the influence of the more moderate element and put the future in the hands of the more radical elements.'

Further, he says, the Arab world will associate U.S. military action with Christianity in general, undermining ecumenical efforts like the peace mission, coordinated by the National Council of Churches and hosted by the Middle East Council of Churches.