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NY Clergy and Faith Community Protest Iraq War Funding

May 31, 2007

Massapequa Park, NY - Last week's vote to provide billions more dollars for the war in Iraq is sparking protest in New York's faith community. Religious leaders will gather today (Thursday) in front of Republican Congressman Peter King's office, as the only Long Island representative to vote to continue funding the war in Iraq.

Congressman King has said, The President as commander-in-chief should not be bound by the Congress as far as strategy and tactics. One of today's protestors who disagrees with him is Mary Dewar, public issues chair for the Long Island Council of Churches (LICC).

"Congress has oversight, and when the Commander in Chief doesn't know what he is doing, then somebody had better give him a halt and let him know that the country is dissatisfied. Somebody's got to tell him that, and it should be Congress that tells him that."

Dewar agrees with King that U.S. troops need to be funded as long as they in Iraq, but she echoes the frustration of many when she says she believes troop withdrawal should be a top priority.

"Going in for a slogan like anti-terrorism, or patriotism isn't an excuse for killing men, women and children who are civilians and blasting their homes to smithereens, making them unable to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives, with pain and hunger. I mean, what are we doing?"

Dewar does not consider herself a pacifist, adding that she supports some of the President's decisions.

"Afghanistan is a different story. We were looking for the people who brought down the towers. But I certainly don't see the reason for preemptive war, for walking in on somebody who wasn't attacking us, and wasn't doing anything to us."

The protest is part of a national effort by clergy and lay people called "America Speaks Out on the War." Its goal is a safe and responsible end to the war in Iraq.

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY