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☞ Issue 169
글씨크기 크게 글씨크기 작게 기사 메일전송 기사 출력
Bush: guest speaker at prayer for peace meeting in Korea?

16 Christian Peace Organizations from South Korea

  (2010/06/17 23:49)  

George W. Bush has been invited by several of the large churches in South Korea to participate as a guest speaker at their prayer for peace on Tuesday, June 22, commemorating the Korean War 60th Commemoration (1950-1953; around 2 million casualties). Among the list of host churches is the largest church in the world: Yeoido Full Gospel Church, with 600,000 members. The prayer meeting will take place at the World Cup stadium in Seoul, with an estimated 100,000 in attendance.

A group of 16 Christian peace organizations in Seoul has been meeting recently to discuss an appropriate response. These groups are concerned about the understanding of “peace” held by the prayer meeting’s organizers, and also about the message that Bush’s presence at the meeting will send to South Korean society, to North Korea, and to the rest of the world.

Since the sinking of the Cheonan warship in the West Sea, near the DMZ, on March 26, tensions between North and South Korea have been on the rise. And at the end of May, when South Korean president Lee Myung-bak announced that North Korea was responsible for the Cheonan incident, threats of violence escalated on both sides. Lee Myung-bak, who strongly maintains an anti-sunshine policy toward North Korea, is an elder at one of the mega-churches in Seoul.

Bush’s presidency will forever be marked for starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which are continuing today, at an enormous cost of human life. And during his presidency, Bush labeled North Korea as an “axis of evil.” His hostile approach to North Korea led to increased tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The organizers of the prayer for peace meeting say that they invited Bush as a representative of the U.S., a country which fought and shed blood alongside South Korea during the Korean War. They announced that Bush will share the story of his personal faith journey and then talk about “the price of freedom.” To many people it seems strange that Bush would be the ideal representative to join in prayer for peace, and there are concerns about whether his message might rationalize the use of retributive justice.

On the day before Bush’s arrival in Seoul, the group of peace organizations will hold a press conference to present the following three suggestions to the leaders of the prayer for peace meeting:

“First, at your prayer for peace meeting, we urge you to announce that as followers of Jesus, you support the practice of nonviolence. During this time of high tension between the two Koreas and rumors of retaliation, we ask you as the church to raise your voice. Call for the South Korean government to give up this warmongering and to pursue nonviolent resolution; otherwise, our country will continue on a path to a military clash, causing loss of human life on both sides.

Second, we ask you to call for disarmament in both North and South Korea. Ever since the ceasefire agreement in 1953, the two Koreas have been locked in the Cold War structure, and both countries continue to build up their militaries, making them among the most heavily militarized nations in the world. This prayer meeting is an opportunity for churches to show the world that we do not trust in the power of weapons, but that we trust in God.

Finally, we encourage you take a reconciling role between North and South Korea. Our 60 years of confrontation are very short when compared to our history as one country. We believe that God is waiting for a channel of peace and reconciliation, and we would like the church to be that channel. At this prayer for peace meeting, we would like to see genuine prayer for reconciliation.”

The leaders of the U.S., a superpower country, have great influence in global issues. Former president Jimmy Carter promoted peace in the Middle East, and Al Gore is working to raise awareness of global climate change. What kind of influence will Bush have? Will he promote peace through force or nonviolence?

Christians around the world are struggling to discern how to practice Jesus’ radical teachings on peace, such as his command to love our enemies. This is an extraordinary challenge in the Korean peninsula, where people live in a daily reality of deadlock conflict.

Hopefully Bush’s presence for peace prayer can help to loosen the deadlock in Korea, and not stimulate tension among people who have already experienced 60 years of military confrontation.

June 16, 2010
Submitted by Korea Anabaptist Center on behalf of 16 Christian Peace Organizations in South Korea (* contact KAC for further information: kac@kac.or.kr)

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