The Iraq War: The Homefront Turns to Prayer
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LEE HOCHBERG: The area around Sacramento, California’s capital, is politically racially and religiously diverse. Though compared with other cities, relatively few residents are affiliated with a congregation. But in the days since the war began, many have poured into places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques were packed where special war-time services like this one at trinity Episcopal Cathedral.
SPOKESMAN: I have a step brother who is a pilot, has been called up now to active duty.
LEE HOCHBERG: Since some 60,000 Sacramento residents are military or retired military, the services, and prayers, were extremely personal.
SPOKESPERSON: Remembering Jennifer Ranten, Dave Allen, Mark Allen.
LEE HOCHBERG: Tears flowed throughout. 74-year-old Libby Kovacs says she’s haunted by echoes of World War II.
LIBBY KOVACS, Parishioner: It’s just very painful to think of all the people who, who are going to die.
LEE HOCHBERG: Followers of all faiths prayed for the safety of the armed forces. There are an estimated 30,000 Muslims in the area. And their imam said they prayed for the soldiers’ safe return.
TAG SAYD: We hope and pray that our soldiers return to their country safely and securely.
LEE HOCHBERG: There are more Catholics than any other religion in the greater Sacramento area. At a mass for peace at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the clergy deplored Saddam Hussein’s refusal to comply with U.N. resolutions, but they said this country jumped into war too quickly.
SPOKESMAN: We had favored continuing diplomatic effort and we wonder whether all alternatives had indeed been exhausted.
LEE HOCHBERG: The pope has spoken out strongly against the war. Sacramento Bishop William Weigant says according to Christian thought it’s an unjust war since the U.S. is not fighting it in self defense.
MOST REV. WILLIAM K. WEIGANT: While there’s a great danger of the weapons of mass destruction, being used, it wasn’t imminently pointed at us or anybody else at this moment. So the question of a pre-emptive strike to solve a problem for the future, it is a precedent that is troubling.
LEE HOCHBERG: Reverend Don Brown, the dean of the Episcopal Cathedral also believes the war is unjust and he questions Pres. Bush’s religious belief that the war is between good and evil.
REV. DON BROWN: I think that he is locked into a kind of Christian triumphalism as a way of looking at the world, that is dangerous in today’s world.
LEE HOCHBERG: There was support for the war at the Cavalry Christian Center, a large nondenominational church. Though polls show black churches nationally have taken predominantly anti-war positions, Sacramento’s black congregations generally support the president.
SPOKESMAN: On behalf of our president, we lift up Pres. George W. Bush, we lift up his cabinet, and father, we pray for those, all those servicemen that are now engaged in this war on terrorism.
LEE HOCHBERG: The church’s charismatic pastor, Phillip Goudeaux, was a Black Panther during the Vietnam War, arguing at that time that war marched black draftees off to death.
SINGING: God bless America .
LEE HOCHBERG: Today after a conversion to Christianity, the pastor, who built his church from 17 to 12,000 members believes the bible commands its followers to fight evil.
PASTOR PHILLIP GOUDEAUX: There is a precedent that we can see in the scripture where god send out the children of Israel and wage war against those of that were waging evil against them. And I really feel that Saddam Hussein is a bully that needed to be dealt with.
SPOKESMAN: War is the…
LEE HOCHBERG: Rabbi Brad Bloom also had a change of hearts. He used to be against war. But three years ago his and two other Sacramento synagogues were torched in an anti-Semitic hate crime. He now says that evil cannot go unchecked.
RABBI BRAD BLOOM: The terrorist attack against this congregation is a lens for me, for how I see the world. I don’t see violence and hatred as theoretical concepts. And that experience of that terrorist attack against our synagogue set me on a journey that said, be realistic to the world. Not everyone is going to like you, and you have to take steps to protect yourself.
LEE HOCHBERG: Bloom and other religious leaders expect to see an increase in the need for pastoral counseling as the war progresses.