We, members of the Evanston clergy, stand with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. From the very beginning, we have opposed Russian intervention in Ukraine, and we are unalterably opposed to the aggressive, violent onslaught of Russia’s military machine. Since early Thursday morning Russian military, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, have deployed more than 200,000 troops to the border of Ukraine as well as ordering missile attacks and long-range artillery targeting multiple cities: Sumy, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Mariupol, Zaporizhzhia, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv. The result has already been loss of life and massive damage to buildings and property. In 2014 there were mass protests in the Ukrainian capital which forced out a Russian-backed president after his refusal to agree with a trade agreement with the European Union. Russia immediately annexed part of the peninsula of Crimea and led a rebellion that seized part of the country. A cease-fire agreement was signed in 2015. The relationship with Ukraine and Russia has been fragile ever since.
While many may contend the military action in the Ukraine is a political matter in which religious leaders should not meddle, we disagree. The current crisis is a moral matter demanding religious leaders of all faiths to echo the words of an ancient prophet, “Let justice roll down as rivers and righteousness as an overflowing stream.”
- We condemn the unbridled aggressiveness of Russia for political, military and monetary purposes.
- We condemn the use of weapons of war aimed into cities where there are families, senior citizens, children, youth and teens, as well as innocent citizens going about their daily lives.
- We condemn the placement of 200,000 soldiers whose physical presence is to wrest control of the Ukrainian government and detain President Volodymyr Zelensky and members of his cabinet.
- We condemn the launching of missiles striking residential neighborhoods throughout Ukraine.
The present crisis in Ukraine is the largest attack on a European state since WWII. It has already claimed lives and displaced over 100,000 people. In April of 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City and preached from the subject, “A Time to Break the Silence.” In explaining why he was speaking against the war Dr. King declared, “My conscience leaves me no other choice.” And so it is with us these many years later. While the Vietnam War was being fought with U.S. troops, the similarities are strikingly clear. Innocent people were being killed. Young soldiers were being used by old men who were the architects of the war. Parents were losing children. Spouses were losing their loved ones. Children were losing parents. A country was being decimated by a military machine.
Thus, we stand as trumpeters of conscience and clarions crying out for peace rather than war, democracy rather than dictatorship, unity rather than division, love rather than hatred and goodness rather than evil. If we do not stand in opposition against this war, who will stand on our behalf when injustice comes for us?
Second Baptist Church Evanston
Evanston Unitarian Church
Beth Emet The Free Synagogue