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Religious Reaction Mixed To Libyan Bombing

April 16, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ American religious leaders have voiced troubled, varied and sometimes hesitant reactions to the U.S. bombing of Libyan targets.

Jewish officials applauded the action as justified, but several Christian leaders questioned or criticized it as perpetuating a chain of violence and as fanning anti-Western Moslem animosity.

But some religious leaders interviewed Tuesday were reluctant to make immediate judgments.

The Rev. Martin Sovik of the Lutheran office of governmental affairs in Washington, said he saw no clear basis ″for shooting off our mouths″ at the moment, but added of the attack:

″It may have been both dangerous and also right, but it’s hard to see which overweighs the other.″

Strong objections came from the Rev. Avery Post, president of the United Church of Christ, who called the bombing ″both morally questionable and fundamentally imprudent.″

He said it involves the U.S. ″in a cycle of violence that will undoubtedly entail the shedding of more blood. It assumes that the only effective response to terror is more terror. As a Christian, that is a proposition I cannot accept.″

Without judging motivations behind the action, but expressing keen distress at the multiplying violence, Russell Shaw, director of public affairs of the U.S. Catholic Conference, said:

″The apparently escalating cycle of terrorist acts followed by military retaliation is horrifying to people of good will. We pray that the United States and Libya will now call a halt to the violence and attempt to resolve their differences through diplomatic means.″

The Rev. Stanley L. Hastey of the joint Baptist office of public affairs, said he is ″concerned about the possible ramifications″ of the raid, but did’t judge it as wrong in itself.

However, he said it had ″possible implications of widespread religious warfare″ and likely would ″solidify the radical Moslem world to see terrorism against us and our citizens as a kind of holy crusade.

″I have the feeling that President Reagan strengthened the cause of militant Moslems.″

Hastey said it seemed likely to intensify the upsurge of Moslem fundamentalism, fanning anti-Western attitudes of ″us against them,″ and ″this bodes ill″ for inter-religious relationships and for Christians in Moslem areas.

Among Jewish leaders approving of the bombing, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said the U.S. ″properly and vigorously responded″ to the ″mindless terrorism″ of Libya’s leader Moammar Khadafy.

Schindler said terrorism ″is an attack not only on American citizens but also against the values of democracy″ separating ″Western countries from the Communist world and the Arab League″ - values they ″hold only in contempt.″

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