Rev. JOHN SHUCK Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

As members of the Presbytery of Yellowstone, we believe our faith dictates that we voice strong opposition to a pre-emptive strike by the United States against Iraq.

While many of us hold that a state is justified in using force in certain situations, we believe that a military strike by the United States against Iraq at this time is not morally justified.

While we deplore the past actions of Saddam Hussein, he poses no clear and immediate threat to the United States or the nations of the world. A unilateral, pre-emptive strike by the United States would be viewed by the vast majority of the world's population as an act of aggression on behalf of U.S self-interests, even if self-interest is not our motivation. If the United States sets this example, other nations might claim justification for attacking their weaker neighbors.

Peaceful alternatives have not been exhausted, but must be pursued through the United Nations. Iraq has been and can continue to be contained by a cooperative effort led by the United Nations. If Saddam is a threat, he is a threat to the world, not to the United States alone.

An attack against Iraq would lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent people, including children. It would further destabilize the entire Middle East. We cannot afford to increase tensions between the West and the Arab world, or escalate the spiral of violence around the globe.

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Peaceful alternatives to war are not flashy or terribly exciting, but war will not lead the United States nor the world to the security we seek. Peacemaking is hard work, but the way of peace is the narrow road that leads to life.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Presbytery of Yellowstone joins other governing bodies within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and our ecumenical partners in urging the President of the United States to exercise restraint and to work with the United Nations toward a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

The Yellowstone Presbytery passed this resolution on Feb. 8 on a 23-21 vote.