The Presbytery of Providence overtures the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to address the pain, violence, and suffering being inflicted upon many Iraqi women during the current prolonged war by
1. Communicating to the Iraqi government, through their ambassadors in Washington and the United Nations, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq; deploring the dramatic increase in abuses since the changes to the Iraqi Constitution in 2004; and urging immediate and speedy correction of these inequities of oppressive radical abuses of basic human rights be taken to improve women’s status in all areas of Iraqi society;
2. Communicating to the United States government, through letters to the president, the members of Congress, and to the secretary of state, our concern for equal rights and justice for women in Iraq and urging that the U.S. government devote significant attention to working with the Iraq government toward correcting inequities and lost civil rights by Iraqi women1;
3. Encouraging all sessions and presbyteries, as well as women’s and men’s organizations within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to engage in study, prayer, and dialogue about the issues of violence against and suppression of women in Iraq;
4. Expressing our concern through communications with our partner churches in Iraq as well as within the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the World Association of Reformed Churches, seeking their active participation in support for Iraqi women;
5. Affirming our belief in the value, dignity, and rights of every human being;
6. Asserting our conviction that demands for justice by Iraqi women require efforts to bring their situations before fair tribunals, especially when extreme actions silence those who are oppressed2;
7. Appealing to leaders of the Muslim community in the U.S.A. and in the world that they intervene in Iraq by standing against those who are oppressing women and who deny them basic human rights.3
1. Isobel Coleman, “Women, Islam and the New Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006 Summary: Although questions of implementation remain, the new Iraqi constitution makes Islam the law of the land. This need not mean trouble for Iraq’s women, however. Sharia is open to a wide range of interpretations, some quite egalitarian. If Washington still hopes for a liberal order in Iraq, it should start working with progressive Muslim scholars to advance women’s rights through religious channels.
2. “To be reconciled to God is to be sent into the world as [God’s] reconciling community. This community, the church universal, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares [the] labor of healing the enmities, which separate men [and women] from God and from each other. . . .” (The Book of Confessions, The Confession of 1967, 9.31); “We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father. In sovereign love God created the world good, and makes everyone equally in God’s image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community” (The Book of Confessions, A Brief Statement of Faith, 10.3, lines 27-32).
3. Gen. 21:14-19. God provided safety for Hagar and Ishmael.