It’s one thing when former high-ranking members of your own Administration come out against your war. It’s another thing when two-thirds of the country calls the invasion and occupation a mistake. It’s really something when your own church issues a statement urging you to pull out the troops now.

Last week, the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society–the social action committee of the church that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney belong to–resoundingly passed a resolution calling for withdrawal with only two ‘no’ votes and one abstention.

“As people of faith, we raise our voice in protest against the tragedy of the unjust war in Iraq,” the statement read. “Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in a war the United States initiated and should never have fought…. We grieve for all those whose lives have been lost or destroyed in this needless and avoidable tragedy. Military families have suffered undue hardship from prolonged troop rotations in Iraq and loss of loved ones. It is time to bring them home.”

The board also issued a strong statement against torture, urging Congress to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate detention and interrogation practices at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is my hope and prayer that our statement against the war in Iraq will be heard loud and clear by our fellow United Methodists, President Bush and Vice President Cheney,” said Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the UMC’s Board of Church and Society. “Conservative and liberal board members worked together to craft a strong statement calling for the troops to come home and for those responsible for leading us into this disastrous war to be held accountable.”

With its bold stands against the Administration, the UMC is fulfilling the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who called for the church to be “not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion” but “a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

Bush has asserted that he entered Iraq on a direct order from God. Now, he has a direct order from his own church to leave. Is he listening?

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Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist, documentary filmmaker and blogger (www.boldprint.net) living in Brooklyn.