God's Politics

God's Politics


Jeff Carr: Words, Not War, with Iran

posted by gp_intern

It’s been in the works for quite some time, but yesterday we announced my participation in a delegation of 13 religious leaders who will be leaving this coming Saturday, February 17, for a trip to Iran. Our delegation, which is being led by the Mennonites and Quakers, will be meeting with a variety of religious leaders (including Christians and Muslims), civil society leaders, a group of female members of Parliament, former President Khatami, and current President Ahmadinejad. The purpose of the trip is to deepen dialogue between religious and political leaders in the hope of defusing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

As I have been telling people in the last week about my impending trip, I have been getting a number of interesting responses. Some people are worried about my safety (including my wife), because they have vivid memories of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Others have offered words of encouragement and support, as they are worried that we may be on a course with Iran similar to the tack we took in Iraq, and they hope our trip might help de-escalate some of the tensions between our two nations.

Last weekend I met an Iranian couple here in Washington, D.C., at an event and mentioned my trip to them. They were, of course, very interested about the purpose of my visit, and shared with me some of the beautiful places and sights I should visit while in Iran. But after this somewhat superficial exchange, our conversation began to deepen, as they expressed to me their sadness that the American people don’t really know and understand the Iranian people – that we only know them through the prism of their president and the media images that are beamed through our televisions.

And then the woman became even more serious, and with deep sadness and concern in her eyes asked, “Do you think the U.S. will attack my country?” Though she phrased it as a question, the look in her eyes revealed the hope she had that the answer would be no, but also the real fear that it just might be possible. And then she said, “I’m so glad you are going, and I hope you are successful. When you return, please tell the American people what you have seen and how different the Iranian people are than what the media portrays.”

While I am sure there will be stories to tell about our meetings with high-level government officials, religious leaders, and members of civil society, I do hope to be able to spend time talking with average Iranian citizens: people who, I suspect, have the same hopes and aspirations for peace, security, and prosperity that we have in this country.

We have met with a number of government officials here in Washington, and everyone has been encouraging about our visit during this highly tense time. We met with Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) yesterday, who has been trying to visit Iran since 1989. He gave us some advice and questions to pose to President Ahmadinejad, wished us well, and said we should always be willing to talk with our enemies. It seemed like a fitting send-off for a group of Christians. After all, we have been called to be peacemakers, and without dialogue it’s hard to achieve reconciliation and peace.

I’ll be blogging here on this site about the trip from February 18-25, while I am in Iran. I hope you will join me on this journey and pray that our delegation will contribute to Words, Not War, with Iran.

Jeff Carr is the Chief Operations Officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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Blake

posted February 14, 2007 at 6:28 pm


“Do you think Iran will attack my country?” the fearful Shi’a 10 year old asked her mother.



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Rev. Churchmouse

posted February 14, 2007 at 6:49 pm


While I am sure there will be stories to tell about our meetings with high-level government officials, religious leaders, and members of civil society, I do hope to be able to spend time talking with average Iranian citizens: people who, I suspect, have the same hopes and aspirations for peace, security, and prosperity that we have in this country. Hope you have time to spend talking with some average Iranian Revolutionary Guards and some average revolutionary mullahs. Let us know what they think about other peoples thoughts for peace, security,and prosperity.



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kevin s.

posted February 14, 2007 at 7:26 pm


I’m not worried about the Iranian people. i’m worried about their (not very elected) leader and his desire to get a nuclear bomb and wipe Israel off the map. I’ll be interested to see what answers you get with him, or if he’ll be able to charm you into believing that what he really wants it peace. What if words don’t work?



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Eric

posted February 14, 2007 at 8:46 pm


I wish you luck Jeff. Please tell the Iranian people that you meet that there are very very few Americans who want war with Iran. In fact, I don’t know any who wish for a war. And please reassure them that it is not the Iranian people that concerns most Americans, but their government.



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Paul

posted February 14, 2007 at 9:02 pm


Jeff, I hope you don’t turn out to be a 21st century Chamberlin. Must confess that I am pretty sure you will. cheers, Paul



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Bill Samuel

posted February 14, 2007 at 9:09 pm


God speed. Blessings on this trip. The church, the body of Christ, has a responsibility to work on reconciliation not only directly with God but among humans.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 14, 2007 at 10:17 pm


Jeff, This is great news! Best wishes to you and the other persons in the group traveling to Iran!



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Wolverine

posted February 14, 2007 at 11:24 pm


Jeff, Perhaps while you’re over there you could ask some really interesting questions like: Why is a nation with large crude oil reserves so desperate for nuclear power? Is it true that you have to import gasoline? If it is, wouldn’t it make more sense to build oil refineries before you build nuclear reactors? How did Iranian mortar shells, rocket propelled grenades, and explosives wind up in Iran? If this was a rogue operation, is the government taking steps to shut it down and punish those responsible? Please let me know what kind of responses you get. God Speed! Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted February 15, 2007 at 1:00 am


Oops, slight correction needs to be made. That last question should read: How did Iranian mortar shells, rocket propelled grenades, and explosives wind up in Iraq? If this was a rogue operation, is the government taking steps to shut it down and punish those responsible? I really need to find a new proofreader. Wolverine



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Mike Hayes

posted February 15, 2007 at 1:10 am


Jeff, One of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission (and one that so far has not been adopted, I think) was that funding be provided to enable children in the Muslim countries that have madrassahs (which teach kids to become fundamentalists and hate wealthy nations) to attend secular schools. I hope there will be some opportunity for the group you are going with to talk with the more moderate persons in Iran about that concept to see if there is support for it.



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nickerson

posted February 15, 2007 at 1:25 pm


You and your team have all of my prayers. I pray that the conversation will help in lowering the fear that that is so high in each country. God bless you



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Donny

posted February 15, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Until the Gospel is allowed to be preached frely in middle east countires, there will never be peace in this part of the world. The fallout of being in a “Christian nation,” is a part of the society leaving a Christian life to embrace secularism or another choice of beliefs. Hardly violence folows. Other than the fallout of a secular society. That appears to be the process. In Islamic countries, there is no leaving Islam and there is no alternative. Jeff, Preach the Gospel or don’t go!!!!!!!!! It is time for you “Progresive” Christians, to act like Christians, version 1.0.



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Gene

posted February 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm


Good luck Jeff. I see no reason for you to preach the gospel, as you and your companions are living it.



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butch

posted February 15, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Wolv, “Why is a nation with large crude oil reserves so desperate for nuclear power?” Simple answer, oil is a finite resource and should be used only when necessary. Nuclear may be able to be used in an unlimited way with more research. Nuclear energy has been driving subs for years, why not cars. Of course there are answers why not now but who knows about the future. If I were Iran that is exactly what I would do.



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Gerald Shenk

posted February 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm


Friend Jeff, I know what it’s like to have many questions before visiting Iran, and quite a few questions still unanswered upon returning home here. I attended a conference in Tehran in September on Mahdism doctrine. I also had the privilege of meeting local Christians there, and worshiping with them in Sunday services. There is a tremendous amount of suspicion to face into when you arrive back home, but it helps to remember Peter’s counsel: “do not fear what they fear” (I Pt 13:14). Most of our concerns arise from calculations of empire and power politics, rather than the passions that belong to Christ and his care for the least of these in our world. Much harm may yet come from the aggressive rhetoric on both sides in this struggle, but the people who belong to Jesus must continue to exercise the power of love toward enemies. Remember St. Francis heading off to witness to the Sultan in Egypt? Remember the bravery of those who cut through the fog of war rhetoric to build trust and civil discourse after every ruinous war the chiefs invented so far? Be bold and filled with courage. “Do not fear what they fear”! –Gerald Shenk



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reddopto

posted February 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm


I’m not a liberal, but I still hope you can be goodwill ambassadors to Iran. May God be with you. We just achieved a significant armaments agreement with North Korea, so maybe there is hope for peaceful dealings with Iran. I would hope you would not get caught up in bad mouthing America when you are over there. I also believe that Americans are aware that Iranian people are probably pretty nice, and that the problem is radical leaders, not the ordinary people. Are you contacting Iranian Christian leaders? There are reports of significant persecution.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 16, 2007 at 12:05 am


To: Supporters of the values in “God’s Politics” Subject: Congressional oversight http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=20647&afccode=RSS101 This link provides a draft email message to your members of congress.Please ask them to fulfill their obligation to provide oversight of the administration for any possible widening of the war beyond Iraq to include attacks on Iran. Please consider it! Thank you. PS: Entry of your address information will direct the message to your members of congress.



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butch

posted February 16, 2007 at 3:14 am


“Please ask them to fulfill their obligation to provide oversight of the administration for any possible widening of the war beyond Iraq to include attacks on Iran.” Wonder how things would be different today if congress had done its job before Iraq.



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tina mata

posted February 16, 2007 at 4:42 am


Rev Jeff Carr, I will be praying that your mind and heart be quickened, empowered , integrated, engaged as you LISTEN. LISTEN with your ears, your eyes, your heart, your hands, your nostriles, your taste buds, your intelect, your readings, your intuition, your gut. LISTEN deeply brother. Then come back and share the stories you hear and experiance with us, your virtually/real community. Come home safely to your wife and children. Further becoming Gods most genuine and generous intention for you. I see no grater gift to all parties. In anticipation, oh, and no presure : ) Tina Mata Los Angeles



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Mike Hayes

posted February 16, 2007 at 3:35 pm


butch, Amen, brother!



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Michael

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Jeff, If you haven’t already run across the Speaking of Faith program entitled “Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century,” you ought to download the mp3 or podcast to listen to on your flight to Iran. http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/diplomacyandreligion/index.shtml God bless.



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Michael

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:53 pm


Oops! I’m a week behind! You’re already there. You should listen to the program anyway when you get a chance. Grace & Peace–



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rose macaskie

posted May 29, 2008 at 3:29 pm


Dear mr carr though i am very interested in the problems in irak i have a diferente interes, that i thought you might be able to illuminate . I live in Spain and after yoga classes thought I would try to help tramps in Madrid and found myself in a situacion in which, i seemed to be the one being helped and that by agressive tecnics, and later read about the catholics ways of helping in Los Angeles where you worked I believe. they have a program their called home boys, that apropiate tutores who accompañy the boys who are coming out of gangs and i wondered if may be I had become the target of a similar institucion in Spain. Are their people in Los Angeles who complain about being attacked by catholics Do they try to get at you without saying who they are do you know. Do they have clandestine tutores. I would welcome any informacion on them i find the attacks of catholics wearying. rosemacaskie17@hotmail.com



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