The Episcopal Church warned that the United States "need not be at war while pursuing the full force of justice" against those responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The church's Executive Council, a 40-member body that functions as the board of directors, passed a sweeping resolution on the attacks and the resulting U.S. airstrikes against Afghanistan.

While standing behind President Bush and pledging "support and prayers" for members of the armed forces, the council cautioned against military action and said there are deeper, more difficult steps that the United States must take in order to free the world from terrorism.

The council pointed to the "self-isolation and unawareness" of the United States that resulted in the "alienation, despair and resentment felt in many parts of the world towards the United States." The council also lamented "the enormous divide between the wealth of some nations and the crushing poverty of others."

The resolution urged local churches to engage in interfaith talks with Jewish and Muslim groups, hoping that "such interfaith dialogue can help reduce incidents seen in recent weeks of backlash violence against Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others."

The council also warned against anti-terrorism reforms that could chip away at civil liberties by giving the government broad surveillance powers. In addition, the church said Washington must not allow "security-based procedural safeguards to impinge upon the rights of asylum seekers based on their country of origin, race, ethnicity or religion."

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