Presbyterian leaders issued a statement today (July 19) in light of recent suicide bombings in several parts of the world that have killed and injured scores of people.

Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, released the following statement:

We are deeply saddened and grieved by recent reports of suicide bombings that have taken the lives of dozens of individuals and families around the world, including places like Bulgaria, Nigeria, and the Middle East. Through one incident or another, young and old—from tourists, to wedding guests, to worshipers—have been killed and injured.

The 217th General Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declared that “any suicide bombing, no matter who is the perpetrator or the target, constitutes a crime against humanity.”

Further, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) “condemns suicide bombings and terrorism” and calls for the empowerment of the victims of such attacks “to be able to bring those who plan and inspire suicide bombings and terrorism to the bar of international justice. “

In 2004, the General Assembly adopted a comprehensive statement on “Religion, Violence, and Terrorism” that calls Christians “…to ponder the message of attackers who are so desperate that they surrender their lives to kill others,” while also “supporting our government in applying just and legal measures against those who engage in criminal activity, (and) supporting the use of military and police force to suppress terrorist actions within the limits of international law and traditional moral limits for the use of force.”

In short, we affirm the General Assembly’s declaration that terrorism whether state, group, or individual is immoral because it wrongfully and deliberately attacks innocent civilians.

Eternal God, our only hope,
our help in times of trouble:
show nations ways to work out differences.
Do not let threats multiply
or power be used without compassion.
May your will overrule human willfulness,
so that people may agree and settle claims peacefully.
Hold back those who are impulsive,
lest desire for vengeance overwhelm our common welfare.