Clerics Protest Reagan Policy on Nicaragua

Associated Press

Nearly 200 religious leaders formed a human cross on the Capitol steps today, commemorating people who have died in Nicaragua, and accused the Reagan Administration of preferring "terrorism to the pursuit of peace."

"A scaffold of deception is being constructed around Nicaragua," Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders said in formally declaring they will fight President Reagan over $100 million in new congressional aid to Nicaraguan rebels.

Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore of New York said the leaders were "representing literally millions of people--Protestant, Catholic and Jewish people of good will throughout this country who have not yet been heard" on the subject of U.S. involvement in Nicaragua.

In the formal statement, the group accused the Administration of ignoring worthy Sandinista peace initiatives and of covering up reports of human rights atrocities by rebels backed by the U.S. government.

"We refuse to allow the deception to go unchallenged or to accept the senseless violence," the statement said.

"Together we say, 'In the name of God, stop the lies, stop the killing.' "

Signers of the statement included 21 Roman Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran bishops, top officials of the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Mennonite Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the National Council of Churches and more than a dozen rabbis.

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