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Religious leaders urge restraint in seeking retaliation



Published: Tue, September 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



An interfaith service will be at 7 p.m. today at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Youngstown.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR RELIGION WRITER

Area religious leaders expressed sadness this morning but advised caution against leveling blame at particular groups in today's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Daniel Rohan is pastor of St. Mark's Orthodox Church in Liberty and a U.S. Air Force reserve chaplain. He said he was on heightened alert for the reserves because of the attacks.

"From a human, Christian perspective, it's tragic to destroy human life because of political agendas for self-gratification," Father Rohan said.

Prayers will said for those who have lost their lives in today's tragedy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the church.

"I'm shocked. I'm concerned how this was orchestrated. There had to be a lot of professional preparations for this," said Father Rohan. "I think the United States has to re-evaluate its strategic preparations for defenses. I think they were expecting chemical warfare."

He also said the U.S. may have to re-evaluate its position on civil liberties when it came to the ready access to information on making bombs, such as Internet Web sites.

"It's all out there," he said.

Retaliation: The Rev. David Leonard is pastor of First Unitarian Church in Youngstown, which stresses acceptance of different beliefs as long as people share the same values, such as respect for others.

"Clearly the people who did this don't. It's totally unacceptable in that sense," he said.

The Rev. Mr. Leonard said he feared the United States will fly off the handle and bomb someone in retaliation.

"It would be good if we pursued this through the world courts, but we don't even know who did this. Until we know, people are going to assume this was Muslims. And we have to wait to find out."

Arab leader: Husam Rafeedie, president of the Arab Community Center of Youngstown, said he was shaking like a leaf.

"This is a disaster, no doubt about it," Rafeedie said. "God only knows who did it, but this is declaring war here."

Rafeedie cautioned against immediately blaming Muslims, pointing out that they were initially suspected in the Oklahoma City bombings that were the result of Americans.

The Rev. Terry Bolds, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown, also asked people not jump to conclusions.

The pastor asked for prayers for the injured as well as for God's guidance as to how people should help.

Also, an interfaith service will be at 7 p.m. today at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Youngstown.

A prayer service for victims will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at DeBartolo Auditorium in DeBartolo Hall on the Youngstown State University campus.




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