Church leader demands withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

The leader of the Presbyterian Church of Wales is to call upon the Government to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

In his final address as Moderator, the Rev Haydn Thomas will tell the Church’s General Assembly that Prime Minister Gordon Brown should return to his roots as son of the manse by basing his foreign policy on Christian principles.

“Is a war which is winning us nothing but enemies the most effective way of preventing massacres like the one in London four years ago?” Rev Thomas will ask in his address at Lampeter University tonight.

The Prime Minister has come under pressure in recent weeks over Britain’s continued military involvement in Afghanistan. Labour MP Eric Joyce questioned whether the war was justified when he unexpectedly announced his resignation as ministerial aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth last Thursday.

The call from Rev Thomas follows a vote in the General Assembly on Monday supporting greater pressure on Mr Brown to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan.

“The world has lost its way. Answering terrorism with terrorism is not the answer. Four times more British soldiers have already died in Afghanistan than were civilians killed on the seventh of July,” Rev Thomas will say.

“We must find a different way to address the issue: rediscover diplomacy and reconciliation, remind ourselves and our politicians that there is another way, the way of Christ.”

In his address, the Moderator will also criticise the huge bonuses still being awarded to bankers despite the UK’s “tremendous” debt.

“We can clearly see the side-effects of the bankers’ greed … our priorities are completely messed up, and this can be seen everywhere, from footballers’ salaries to covering up the cross in an episode of Coronation Street,” he will say.

Following Rev Thomas’ address, the Rev Gwenda Richards will be installed as his successor.