Civil rights and black religious leaders are organizing against the Persian Gulf war and hope to adopt a joint statement condemning the fighting as an immoral diversion of money from domestic problems.

The leaders, who were meeting Friday in New York, said the U.S.-led attack on Iraq was unprovoked and precipitous."Morally, this war is wrong," the black leaders said in a draft obtained by The Associated Press. "It was begun without military provocation. Not one U.S. citizen was attacked. The bombing was begun by the United States and its allies. (Economic) sanctions had not been given enough time to work."

The church leaders noted that blacks are disproportionately represented on the front lines of Saudi Arabia and urged President Bush to order an immediate cease-fire in the month-old conflict.

The leaders also were considering an "action plan" that urges individual churches to offer sanctuary to military men and women who are resisting deployment to the war, and to offer help and instruction for those seeking conscientious objector status, organizers said.

"We declare our opposition to the war in the Persian Gulf on moral, spiritual, political and economic grounds," the group's proposed statement said.

It says the enormous cost of the war, $1 billion a day by some estimates, "is an immoral and unspiritual diversion from our humanitarian agenda and a blatant evasion of our domestic responsibilities."

The group represents major black churches and community leaders, and some but not all civil rights organizations.

A spokesman for the NAACP, Jim Williams, said its president, Benjamin Hooks, was not attending and his group has not taken a position on the war.

Another civil rights leader, Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, has accused black war critics of trying "to stab the black soldier in the back."

Organizers called the meeting an "emergency summit" to develop a national strategy for black opposition to the war.