Monday, February 20, 2006

World Council of Churches--US Churches Condemn the US and the War In Iraq

The AP summarizes the statement of the churches in this way:

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) -- A coalition of American churches (particpating in the first meeting of the World Council of Churches since 1998) sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."
I am not aware that this "coalition of American churches" has made any similar statement condemning the brutal and world-wide attacks and threats from Islamist terrorists (much of which has been explicitly targeting Christians).

What, I ask, is the United States to do in response to fatal attacks on its embassies, naval vessels, military, diplomatic and civilian personnel and, of course, the hijacking of US passenger airliners, devastating attacks on the World Trade Center (twice), the Pentagon and at least one other target foiled by the crash of United Flight #93?

What, you ask, did Iraq have to do with any of these attacks? Not much, apparently, except for providing moral support, financial support, training support, tactical support, medical care and the facilitation of travel for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups through its territory.

Does this justify our attack on Iraq? Perhaps . . . perhaps not.

The universally held belief that Iraq still possessed WMD must also be taken into consideration as well as its continuing defiance and refusal to comply with the terms of the 1993 cease-fire agreement and all subsequent UN resolutions. (Not to mention the massive fraud involving the Oil for Food arrangement whereing Sadaam Hussein co-opted UN and national leaders in a corrupt scheme to siphon billions of dollars into their own private accounts and away from the Iraqi people). Oh . . . and, of course, the mass murders of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens and the torture, disfigurement and rape of tens of thousands more.

A good argument could be made that it would have been immoral for the United States to NOT invade Iraq given the means and opportunity to do so.

Similar actions for similar reasons had previously been affirmed when the issue concerned the former Yugoslavia (when Bill Clinton was President).

Given the complex moral circumstances of the US invasion of Iraq it is nothing short of theological arrogance for one group of Christian leaders (known to be overwhelmingly liberal, who have repeatedly demonstrated their opposition to any policies enacted by Republican Administrations while remaining suspiciously quiet when it comes to policies lead by Democrats) to declare such sweeping and condemnative moral absolutes in the name of Christ.

In the face of the terrorist bombings of subways, trains, airports, hotels, nightclubs, airplanes, mosques, synagogues, Hindhu temples, Christian churches and the almost gleeful slaughter of women, children, humanitarian workers, journalists, United Nations personnel and the video-taping of the execution and beheadings of civilian hostages from many different nations, hearing these denominational representatives charge the United States with "raining down terror" on the people of Iraq and for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown" is nothing short of incomprehensible.

Just to show that the above quotes have not been taken out of context, here they are as written and signed by leaders of 34 US denominations:
We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights. We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name . . .

Our country responded (to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors ... entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of national interests. Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.
The statement also asks forgiveness for a world that's
grown weary from the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown.
The Rev. Sharon Watkins, president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), worried that some may interpret the statement as undermining U.S. troops in Iraq.

We honor their courage and sense of duty, but ... we, as people of faith, have to say to our brothers and sisters, `We are so profoundly sorry,'" Watkins said.
Sorry for what? Sorry that the soldiers that they supposedly honor have been "raining down terror" on the people of Iraq and are participating in sowing the seeds of international "violence, degradation and poverty?" Oh, no. We wouldn't want anyone to think that this attitude was in any way undermining US troops in Iraq.

Also included in the two-page statement was a condemnation the current US government for ignoring critical international environmental needs (ie. global warming) and an assertion that, "Hurricane Katrina revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract."

In addition, the American churches issued a letter in support of the UN demand that the American prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay be closed, saying reports of alleged torture violated "the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person."

I have always supported those who bring their Christian conscience to bear against US policies both foreign and domestic. But I have little patience or empathy with church leaders such as these (who also represent the majority membership of the National Council of Churches) that will "speak truth to power" when condemning the United States but will not condemn the international Islamist movement and the terrorism that it has spawned as an explicit act of war against the United States, Western Civilization and the Christian Faith.

I can hardly wait to hear what they will have to say about Hamas as the new governing party in Palestine. I won't be holding my breath.

Correction: The good comment from Wesley Pattillo has identified a major error in my post. I had conflated the representatives of American churches attending the World Council of Churches with the National Council of Churches. 34 US churches signed the statement and 35 churches are members of the NCC. This coincidence also added to my error. As requested I offer my apologies to the NCC and will attempt to make appropriate corrections to my posting. Given, however, the fact that the US/American churches attending the WCC are virtually identical to the churches that are members of the NCC the position adopted by them this past week obviously reflects the position of member churches in the NCC although not serving as an official position of the latter. An example of this can be found here, where the President of the NCC has initiated a letter (now signed by over 13,000 people) in support of the UNs call for the US to close the prison facility at Guantanamo. It would seem that the only difference between the American churches attending the WCC and the NCC itself is the letterhead.

Further Note: According to the WCC website there are 33 member churches from North America (including Canada). The NCC website shows 35 member churches.