Simple Bounty

Finding Beauty, Grace and Sanity in a Busy World

American Christians And The War June 12, 2008

Filed under: Christianity,Politics — katieosborne @ 7:31 pm

I actually started a post on this subject a couple months ago, but due to the nature of the topic, I never had adequate time to set my thoughts down. I still don’t, but I read a speech today that so thoroughly states my feelings on the subject that I wanted to highlight it. It is something that has weighed heavily on my mind for some time, and I won’t make any apologies to family and friends, though I’m sure some will be offended. I don’t pretend to know it all, but this is something I am so sure about: Though many people I deeply respect support the war, I say with complete confidence that they are misled, and as Christians, we all need to examine how our view of our country and this war squares with scripture.

I am simply astounded by mainstream Christians’ support for the war and the president. Have we been so thoroughly brainwashed by the propaganda of the State that we cannot see the truth of what our country has become? We can’t see how immoral this war is? I don’t understand how so many Christians can be so blind to the evils of our government and it’s military. How is the war justified in their minds when they look at Christ’s commands in Scripture? Do they just cover their eyes to the truth?

To many, government has become a god, or is at least seen as God’s agent for good. Somehow Christianity and neo-conservative thought have become so intertwined for so many, it’s as though it is, in some strange way, now a part of Christian doctrine, despite the fact that so much of it is at odds with The Bible.

I want to highlight a few passages of Lawrence M. Vance’s speech, given recently at a Future of Freedom Foundation conference. It is a long document, but well worth the read. Here are just a few paragraphs I thought were particularly important.

Christians who are otherwise good, godly, disciples of Christ often turn into babbling idiots when it comes to the subjects of war, the military, and killing for the state. There is an unholy desire on the part of a great many Christians to legitimize killing in war. There persists the idea among too many Christians that mass killing in war is acceptable, but the killing of one’s neighbor violates the sixth commandment’s prohibition against killing. Christians who wouldn’t think of using the Lord’s name in vain blaspheme God when they make ridiculous statements like “God is pro-war.” Christians who try never to lie do so with boldness when they claim they are pro-life, but refuse to extend their pro-life sentiments to foreigners already out of the womb. Christians who abhor idols are guilty of idolatry when they say that we should follow the latest dictates of the state because we should always “obey the powers that be.” Christians who venerate the Bible handle the word of God deceitfully when they quote Scripture to justify U.S. government wars. Christians who claim to have the mind of Christ show that they have lost their mind when they want the full force of government to protect a stem cell, but have no conscience about U.S. soldiers killing for the government.

If there is any group within Christianity that should be the most consistent, the most vocal, the most persistent, and the most scriptural in its opposition to war and the warfare state, it is conservative Christians who look to the Bible as their sole authority. Yet, never at any time in history have so many of these Christians held such unholy opinions. The adoration they have toward President Bush is unholy. The association they have with the Republican Party is unholy. The admiration they have for the military is unholy. The thirst they have for war is unholy. The callous attitude they have toward killing foreigners is unholy. The idolatry they manifest toward the state is unholy.

If you doubt the truth of what I am saying about the sad state of Christianity, then look no further than the support that a theocratic warmonger like Mike Huckabee received in primary elections earlier this year held all over the South in the so-called Bible Belt. A church in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, even had Huckabee in to preach on a Sunday evening during primary season. And this time the primaries down South weren’t the usual case of Christians holding their noses and voting for what they perceived to be the lesser of two or more evils, for there was actually a principled conservative Christian on the ballot – Ron Paul. Much of the Christian antagonism toward Dr. Paul was on account of his opposition to the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror. Yet, Christians who chose Huckabee over Paul chose the greater evil that they hoped to avoid. They themselves are evil, not because they rejected Ron Paul, but because they love war, the military, and the warfare state. Huckabee not only supported the sending of more troops to their death in Iraq, he actually maintained that we should not withdraw from Iraq because “we are winning.” If we are winning in Iraq when four thousand American soldiers are dead, thousands of physically and/or mentally disabled soldiers need a lifetime of care, a trillion dollars has already been spent, the morale and readiness of the military is at historic lows, the Guard and Reserve forces are decimated, military hardware and equipment are worn out, the reputation of America in the eyes of the world is at rock bottom, and new terrorists are being created faster than we can kill them, I hate to see what kind of condition we would be in if we started losing.

Christians have bought into a variety of American nationalism that has been called the myth of American exceptionalism. This is the idea that the government of the United States is morally and politically superior to all other governments; that America is a city on a hill – the redeemer nation, the Messiah nation, Rome on the Potomac, the “hope of all mankind,” as President Bush termed it; that American values are the only true values; that the United States is the indispensable nation responsible for the peace and prosperity of the world; that the motives of the United States are always benevolent and paternalistic; that to accept American values is to be on the side of God, but to resist them is to oppose God; that other governments must conform to the policies of the U.S. government; that other nations are potential enemies that threaten U.S. safety and security; and that the United States is morally justified in imposing sanctions or launching military attacks against any of our enemies that refuse to conform to our dictates.

This is why U.S. foreign policy is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. This is why U.S. foreign policy results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. This is why U.S. foreign policy excuses the mass murder of civilians in the Philippines, Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Iraq as for the greater good. This is why the fruits of U.S. foreign policy are the destabilization and overthrow of governments, the assassination of leaders, the destruction of industry and infrastructure, the backing of military coups, death squads, and drug traffickers, imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism, support for corrupt and tyrannical governments, brutal sanctions and embargoes, and the United States bribing and bullying itself around the world as the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, and busybody. And because Americans are preoccupied with reconciling religious faith with national pride, they care little about the consequences of American foreign policy, preferring instead to view the world in Manichean terms of good (us) and evil (them).

The early Christians were not warmongers like so many Christians today. They did not idolize the Caesars like some Christians idolize President Bush. They did not make apologies for the Roman Empire like many Christians do for the U.S. Empire. They did not venerate the institution of the military like most Christians do today. They did not participate in the state’s wars like too many Christians do today. If there was anything at all advocated by the early Christians it was peace. After all, they had some New Testament admonitions to go by:

  • Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
  • Live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18 )
  • Follow peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14)

Aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the very nature of Christianity. True, the Bible on several occasions likens a Christian to a soldier. As soldiers, Christians are admonished to “put on the whole armor of God.” The Apostle Paul, who himself said: “I have fought a good fight,” told a young minister to “war a good warfare.” But the Christian soldier in the Bible fights against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. He wears “the breastplate of righteousness” and “the helmet of salvation.” The weapons of the Christian are not carnal: his shield is “the shield of faith” and his sword is “the word of God.” The New Testament admonishes Christians to not avenge themselves, to do good to all men, and to not render evil for evil. There is nothing in the New Testament from which to draw the conclusion that killing is somehow sanctified if it is done in the name of the state.

What is the purpose of the military? I think it is beyond dispute that the purpose of any country having a military is defense of the country against attack or invasion, not to “rid the world of evil,” as Bush proclaimed from the pulpit of the National Cathedral a few days after the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. military should be engaged exclusively in defending the United States, not defending other countries, and certainly not attacking them. It is U.S. borders that should be secured. It is U.S. shores that should be guarded. It is U.S. coasts that should be patrolled. It is U.S. skies where no-fly zones should be enforced.

But because U.S. foreign policy is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling; because it has a history of hegemony, nation building, regime change, and jingoism; because it is the story of interventionism, imperialism, and empire; because it results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States: the U.S. military – the enforcer of U.S. foreign policy – is a force for evil in the world. Because America’s military heritage is not one of how our troops have repelled invaders, kept us safe from attack, or defended our freedoms, it is not honorable to serve in the military. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for soldiers who fought for a lie and the families of soldiers who died for a lie. America’s military heritage is unfortunately one of bombs and bullets, death and destruction, intervention and invasion, and occupation and oppression. The purpose of the military has been perverted beyond all recognition. The military spreads democracy by bombs, bayonets, and bullets. The military garrisons the planet with troops and bases. The military is responsible for the network of brothels around the world to service U.S. troops who have no business being away from home. Military personnel serve simultaneously as policemen, firemen, scientists, social workers, and bullies with the world as their precinct, forest, laboratory, client, and playground.

The problem with the U.S. military is, of course, U.S. foreign policy. U.S. foreign policy is not only aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling, it is also extremely arrogant. The United States would never tolerate another country engaging in an American-style foreign policy. Now, I think I loathe President Bush as much as any man in this room, and perhaps even more so because, as a Bible-believing Christian, I oppose his faith-based socialism, his misuse of Scripture and religion, and his doctrinal deviations from orthodox Christianity, but what if another country said that the U.S. government was corrupt and oppressive and needed a regime change and then came over here and overthrew our government? I would be outraged, as would every American. The United States has troops in about 150 countries. Would it be okay if each of these countries sent troops to the United States? If not, then why not? Would it be okay if each of the countries the United States has a military base in decided to build a base in the United States? Why not? Why the double standard? It is the height of arrogance to insist that the United States alone has the right to garrison the planet with bases, station troops wherever it wants, police the world, and intervene in the affairs of other countries.

It is high time for Christians who still defend the state, its leaders, its military, and its wars to wake up and open their eyes and recognize some cold, hard facts:

  • The United States has become a rogue state, a pariah nation, an evil empire.
  • The United States’ military is the greatest force for evil in the world.
  • The United States is the arms dealer to the world.
  • The United States is not the world’s policeman.
  • The United States cannot redeem the world through violence.
  • The United States is not the God-anointed protector of Israel that enjoys a special relationship with God.
  • The United States government is the greatest threat to American life, liberty, and property – not the leaders or the military or the people of Iraq, Iran, Syria, China, Russia, or Venezuela.

Our republic is crumbling. It is imperative that we return to the noninterventionist foreign policy of the Founders. Christians, of all people, should be leading the way.


4 Responses to “American Christians And The War”

  1. J.C. Says:

    I’m guessing you’ve never been around anyone affiliated with the military. It’s truly hurtful the way you (a fellow American) feel about my husband and his comrades. Truth be told, many, many non American military are stationed on US Bases and are being trained by the United States. So you see, we do allow non Americans to be stationed here. I’ve met our fellow brothers and sisters in arms from all over the world (Denmark, Belgium, UK, Pakistan, and the list goes on). So please, before you rant and rave about how horrible it is to be American military, do some homework. My husband fights for your right to speak your mind but at least do your research before ranting and raving. I encourage you to speak personally to people in the military and not believe everything you read or hear on the news.
    You have no idea how good you have it, being an American. We are truly lucky to live such a blessed life. My closest friends are from Turkey and Croatia. My friend from Croatia recalls how life was under communist rule and what it was like during the war and how time and time again, her country begged for US help. Live in a communist country, speak to someone who used to live in a communist country and I believe with all of my heart you’ll change you’re opinion. It’s so easy for us to sit back in our comfortable recliners, plasma televisions and air conditioning and judge the world in which we live.

    I’m not a democrat or republican. I’m just someone who has a great love of country and our military men and women who fight for our right to speak our minds, even when we’re misinformed. Sometimes war is necessary. It would be ignorant of us to think otherwise.

  2. katieosborne Says:

    I appreciate your post even though I disagree. I have been around people associated with the military. No my husband isn’t military, nor my dad, but I have other friends and family who have been in the military.

    I’m not sure exactly how you feel I am ignorant in my views, though I understand that you are offended. I have no ill will toward the soldiers. I understand they are doing their job and that they think they are doing the right thing. My frustration is directed mostly at the unjust war in Iraq, and as was stated in the piece I quoted, I think that Christians need to think about their involvement in this war since, as I see it, it is a completely immoral one. That is the point.

    Sadly, these men and women are not fighting for our rights or our freedoms, no matter what the administration or media tries to have us believe. War is occasionally necessary, but this is one of the most unnecessary war in our country’s history. Despite what you might think, I do support our troops. I want them to come home to their families. Not to die on a battlefield or bomb more innocent Iraqi civilians.

    And yes, I agree with you: we are so blessed to be Americans. I love this country too, and I want to see prosperity and freedom as the founding fathers intended. Sadly, our liberty is being steadily chipped away at due to this administration’s “war on terror,” but we still have it better than most, at this point.

    Thanks for posting.

  3. E.K. Says:

    I have to say that I agree with J.C. I am assuming that my husband is one of your friends from the military, but I do not believe that you have ever talked to me or him about that experience and our take on why it was important for him to serve.

    I really struggle to see how you can support the troops while saying they are murderers. I always find those types of statements to be a huge contradiction. They do not feel very supportive.

    I know your opinions on the war and media bias. I guess I would ask what your sources are and how you are so sure that you are getting the better perspective. We can agree to disagree, but at some point it becomes arrogant to “know” that we have the corner on the truth. Unless you are there please do not speak so authoritatively.

  4. katieosborne Says:

    E –

    You’re right we’ve never talked about that, and I would be interested to understand both of your experiences. I fully admit that I don’t know what military life is like, and I certainly can’t fathom what it is like on the battlefield.

    My stance on the immorality of the war is based on how I believe the Bible instructs Christians to live. This is what I know without doubt: we are to live peacefully. We are to love our neighbors. We are to preach the gospel to other nations. If these things are true, then it is also true that this war is wrong. This is what I’m talking about when I say I know something for sure. Every fiber of my being says that this is wrong based on my reading of Scripture. I know others will feel just as strongly that I am wrong, but I can’t escape my conscience.

    If we are to be peacemakers, then doing otherwise, except in self defense would be wrong. This author does use strong words, and I had never personally gone so far as to say that the soldiers themselves are murderers. I strongly objected to that on first reading. It still doesn’t feel good, and it is hard to reconcile when I know very admirable, moral people who are in the military. Yet, if I am to say that the war is immoral and it is wrong to kill, then it has to follow that those who are killing are in the wrong.

    I totally get that they think they are doing the right thing, and I get that when you are in the military, you have to do what you are told. Of course there is always the option of leaving out of principle, but I suppose that isn’t the easiest thing to do.

    Perhaps, though, I just shouldn’t have posted this. I just get so tired of hearing what great things we are doing and how wonderful the military is. I don’t see anything great and noble about this war,and I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut while family discusses the greatness of the military and their support of the war, etc. I suppose that’s what I was mostly reacting to when I read this speech and decided to post it.

    Anyway, I just can’t help but see a contradiction between what the Bible says and what most Christians in our country think about the war. That is what eats at me. I’m not out to badmouth the soldiers, though I understand now that it certainly comes off that way. And I can understand how someone associated with the military would be offended, hurt angered, by the speech I posted. Maybe angry at me too.

    I honestly do support them in so far as I don’t want them to have to be there and be put through all the terrible things they have to witness and do. When I think of people like your husband or others in my family, who have served, I feel compassion for the soldiers that are there now. I just can’t support the military’s goals.

    I want to try to give you a call or email today.

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