Christianity and War (Part3)

Part 1: https://twentiesfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/christians-and-war-part1/

Part 2: https://twentiesfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/christians-and-war-part2/

Why? Why have so many religious people gotten it so wrong? As I have explained in many of my articles on Christianity and war over the years, there are many reasons: thinking that the war in Iraq was in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, believing that Saddam Hussein was another Hitler, supposing that Iraq was a threat to the United States, seeing the war in Iraq as a modern-day crusade against Islam, assuming that the United States needed to protect Israel from Iraq, viewing Bush as a messiah figure, equating the Republican Party with the party of God, blindly following the conservative movement, deeming the American state to be a divine institution, failing to separate the divine sanction of war against the enemies of God in the Old Testament from the New Testament ethic that taught otherwise, having a profound ignorance of history and primitive Christianity, reading too much into the mention of soldiers in the New Testament, possessing a warped “God and Country” complex, holding a “my country right or wrong” attitude, and adopting the mindset that brute force is barbarism when individuals use it, but honorable when nations are guilty of it.

I believe the two greatest reasons religious people have gotten things so wrong are American exceptionalism and American militarism.

Many Christians are guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. They 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 American leaders are exempt from the bad characteristics of the leaders of other countries, that the U.S. government should be trusted even as the governments of other countries should be distrusted, 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 foreign governments should conform to the policies of the U.S. government, that most 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 country that refuses to conform to our dictates. These are the tenets of American exceptionalism.

The result of this American exceptionalism is a foreign policy that is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. This is why U.S. foreign policy results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. We would never tolerate another country engaging in an American-style foreign policy. How many countries are allowed to build military bases and station troops in the United States? 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, intervene in the affairs of other countries, and be the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, security guard, mediator, and babysitter.

The other reason religious people have gotten things so wrong is American militarism. Americans love the military, and American Christians are no exception. There is an unseemly alliance that exists between certain sectors of Christianity and the military. Even Christians who are otherwise sound in the faith, who treasure the Constitution, who don’t support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who oppose an aggressive U.S. foreign policy get indignant when you question the institution of the military. It doesn’t seem to matter the reason for each war or intrusion into the affairs of another country. It doesn’t seem to matter how long U.S. troops remain after the initial intervention. It doesn’t seem to matter how many foreign civilians are killed or injured. It doesn’t seem to matter how many billions of dollars are spent by the military. It doesn’t even seem to matter what the troops are actually doing – Americans in general, and American Christians in particular, believe in supporting the troops no matter what. Americans are repulsed by the serial killer who, to satisfy the most basest of desires, dismembers his victims; but revere the bomber pilot in the stratosphere who, flying above the clouds, never hears the screams of his victims or sees the flesh torn from their bones. Killing women and children from five feet is viewed as an atrocity, but from five thousand feet it is a heroic act. It is sometimes suspicious when a soldier kills up close, but never when he launches a missile from afar.

Christians of all branches and denominations have a love affair with the military. To question the military in any way – its size, its budget, its efficiency, its bureaucracy, its contractors, its weaponry, its mission, its effectiveness, its foreign interventions – is to question America itself. One can condemn the size of government, but never the size of the military. One can criticize federal spending, but never military spending. One can denounce government bureaucrats, but never military brass. One can depreciate the welfare state, but never the warfare state. One can expose government abuses, but never military abuses. One can label domestic policy as socialistic, but never foreign policy as imperialistic.

It is the U.S. government that is the greatest threat to American life, liberty, property, and peace – not the leaders or the military or the people of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, or Yemen. And as James Madison said: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Christians should vigorously dissent the next time some warmongering politician says there is some great evil in the world that must be stamped out by the U.S. military. As John Quincy Adams said: “America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy.” Christians should stop regarding the state’s acts of aggression as benevolent. Christians should stop presuming divine support for U.S. military interventions. And because just war theory merely allows Christians to make peace with war, they should reject it just as they would any theory of just piracy or just terrorism or just murder. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward peace and a foreign policy of nonintervention. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward the ideas of Ron Paul.

Christians and War (Part2)

Part 1 is here: https://twentiesfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/christians-and-war-part1/

The early Christians were not warmongers like so many Christians today. They did not idolize the Caesars like some Christians do Republican presidents. 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 and nonviolence.

Aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the very nature of Christianity. 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. As explained by the famed nineteenth-century British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon: “The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel.”(More on Spurgeon here)

Back before the so-called Civil War in the United States, a Baptist minister writing in the Christian Review demonstrated that Christian war fever was contrary to the New Testament: “Christianity requires us to seek to amend the condition of man. But war cannot do this. The world is no better for all the wars of five thousand years. Christianity, if it prevailed, would make the earth a paradise. War, where it prevails, makes it a slaughter-house, a den of thieves, a brothel, a hell. Christianity cancels the laws of retaliation. War is based upon that very principle. Christianity is the remedy for all human woes. War produces every woe known to man.” There is nothing “liberal” about opposition to war. There is nothing “anti-American” about opposition to militarism. And what could be more Christian than standing firmly against aggression, violence, and bloodshed?There has, unfortunately, persisted throughout history the theologically schizophrenic idea among some Christians that mass killing in war is acceptable, but the killing of one’s neighbor violates the sixth commandment. I have termed this the Humpty Dumpty approach. But as the aforementioned Spurgeon said: “If there be anything which this book denounces and counts the hugest of all crimes, it is the crime of war. Put up thy sword into thy sheath, for hath not he said, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and he meant not that it was a sin to kill one but a glory to kill a million, but he meant that bloodshed on the smallest or largest scale was sinful.”

So when did the early church go astray? Undoubtedly, it was the accession to power of the emperor Constantine. When the empire allied itself with the church, it was the church that changed more than the empire. Instead of spreading Christianity by persuasion and being persecuted for it, some Christians began persecuting those who could not be persuaded. This Constantinian mindset is alive and well today. When Jerry Falwell said that America should chase down terrorists all over the world and “blow them all away in the name of the Lord,” he was expressing a sentiment widely held by conservative Christians.

After Constantine came just war theory.

War is mentioned over two hundred times in the Bible. The overwhelming majority of these instances concern in some way the nation of Israel. This fact is extremely important, because the president of the United States is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, the Christian’s sword is the word of God, and the only warfare the New Testament encourages the Christian to wage is against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Yet, just war theory is untenable because it is difficult to know with sufficient confidence whether all of its conditions have been met, because some of its tenets are impossible to realize, because the criteria of just war theory are too flexible, because it contradicts itself in that it sanctions the killing of innocents, which it at the same time prohibits, and because it is used to justify rather than to prevent war. Indeed, just war theory can be used effectively by all sides to justify all wars. Every government, every ruler, every soldier, every citizen – they all think their country’s wars are just.But just war theory has nothing to do with war in the Bible. Christian just war theory began as the attempt by Augustine to reconcile Christian participation in warfare with the morality of New Testament Christianity. In its essence, just war theory concerns the use of force:when force should be used and what kind of force is acceptable. The timing of force relates to a country’s justification for the initiation of war or military action; the nature of force relates to how military activity is conducted once a country commits to use force. The principle of the just war is actually many principles, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just. A just war must have a just cause, be in proportion to the gravity of the situation, have obtainable objectives, be preceded by a public declaration, be declared only by legitimate authority, and only be undertaken as a last resort. A war that is not justifiable is nothing short of mass murder.

Just war theory says that a war is just if certain conditions and rules are observed. But how can you make rules for slaughter and mayhem? By sanctifying war while attempting to curtail its manner and frequency, just war theory merely allowed Christians to make peace with war. That just war theory is used to defend the war in Iraq shows just how useless it is. Waging the war in Iraq is against every Christian just war principle that has ever been formulated.

But not only is just war theory not based on Scripture, it is rooted in blind obedience to the state, which, the last time I read my Bible, is not a tenet of New Testament Christianity. War is nothing but a form of state-sponsored violence. It is the state that decides to go to war, not the people, most of whom want nothing to do with war. The state always claims that it is acting defensively, has the right intention, has the proper authority, is undertaking war as a last resort, has a high probability of success, and that a war will achieve good that is proportionally greater than the damage to life, limb, and property that it will cause. What good is just war theory if it can be used by both sides in a conflict?

After just war theory came the Crusades, where conquest was conflated with conversion, followed by the continual wars of religion among European Christians. The ultimate picture of the folly of war is the bloodbath perpetrated by the Christian nations in World War I. From 1914 to 1918, in battle after senseless battle, Christian soldiers in World War I shot, bombed, torpedoed, burned, gassed, bayoneted, and starved each other and civilians until twenty million of them were wounded and another twenty million lay dead. The conduct of Christians in the United States before and during the Great War was shameful.

But even without the massive government propaganda campaign that was undertaken during World War I, we see the same shameful conduct among Christians regarding the war in Iraq. When Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 with the announcement that our cause was just, Christians lined up in droves to support their president. They enlisted in the military. They put “W” stickers and yellow ribbons on their cars. They implored us in church to pray for the troops. They began reciting their patriotic sloganeering, their God-and-country rhetoric, and their “obey the powers that be” mantra. They dusted off their books on just war theory. They denounced Christian opponents of the war as unpatriotic, anti-American, liberals, pacifists, traitors, or Quakers
.

The Police State is Coming

America is opening up a new warfront and it’s in your own backyard. It’s in your neighbor’s house, it’s three states over and it’s on the other side of the Mississippi.

That’s what a new legislation could lead to and the consequences are dire and constitutionally damning.

The United States Senate is set to vote this week on a bill that would categorize the entire USA as a “battlefield,” allowing law enforcement duties to be dished out by the American Military, who in turn could detain any US citizen as a war criminal — even coming into their own homes to issue arrests.

The National Defense Authorization Act regularly comes before Congress for changes and additions, but the latest provision, S. 1867, proves to be the most powerful one yet in raping constitutional freedoms from Americans. Move over, Patriot Act. Should S. 1867 pass, lawmakers could conjure the text to keep even regular citizens detained indefinitely by their own military.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the bill, has explicitly stated that the passing of S. 1867 would “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and could lead to the detention of citizens without charge or trial, writes Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H) sits on the same side of the aisle and agrees wholeheartedly. “America is part of the battlefield,” says the lawmaker.

America’s Military is already operating in roughly 200 countries, dishing out detention and executions to citizens of other nations. As unrest erupts on the country’s own soil amid a recession, economic collapse and protests in hundreds of cities from coast-to-coast, is it that much of a surprise that lawmakers finally want to declare the US a warzone?

Maybe not, but if the Senate has their way, the consequential could be detrimental to the US Constitution.

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president — and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world,” adds Anders. “The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.”

“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?”asks Anders.

Just like its supporters, the provision has attracted its share of critics as well. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill if it makes its way through Congress, but given the president’s poor standing among the American public (his disapproval rating is at its highest ever in recent polling), a hawkish Republican could usurp Obama as commander-in-chief as the 2012 election is less than a year away and the unemployment level stays stagnant and sad. With the exception of Congressman Ron Paul, the frontrunners currently vying for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency have remained outspoken in their support for not just increasing American military presence overseas at a time when the Pentagon’s budget dwarfs many governmental sectors, but in adding provisions to the Patriot Act itself to further remove freedoms from the people.

During last week’s GOP debate televised on CNN, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said that the country must“try to find that balancing act between our individual liberties and security.” That same night, pizzaman Herman Cain said suspected terrorists should be killed before identified and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suggested that Muslims should be profiled by the American government because, “obviously,” they are the group “that are most likely to be committing these crimes,” speaking broadly of his assumption of those that construct terrorist attacks.

“I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights,” responded Rep. Paul. “You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state . . . So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has already aligned himself as an opponent of the legislation, but needs to garner the backing of others if he wants to keep Congress from enacting the provision. “One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on US soil,” the Senator said in a speech last month. “Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the US military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.”

Udall isn’t the only one on Capitol Hill that has seen a problem with the provision, which was developed under shady circumstances. The text itself was drafted in secrecy in a closed-door meeting by US Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, two of the biggest names in Washington. No hearing was held to discuss the details and it was passed in a closed-door committee meeting, reports Infowar’s Paul Joseph Watson.

Watson continues to conjure up a list of characteristics that the Department of Homeland Security have identified as traits of domestic terrorism, calling into question past maneuvers from the government that led to those owning guns, buying gold and even donating to charity being considered America’s enemy. At last week’s debate, Ron Paul added that “It’s anybody associated with organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated,” referring to how the government can use its discretion — or lack thereof — to bring terrorism charges against its own people. Calling into question the recent execution of two Americans with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, Paul added, “So, that makes all Americans vulnerable, and now we know American citizens are vulnerable to assassination.”

The provision itself passed in the House all the way back in May, and only now is going before the Senate. Justin Amash, a Republican representative from Cascade Township, was one of the five House Republicans that voted against it. “It is destructive of our Constitution,” he writes on his Facebook page. It would “permit the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the president.”

Given that the passing of the provision would allow for legally lengthy and questionable detention, it becomes bizarre why Sen. McCain, a former prisoner of war, would pen such a bill. McCain was imprisoned in North Vietnam for over five years in a camp where he was detained and tortured before entering American politics.

“The president should not have the authority to determine whether the Constitution applies to you, no matter what the allegations,” adds Amash, who also writes, “Note that it does not preclude US citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.

“Please urge your Senators to oppose these outrageous provisions.”

As a solution, Sen. Udall has offered a counter act, being dubbed the Udall Amendment, that would keep S. 1867 from its critical consequences and would instead require lawmakers to examine the necessity of detaining citizens domestically, and instead would make Congress consider whether any detention legislation is needed at all.

In the meantime, Anders and ACLU are calling on Americans to voice their concerns to the US Senate. As political posturing keeps the country divided and the branches of government fight to find a solution to the crumbling economy, infrastructure — and now the Constitution — a solution to this problem is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the assaults on Americans that is underway.

-Written by RT News.