Onward Christian Soldiers, Again by Philip GiraldiSubmitted by Liberty_Belle on Thu, 02/04/2010 - 09:31
On Christmas Eve I reported about a group of “Christian leaders” who were calling on the US government to initiate harsh sanctions against Iran. Their lobbying contributed to an overwhelming House of Representatives vote (412-12) in support of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which seeks to cut off Tehran’s importation of refined petroleum products, amounting to 40% of its energy needs, and bring the country’s economy to its knees. The supporters of the House resolution believe that pressuring Iran in that fashion will somehow convince its government to alter its nuclear energy policy.
Others argue, however, that the sanctions will not influence the Iranian government in the least and that the pain experienced as a result will fall most heavily on the Iranian people who will be unable to heat their homes and will likely lose their jobs as the economy contracts. As the sanctions would punish any country that does business with Iran, the risk of blowback on the American economy is chilling. Congressman Ron Paul observed, "Are we to conclude, with this in mind, that China or its major state-owned corporations will be forbidden by this legislation from doing business with the United States? What of our other trading partners who currently do business in Iran’s petroleum sector or insure those who do so? Has anyone seen an estimate of how this sanctions act will affect the US economy if it is actually enforced?" Nevertheless some in Washington apparently would like to think that the sanctions will somehow force the Iranian people to rise up against their rulers, leading to a bloodbath followed by some kind of regime change that would usher in an era of democracy and freedom.
Not content with their victory in the House of Representatives, the Christian leaders did it again, urging the Senate to follow the House’s lead. On January 26th, they sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate demanding passage of “tough sanctions on Iran to prevent that terrorist sponsoring regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.” The Senate obliged two days later, passing the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act overwhelmingly on a voice vote. The first signature on the Christian leaders’ letter was that of Pat Robertson, who recently stated that the Haitian people are being punished by God because they made a pact with the devil back in 1804. Other prominent signatories are Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and John Hagee of Christians United for Israel who once insisted "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God" when hurricane Katrina hit. There are forty-two other signatories, mostly evangelical Christians with a sprinkling of Catholics, and also including some who have no apparent religious affiliation at all.
....there is a broader question, which is to what extent people who call themselves Christians should be rejecting restraint and negotiation while advocating policies that will certainly result in suffering and quite likely will lead to war. It is not necessary to be a pacifist to be a Christian, but neither should Christians be cheerleaders for war. Christ’s teachings are clear. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Later in the Gospel of Matthew in the Garden of Gethsemane he warned his disciples that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Christ also told his followers “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies…”
I do not know what the positions of the various Christian leaders who signed the letter were on the issue of Iraq in 2002-3. I rather suspect that most supported sanctions, which killed half a million Iraqi children and that were dismissed by Secretary of State Madeline Albright as being “worth it.” I would also guess that most fully supported the subsequent US led invasion of a country which did not threaten the United States in any way.
I challenge Pat Robertson, Richard Land, and John Hagee to identify for me a part of the New Testament that justifies in any way punishing people because of what they might do. Or that approves of preemptive war. If Christ were to return to the earth today one might reasonably ask whether he would recognize those who preach in his name who have apparently abandoned the historic and deeply held Christian traditions of peace and reconciliation and instead are advocating a course that could well lead to war.
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