Protestant Prelates Oppose Force Against ISIS

on September 4, 2014

Why do oldline Protestant spokespersons and officials continue to ignore historic Christian teachings about Just War and pretend that our fallen world is other than what it is?

A recent letter to President Obama signed by United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) officials, along with pacifist Quakers and Brethren, and liberal Catholic orders, condemned military action against ISIS in Iraq.

ISIS of course is the brutal Islamist insurgency that has conquered much of Syria and Iraq, raping, beheading and terrorizing all but its supporters and co-belligerents. Iraq’s dwindling number of Christians, at least those who had not yet fled, were warned by ISIS to convert, pay a special tax to Islamist supremacy or die. ISIS recently beheaded two U.S. journalists, among other victims. President Obama authorized limited U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq to forestall its further advance. The U.S. also is trying to bolster Iraq’s shattered military and help the Kurds’ defense capacity. Many refugees have found refuge in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

But these church prelates don’t like military solutions, even against ISIS, although they profess to want to “protect” the victims of ISIS. How to protect against a rapacious conqueror without military defense? These peace activists want United Nations diplomacy and non-violent resistance, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King.

“We understand and deeply share the desire to protect people, especially civilians,” the church officials declare. “However, even when tactics of violent force yield a short term displacement of the adversary’s violence, such violence toward armed actors is often self-perpetuating, as the retributive violence that flares up in response will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict. We see this over and over again. It is not ‘necessary.’”

So what is “necessary,” in the view of these church officials? They commend “long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes.”

Some of these suggestions might be advisable for the long-term. But they would not help the current victims of ISIS. Such counsel is like telling a woman being chased down the street by a rapist that instead of seeking an armed police officer she should urge her aspiring assailant to get counseling for his anger issues.

“Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq,” the church officials assert. Maybe not altogether “remove,” but lethal force will, if deployed effectively, push back ISIS and save many victims who otherwise would perish.

Particularly interesting is the church officials’ suggestion to dispatch “professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer some buffer for displaced persons and refugees.” It sounds like they’re commending Christian Peacemaking Teams, which deploy pacifist activists to engage in “interpersonal conflict transformation.”

Suppose you were a Christian living in an Iraqi village about to be conquered by ISIS, and you’ve already heard about your co-religionists murdered at the conquered village up the road. You have the choice between fleeing to a just arrived team of U.S. church pacifists trained in “interpersonal conflict transformation.” Or you could accept the protection of U.S. armed Kurdish or Iraqi armed forces, supported by U.S. air power. Which would you choose?

  1. Comment by Dan Skogen on September 4, 2014 at 12:34 am

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton is quoted as saying this about how to deal with ISIS –
    “…there are many sides to all of this, and so just
    countering that with military force doesn’t seem to be as effective as
    trying to get people together to have conversations together. And maybe
    we’ll have to form unusual alliances. People who are not naturally
    considered to be allies. Maybe in the name of humanity and in the name
    of the hope that we have together in God say, we must put aside our
    differences, in order that, we can together come and reason with people
    who don’t really want to have any sense of reason. But it is possible to
    have conversations. We use to be enemies with many people with whom now
    we are allies.”

  2. Comment by Nick Porter on September 4, 2014 at 12:52 am

    She’s an idiot,plain and simple. ISIS and people who sympathize with them must be wiped off the face of the earth.

  3. Comment by M Didaskalos on September 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

    The ELCA’s distaste for Israel is just another facet of its Church of the Exalted Me liberal activism. If secular liberalism (even “Christian” Leftism) approves something, the ELCA will be on the bandwagon, too, as you’ve documented on your website:

  4. Comment by eMatters2 on September 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

    “without addressing the root causes of the conflict”

    The root cause is Satan working through Islam, and these fake Christians have nothing to offer to address it.

  5. Comment by nwcolorist on September 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Satan working through Islamic TERRORISTS. Remember that these fanatics represent onlya small fraction of Muslims. Don’t paint all Muslims with the same brush.

  6. Comment by eMatters2 on September 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    They represent what a large portion of the Koran teaches. Thank God for disobedient Muslims who disobey that book!

  7. Comment by Darah Gaz on September 12, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    There were probably a lot of “moderate Nazis” too, but they didn’t seem to have much influence, did they?

  8. Comment by Alex Soderberg on September 15, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Why not? The Koran tells ALL Muslims to kill infidels.

  9. Comment by Roy_B on September 4, 2014 at 8:53 am

    It’s appropriate to apply some Old Testiment justice to these people. The Arab mind respects force and sees reasoning as weakness that can and should be defeated. You can attempt to talk them out of their murderous ways, but in the end, it’s either kill or be killed if you don’t agree with them.

  10. Comment by Scott on September 4, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I would recommend that the signatories of that letter volunteer to go over and meet with the ISIS leaders as soon as possible so that they can facilitate an “interpersonal conflict transformation.” I’m afraid, however, that the only transformation they may receive is to have their heads handed to them.
    Seriously, these so-called prelates, aka the “Coexist” crowd, are complete idiots when it comes to understanding the dangers of true evil. When will we ever again see a group of “Onward Christian Soldiers” leaders in mainline Protestantism. My guess is never — which is one reason why mainline Protestantism continues its slow but steady slide into irrelevancy.

  11. Comment by JustNTyme on September 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The religious left ought to start a new holiday, FacePalm Sunday. Truly, these people are clueless. We’re supposed to have a “conversation” with barbarians? It’s hard to have a conversation when one party in the conversation is missing a head.

    Of course, the left is not about the real world, it’s about conceited people feeling good about themselves.

  12. Comment by gh on September 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I would suggest that we send each church official who signed this statement to Iraq to meet with ISIS personally and “negotiate a just resolution”……I think they might have a change of heart……It is easy to pontificate from afar their pacifistic answers…..its another thing to see and even feel the edge of the brutal sword!

  13. Comment by Nick Porter on September 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Exactly, I bet their not willing to become a martyr for their views!

  14. Comment by dorkyman on September 4, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Funny how all these denominations are the same ones with plummeting membership numbers, due in no small part to their new, “creative” views of homosexuality.

    These folks are becoming irrelevant to the discussion. They are self-destructing. Others (Mormons, Catholics, conservative groups) are rapidly growing in numbers.

  15. Comment by Simmering on September 5, 2014 at 1:15 am

    This news saddens me so much. I was baptized, as an adult, in the Methodist church. That means I chose this church over 25 years ago, and the church has left me. The man who baptized me was a sweet man with a backbone of steel. How did we lose the fact that you could love someone and still slap the crap out of them when they are wrong? Forgive me for being plain spoken, because I know it is no longer d’jour. Jesus had bigger balls than anyone; he won’t put up with anyone who bullied the weak, and yet he loved those who repented. I don’t we follow that example?

  16. Comment by George E. Hilty on September 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    What happened to wise as serpents, innocent as doves? Dodos belonged to the dove family. Their extinction explains what happens to doves who have no wisdom.

  17. Comment by Namyriah on September 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Love it!

    “We are the United Liberal Church of America – Dumb as Dodos.”

    They can’t fly, and they’re headed for extinction.

  18. Comment by Joe Sherrill on September 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

    The problem is simple. These people do not believe the Scriptures (Bible) and that is it.

  19. Comment by Ross McPherson on September 7, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I am not surprised that sincere Christians embrace pacifism. Christ was a pacifist. What surprises me is that they tried to persuade a significant world leader. Christ never tried that. Render unto Ceaser…

  20. Comment by Mike Ward on September 9, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Yeah, Christian pacifists used to be apolitical. Now they want to tell everyone else how to run the country.

  21. Comment by AharonHaLevi on September 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

    As an observant Jew, I can say, if Israel (and Judaism) adopted such a pacifist approach, we would all be dead by now. A famous Arabic saying goes: “First we will get rid of the Saturday people (Jews) and then the Sunday people (Christians)”. Jews have learned from the 2,000 years of survival against Christianity and more recently the Holocaust – we will not be “gotten rid of”. Islam has been attacking Jews in the modern era from at least 1929 (and long before). The Torah teaches us to “live by these commandments, not die by them.” Self-defense is in fact one of the 613 biblical commandments, if you even need scriptual support.

  22. Comment by Mike Ward on September 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Why don’t they send the letter to ISIS?

  23. Comment by Sandra K Jenner on September 19, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I have a fantasy: one of the mainline denominations will appoint a woman as their head, a liberal – but she will have a Damascus Road experience, decide to turn the church back to its Christian roots, preach Christian morality, denounce abortion and sexual perversion. I know it won’t happen but, hey, the Bible says “with God all things are possible.” Women are the backbone of the conservative churches, so why couldn’t a strong woman turn around one of the liberal churches? She certainly won’t be anything like the women who head the ELCA and the Episcopagans.

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