Duke’s Jeremiah Wright – by Mark D. Tooley


Many Evangelical Left elites have embraced pacifism and anti-Americanism as an easy way to differentiate themselves from the supposedly idolatrous patriotism of religious conservatives.  A chief architect of this new fad is Duke University ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, who recently boasted he hopes to be as “toxic” as Jeremiah Wright.

Once hailed by Time magazine as America’s most influential theologian, Hauerwas is a United Methodist who worships at an Episcopal “peace” church but whose primary following is probably about the new Evangelical Left.

Hauerwas was recently interviewed by Religion News Service and reiterated that the Afghan and Iraq Wars, like World War II, failed to live up to traditional Christian Just War standards.   Of course, for pacifist absolutists like himself, no war or act of violence can ever fulfill the ostensibly unattainable Just War check list.   For them, violence in defense of the “empire” is especially pernicious and anti-Christian.

In an interview immediately after 9-11 with enthusiastically approving fellow-pacifist and Evangelical Left Sojourners chief Jim Wallis, Hauerwas asked:  “How in the world are you going to have a just war when you have a Pentagon and a State Department built on national self interest? Just war isn’t built on national self interest, but the Pentagon and our State Department’s foreign policy are built upon political realism informed by national self interest.”

Actually, traditional Christian Just War teaching does recognize “national self Interest” in that every government is providentially tasked to defend its own people, no less so than parents are called to protect their own children.  But just as pacifist absolutists would insist, at least in theory, that a parent must only disapprovingly watch while a child is assaulted, so governments must not respond to aggression with anything other than high hopes for peace and reconciliation.   Hauerwas’s claim of non-violence as the central doctrine of faith would have surprised nearly all the biblical prophets and apostles.

Naturally, in his recent interview, Hauerwas is critical of President Obama’s new Afghan war surge.  “Afghanistan was understood to be part of the war against terror, and that was a decisive mistake because as soon as you said we are at war, you gave Osama bin Laden what he wanted—he became a warrior, and not just a murderer,” Hauerwas opined.  “I would be much happier with a whole reconsideration of our involvement there—not as a war, but as a police function, and how the police might intervene to arrest bin Laden.”

Hauerwas admitted that “police” action against al Qaeda sounds “utopian” but no less than “thinking you’re going to win a war in Afghanistan. I can’t imagine anything more utopian than that. Ask the British. Ask the Russians. It’s never going to happen.”  Of course, as a pacifist absolutist, Hauerwas would oppose any military feat in Afghanistan even if victory were easily attained within minutes.

In his post-9-11 Wallis interview, Hauerwas predictably condemned any possible U.S. military response and instead suggested referring bin Laden to an “Islamic court.”  In his view, “We would have been much better off trying to be patient and working with all the complexities that that might have meant — to see if they could have brought him to some justice.”  Of course, Islamic courts are not typically pacifist.  What would Hauerwas, or Wallis, have said if such a court had beheaded or dismembered bin Laden?  In fact, such pacifists are never very concerned about Islamist violence, only American military violence.   Still, Hauerwas emphasized to Wallis that he did not think the Taliban and bin Laden are “nice people.”

“Not nice” is about as harsh as Hauerws will get with radical Islam.  Hauerwas would prefer to aim at purportedly more nefarious Christians who do not share his absolute pacifism and anti-Americanism.  In his recent interview, he characterized the response by American Christians to 9-11 as “awful” because they refused to distinguish themselves from the imperialistic American “we,” from which Hauerwas emphatically and distastefully does distinguish himself.  With more purported discernment than average church goers, he insisted that the Afghan War was “so deeply ambiguous” that it could not possibly qualify as just, not that he thinks any war could be.

All Christians must be pacifist, Hauerwas further insisted to his recent interviewer.  And they should start by confronting military personnel in their own congregations.  “I have high regard for people in the military, but very seldom are they asked to justify what they’re doing,” he lamented.  He urged President Obama to confess that the “war on terror was a mistake and we’ve got to start, as Americans, learning to live in a world that we don’t control.”

Hauerwas gleefully admitted that his counsel to Obama would be politically poisonous, “just like Jeremiah Wright. I hope I’m absolutely as toxic as Jeremiah Wright,” because “I think what I’m saying is what Christians should be saying.”  Fortunately, most Christians outside of insulated academia and some pulpits do not share Hauerwas’s nearly idolatrous insistence on non-violence at all costs or his contempt for America.

  • keithrage

    Send him to Afghanistan with a bible in his hand and let the taliban convice him how nice it is to be a pacifist when the blade comes around his throat.

  • BS77

    Pacifism is often the most hypocritical steaming pile of cowardice and false morality you will find. To do nothing but remain passive while helpless men, women and children are being slaughtered by Nazis, the Japanese in Manchuria, the countless victims of genocide in Rwanda, Darfur or Somalia….to do nothing but talk about “peace” is a fool's mistake. Sometimes direct military force is the ONLY thing that will end the horror. Eisenhower was one of the greatest peacemakers in history….he confronted the Nazi death machine and invaded Europe as a liberator.
    Only an idiot would believe some pacifist could have ended the horrors of the Nazi war machine, the concentration camps, the deaths of millions of Poles, Russians, Jews, Slavs and other Europeans…..Even Ghandi did not bring peace to Pakistan and India…….China invaded Tibet, annexing it, enslaving and killing countless Tibetans…..the UN meekly called for human rights etc….but essentially did nothing. Doing nothing is what pacifism is all about. You do nothing and hope people like Hitler or Tojo, Achmidenijad or Osama Bin Laden, will just stop and be nice.

  • USMCSniper

    Terrorists will not look at pacifism as our message of peace. Rather they will see it as a weakness to be exploited and used against us. They do not seek peace or harmony. They seek to rule everyone under their Islamic religious fanaticism.

    They will not stop should we leave Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else. They will not live peacefully, or willthey ever seek to be our friends. They will slit the throats of those who dare stand against them. They will bring terror and murder to their own people on an unspeakable level.

    The pacifists, if they desire, only need look back to the atrocities that occurred in South Vietnam and Cambodia in the millions after the United States democratic congress withdrew funding to see the folly of their cut-and-run pacifist ideology. Tyrants and evil men do not stop because of appeasement or surrender. There is only one thing that stops them, and that is overwhelming force and total defeat.

    In the end, pacifism is not peaceful at all; it is neither moral or righteous. It is evil because it refuses to battle against evil it is only rationalized cowardice.

  • andrewnitzberg

    The pacifists love saying 'war has never solved anything' but that is factually inaccurate. WWII 'solved' Nazism. War solved 'Monarchism' and made democracy and freedom possible. The list goes on.

  • Dax

    Um, “we” (the Allies) incincerated millions of innocent men, women and children by firebombings. After the war we did nothing while millions of ethnic Germans were kicked out of Eastern Europe…men, women and children, none of whom were Nazis…possibly millions died. The book “After the Reich” is a grim record of this overlooked period of history. I mean our ally in WW2 was Stalin, a greater murderer than Hitler by most historians' view. I agree in principle that war can certainly “solve” problems (Nazim was indeed obliterated), but let's not pretend that our “democratic” conduct in war has been a million times more ethical. Native Americans were “democratically” ethnically cleansed. Certainly we should do everything possible to promote human rights around the world but I don't think another march to barbarism a la Allied firebombings is the right solution.

  • cjkcjk

    The man is no Christian, but is rather an evil fool.

  • Peter LaPeche

    What a sanctimonious douche. He has absolutely no concern over the true consequences of his beliefs, only in his own preening self righteousness.

  • Sassamon

    “Once hailed by Time magazine as America's most infulential theologian.”
    Time magazine's lying bunk is not worth quoting. Nor is this madman.
    Why the article? Why play the game? Oh, to call yourself a Christian and make statemens like this brings the other vermin out to your party. Bah!

  • jackguthrie

    Isn't pluralism wonderful? What exactly is the problem here? Is it that Hauerwas will use a bully-pulpit at Duke? I think he's wrong, but so what?

  • GJTryon

    According to the Vatican, Iraq was not, or rather IS not, a just war. It had not attacked the U.S. and the indiscriminate violence inflicted upon its citizenry, i.e., non-combatants, was out of all proportion to any real or imagined assault against Americans. Even granting the bogus Saddam tie-in with 9-11, how many children, after all, died in the twin towers? On the other hand, the Afghan adventure, at least initially, fulfilled the basic criteria for a just war. Whether at this point it can be regarded as a sensible war is another question.

  • Mo

    I don't know what Bible people like this read, but it's not the one I have. The Bible doesn't teach complete pacifism. I don't know where they get such ideas!

  • BS77

    SOme of what you say I agree with….but saying the Allies incinerated millions is a bit far fetched. Many of the excessive bombings, such as the Dresden bombing, were a result of faulty information, insecurity, uncertainty…and also anger and vengeance…no question about it. I cannot blame Stalin's career on the US or Britain…..The Russians played a great part in devestating the Nazi war machine….the Russian excesses were understandable given what the Germans did to Russia at the opening of the war. I mean, it was ugly, very ugly, but much of the horror must be put in perspective….and blamed on Hitler and his lunatic followers. I still believe the US has come a long way since the days of Indian slaughter. THe US is one of the principal human rights defenders in the world today…certainly not Saudi Arabia, China or Burma!!

  • BS77

    To stand by idly, while people…elderly, women, children, pregnant women are being slaughtered by insect Vermin like the terror thugs……is to be nearly as bad as the Vermin. Doing nothing is not pacifism.! DOing nothing is cowardice. Protecting the innocent, the helpless, the injured and the defenseless…this is real pacifism….even if it means using weapons to prevent further attacks. People were asked if a terrorist knew where a nuclear time bomb was hidden, should water boarding or more extreme methods be used to obtain the information necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people?? Only an idiot would have questioned the use of waterboarding in this instance. A liberal is a twit who puts unlimited tolerance above self preservation….. GO SEALS!!!!!

  • Chase

    When war solved Monarchism in Germany it created Nazism.

    When war solved Nazism, it enabled Stalinism.

    So much for democracy and freedom.

  • Chase

    Better yet, let's send him to ancient Rome with a Bible and see how Christian pacifism works.

  • cjkcjk

    The Indians were far and away more savager than the Americans.
    The Indians were constantly fighting and enslaving each other long before white men arrived….oh yeah and theyy were cannibals also.

    The BS historical revisionism taught and believed by most is distressing; we're the bad guys just because we won an inevitable victory in a clash of cultures.

  • Sassamon

    According to Julian Gorin's article, thank you Pamela at Atlas Shrugs, there is a great deal more to know about this Iraq war than we had previously known, a great deal more.

  • Nathan Jones

    As a United Methodist who leans conservative on many issues, this is an extremely disappointing article. Tooley shows, yet again, that he is far more style than substance… and the style itself is underwhelming. If you're going to attack someone much smarter and accomplished than yourself, at least be interesting. This article, unfortunately, was not.

  • stemstan

    The early Christians taught and lived non-violence amid the Roman Empire. They did this because they understood this to be the way of Jesus. Through the centuries the Church acquired power and has been compromised as it assumed weapons of violence to protect its political status.Do Christians truly believe that the Son of God actually became flesh on planet earth; that he lived a life of non-violvence, rejected earthly power and was obedient to God by submitting himself to human violence? Do they believe that He rose again and that He opened the door to resurrection? Do they really think we Christians should live otherwise?It seems to me that justifiying war and buying into redemptive violence denies the Christian message revealed in Jesus. My willingness to kill others relativises the Cross and denies the truth of the Incarnation.. The just shall live by faith.

    • http://twitter.com/torch621 @torch621

      No word on the terrible violence inflicted on the unborn by abortion, to the tune of over 50 million dead? When you start speaking out forcefully against that, I'll listen to what you have to say about war and peace.

      And BTW, you're little anti-Catholic crack there is BS, too. Don't think I didn't notice it.

  • AbdullahtheButcher

    And yet CHrist himself said of his disciples, those who had no sword should buy one. I'm no expert, but sometimes violence is necessary.