Religious “Truth” Commission to Examine U.S. War “Atrocities”

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


In a 40 year flashback to the glories of 1960’s anti-war outrage, infamously left-wing Riverside Church in New York City is hosting a “Truth Commission on Conscience in War” next month.   This special hearing, in the spirit of “truth commissions,” will evidently “explore and investigate systemic injustices, political violence, and mass atrocities” by the U.S., presumably in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It will “receive testimony, process their findings, and recommend strategies for change, healing, and reconciliation,” while lifting “up the silenced and invisible voices of victims, offering survivors a public forum to testify to their experiences.”

The “commissioners” of this “truth commission” includes a who’s who of far-left religious activism.  The testifiers are mostly a small circle of embittered veterans and conspiracy theorists, including former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who’s still pondering possible U.S. involvement in contriving 9-11.

So the March 21-22 spectacle at dramatically gothic Riverside Church on New York’s upper West Side will be an absurd theater of macabre conspiracy speculations, sanctimonious guilt trips about supposed U.S. crimes, and indignant condemnations of everyone not on the far-left who has failed to advocate full surrender to jihadist Islam.  In short, it might be wonderful entertainment, if not treated too seriously.  The ghost of the late William Sloane Coffin, former Riverside pastor, may even haunt the commission’s somber hearing, ghoulishly chanting old protest slogans from the Vietnam War era.

Among the testifiers will be Iraq War Veteran Logan Latuiri, who evidently left the military when he was not permitted to redeploy to Iraq without a gun. Recently active with Christian Peacemaking Teams [in Israel and “Palestine”] and his own anti-war group, Centurion’s Guild, Latuiri announced on Jim Wallis’ Sojourners blog that he is ”overjoyed” to join in the Riverside Church “truth commission” extravaganza.   The former soldier pronounced himself a “strict pacifist”  and opined hopefully that the Riverside hearing will “build bridges” between pacifism and Just War believers.

Given the locale and organizers, the “truth commission” is far likelier to become a Stalinist-style denunciation of and trial without jury of America’s supposed crimes against humanity. The project director oddly is radical feminist theologian Rita Nakashima Brock, who is more experienced in challenging the patriarchy and heterosexism than in exposing American militarism.   Other commissioners include Princeton University’s George Hunsinger of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture [by the U.S.], former Riverside Church pastor James Forbes, former Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) President Richard Hamm, left-wing Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, United Methodism’s Drew University Theological School President Maxine Beach, and New York’s Union Seminary President Serene Jones.

Sponsors of the hearing include the Catholic Peace Fellowship, Yale Divinity School, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the United Church of Christ’s Justice & Witness Ministries, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the World Christian Student Federation, among many others.   The nearly same caste could easily have been assembled 25 years ago for a church rally in Manhattan for Sandinista chief Daniel Ortega.  Perhaps the causes change slightly with time, but the groups remain largely the same, seamlessly moving from one bash America cause to the next.

Defending the Riverside Church hearing over which she will preside, Rita Nakashima Brock recently denounced President Obama’s surge in Afghanistan as the “strongest evidence of his failure both as Commander-in-Chief and as a peacemaker.”  After all, Afghanistan is just “another quagmire like Vietnam,” an equally “endless, poorly planned, losing war begun by one president and continued by his successors.”  But Religious Left activists like Brock, who portray all of Western Civilization as a dark and patriarchal, oppressive manacle on suffering humanity, cannot imagine any war in defense of America with moral merit.

Supposedly the Riverside hearing, as Brock described it in an op-ed, will thoughtfully articulate how individual military personnel should, as a religious freedom, have the “right to object to a particular war.”  After all, they “ undertake tremendous risks and hardship to protect the nation,” should not have to “sacrifice their consciences to serve,” and instead should be able to “continue serving, in good conscience, the country they love.”  Those careful words sound nice.    But in actuality, Brock and most of the others would like an emasculated military full of Christian Peacemaking Team activists, never willing to carry arms, but more than willing to perform as pacifist neutralists who obstruct all “violence.”

In his Sojourners blog, Logan Laituri gave a foretaste about the “truth commission’s” bent by bemoaning how in “our representative form of government, it is hard to escape even a fraction of complicity for the damage we are causing across the world.”  Indeed, he knows that the “military as it exists today is a system that makes it difficult to do good and very easy to do evil.”  Evidently, the guilt-laden spectacle next month at Riverside Church will help to ease his conscience about serving in Iraq.  Even more importantly, it will help Religious left activists like Rita Brock smugly feign moral superiority not only over military personnel but most Americans, including most Christians, who are not intrinsically ashamed of their country.

  • Dixon H Harris

    Here’s a quote apropos of the left’s passion to consistently blame The West for any and all international issues.

    The Pastor of Riverside Church in the 1930″s,was Harry Emerson Fosdick. He opined back when fascist collectivist dictators were threatening all Europe in the form of Hitler , Mussolini and Franco….

    ” The all but unanimous judgment seems to be that we, the democracies, are just as responsible for the rise of the dictators as the dictatorships themselves, and perhaps more so.”

  • betty boop

    I left the Methodist Church over 15 years ago because of a couple of ministers who were in one case. suffocatingly smug, ignorant, priggish and gossipy, and in another, aggressively and nauseatingly liberal… with lapels burdened by every color of "ribbon" pin. This last spent his Sunday mornings ranting for his elderly congregation to give more to whatever liberal cause he happened to support that week, regardless of it's moral or religious implications. What a nasty, bunch of moral relativists many Protestants have become (ie: Jimmy Carter). Any cause is worthy of their support if it helps to discourage the American military or limit American freedom. God deserves more thoughtful spokespeople.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/johncarens johncarens

      Amen (..if those hate-filled raging Methodists will excuse the religious allusion)

  • Don L

    Please, let's do have a religious truth commision an let's examine why this, so called, religious nation elected a president that aggressively demands we slaughter innocent babies fully born – outside the womb – by witholding all food and water from them until they die.

    It is childish to pretend that you can select the evils you politically ike to chastise and ignore the gross evil you support -abortion, infanticide, euthanasia (death panels) the slaughter of dissproportionate black babies by Planned Parenthood etc under the name of religion. It would be more appropriate to refer to yourselves as anti-religion and anti-God!

    You fool no one – least of all your final judge!

  • Guest

    From what I understand that Methodist Church is so apostate that they will ordain an atheist as a Pastor. These liberal churches forsook the faith years ago.

    • CW

      As far as I know, we haven’t yet ordained an atheist, and could not, unless they lied to all of the committees and board they have to appear before. We have ordained some pastors who question a lot of things that many of us never thought we’d find a pastro questioning

  • Phil Byler

    The Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church, in their respective national offices, have forsaken the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have become nothing more than nutjob left wing propagandists.

    America is a force for good in the world. We were right, with a colaition of the willing, to remove Saddam from power in Iraq, where now a peaceful democratic government elected by the Iraqi people operating under a writen Constitution adopted by the Iraqi people.

  • CW

    I’m glad that Phil said “in their respective national offices” when referring to the UMC, because most of the local churches have not forsaken the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Its true that the Board of Church and Society have become lobbyists for anything on the left, including abortion, Obamacare, and “blame America first”, but that sentiment tends to die when you get to the local level, in most cases.

    • Phil Byler

      CW, Phil is an Elder in a Presbyterian Church and the son of a Methodist minister, and I consciously used the phrase "in their respective national offices" in referring to the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. There is a huge disconnect between those national offices and most (but not all) local churches.

  • Jim

    where is that photo from?

    Thanks

    • Rick

      Based on the buildings in the background, I would say that photo was taken in the South Park Blocks in Portland, Oregon.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Morrisminor Morrisminor

    Of course, good real Christians like Tool-e loves the military and the US and knows that Jesus blessed them both.

  • coyote3

    Can we attack Iran yet???? Iran attacked and invaded us. Indeed, they are a legitimate enemy if there ever was one. I don't care how many of their dictators we supported, when you invade an other country's land, and they did, it is an act of war period.

  • Patriot Sam

    I hope many patriots will attend this "truth commission" and use the lefts tactics against them. Make noise, wave the flag, wear combat boots in their church.

  • Peacenik

    Well folks,
    As a pacifist myself, I may return to this website occasionally for laughs. My local cable station doesn't offer the Comedy Channel among its listings. Thus, I have been able to obtain topical national political humor only by occasionally tuning in to MSNBC (for unbalanced ranting from the left) and the Fox News Channel (for unbalanced ranting from the right). What makes you folks so funny is that you imagine yourselves to be not funny, but serious. I'm a born-again Christian and I think that it is possible for Americans to have opinions different from mine without supposing that they are uniformly evil.

  • Cathy

    I don't quite understand what's wrong with listening to veterans discuss their experiences and understandings of war. Do we as Christians now endorse all war, or are questions and discussions about war's necessity and effectiveness still legitimate?

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