Religious Left Charges America with “Murder”

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.


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Motivated by the recent WikiLeaks classified document dump, a “Proper 29 Project” has arisen out of Duke Divinity School in North Carolina to focus on “our moral culpability as Christians in the United States for civilian deaths and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan.”   Based on the WikiLeaks document dump, this group of theologians, clergy and seminarians exclusively fault the U.S. and its allies for killing over 66,000 Iraqi civilians.  “We acknowledge and lament our corporate responsibility for these acts,” they bewail, without considering that U.S. and allied forces weren’t the only side that was shooting.

“Our preoccupied silence and political support has sustained so brutal a war since 2003,” laments one Mennonite minister with the project.  “We are complicit in these crimes,” she insisted, comparing America’s iniquities to the brothers of the Biblical patriarch Joseph who sold him into Egyptian slavery.

A November 21 sermon at Duke University’s majestic Gothic chapel featured a former Christian Peacemaking Team (CPT) activist who was in Baghdad in 2002 to guard Iraq from the impending American-led invasion.  “The truth we must face…[is that the] extension of America’s reign has not brought peace to all corners of earth but rather millions of people are living in hell on earth,” he lamented, touting the “Proper 29 Project” message.   The CPT activist claimed the Iraq War failed to meet Just War criteria because it is “without end” and because the 66,000 fatalities dispute its moral proportionality.  “Weep for us, those who allowed this to happen on our watch,” he bewailed, likening America to wicked ancient Israel against which the prophet Jeremiah inveighed.  “We are all participating in a system that is dealing death to millions of people in the world.”

It’s not clear who these “millions” of America’s victims are.  The claim sounds suspiciously similar to 9-11 truther and process theologian David Ray Griffin of Claremont School of Theology, another United Methodist seminary.  He claims the United States has murdered tens of millions essentially because all war and poverty and illness globally over the last 70 years is directly America’s fault.   Evidently, absent the United States, the earth would revert to an Eden, where death exists no more.  The citation of over 66,000 Iraqi civilian deaths across 8 years of war is actually more responsible than many of the far Left’s claims of hundreds of thousands of fatalities in Iraq.   Where “Proper 29 Project” seems to agree with the kooky far Left is that everybody who has died violently in Iraq since 2003 is America’s victim.

Do the sectarian militias and al Qaeda carry any guilt for the civil war they have attempted to foment since Saddam Hussein’s relatively quick overthrow by Allied forces in 2002?  Unlike Allied forces, these militias and terror groups deliberately killed civilians to stoke religious and political resentments they hoped would convulse Iraq into a blood bath.  And does Saddam himself, whose tyranny and aggression provoked the armed liberation, carry any responsibility?  Or does the liberator bear exclusive responsibility?

There is also the seeming assumption by “Proper 29 Project” that Iraq would have been peaceful and tranquil absent the U.S. led invasion.  This fantasy by many war critics ignores that Saddam murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people, and his reign of murder, almost certainly surpassing 66,000, would have merrily continued until the present had he remained enthroned. But Saddam’s countless victims across the years were not typically featured on Western television, and they never merited compassion from the anti-war Left.

In the brutal calculus of the real world, the choice for American policymakers is often not between tranquility and carnage but between massive horrors versus more limited horrors.  But recognizing the fallen world for what it is, and fully acknowledging the murderous brutality of many regimes, or the intractability of some conflicts, is difficult to impossible for many on the Left, especially because it distracts from characterizing the United States as chief global villain.    Another voice at Duke highlighted by “Proper 29 Project” claims the Iraq War was America’s “quest for 9/11 vengeance,” animated by a “cloud of lies.”  Iraq’s poor are trapped in the “crosshairs of the world’s last superpower.”  Ostensibly, “Proper 29 Project” wants to “address the gross harm done against Iraq in the name of our national security.”

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  • Ret. Marine

    What these modern day deniers are telling us all is that there are no lives worth saving in this evil World. Maybe they should try shedding these crocodile tears in the direction of the Afghanistan's, the Iraqis or other sites around this evil world where the home of the brave have freed these people of their own forms of tyranny and ask them if the are thankful to breath free air. I'd be willing to bet there would be a room full of shoes directed at their heads, and for good reason.

  • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

    Well-written piece. Here are some boundaries based on the facts that I understand and give preference to:
    1. Are you familiar with the number 654,978? That's the number of civilian casualties as of 2007 calculated by epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins University. The number today: 1,000,000 plus! Why such sacrifice of life? The insatiable greed of "American interests:" the religious hypocrites (G.W. Bush) who declare Christ, who fully knew the loss of innocent life before the war, when the 2 requirements of the God he claims to serve are: a. Never shed innocent blood. b. Be a man of your word. Bush stands condemned by the religion he claims to uphold.
    2. Americans were not told know why Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It wasn't out of tyrannical conquest! American oil companies in Kuwait were drilling horizontally into Iraq, literally stealing Iraqi oil. American interests? Just a bunch of liars, thieves and murderers: that's what our government, military and business leaders have become; with few exceptions. Hey, just look at the number of military bases we have in the majority of the world's countries. Are we there for them? or us? The last Imperialist is America, and historically, every imperialist winds up crushed and defeated. Its time to turn it around and save the USA legally by exposing the corruption coming from behind closed doors. Until TRUE transparency is lived out among our leaders this whirlpool of destruction will swallow us all.

    • Vinny

      It seems you are part of the Left this article talks about, you hypocrite!

    • tagalog

      I thought the two requirements of God as Jesus put them, were (1) to love your neighbor as yourself and (2) to love God. St. Paul (I think it was St. Paul) said "What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" That's three, but St. Paul was human, not divine. But in God's commandments to mankind, I haven't been able to find anywhere, where God (or anyone else in the Bible) says "never shed innocent blood." Certainly that's a good idea all right, but it doesn't seem to be divinely sanctioned as a central tenet of believing in God in any of the monotheistic religions.

      Maybe you're thinking of the Jains, but aren't they Hindu or something?

      Americans WERE told why Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It was Iraq's claim to Kuwait as one of their provinces, that had become separated by the evil ways of the Westerners. It was the "29th Province" or something like that. Iraq invaded Kuwait to forcibly reclaim Kuwait as part of Iraq, the Kuwaitis appealed to the world, and the U.N. agreed to liberate Kuwait. I admit I'm remembering from 20 years ago, but I remember President Bush clearly enunciating the reason why the U.N. was going after Saddam Hussein over Kuwait.

      • stephencuz

        Tag, it is irrelevant where he got it. If it were a statement of moral certainty it would stipulate "never PURPOSEFULLY take innocent human life" There is a profound difference don't you think?

      • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

        Your quoted verse was Micah 6:8. I agree, those words are precious. Tagalong, to truly love your neighbor is to not take his life. Scripture gives many examples of GOD'S condemnation of those who trample their neighbors under foot, (not for self-defense but for personal gain at their expense and even their lives). How many times the enemies of Israel came against them to plunder them! Even the apostasy of the religious leaders in Israel and Judah where the poor of Israel were ripped off, their children sacrificed by fire, their properties confiscated, their food seized, their cries for justice ignored.

        Concerning the 654,978 Iraqi civilians, did you study Johns Hopkins methods of estimation? Do you know how thorough their IMPARTIAL research was throughout the Iraqi nation, compared to the UN's, the Pentagon's, or the White House's method, where the news media supported theirs and no one elses? If you had, you wouldn't have said what you said.

        Of the war in Kuwait, I spoke to two different witnesses who worked for years in the oil industry in Kuwait and the Arab region. They were decisive in their declaration of America's horizontal drilling into Iraq. And they said it was common knowledge among those who were there. Be on your guard bro to not allow your gut instinct to overrule your gift of reason. Believe me, I love the Law of GOD, and the 9th Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." And I'm not willing to forfeit Christ's salvation through some gut impulse or opinion outside of Scripture, history, or personal testimony! How many innocent men have gone to the electric chair because of a "hunch!" I just ask that you consider the following: "One sinner destroyeth much good." "Wickedness walks on all sides when the vilest men are exalted."

      • johnnywood

        Tagalog, The reference you attribute to St. Paul is actually in the Old Testament. Micah 6:8 and Paul would be in complete agreement with that statement.

    • tagalog

      As of December 31, 2009, the Iraq Body Count, an antiwar website, reports the following number ot total Iraqi civilian casualties: 98,876 – 107,939.

      Some of those "civilian" casualties are, of course, people who were fighting the troops of the coalition.

      • MMcFM

        "Some" of those civilians are Christians killed in their homes and Churches.

        • tagalog

          Perhaps, but the claim of 654,978 Iraqi civilians dead is a wild, false, unfounded allegation.

          How many of those Christians killed were killed by Saddam Hussein and his minions? How many innocent Iraqi civilians of all beliefs were murdered by Saddam Hussein between 1979 and 2003?

    • Lamar

      So Saddam Hussein was just a poor misunderstood tyrant? The looting of Kuwait City was justified by horizontal drilling by American oil companies? And the use of mustard gas on the Kurds, as well as the mass murder of Iraqi Shiite muslims that revolted against his rule? Of course they're all perfectly understandable acts of a truly stellar human being. Wow! Try reading ALL of the news and history related to world events not just the stuff you CHOOSE to hear.

      • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

        Lamar, your exaggeration of my intent implies two things:

        1. That I stand blind to the heinous sins of Hussein who carried out his plethora of atrocities against his people through American arms sales.

        2. That America is somehow exempt from crimes against humanity.

        What I "CHOOSE to hear" is simply this, if the world kept the Ten Commandments there would be no wars or locks on doors. Prisons would be turned into gardens and every weapon dismantled. And I believe the Bible when it says this is an impossibility in this present world (John 16:33). So, I stand as a futurist, using Bible history to light my path.

        • epaddon

          On this matter of suggesting that all of Saddam's atrocities are somehow America's fault because Saddam was in the 1980s the one we by default tilted to in his war with Khomeini's Iran (you remember Khomeini do you?), then let us see you now in the interests of intellectual consistency blame Franklin Roosevelt and America for the atrocities committed by Stalin in the USSR that took place after Stalin started receiving Lend-Lease shipments.

          I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that one.

    • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

      Sin, as GOD defines it, is no longer sin, as man defines it.

    • joecummo

      You don't like it here? You think this is a corrupt, imperialistic, racist, tyrannical country? GET OUT. And I have the perfect place for you to go, a veritable Eden for Marxists like you: CUBA. I will buy a plane ticket for you — First Class — to Havana, whenever you want…..with the proviso that you never return to this country. I can arrange to draw up a legal contract regarding your move. But I don't want to read any more twisted, cowardly and traitorous vomit emitting from your decaying brain. "I love my country."…….Liar. "I will fight with pen and voice."……Coward. Quoting Christ and the Bible to defend America's enemies…….Hypocrite and Traitor. You're the reason this country is fighting for its life. Get off and stay off this site; it's for patriots who love their country, not cowards who would rather live on their knees than die on their feet. Punk.

      • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

        If I didn't care for you or my nation I would have just sat back and said, You're on your own. But the Ten Commandments that I cherish command me to speak, just as they also commanded Christ to come to save man from his sins and their consequence of sorrow, suffering and death. And we know what men did to Him when He reproved their sin—don't we? They nailed His hands and feet to a tree and left Him there to die while mocking Him!

        If GOD had done, what you and the other condemners demand of me, which is to just leave you alone to your own devices, man's extinction would have come six thousand years ago! But praise the LORD, He didn't honor your wishes, to the loss of those who are not like you, but who wish to live and obey GOD'S way. "While we were yet enemies of God, Christ died for the ungodly."

        What I'm enduring now at your vengeful hands is an old lesson of history. Historically, whenever the sins of men are rebuked, men rise up to persecute and condemn the reprover. Your words in response to my warning of America's unethical ways are nothing new. Men have always imposed their sins over the lives of others.

        Every time men come forward to reprove the sins of men or a nation THAT THEY MAY LIVE, NOT DIE, the nation's leaders and citizens unite to reject the warning, and by so doing have taken one more step towards their own destruction. And the common people who have no voice are the first to pay for the arrogantly selfish decisions of their leaders. (Remember the 2008 financial meltdown? swallowing the life-savings of tens of millions of law abiding Americans who trusted their leaders to prevent this from happening? This is one of a hundred modern examples where the religious elitists and their bankers scheme to carry out their agenda; AND IT DOESN'T INCLUDE YOU BRO). You seem to think this is OK and that you don't have to do a thing, except do YOUR THING!

        You call me a "Liar," "Coward," "Hypocrite and Traitor," and "Punk." The supreme hypocrisy here is your association with these words in light of your combative stance against the Sacred Law OF CHRIST (John 8:58) that will judge EVERY MAN who has ever lived (Romans 2:13). Those who trash them here will not receive the approval of GOD in the end of time (John 8:21). These are words you should take to heart and bring a little reform to your life! If you do, you will see the tangible blessings of GOD in your life as I have in mine.

        Lastly, If you can show me from Scripture how I have violated any of GOD'S Sacred Laws I will submit myself to you and give an apology to all who I offended. I am not afraid to suffer humiliation before my GOD and fellow man. But I will not cower to the threats or coercion of carnal minded men who have placed their faith in the vain opinions of their leaders who blatantly stand outside of GOD'S will and by so doing are leading this great nation to oblivion! Study the rise and fall of every nation in history. And if you don't see the parallels between our nation and theirs, you are willfully blind.

  • http://4Brevard.com/choice 4Choice

    Liberals don't live in the real world. The Greatest Deceiver (Satan a/k/a Allah) has no trouble fooling them.

  • USMCSniper

    Comrade bubba4 wants American Politburo make legislation for reducation camps for stupid American populace like reactionary capitalistic pig USMCSniper for greater glory of one world socialist government under Chairman Obama.

  • steve

    I would love to send ALL these America's haters to live in Russia/China/Cuba. Let them enjoy their lives there and leave us alone…

  • DCurtis

    Of course, all of you have the option to leave this despicable country and immigrate to a place in which the government is more moral. Planes are leaving every day, and I'm sure that there is one going to your desired destination…..

  • dawning

    Great little bunch of antichristers the cpt…c patooie… and their ilk. And ol gary mc is quite the obfuscater

  • 080

    Absent the United States things would be like Brigadoon except that it wouldn't be making a reappearance every hundred years.

  • Rifleman

    They hold American Christians responsible? What a coincidence, I hold these folks responsible for saddam getting an extra 10 years to mass murder, terrorize, and flaunt his noncompliance with the GWCFA. I also hold them responsible for the Iraqi body count aq and the mad mullahs ran up to give those useful idiots ammo to condemn the USA.

    Christian Peacemaking Team? Where have they ever made peace? I can name plenty of places the US military has, but these clowns are awful long on intentions, and awful short on accomplishment.

  • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

    Epaddon, you misunderstood the clarity of my words, drawing a conclusion that is nowhere found in my post. And as far as America is concerned, legally, we as a nation stand complicit to the crimes of Hussein. Example: If you sell your gun to some thug, (and you know he's a thug), and he goes out and shoots someone, do you not share a large portion of responsibility for his crime? Our justice system convicts all accomplices to crime. America is famous for raising up Frankensteins around the world. And yet, America keeps coming out smelling like a rose. But in the Great Judgment Day when every man stands before GOD, that rose will be shown to be nothing more than a Glade Air Freshener.

    I love my country, and I will fight with pen and voice to call to task the hypocrites who claim Christ while dishonoring every principle He died for. I will warn of the threats that are driving us to our inevitable collapse, of which the financial meltdown was an appetizer to the religious elitists and their bankers.

    What's going on now is the consolidation of the one world government. And if you have faith that this will lead to utopia on earth, I won't force your will, but I will disagree with your trust, based on the fact that man is fundamentally untrustworthy, and betrayal is thematic throughout world-society; and I will not make myself vulnerable to those whose promises extended to me are as ropes of sand.

    • epaddon

      Nice way of ducking the question. But it still stands: Do you or do you not hold Franklin D. Roosevelt and America responsible for Stalin's atrocities committed after he started receiving (1) diplomatic recognition from the US and later (2) Lend-Lease assistance?

      And BTW, if you're so mad about aid to Saddam from the US, then where is your judgmental condemnation of one James Earl Carter, who was the one who *started* the US tilt toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War?

      Inquiring minds do want to now.

      • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

        Bro, we need to go back over a century before WWII to get our bearings on giving a fair answer to your question. The Rothschild banking cartel took over managing the finances for the Vatican in 1823. And by the end of the 19th century it is estimated that they owned 50% of the world's wealth. As you probably know, in 1913 the Federal Reserve was established. What this effectively did was to circumvent any ability of America to coin their own money (when it was explicitly commanded in our constitution). America became slaves to the Vatican bank whose influence over America caused incredible dastardly deeds throughout the decades of the 20th century. Do a little research and you will find that the Fed, through America, financed the Communist revolution in 1917. Then in 1928 we had our 2nd financial meltdown causing the great depression. In 1929 the dollar bill suddenly appeared with the words, Novus Ordo Seclorum (New World Order).

        Two more points and then I'm done. 1. Every time a nation goes to war they must take out a loan. This is a great incentive for bankers to design and implement wars. As the Apostle said, "The love of money is the root of all evil." 2. Every American president who stood against the Vatican banks, striving for America to divorce from the papacy's financial stranglehold over us was assassinated: 1. William Henry Harrison was poisoned on April 4, 1841; 2. Zachary Taylor was poisoned the same way, and died July 9, 1850; 3. James Buchanan was poisoned as well by arsenic, but he survived; 4. Abraham Lincoln died a Martyr’s death after being shot in the back of the head, execution style on April 14, 1865; 5. After only four months in office, President Garfield was shot at a railroad station on July 2nd, 1881; 6. Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley. McKinley dies 6 days later on September 14, 1901; 7. John F. Kennedy was shot in the head, execution style on November 22, 1963. Do you remember the silver certificate currency established by Kennedy. This was America's first attempt to break free from the religio/political elitists. JFK signed into law Executive Order 11110 to abolish the Federal Reserve System and he directed the Department of Treasury to print interest-free silver certificates five months later. He was assassinated shortly after.

        So, where does this lead us? The Bible gave a prophecy 600 years before Christ in the Book of Daniel, stating that there would be four kingdoms from his day to the end of time: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (pagan & papal). There is no 5th kingdom to rule. Read Daniel 2 & 7 to verify what I'm telling you. As I said, the more you know your history the more you can prepare for what's coming; and both Rome and Islam despise American liberty. And with American's naive gullibility for entertainment over character growth, we're done for bro, especially when "Christian" laws are legislated into modern federal law in defiance of the first amendment.

        • epaddon

          I can see how much the question troubles you so much that this is why a simple yes or no answer eludes you. :)

          Lucky for me I said I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to hear an answer.

          • http://www.LifesHaven.net GaryMcAleer

            I'm not troubled as you say, nor am I mad as you assert. I gave you the answer, but your determination is to remain blind to my words and cast doubt on anything I say. So be it. Only thumbs down on my words. So be it. When Winston Churchill warned of Hitler's threat to the peace of Europe he was shunned while his scoffers took the helm of society. But when Hitler started kicking everybody's ass, then they called for Winnie. I've given my warning. We'll see how it plays out.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The left holds everyone responsible for every lie they tell. 1,000,000 people
    killed and our fault, how astounding, what is going on in Iraq are they
    trying to catch up with the American dead yearly in abortuaries. Where
    are the leftsis religionists where the real tragedy and horror exists, nowhere
    at all. Leftist religionists are part of the left's ivasion of American life, they
    are there only to corrupt and degrade, confuse and subvert, they have no
    other desire than to be self serving servants of socialism and leftism which
    is to lead to the dissolution of America and its population. They are false
    teachers and at heart Communist hacks………………….William

  • Brian Wilson

    I seem to remember an Old Testament Bible verse stating that "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands". I also seem to remember God commanding Joshua to slay every living thing in the Promised Land, men, women, children, livestock, in order to fully destroy the evil residing there. Finally, Peter had a sword in the Garden. Why did Peter have a sword? Did Peter have a sword simply as an adornment or to use in self-defense from highwaymen, etc. And if he did have the sword for self-defense then what is the morality of the possibilty that Peter might have had to kill someone in that process? Jesus was apparently silent on this issue for there is no mention of an adversion by Jesus to having one of his disciples armed with the modern day equivalent of a handgun.

    The Old Testament commands us not to murder – and the correct interpretation is not to murder. There is a difference between murdering (for personal gain) and killing to destroy evil and to save lives. Did not Jesus say the greatest gift was to give one's life for his brother?

  • Brian Wilson

    If, we invade Iraq to kill (and I use that word precisely) or arrest a tyrant who has engaged in genocide, torture, rape, and other unspeakable crimes, and in the process kill those who would support such evil, exactly how is that immoral? If we invade Iraq to free the Kuwaitis and Iraqis from tyranny, persecution, and murder, and in the process kill those who support evil how is that immoral?

  • Brian Wilson

    If we, in the twisted application of "morality, turn a blind eye to evil and, unlike the Samaritan, refuse to help the afflicted, how is that Biblical? If the Samaritan helping a total stranger is holy, then refusing to help those victimized by others – refusing to confront evil – is surely a sin. Did Jesus turn a blind eye to evil? Did Jesus not confront the Pharisees? Did Jesus not overturn the tables in the temple? Did Jesus not preach about those who would co-opt Scriptures for their own ends? Did not Paul warn us about false teachers? Did not Paul warn us about the Gary McAleers of the world who would use religion to further their own political ends? It is indeed high time we confronted the religious left in their false teachings and politicalization of Christianity. This article expresses precisely why I left the Methodist church years ago.

  • St.Jon

    We are each only responsible for our own actions before God in that final hour. Not for the actions of Saddam or the President or a Congress member. All the incentive in the world I need NOT to be in office. Believe me, when they stand before God, they will be held accountable for the policies they created, the choices they made on "our" behalf. Not only that, before they end up at their final destination, they will experience every good and every harm they've caused another. In the case of a President or member of Congress….that will be a long and excruciating process. I can vote my conscious as a Christian, I can work for justice, but ultimately God is in control and I can only follow where he leads.