Religious Left Gripes to Obama

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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Unsatisfied by the pace of President Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the pacifist Religious Left is demanding a quicker and more complete retreat.  Mostly faithful Obama allies, including Sojourners chief Jim Wallis, a bevy of church bureaucrats, joined by the Islamic Society of North America, recently insisted in their letter to the president, “It is time to bring the U.S. war in Afghanistan to an end.”  Not content with the interfaith manifesto, Wallis issued his own clarion declaration for a hasty American exit.

Realists also urge U.S. withdrawal, arguing that U.S. national interests do not require further vast exertions for Afghanistan’s sort of democracy.  Ongoing drone attacks and occasional U.S. paramilitary operations, along with perhaps U.S. military advisers for the Afghans, should sufficiently contain al-Qaeda and the most threatening aspects of the Taliban, they assert.

But the Religious Left is not overly concerned about U.S. national security interests.  Nor is it ever fully able to recognize evil in any anti-U.S. force, whether it is the Taliban, Saddam’s Iraq, Iran’s brutal theocracy, insane North Korea, or the various despotisms of the old Soviet bloc.   Instead, bizarrely denying the spiritual aspects of geopolitical struggle, the Religious Left nearly always assumes that international conflict can be solved by a U.S. cash dump.  Of course, they also claim that federal dollars can solve every domestic social and economic ill, so at least they are foolishly consistent with their blind faith in money.

In their June letter to Obama, the interfaith officials announced they “represent a diversity of faith communities – ranging from just war to pacifist traditions.”  They also professed that “some of us initially supported the war in Afghanistan as a justified response to the September 11, 2001, attacks,” while “others opposed the war, believing there were better ways than military force to address the al Qaeda threat.”  In fact, identifying any letter signer who publicly endorsed a military response to 9-11 is quite difficult.  Nearly all signers, as nearly all the Religious Left, are pacifist absolutists or at least functional pacifists, unwilling to identify any situation that might attain their impossibly strict version of “just war.”

A typical signer of this recent letter to Obama is United Methodist lobbyist Jim Winkler. After U.S. military forces began striking al Qaeda and Taliban targets after 9-11, Winkler carefully announced, “We are praying for all who have lost their lives in the bombing of Afghanistan, just as we’re praying for those who lost their lives September 11.”  At the directors meeting of his United Methodist General Board of Church and Society shortly after 9-11, the directors refused to acknowledge their denomination’s just war teaching. Instead, they resolved, “It is our firm belief that military actions will not end terrorism,” sagely noting that “violence will not bring God’s peace.”

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  • zsqpwxxeh

    What is the President's current church? He doesn't cling to religion much these days. What was his mentor Rev. Wright's stance on pacifism in foreign affairs (something to do with roosting chickens, if I recall correctly)?

  • JohnBoy

    After Obama's Afghan draw down, he will still have more troops in Afghanistan than Bush did.

  • Cecil

    The religious left is an Oxymoron. According to Ecclesiates 10:2 the fool inclines to the left and the wise to the right. If you go to the New Testament in Matthew 25:34-40 those on the right are righteous and in Matthew 25:41-46 those on the left are wicked and will be cast into eternal punishment but the righteous to everlasting life. For those on the fence or the so called moderates or as Jesus says lukewarm you might want to read what the Bible says on the subject.