Religious Left Gripes to Obama

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

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Of course, no Christian tradition claims that war, or any human action, will achieve “God’s peace.”  But mainstream Christianity has always taught that God ordained government for legitimate military defense and pursuit of justice.  The Religious Left has almost entirely rejected that tradition for a utopian ideal of peace through good intentions and lots of U.S. foreign aid.  The ecclesial letters writers to Obama told him of their own “prophetic vision,” and they claimed the Taliban is “largely motivated to drive out foreign troops.”  They called for a “transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans,” without admitting that a resurgent Taliban might inhibit “civil society,” or that the strife is based on more than competing “economic” goals. “We recognize that legitimate ethical and moral issues are at stake in Afghanistan,” they confessed.  Obligingly, they cited “protecting” lives and “supporting democracy” in Afghanistan as important issues while insisting “there is a better way,” based on vague “interlocking arrangements.”  Sheepishly, they acknowledged, “This alternative path is not without some risk, but it is preferable to the known dangers of war.”  In other words, they offered sentiment but no substance. The signers included the usual suspects from the National Council of Churches, Old-line Protestant bureaucrats, a few leftist Catholic orders, and their natural ally, the Islamic Society of North America.

Although he signed the interfaith plea, Jim Wallis issued his own more mercurial and more bellicose demand for U.S. withdrawal.  “War is good business for those who run the military-industrial complex that former President Eisenhower warned us about,” he intoned. “Generals always recommend more war because it’s their business.  It gets them promotions and advances their careers.”  Wallis has essentially rehashed his anti-Vietnam rhetoric for 40 years.  He declared the war “can no longer be justified in Afghanistan,” without noting that, as a pacifist, he thought no force was justified after 9-11.

Wallis derided Obama’s continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan as a “moral mistake.”  And, in his usual refrain, he urged an urgent mobilization of “resistance” across the religious community against an “unnecessary and unjust war.”  In contrast to President Obama, Wallis concluded, “Our message on Afghanistan must be: ‘War No More.’”  But traditional people of faith understand there will be war so long as frail humanity is sinful.  There may be legitimate arguments for a quicker U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan.  But neither Obama, nor any chief magistrate, can take seriously the Religious Left’s surreal demand for a pacifist foreign policy.

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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.