Evangelical Left Plots D.C. Pacifist Summit

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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Determined to neutralize historically pro-national security evangelicals, the Evangelical Left will convene next month at Georgetown University for: “Evangelicals for Peace: A Summit on Christian Moral Responsibility in the 21st Century.”

“I am profoundly disturbed by the American evangelical response to war, terrorism and national security,” explained one summit endorser in his invitation, Rick Love.  “Far too many evangelicals in the U.S. have blunted the moral edge of what it means to follow Jesus, especially in a Post 9/11 world.”

According to the Evangelical Left critique, evangelicals join most Americans in being too enthusiastic about defending the country rather than offering the preferred mournful apologies.

“Instead of being salt and light, we have embraced a flag-waving patriotism that dulls our conscience to Jesus’ commands and blinds us to our moral responsibilities toward our neighbors and nations,” explains Love, head of Peace Catalyst International.  “As a whole, we have uncritically supported the three wars in which we are now enmeshed (Afghanistan, Iraq, and the ‘war on terror’).”

On his website, Love cites “nonviolent resistance” as the alternative to war, and he remembers its success especially in 1989, when repressive regimes fell peacefully in East Europe, South Africa, Chile and elsewhere.   But those peaceful movements did not emerge from a vacuum.  The resurgence of American military, political and economic power in the 1980’s, starkly contrasting with the 1970’s, created the living space for peaceful democratic movements to emerge.   Peaceful resistance would not have worked in 1979, which is better recalled as the year of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and of the murderously repressive (though initially peaceful thanks to the Shah’s refusal to fight for power) Islamist revolution in Iran.

Will “Evangelicals for Peace: A Summit on Christian Moral Responsibility in the 21st Century” fully remember the lessons of the 20th century, when naïve appeals for peace often facilitated ghastly wars and genocides?  It’s doubtful.

Few evangelicals or anybody of good will would disagree that “peace” is usually a laudable goal if not purchased at the price of gross injustice, or if achieved only temporarily while ensuring ultimate war that the measured threat of force may have deterred.   But the line up at this evangelical summit is weighted towards pacifists who oppose any meaningful use of force.  It also is slanted towards voices prone to portraying America as the chief threat to peace in the world.

Serious presentation of traditional Christian teachings about the state’s vocation for wielding force in defense of justice and the innocent would, based on the speakers, seems mostly to be lacking.  Instead, it appears it will primarily be a gabfest uninterested in deep moral reflection and instead seeking the rhetorical satisfaction of denouncing violence and its ostensibly wicked advocates.

Chief among the speakers will be Sojourners chief Jim Wallis, a pacifist, although typically coy about fully admitting it.  Having largely moved away from his angry anti-American rhetoric of earlier decades, when he portrayed the U.S. and not the Soviet bloc as the chief threat to world peace, Wallis still opposes any meaningful use of military force no matter the threat.  If tyrants and aggressors, no matter their atrocities, can only be countered morally by activist Christian Peacemaking Teams, then is there really a serious claim to “Christian moral responsibility?”

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  • Kevin

    Religion and the Left in the same sentence? Especially the dreaded evangelical-type? Will never happen. You can't be a liberal and religious. Their god is government, just like the Soviets. Just look at what they stand for: abortion, homosexuality, income redistribution (the stealing of money to give to non-workers). Ann Coulter has already broached this topic in her book Godless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

      And yet the right wants to use the government as the tool for God's wrath against others. Remember God said "Vengeance is mine!"

      • Drakken

        And folks like you are lambs to the slaughter, useful idiot pacisfist who fight for nothing are always buried in mass graves.

        • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

          Who said I was a pacifist? I'll lock 'n load any day, but using the gov as some tool to assert global dominance is just bad stewardship to say the least.

  • oldtimer

    In Messiah's own words: Mark13:23 "But take heed, behold, I have foretold you all things."
    Matthew 7:22 "Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils: and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    23: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity."

  • tagalog

    If what these people are proposing is non-violent resistance to the wars we're fighting, well, I don't agree with them but they have the right to freedom of speech and assembly, so I guess I don't have much of a problem with what they plan to do. They have the right to disagree with the rest of us. Who knows, maybe they're right and we're wrong. Though I doubt it.

    People who find them so repulsive that they have to do something about it are free to speak freely and to assemble themselves, if they want to. Me, I have other things to do.

    And it has the additional virtue of helping clarify who is on what side, so that we will know where people stand -and what they will do- when things come to a head.

  • Schlomotion

    Mr. Tooley is having as hard a time selling Jesus as warmonger as Mr. Horowitz is having selling Frontpage as a more Keating-oriented version of Ramparts. One can hear the plaintive plea: What ever happened to the 1950s, when believing in Jesus meant killing commies and eating Chiquita bananas?

    • Drakken

      Come on Sparky, you keep running your mouth but I see no action, just empty headed mullings of someone too weak to do his own dirty work.

    • James Stragg

      Really? I grew up then and remember neither as a "way of life". Maybe you were "just born" then, and your mother listened to McCarthy and fed you those awful Gerber bananas. Bias eventually comes to the surface.

  • kim

    The left and PC is exactly what G-d said would happen in the last days. It is calling good evil and evil good. Not one place in G-d's word does it say HE stood with the enemies of Israel for one example. In fact HE helped the war by helping Israel destroy them all. He warned us to vote in G-dly men and women and to HOLD them accountable..but we have NOT. He said: follow the laws of the land (Constitution) and yet we let the left daily !! He warned of the greed and Power freaks and the very wickedness in high places, yet we keep voting in the same dogs. If we learned from history we would not be letting them follow the old Hitler way which they trip these days makes Hitler look like a boy scout. compared. INstead of fighting for VICTORY, we have let these apostasy churches fall away from the truth and are letting them destroy America. They also best remember HE IS A G-d of Wrath and witl destroy all the nations who go against Israel, yet we let our gov go against Israel. Genesis 12 lets all know who is cursed of G-d…Wake up America

    • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

      You sound like a Jew, so your words don't count in The Kingdom of God, for you rejected Him and therefore hate God, so shhhhhhhhhh.

      • oldtimer

        The apostles were Jews, Jesus was a Jew. Those who crucified him were the radicals and the radical religious leaders. In most all Jesus' followers were Jews. As salvation was not available to the Gentiles until after the crucifiction. I think you listen to too many false teachings. You need to read for yourself, and not just certain scriptures, but all the chapter, all the Bible. Read Matthew 23:17-23, because Jesus did not fear them, they wanted him to die. It was the highpriest who paid Judas, and were taken to the garden. A high priest appointed by the Romans not by God.
        Read also Rev.2:9 and 3:9.

        • oldtimer

          Read all of Mat.23, especially 13-23

        • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

          First we will take note of 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" to illustrate the well covered concept that a person dies to their old self when they are baptized into the Kingdom, including Jews dying to their Jewishness. To understand this we just look at Hebrews 8, especially verses 6 "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises." and 13 "By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." The descendants of those who first rejected Him hold no special place in this World beyond that of any other non-believer, for God does not elevate anyone above anyone else in the World as Peter tells us in Acts 10:34 "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism" and that even the Jews could come to Christ and be baptized into the Kingdom. For as Paul inquires of us "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" and "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons." We know who Paul spoke of, as our Lord also spoke of them as children of the devil in John 8:44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

          • Rothschild

            I think you are missing the point; God was a Jew, and was the product of the Jews, a holy people, in a holy land..the Jews are still a holy people, Gods own.

            That fact never changed; for God thinks that from the time of when Jesus died is like only a second in time.

            Like all family squabbles, he will let people work out their differences.

            For example, I'm a half Jew considered a non-Jew, but like how blacks identify with Obama…thousands of Jews identify with me, and have no evil in their heart.

            And, I had the blessing of my Jewish grandfather; and one of my family members was so jealous, he probably wishes I was dead; but I wrestled with the angel of death…I wrestled with Cain, I'm very much like Abel, and I was stronger then Cain, and my brother Cain is a loser, he is still my brother, so I allowed him to live…the holy books, the Torah, the bible are all dramas for his people the the Jews including me, a non-Jew.

          • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

            The first Jew is traced back to Abraham, not before. And God was there before Abraham, not a product of man, you heathen. Also, I don't wish you dead, unlike some clueless family member that thinks that some dude you call granddad gave you a blessing means squat, I only wish you would die once, to your self, and begin a new life in Christ.

          • Rothschild

            I am a Catholic Jew…my other half is Irish Catholic…I'm a liberal pacifist; but I have cousin that taught at West Point.

          • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

            Wow, that was a confused statement lacking commitment to your Lord for the sake of several Worldly adjectives.

          • Rothschild

            The Jews are not worldly; perhaps the Marxist Zionist are….I went way back in my research, and my preliminary findings are that Zionism has had a stranglehold on the religious aspect, the religious Zionists; but I'm not in Israel, and I have not run this by a Sons of Zion rabbi that is familiar with that period of Jewish history.

            I'm interested all all things spiritual, political, and social about Judaism, Christ, and recently ancient religious Zionism…Christ was in Israel. I never gave up my faith;I'm not converting to Judaism.

          • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

            Very glad to hear you will not be forsaking the greatest gift of God. As for non-Zionist Jews, I am well aware of many groups that ascribe to this thinking. Some of them are;
            Neturei Karta – http://www.nkusa.org
            Jews Not Zionists – http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/
            Israel Versus Judaism – http://www.israelversusjudaism.org
            True Torah Jews Against Zionism – http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/

            While it is helpful to have a balanced perspective regarding Jewish beliefs on Zionism, they are still Jews that are lost due to their lack of Jesus Christ in their hearts.

          • Rothschild

            It may mean nothing then again it may; I was doing historical research about my Jewish half…but recently I started doing spiritual research because, a blessing by my grandfather was to inherit his and his family members house so to speak.

            And, it was a big deal years ago, there were documents concerning my role; which would have been part of a orthodox branch of Judaism called the Sons of Zion….they knew I was a non-Jew but they still gave me the blessing, anyway.

            There seem to be no rabbis from the Sons of Zion today, though, with whom I could get advise; all the other rabbis probably had a ax to grind with them then, and they probably do now; I think because they were religious Zionists, that wanted to start a Yeshiva, for both Jews and non Jews, and secular Jews, in Israel; and they had the money to do it; because even Rothschild was working with them, then.

          • oldtimer

            Jeremiah 32:40 I will make an "everlasting" covenant with them….God's words……
            Matthew 5:17 Think not that I come to destroy the law….

          • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

            Jeremiah 31:31-32 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,”declares the Lord.
            Those under the old covenant, broke the old covenant. The old covenant was never broken by God, but that didn't mean it couldn't be broken.
            The 'everlasting' covenant that Jeremiah speaks of is the one that Christ established with those who would believe.
            Christ fulfilled the Law for us so that He could be a perfect unblemished sacrifice for us, not so that we would continue to be shackled and bound by the Law which the knowledge of only brings awareness of Sin which brings death. The argument from that is that people can now go and do whatever they want if they saved through Christ. That is true if your recognize that those who are saved by Christ WANT to follow the path He laid down for them, not because they have to, but because they want to.

    • oldtimer

      True Christian's do not believe what TA does.

      • http://www.facebook.com/arthur.sido Arthur Sido

        Actually, many "true Christian's (sic)" do because we understand that the New Covenant is…well New, hence the name and not like the Old. It would be worth your while to study and think through these issues without wearing red, white and blue glasses and waving the flag of the secular nation called Israel.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, conservative evangelicals are boring to young people, some even go to Eastern Orthodoxy. Maybe, instead of the rock bands, maybe some history on things like church radicals in the middle ages or early modern period, Paul johnson's book on church history does this. Evangelical conservatives are dated are their approaches to deal with the left. And the left evangelicals usually can use early church writings to make their point from early centuries. The right just states the bible said so. Their needs to be a conservative evangelical movement that is also familiar with earlier church history.

  • cynthia curran

    You can't be religious and left I disagree, the most religious people usually in let's say Eastern Orthodoxy tend to be anti-west and therefore usually are liberal democratics because of statements by early church fathers on the poor versus the right in John Chrysostom

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

    Nationalism is the biggest idolatry of the modern age. The arrogant notion that ones national identity trumps The Kingdom of God is a total perversion of the Gospel. He said "My Kingdom is not of this World." and "not all Israel is Israel."

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

    “As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.”

    – Christopher Dawson

    • Drakken

      People who beat their swords into plowshares always plow for those who don't. Sorry you can go ahead and die on your knees, I won't. Peace is nothing but the temporary asbsence of war. It is and always has been the human condition, and if your not willing to fight for you an yours, do not think that you can continue to rely on your betters to protect you.

      • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

        Stephen died on his knees too, and is rightly celebrated for doing God's will.

      • http://www.facebook.com/arthur.sido Arthur Sido

        Drakken, we are not asking you or anyone else to "protect" us. If you choose to follow fear and hatred that is your choice. We choose to follow Christ. I don't expect an unbeliever to do the same but at least try to understand the position you are attacking.

  • Rick Love

    Hi Mark

    Thanks for giving attention to this upcoming summit. You raise some important questions.

    You also quote me a number of times in your blog. Please note: my name is Rick Love, not Frank Love! Facts and details are important. Thank you.

    • marktooley

      Thanks Rick. Sorry for error. Original post early this morning had your name right. Somehow got changed. Just noticed and asked for correction. I hope to meet you. …Mark Tooley

  • Drakken

    Here is a novel idea for these pacifist, let us challenge them to go to those war zones and preach peace and love to the muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan and lets see how that works out for them. So instead of telling us how wrong we are by protecting ourselves, lets see if they have stones to practice what they preach? I will bet a solid grand they won't, because they view us westerners as the problem, not the savages that want to kill us.

    • Carl Medearis

      Drakken,

      Good suggestion. And…that's exactly what I do. With the leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas, Wahabbis, etc. Just got back from Beirut and Saudi last week. Thanks for the helpful suggestion! :)

    • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

      They are called missionaries, ever heard of them??? You know those folks who respect that The Great Commission of Christ is intended for all.

  • https://www.facebook.com/TomArrr Tom Arr

    I give all my thanks to God who has provided all and given all, I shall not bow down to the idol of the state.

  • Ghostwriter

    Thank you,Tom Arr. You've proved that there are bigger fools on this planet besides Schlockmoron and his odious tirades against the Jews.

  • JohnR22

    I always felt that the religious fundamentalists were basically driven into the overall conservative (Right wing) movement largely against their will. They did this because they had no choice; because the Leftist movement of the 60s/70s violated so many of their tenents they had to reject the Left.

    The reason I’m surprised, is because a couple of the basic precepts of religious fundamentalists are clearly on the Left. The first is pacifism, and the second is socialism. If you take a literal interpretation of scripture you must believe in both of these things. And many fundamentalists….particularly catholics and jews….DO believe in these things.

    I see these people on TV from time to time; blathering about the need for more/bigger govt to redistrubite the wealth, or on their endless “peace marches” and I must say they are truly pathetic. I feel sorry for them because while they parrot causes the hard Left loves, the Left will never allow them to join. The hard Left utterly despises them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.pacifism.3 Christian Pacifism

    Maybe the author is unaware that not all Christian pacifists are "lefties." Would Moody or Spurgeon be labeled so? I certainly am not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arthur.sido Arthur Sido

    What should be of greater concern is the notion that any suggestion that perhaps pacifism or more appropriately non-resistance is the proper position for a follower of the Prince of Peace must of necessity be something shady or *gasp* lib'ral. I am no one's idea of a liberal, politically or theologically, but I also see waging war on behalf of a secular nation state against other people, the same people I am called to love and to reach with the Gospel, because they live in a different secular nation state with contrary motivations to be incompatible with the faith. It is easier to cast aspersions on the speakers for being liberal than to ask the difficult questions about Christian involvement and enthusiastic support for war.

  • Byron Borger

    Mr. Tooley has misrepresented the nature of this conference, so badly that he owes them an apology.

    Doesn't he know just war scholar Eric Peterson (whose books include remarkable endorsements by very conservative religious leaders, like Richard Land, and very thoughtful conservative military ethicists as well?) So it isn't a pacifist conference, although some who are committed to nonviolence will be obviously be there. And some of those, by the way, have spent time in wars zones, or doing evangelical mission work amongst those in the developing world. Those who have risked their very lives planting churches in so-called closed countries do not deserve to be denigrated or have their morally serious vocations misconstrued as Tooley did in this biased report. Does he really so profoundly disrespect the CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance? Did he really mean to sound so ugly to one of the speakers whose book and ministry is inspired by her family's loss in the 9-11 attacks? Really, Mark? Geesh,it seems that his long-standing animus for Jim Wallis just colored his whole report, apparently causing him to throw his journalistic integrity to the wind, failing to do justice to the diversity of the gathering and some of whom are on the conference agenda.

    Further, his accusation that those there will not be much interested in serious moral thinking is a stunning allegation made without warrant. Perhaps there will be cavalier folks, perhaps some are trendy politicos, I don't know. Nobody knows until we get there. But to speculate so rudely, demeaning the good faith effort of thoughtful ethicists such as David Gushee and Glen Stassen, Mr. Patterson, and national leaders such as a former Republican Governor, all who are presenting, is inappropriate.

    I hope that those who read Mr. Tooley's inaccurate report goes to the Evangelicals for Peace web page and sees the diverse and mature caliber of the speakers. It will show a different sort of event, one that, while not perfect, will, hopefully, hold up a faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and the call to be agents of His reconciliation.