The once prestigious National Council of Churches (NCC), when still mainstream liberal prior to the 1960s, once advocated foreign policy realism, guided by churchmen and statesmen like John Foster Dulles. Today, it touts far-left, simplistic, anti-American pacifism, unable even to endorse the elimination of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.
At its recent board meeting in New York, NCC chief Michael Kinnamon saluted the pacifist heritage of the NCC’s Quaker and Mennonite members, ignoring that more than 30 of the NCC’s 37 member denominations come from traditions that affirm lethal force by legitimate governments. The NCC now embodies the Religious Left’s preference for fantasy over both the Bible and the real world.
Embodying the Religious Left’s utopian dreams is the NCC’s 2010 study paper, “Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism), which the NCC is still vigorously promoting. At its General Assembly this Fall, the NCC will elaborate on its support for military “conscientious objectors” Kinnamon proudly told his board that the NCC had backed conscientious objection since the Vietnam War. “We have struggled with this issue over the years, let’s struggle with it again,” he enthused. And he warned: “We are likely to hear repeated assertions out of the anniversary of 9⁄11 of our need for security.” Evidently the NCC wants to be prepared to knock down any religious voices claiming America can and should defend itself against terror and aggression.
Maybe the NCC study on war and terror could be treated a little seriously if it at least admitted that groups like al Qaeda have committed and continue to threaten mass murder. But Religious Left pacifists of today identify threats to peace only from within the U.S. or its allies. “US military spending is more than 40% of the world’s total – equal to the next sixteen countries combined,” the paper complains. “What future do we see for the cozy relationship between American Christians and the American imperial project?” And it condemns the War on Terror as a “conflict with no clear beginning, without demarcated boundaries, against multiple (often invisible) adversaries… In this war, we soon encounter the limits of violence.”
This study paper opens with a “poem:”
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
His shoes and trousers
Are covered with blood –
But he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
This folderol is about as theologically sophisticated as the NCC delves in its examination of war and terror. It repeats the usual myth that early Christianity was pacifist until corrupted by the Emperor Constantine. It laments the crusades, the “conquistadors in the Americas” and the “aspirations of European colonists.” Bizarrely, it celebrates the 1961 entrance of the then largely Soviet controlled, Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church into the ecumenical movement, which permitted puppets of an atheist police state to manipulate the World and National Council of Churches across 3 decades of Cold War. The study paper condemns military “realism” but never condemns Communism and Nazism, the two monstrous forces responsible for most the last century’s deaths by war, tyranny and genocide. Of course, it hails Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which tried to protect Saddam Hussein from Allied attack, while silent about Saddam’s butchery. And it ominously ponders: “What future do we see for the cozy relationship between American Christians and the American imperial project?”
The NCC paper examines 9-11 as a psychological study in “fear,” comparing 9-11 victims to lynch American blacks and American Indians who were “slaughtered.” It never mentions who perpetrated 9-11 because it’s not concerned about perpetrators of atrocities, just on the purported U.S. led over reaction. “A permanent state of fear mobilizes the populace and numbs the spirit,” it frets. It urges churches that subscribe to Just War teaching to begin formally examining whether specific military actions or weapons systems are in accord with the Religious Left’s interpretation that Just War precludes military action in almost every real world circumstance. Of course, it ignores traditional Just War teaching that not only allows but commands force in defense of justice. The NCC reports urges indoctrination of military chaplains and Just War advocates in the Religious Left mindset. Accompanying the study paper is a study guide, written by a Quaker, a Mennonite and a Church of the Brethren member, all pacifists, who represent a tiny minority of the NCC’s membership. Nobody from a Just War tradition is included.
Historic Christian pacifist traditions originally had some nobility, claiming a vocation of non-violence for themselves and their own churches without demanding it of others, much less of governments. Todays’ Religious Left pacifists, in contrast, stridently insist that the truly faithful must share their own brand of hostility towards America and moral indifference to the crimes of America’s enemies. Purportedly, “peace” will emerge from a world where America is disarmed.
Fortunately, the image of an always guilty America with blood-covered shoes resonates not with mainstream church goers but primarily with hardcore Religious Left zealots. But the NCC will claim to speak for tens of millions as it advertises the spurious themes of its “Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism).”
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