For at least 50 years, the United Methodist Church, America's third largest denomination, has been unable to effectively apply traditional Christian teachings to issues of war and peace. The resolution called “Seeking Peace in Afghanistan,” originating with the New York-based United Methodist Women's Division, and approved by the recent governing General Conference of the 12 million member global denomination, continues this sad tradition.
Ostensibly the resolution puts the church on record for peace in war torn Afghanistan. But actually it demonizes the United States, itself a 50 year tradition in United Methodism, while ignoring the evils of the Taliban and al Qaeda. And it materialistically assumes that peace can be purchased with ever more U.S. dollars. It never cites radical Islam, a chief cause for strife in Afghanistan, perhaps because liberal United Methodist elites cannot conceive of anyone taking traditional religion any more seriously than they do.
The resolution calls the U.S. presence in Afghanistan the “latest in a long history of foreigners trying to impose by military might their own agenda in Afghanistan.” So presumably the American led 2001-2002 overthrow of the Taliban Islamist dictatorship in response to 9-11 is morally on par with the murderous Soviet invasion of 1979, which created 30 years of war and strife. Oddly, but predictably, the resolution never mentions 9-11 or the Taliban, which might distract from its targeting the U.S. It also never mentions that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is scheduled to end in 2014.
Afghanistan is ever degenerating, thanks to the U.S. presence, the resolution claims. And it asserts that U.S. resources spent on war distract from “health care, education, and community development,” without acknowledging tens of billions already spent by the U.S. on these goods, or admitting that almost no spending or progress on health care, education, and community development would be possible under the Taliban. The resolution also condemns U.S./NATO unmanned drone attacks on insurgent/terrorist targets, likening them to “extrajudicial killings."
Self-importantly, the resolution chides the U.S. for spending on “weapons and soldiers” (again without citing billions spent on civilian aid) while boasting, “By contrast, for more than 45 years United Methodists and other humanitarian organizations, in partnership with local Afghans, have supported health care and community development work in Afghanistan.” Of course, such church programs are impossible without some level of security.
Embarrassingly, the resolution recalls that in the immediate wake of 9-11, the United Methodist Women’s Division urged “diplomatic means to bring the perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice and to end the bombing of Afghanistan.” Even more laughably, it recalls the ostensibly prophetic words of California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee who, after 9-11, was the “lone voice at that time in the U.S. government to question military action against Afghanistan.”
The resolution inevitably rehashes the canard that the U.S. “devotes almost the same amount of resources to military spending as the other 95 percent of the world combined,” as though the world would be safer with less military spending by the U.S. and relatively more by other nations. And it vacuously urges: “May we find the courage to join with Afghans and neighboring Pakistanis and all who seek to transform today’s glut of swords into plowshares.” Who are these elusive partners for peace? They are unnamed. It recalls that, in 2009, 79 United Methodist bishops urged President Obama “to set a timetable for the withdrawal of all coalition forces by the end of 2010,” which of course the President ignored. It suggests that spending on the military be rerouted to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals in health care, as though good medicine can be achieved without security and stable government.
United Methodism is now on record demanding complete withdrawal of U.S./NATO forces from Afghanistan and declaring an “immediate unilateral cease-fire,” including an end to drone attacks. While never expressing concern about the Taliban or repressive Islamist movements, the resolution condemns the U.S. for “increasing repressive measures that stifle dissent and encourage racial profiling of Arab and Muslim people in many countries.” It also urges increased solidarity with U.S. conscientious objectors from military service, although military service in the U.S. is of course voluntary.
Almost laughably, but actually tragically, the resolution calls for women to “participate equally and fully in all levels of peacemaking and decision making” in Afghanistan,and to “end impunity against those who commit violence against women.” Sorry, United Methodists. The U.S./NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan almost inevitably means reduced protections for women, even absent a Taliban take-over.
After 9-11, the U.S. and allied nations, working with the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban armed resistance in Afghanistan, forcibly overthrew the brutal Taliban regime, which had openly supported al Qaeda's attacks. Traditional Christian teaching supported this defensive action. And Afghanistan, for all its problems, is somewhat safer, freer, wealthier and healthier thanks to the U.S. led liberation.
After 10 years, the American people no longer care to sustain an ongoing military presence to struggle for stable government in Afghanistan. After the U.S. withdrawal, the U.S. will continue to fund, support and train the current democratically elected although often corrupt and flawed Afghan government. We can pray the investment of U.S. lives and wealth will have helped preserve the Afghan people from a return to power by the vicious Taliban. But it's ultimately their battle. The U.S. and other allies will continue to coordinate drone and other targeted attacks terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to prevent another pre-9-11 like refuge for terror strikes.
The United Methodist resolution on Afghanistan, drafted by the church's radical Women's Division, whose initial draft sarcastically referred to the “so-called” war on terror, is disconnected both from reality and a Christian understanding of the world as sinful. Its villainizing of the U.S. while declining ever to cite the Taliban or al Qaeda makes it absurd. Fortunately, almost nobody will take it seriously, and it will disappear into the universally ignored 1000 page United Methodist Book of Resolutions. But the 12 million members of United Methodist Church deserve better.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.