Tuesday, March 14, 2006


On Monday, in the question and answer period following my presentation on "doing justice" at the Free Methodist Historical Society's symposium "In Search of the Free Methodist Soul III," I was pointedly asked what I thought about the justice involved in America's war in Iraq.

I TRIED TO PASS. I tried to pass on the question, knowing I had one sentence in the entire 15-page paper with any reference to militarism and war-making, knowing that whatever I said in response to the question would be more remembered than anything else I wrote, presented, or said, and knowing that I would likely be pigeon-holed and dismissed for my response. But the moderator brought the question back to me, and I was obliged to respond.

WHAT I THINK. So, after hesitation, I said that I think the Bush Administration policy of preemptive war is immoral, unjust, unchristian, unprecedented in modern democracy, and ill-conceived. I said that once that policy was enacted and acted upon, it has been impossible for me to think of American military actions in terms of justice. I said that I think we are seeing just the beginnings of the dire international consequences of this morally untenable policy and subsequent actions. I said that if you start wrong you can't end up right. I said that I think it is still possible, however, for America to change its policy and explore redemptive alternatives. I also said that this is what I think and not necessarily what the Free Methodist Church may hold.

IS DETANTE THE BEST WE CAN DO? Some applauded my comments. But, I am sure I was branded. I am sure that will not be the end of it. I will not be surprised if such a statement costs me dearly. If it does, I am okay with that. Maybe I have been too cautious around pro-Iraq war Christians all along. My carefulness has not been out of fear but out of a sort of a detante. In other words, leave alone hot topics of disgreement known to be unproductive in conversation. But outside of the church arena, I spoke out against the preemptive war policy before it was adopted, spoke at an anti-Iraq war rally on the steps of Indianapolis' Monument Circle before it was launched, and have consistently tried to thoughtfully write about the implications of America's actions ever since. I have also prayed for and corresponded with troops. But, up to this point, I have kept my perspectives officially outside of the church and denomination. Somehow, I crossed a bridge on Monday and blurred the distinctions more than I had necessarily wanted. But it is crossed, so let us move forward in the spirit of redemptive courage, wisdom and grace.


  1. Anonymous1:48 PM

    You might appreciate this. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/10/opinion/edpabst.php

  2. Anonymous1:50 PM

    Well, I can't get the link to cut and paste correctly - the title, article, and news source are here:

    The twisted religion of Blair and Bush
    Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst International Herald Tribune

  3. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Given the circumstances, I find it surprising that you felt so disinclined to take a public stand until now. Why wouldn't you speak out against immoral, unchristian, and unjust actions of ANY government?

    So you may be branded. (what will you lose?) And this may not be the end of it. (what will you gain?) Isn't it possible that you emboldened others to speak out? Isn't it possible that the spirit spoke through you?

    Every day we make the choice to move toward or away from God. In which direction did your comments move you?

  4. I appreciate your courage, friend, and have significant questions about our foreign policy that echo some of what you've expressed. I'd like to think that the 'freedom' we profess in our group will allow you the umbrella of grace to push back on the many who 'just believe' because of a political affiliation, because 'they've always believed that way' or because it's the general direction of many others. I'm glad you spoke up, and glad to read your words.

  5. Anonymous9:48 AM

    I heard you were busy writing a paper. I would love to get a copy if thats possible.


  6. I can't imagine that it will cost you dearly. The forum is a place for ideas to be exchanged, and there was probably not a safer forum in Free Methodism that where you views were expressed. I appreciate your openess and honesty in addressing the question.

  7. I can't imagine you would pay dearly for your comments. While fundamentalism has no doubt had its impact on the Free Methodist Church, there is probably no safer, non-fundamental forum in which your comments could have been expressed. I appreciated so much your honesty and vulnerability. -- The Moderator


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.