PUT ON THE SPOT REGARDING AMERICA IN IRAQ
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.