Sunday, 24 October 2004
Unspeakable acts of barbarity have been perpetrated in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Saddam himself was a cruel, vicious dictator, formerly sustained in power by the U.S. government, when they felt it was in the national interest (of the U.S. nation, not of Iraq). Recent acts of barbarism, including the kidnapping and beheading of civilians and the continued bombing of civilian targets by both American troops and Iraqi insurgents, contributes to a cycle of violence that is destroying the nation. Incredibly, many religious leaders have remained silent while their co-religionists have committed murder and spread terror.
It is not the place of Christian leaders to condemn the acts of Muslims, nor is it the place of Muslim leaders to condemn the acts of Christians. Instead, both Christians and Muslims should recall the high standards of behavior taught by the founders of their respective religions and call on their own people to uphold those standards.
Christian leaders must call on ostensibly Christian soldiers and civilian leaders to immediately stop the bombing and missile strikes on civilian targets, regardless of whether a few suspected terrorists might be within the target area. They must also demand that Christians deal with Muslim captives and civilians alike with respect and decency. Christians on the ground in Iraq and back in Washington should remember that they are not operating in their own country, but one that is far older, with traditions stretching back thousands of years. U.S. forces operating in Iraq should show the same restraint in actions that involve civilian neighborhoods as we would expect police officers to show when confronting crime in American neighborhoods.
Muslim leaders must call on ostensibly Muslim insurgents to stop the kidnapping of both Iraqi and foreign civilians, and they must condemn in the strongest terms the gruesome executions of hostages. They must also call on Iraqi insurgents to stop targeting civilians in their attacks. They must make clear to suicide bombers that their deaths are an affront to Allah, not an acceptable offering.
Finally, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders in the U.S. need to get together to draft joint statements promoting peace and justice in Iraq, and they should interact with their counterparts in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Christians indiscriminately killing Muslims is not what God wants. Muslims indiscriminately killing Christians and Jews is not what Allah wants. The Christian God, the Jewish God, and the Muslim God are the same God of Abraham, and on that common ground let leaders of these three important world religions take a common stand against violence. Failing to do so will be a betrayal of their own religious traditions.
© Copyright 2004, Progressive Theology