The struggle between the church and the state is perhaps nowhere more painfully apparent than in soldiers who are trying to integrate their national and spiritual identities. One soldier said he is trying to serve two masters, the cross and the sword, and his arms aren’t big enough to carry them both. Many military chaplains have felt this collision most poignantly and express the crippling sense that they are simply preparing soldiers to kill and helping them to recover from killing, without ever having space to question the killing itself.
To refuse to kill for patriotic reasons is to show that we actually take our identity in Christ more seriously than our identity in the empire.
– Shane Claiborne
I would no more tach my kids military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.
– Eugene Debs
Every war…with all its ordinary consequences…the murder with the justifications of its necessity and justice, the exaltation and glorifications of military exploits, the worship of the flag, the patriotic sentiments…, does more in one year to pervert men’s minds than thousands of robberies, murders, and arsons perpetrated during hundreds of years by individual men under the influence of passion.
– Leo Tolstoy
Do the people believe that the killing of foreigners is somehow different that the killing of Americans? – Timothy McVeigh.
No doubt he had been deranged by the myth of redemptive violence. He bombed Oklahoma City [a deplorable act] in the hope that complacent Americans could see what “collateral damage” looks like and cry out against bloodshed everywhere, even in Iraq. Instead, the government that had trained him to kill, killed him, to teach the rest of us that is is wrong to kill. Dear God, liberate us from the logic of redemptive violence.
– Shane Claiborne
Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.
Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.
– St. Cyprian
For the last 1700 years the Church has not only been making war respectable; it has been inducing people to believe it is an honorable profession, an honorable Christian profession. This is a lie. The early church saw a complete and an obvious incompatibility between loving as Christ loved and killing. There is NO WAY to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. Militarized Christianity is a lie. It is radically out of conformity with the teaching, life, and spirit of Jesus. As an Air Force chaplain I painted a machine gun in the loving hands of the nonviolent Jesus, and then handed this perverse picture to the world as truth.
– Catholic Air Force chaplain, Father George Zabelka.
I often hear the story of Jesus, with the whip, cleansing the temple as a justification for violence. For one thing, although this was a very physical display, there is NO indication he used the whip on anyone. That was not the character of Christ. Second, and of GREAT importance, this anger was against the religious leaders; the “church” of his day. None of this counteracts the nonviolent resistance of Jesus.
He taught things like “turn the other cheek,” “go the extra mile,” and “give more than is asked of you by your enemy.” These are not violent acts, NOR are they acts of passivity. No, this is a third and much more difficult way. It’s taking a strong stand, face to face with your enemy and saying, “I will not fight you, but I WILL NOT BACK DOWN! You will know where I stand and what I stand for, even if it kills me!”
Read “Jesus for President.” Click Here.