Next week will mark five years since the United States invaded Iraq. We all lament the suffering and violence that continue after these five heartbreaking years.
To commemorate this anniversary, many Sojourners board members are joining with me to issue a statement calling on the U.S. church to repent for the war and to commit ourselves to a new path toward peace.
We all share in responsibility for a war that has been waged in our names and with our tax dollars. The fact that fewer U.S. soldiers have died in recent months doesn’t change the fact that this war should never have been waged. Our country should end this war, not try to “win” it, and we must help the Iraqi people build a safer and more peaceful country.
And so, in this season of Lent, I believe the time has come for us to repent for the Iraq war. But repentance means more than just being sorry. It means admitting that the course we have been on is wrong and committing to begin walking in a new direction – starting with an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Support for U.S. wars and foreign policy is still the area where Christians are most “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). We must commit to put our love for Christ ahead of obedience to a misguided government and ask our brothers and sisters to join us in working for peace.
That’s why we’ve put together a statement that issues a call to the U.S. church to lament and repent of the sin of this war. We’re planning to promote that call widely to Christian audiences of all theological and political stripes.
So far it’s been signed by friends like Brian McLaren, Mary Nelson, Richard Rohr, Barbara Williams Skinner, and Ron Sider. But we don’t just want prominent leaders to sign on – we want you.
If everyone receiving this e-mail signed the statement and recruited friends, family, and congregation members to do the same, we could show that millions of ordinary Christians are seeking a world in which our Lord “guides our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79).
I hope you’ll join us in committing to pray and work for peace.
Jim Wallis and the rest of the team at Sojourners
P.S. We’re planning to publicize this statement widely, including placing advertisements in Christian media – can you make a donation to help get the word out?
This is certainly an interesting effort by Jim Wallis and Sojourners. Oddly enough it helps me in my process to first come to grips with, and then to repent for some of my past sin, but in a way perhaps not intended.
I am very much a product of the religious right movement of the 80’s. Much of that is from what I am now repenting. Perhaps that is causing me to be hypersensitive to the methods of the religious right, especially when I see characteristics of these methods in use by groups with whom I would today be inclined to support. Such is my reaction to Wallis’ proposal.
I find calling on the U.S. church to repent a bit hollow. The parts of the U.S. church that have actively joined in the drum beating are hardly poised to repent and I do not buy his argument that the rest of us, by paying taxes, are implicated in the sins of the U.S. Government. If that were true then would not thorough repentance include no longer paying those taxes? Wallis also goes on to claim that, “[s]upport for U.S. wars and foreign policy is still the area where Christians are most “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).” This seems like yet another straw man argument by Wallis. Not having data to suggest differently, I still choose to believe that unbridled consumerism is much more deserving of his claim.
I mentioned about my process of coming to grips with and repenting for sins of my past. It is ideas and reactions such as what Jim Wallis is promoting that prompt me to look even deeper into an Anabaptist worldview/theology/history. Over the past few years I find myself moving more in the direction of disengagement with the system(s) of this world. Initially, I was of the thought that this was simply an overreaction to my past — an overcompensation of the pendulum if you will. But, I am finding it more and more difficult to reconcile faith in government with Christ’s heart and call to us his followers. I am increasingly seeing governmental solutions as at best a poor return on investment of a Christ follower’s time/resources and at worst a devilish distraction.
For now I am viewing this as more of a rant and less of a life statement, but I am not sensing the pendulum’s return swing anytime soon…