From Christianity Today, in an interview with Brother Andrew of Open Doors:
Not long ago of course Osama bin Laden was assassinated, and the whole world rejoiced. Thousands have died in drone assaults. What is your response to such killing?
I have been speaking in meetings in America, and part of my sermon was, “Have you prayed today for bin Laden?” People were rather shocked, and some people said, “I must confess. I have never prayed for bin Laden, but now I do it.”
Bin Laden was on my prayer list. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to tell him who is the real boss in the world. But then he was murdered, I call it. Murdered, because he didn’t shoot back. He had no resistance. That’s not warfare. And I have had too much of that. A good number of my own friends in Gaza have been assassinated. Liquidated they call it in their terminology. I call it murdered.
We must witness to people. And all the people that I now talk about in Gaza that were murdered were people that I met in their homes and I gave a Bible. I prayed with them.
The title of this post is taken from Christianity Today, and is the part of this interview the magazine chose to highlight.
Let us suppose there was certainty about the object of a drone attack being a self-confessed, proud, and practiced terrorist. The reality is that this certainty is often lacking, and many otherwise innocent people die in the process of targeting them. But let us suppose.
One of the tensions of Christianity – a very positive one – is that it encourages fidelity to both country and creator. As an American, a case can be made that drone killings are cheaper, more effective, and save more lives than traditional warfare. Certainly they keep the lives of our own soldiers from risk.
But as a Christian? The appeal to Genesis – he who sheds the blood of man, let his blood be shed – only applies if you give America jurisdiction over the rest of the world. That such a terrorist be killed may represent justice, but that anyone assume the right to kill him is another matter.
The words of Brother Andrew are poignant, because he is not just an armchair theorist. He has met with such people, and loved them. Perhaps this distracts him from the necessary cold-hearted calculation required of a nation.
But let it tug at the heart strings of Christians, who must be merciful, as God is merciful. Who must love their enemies, and do good to those who hate them. Who must from love keep no record of wrongs, refuse to delight in evil, and always protect, trust, hope, and persevere.
Dear Christian, dear citizen, live in this tension, but remain whole.
2 replies on “Stop Murdering Terrorists”
As well as the ethical issue, there is a pragmatic one. Your statement that drone attacks “keep the lives of our own soldiers from risk” is true only in the short-term, immediate context of the individual drone attack.
Regarded more widely, however, the drone wars are a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists, among the angry young survivors of these terrifying attacks, and others who look on from a distance with horror. Americans will never be safe as long as these attacks continue.
Thanks, Al. There is no pure safety in the world, and there will always be disaffected people angry with America with or without drones. It is the nature of being the leading power. The more ‘moral’ America is, the less room it gives for such disaffected propaganda, simply from a political perspective. Drones, of course, do not help. But what should America do instead?