Peace and a 'Christian' Nation

By Roberts, Tom | National Catholic Reporter, October 21, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Peace and a 'Christian' Nation


Roberts, Tom, National Catholic Reporter


Peace is at the heart of our sacred texts. Jesus speaks of it constantly and gives us a vision of peace, among individuals and among peoples, that is radically different from anything that went before. It is a peace that anticipates the unearned forgiveness of God, that teaches the forgiveness of enemies and that assumes the inherent worth of every human without qualification.

It is a peace that defies logic.

We don't hear much about it from our pulpits and even less from our civic leaders, except as the platitudinous denouement to speeches about war.

That's why I'm happy that we've put together our second Paths to Peace special section. The first one was published April 26, 2002.

Share the new Paths to Peace with friends, use it as a discussion starter. I am certain it will provoke difficult questions and stir discussions. One of the realities that emerges in this year's section is the degree to which we assume that violence is the only response to certain circumstances. Alternatives exist.

While no one expects states to use the Sermon on the Mount as a briefing book in the conduct of foreign affairs, one would be hard pressed to discover the vaunted "Christian" character of the United States through official references to peacemaking.

In fact, there is no single pursuit to which we give more time, energy or resources than the preparation of mass violence and war-making.

The military budget for this year is expected to be around $440 billion dollars, which would translate to about $1.2 billion per day. That doesn't include the $300 billion already spent on the open-ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our religious leaders--and here I refer to the whole panoply of Christian moralists who have taken to the public square--can muster the fervor of the newly converted, arguing against any state concessions for same sex couples or railing against officials they deem insufficiently vigilant on such matters as abortion.

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