Magazine article The Christian Century

A Strange Silence

Magazine article The Christian Century

A Strange Silence

Article excerpt

AFTER THE U.S. military began its assault on insurgents in Fallujah, we received an email from a reader asking, "And where are the churches?" The writer's assumption was that churches should be rising up with moral outrage at the destruction of an Iraqi city and the forced evacuation of its citizens.

Indeed, where are the churches? Why isn't there a resounding Christian voice protesting this war as it did the Vietnam war? The times are very different from the 1960s. There is not the stone culture of protest that was honed by the civil rights movement. There is no military draft to stoke the fires of protest. There is also a hopeless sense that those in power are not listening to critical voices.

An additional problem: it's hard to know what to say constructively. The U.S. can't walk away from Iraq, leaving chaos behind and opening the door to a wider civil war. The best option-- internationalizing the peacekeeping and rebuilding efforts--is unlikely to happen. The rest of the world is not in a mood to clean up the mess created by the U.S.

At times like these the church must rely on what it does best. It must turn to three fundamental weapons in its spiritual arsenal: truth-telling, repenting and praying.

As with all wars, the truth must be told about this war. What really is going on? (See Peter Dula's on-the-ground perspective on p. 8.) How many are being killed? The mainstream media largely accepts the administration's claims about the number of insurgents being killed, whereas independent reporters say that the government often counts civilian deaths in its figures for "insurgent" deaths. …

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