Religious professionals are often the apologists for tyranny.
Religious figures who opposed the liberation of Iraq have a lot of explaining to do. Fashioning themselves prophets of peace, they caustically denounced the "rush to war." Having granted the United Nations an almost transcendent moral authority, they declared Operation Iraqi Freedom an "immoral" act of aggression. In the months leading up to the conflict, they made a litany of brash claims and gloomy predictions--all proven to be utterly false.
Take their suggestion that Saddam Hussein was not the devil many made him out to be. Some religious leaders even denied that he ever used chemical weapons against the Kurds. George Hunsinger, professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, cited approvingly the Nation's dismissal of the charge as "a catchy slogan to demonize Saddam in the popular American imagination." Meanwhile, Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, derided prowar Christians for holding "simplistic views of good and evil."
Yet "evil" is the word that most often passes from the lips of newly liberated Iraqis to describe Saddam's regime. "If you only knew what this man did to Iraq," said an elderly man in Baghdad beating Saddam's portrait with his shoe. "He killed our youth. He killed millions." Day by day we learn more about the arbitrary arrests, tortures, and executions; the special prisons for children of dissidents; the diversion of food and medicine intended for needy Iraqis. None of it should surprise anyone: For years, the same facts had been uncovered by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.N. special rapporteur. Not since Cambodia's killing fields had a government terrorized so many of its own people.
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