To hear opponents of the war on Iraq tell it, America has become the new Rome: a swaggering empire bent on imperialistic conquest.
We've heard it all before. It was, in fact, the most oft-repeated charge against both the United States and Britain at the outbreak of World War II.
Churches led the peace movement of the 1930s, and religious leaders joined other isolationists in seeing only the darkest motives at work among the Allied forces. "Is this essentially a war to make democracy secure," Albert Palmer, president of Chicago Theological Seminary asked scornfully, "or is it a clash between two great imperialisms?"
Harry Emerson Fosdick, the celebrated Baptist preacher, called a war for democracy a contradiction in terms. "Whoever wins it," he said, "there is bound to be less democracy than there was before." Unitarian minister John Haynes Holmes dismissed the European conflict as an "immoral clash of competing imperialisms." Charles Clayton Morrison, editor of The Christian Century, denounced an Anglo-American alliance against Germany as "the vastest imperialistic enterprise history has ever known."
This criticism persisted even after the German war machine had overrun half a dozen European states, captured Paris and bombed London -- after the pathologies of Nazi rule became widely known. How could some of America's most prominent religious thinkers have so badly misjudged Hitler's gathering storm?
Read the entire article on The Heritage Foundation website.