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"Christian" Group Bites the Hand that Rescues It

Mark D. Tooley

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Christian Peacemaking Teams (CPT) celebrated the liberation of the CPT hostages in Iraq by ignoring the military personnel who rescued them and even condemning the U.S. and British military mission in Iraq.

Later, probably in reaction to criticism, an addendum (http://www.cpt.org/iraq/response/06-23-03statement.htm#freed) was added to the official CPT statement that thanked the Allied warriors Liberated hostage Norman Kember also thanked the soldiers for their "courage."

But the initial omission of thanks was in keeping with CPT's overall critique that is the U.S. that is chiefly to blame for Iraq's difficulties. Indeed, much of CPT's "peacemaking" consists of denouncing U.S. foreign policy and, for good measure, Israeli policies as well.

Apparently CPT is not sufficiently Christian to believe in the virtue of gratitude. Nor is CPT's commitment to "peacemaking" much broader than opposing U.S. foreign policy and denouncing Israel.

The CPT statement rejoiced that three of its volunteers were "safely released" i.e. rescued by U.S. and British forces in Iraq. The fourth hostage, Tom Fox, had been tragically murdered by his captors. But the CPT statement omitted noting how Fox died, simply referring instead to his body having been "found" several weeks earlier.

CPT made no mention of this, while condemning the "illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces," which are the "root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq."

CPT also urged Christians around the world to demand "justice and respect" for the thousands of Iraqis "illegally" detained by U.S. and British forces in Iraq. Of course, there is no mention that it was an interrogation by allied forces of one of these detainees that elicited the information leading to the liberation of the CPT captives.

CPT has expressed no concern about the thousands of Iraqis routinely brutalized by Iraqi insurgents and groups like the "Swords of Righteousness Brigades." That would disrupt its hypothesis that U.S. and British forces are the root cause of Iraq sufferings.

CPT is an initiative of the Mennonites, Church of the Brethren and Quakers, all three of which are historically pacifist. This refusal to take by arms, dating back to the Anabaptists of the Reformation era, has been admirably sustained by many sincere believers. But most in the legitimate tradition of what are today called "the peace churches," while insisting on their own personal vocation for non-resistance, have not denied the civil state's responsibility for military defense, nor the vocation of other Christians to serve in the military.

This traditional "peace" tradition was corrupted in the 20th century by theologians like the late John Howard Yoder and the still very much alive Stanley Hauerwas, both of whom dogmatically insisted "non-violence" is the heart of the Gospel. Hauerwas is a Methodist who teaches at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina and has been named by Time magazine as America's most influential theologian.

Their adherents often sanctimoniously insist that Christians who subscribe to historic just war teachings are betraying Jesus. Unfortunately, the Yoder-Hauerwas influence extends beyond the "peace" churches and has increasingly shaped "mainline" (read: left-wing) Protestant and even some Evangelical teaching.

Clergy and activists from these churches, none of which is historically pacifist, have flocked to CPT. Rick Ufford-Chase, the chief moderator of the 3.2 million member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is a CPT activist. According to his resume, he and his wife spent a "month in intensive training to become reservists" CPT after he had developed a "profound sense of despair after our country's war on Iraq."

Although CPT is supposedly concerned about "violence" generically, its focus areas have been Iraq, Afghanistan, Puerto Rico, "Palestine," Colombia, U.S., and Canadian treatment of "indigenous" people, most of whom are not indigenous -- like foreign jihadists in Iraq and illegal immigrants at the U.S. border with Mexico.

CPT activists protest against Israel's new security wall to guard against Palestinian terrorism, against the Colombian government's war on narco-traffickers, against the soon-to-be-closed U.S. Navy munitions testing facility at Vieques, and against the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. CPT was actually present in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion began to protest against United Nations sanctions, and to show "solidarity" with the Iraqis should war begin. But Saddam Hussein's regime expelled CPT just before hostilities began.

The spiritual myopia of groups like CPT, and of the larger Yoder-Hauerwas worldview that guides much of elite Protestant thought in America, makes no distinction among forms of "violence." In a December 8, 2005, letter urging release of the CPT captives, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Moderator Ufford-Chase and Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick declared: "We believe that all violence is wrong, and that the action of kidnapping cannot be justified under any circumstance. We pray for those who are holding the Christian Peacemaker Team volunteers, and for all those who are unjustly detained. We are gravely concerned about their [the CPT captives] safety, as well as the safety of all people, both Iraqi and United States, whose lives have been endangered because of the United States' war against Iraq," the Presbyterians intoned.

The Presbyterian letter, like CPT, was unable to find moral difference between the terrorists holding the CPT captives and the detainees held by Allied forces in Iraq. Of course, the Presbyterians, like CPT, blame the United States and its allies exclusively for all turmoil and injustice.

Not surprisingly, CPT is not averse to exploiting Christian symbols and other holidays for its political statements. It used Epiphany in January to demonstrate outside the White House to demand an end to the "U.S. occupation" of Iraq. On Martin Luther King Day, it launched its "Shine the Light" campaign, in which CPT demonstrators processed in front of the Pentagon, State Department, Capitol building, and CIA to "expose" the torture, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees in Iraq. None of the CPT demonstrations were aimed at non-U.S. entities.

In the wake of the hostages' "release," Geneva-based World Council of Churches chief Samuel Kobia was lightning fast in congratulating CPT (but not the military liberators of the hostages). "We also pray that amid all the pain and anxiety of this case, those engaged in the violence in Iraq may remember and heed the many voices both Christian and Muslim who made publicly clear that among the many people of faith concerned for peace there are also people called to be peacemakers." Kobia wrote, in CPT-style, indiscriminately lumping together all "those engaged in violence."

The handcuffed and tortured Tom Fox was murdered by butchers whom CPT refuses to criticize, preferring instead to blame the same Allied personnel who rescued Fox's surviving colleagues. But God knows who committed the crime, and who performed with valor. So, too, do millions of Americans, the vast majority of whom are more morally perceptive than the church officials who support CPT's political posturing.

Read the entire article on the Front Page Magazine website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission of Front Page Magazine.

Posted: 29-Mar-06

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