Monday, May 30, 2011
Signs of the Times
May 30, 2011 | LewRockwell
The Sunday before Memorial Day is not one of my favorites. The "patriotic" things that go on in churches in celebration or acknowledgment of Memorial Day are downright sickening.
Churches encourage their veterans to wear their military uniforms. Special recognition is given to those who "served." Prayers are offered on behalf of the troops, not that they would cease fighting foreign wars, but for God to keep them out of harm’s way and protect them. Mention is made of the troops defending our freedoms.
Churches decorate their grounds and the inside of their buildings with U.S. flags. Sometimes it is a few large flags hanging from the ceiling or adorning the walls. Sometimes it is many small flags stuck in the ground near the church entrance. Sometimes it is both. Some congregations are asked to recite the pledge of allegiance.
Churches sing hymns of worship to the state instead of hymns of worship about the person of Christ and his work. Songs like "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," "We Salute You, Land of Liberty," and "This Is My Country." Some churches go even farther and sing "God Bless the U.S.A." or "God Bless America." Too many churches sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
I know these practices are widespread because of the scores of people that have e-mailed me in disgust about what occurred in their churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
In most cases it is not even necessary to visit a church on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day to know what goes on inside. Just look at the sign outside of the church. Instead of a verse of Scripture or an announcement of an upcoming event, you are more likely to see some patriotic slogan, often with a Christian theme.
I have personally seen two signs this year that I find particularly offensive, not only to my Christian faith, but to reality:
Pray for the Troops,
God be with them.
The American soldier and Jesus Christ,
one gives his life for your freedom,
the other for your soul.
Yes, we should pray for the troops. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." But what should we pray? That God would bless the troops while they injure, maim, kill, and destroy property where they have no business being in the first place? That God would be with them while they wage unjust and immoral foreign wars? Since when does wearing a military uniform excuse killing someone you don’t know in his own territory that was no threat to any American until the U.S. military invaded and occupied his country? How about instead praying that the troops come home where they belong or that Christian families stop supplying cannon fodder to the military?
That Christ gave his life for our souls is indisputable, but do American soldiers give their lives for our freedoms? You know, the freedoms we have steadily lost since the troops starting defending our freedoms after 9/11? Has there been in American history any foreign war, military action, CIA covert action, or intervention of any kind in any country that was for the purpose of defending our freedoms mentioned in the Bill of Rights? Of course not. Not one Iraqi or Afghan killed by U.S. forces was ever a threat to our freedoms. The troops don’t defend our freedoms, and neither do they fight "over there" so we don’t have to fight "over here." And I can’t think of anything more blasphemous than mentioning Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace in the same breath as a U.S. soldier who unjustly bombs, maims, kills, and then dies in vain and for a lie.
It is time for Christians to slay the golden calf of the military. Christians should stop joining the military. They should stop encouraging their young men to enlist. They should stop being military chaplains and medics. American churches must be demilitarized.
It is a terrible blight on evangelical Christianity that our churches have sent more soldiers to the Middle East than missionaries. If Christians are so concerned about the threat of Islamofascism, then what better way to confront it than with the Gospel of Christ?
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com.
Should a Christian Join the Military?
October 11, 2004 | LewRockwell
Christian enthusiasm for war is at an all-time high.
Gullible Christians have not just tolerated the state's nebulous crusade against "evil," they have actively promoted both it and the overgrown U.S. Military establishment. Because the Republican Party is in control of the federal government instead of the "ungodly" Democrats, because President Bush is the commander in chief instead of the "immoral" Bill Clinton, and because the "enemy" is the easily-vilifiable Muslim infidel, many Christians, who certainly ought to know better given the history of state-sponsored persecution of Christians, "heretics," and other religious groups over the past two thousand years, have come to view the state, and in particular its coercive arm, the military, as sacrosanct.
For far too long Christians have turned a blind eye to the U.S. Global Empire of troops and bases that encircles the world. Many Christians have willingly served as cannon fodder for the state and its wars and military interventions. Christians who haven't died (wasted their life) for their country in some overseas desert or jungle increasingly perpetuate the myth that being a soldier in the U.S. Military is a noble occupation that one can wholeheartedly perform as a Christian.
The question of whether a Christian should join the military is a controversial one in some Christian circles. By a Christian I don't just mean someone who accepts the title by default because he was born in "Christian" America or "Christian" Europe. In this respect, everyone but Jews and atheists could be classified as Christians. The mention of a Christian in this article should be taken in the narrower sense of someone who professes to believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour (Luke 2:11) and that the Bible is some kind of an authority (Acts 17:11). It is true that this may be too broad a definition for some Christians, and it is also true that many who profess to be Christians hold defective views on the person of Christ and the nature of the Atonement. But for the purposes of this article, the "broadness" of this definition and the permitting of these "defects" do not in any way affect the question: Should a Christian join the military? In fact, the narrower one's definition of what constitutes a real Christian, the stronger the case can be made against a Christian joining the military.
The idea that there are certain things Christians should not do is not only scriptural (1 Corinthians 6:9—11; Galatians 5:19—21), it is readily acknowledged by Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians have historically applied this idea to occupations as well. But it is not just unlawful occupations like pimp, prostitute, drug dealer, and hit man that Christians have shied away from. Most Americans — whether they be atheist or theist — would have a problem with those occupations as well. Everyone knows that there are also certain lawful occupations that Christians frown upon: bartender, exotic dancer, casino card dealer, etc. This prohibition is also usually extended to benign occupations in not so benign environments. Therefore, a clerk in a drug store or grocery store is acceptable, but a clerk in liquor store or an x-rated video store is not. Likewise, most Christians would not work for an abortion clinic, for any amount of money, whether in the capacity of a doctor or a secretary. In other places of employment, however, a Christian might have no problem with being employed, only with working in a certain capacity. This explains why some Christians might not wait tables in restaurants that forced them to serve alcohol, but would feel perfectly comfortable working for the same restaurant in some other capacity, like a bookkeeper or janitor.
The larger question of whether a Christian (or anyone opposed to the federal leviathan) should work for the state is not at issue. Someone employed by the state as a teacher, a mailman, a security guard, or a park ranger is providing a lawful, moral, non-aggressive, non-intrusive service that is in the same manner also provided by the free market. Thus, it might be argued that working for the BATF, the CIA, the FBI, or as a regulation-enforcing federal bureaucrat is off limits, whereas these other occupations are not. The question then is which of these two groups the U.S. Military belongs in. Given the actions of the U.S. Military since Sherman's state-sponsored "total war" against Southerners and Indians, the host of twentieth-century interventions, subjugations, and "liberations," and the current debacle in Iraq, it should be obvious.
The question before us then is whether a Christian should join the military. Although my remarks are primarily directed at the idea of Christian being a professional soldier (a hired assassin in some cases) for the state, they are also applicable to serving in the military in any capacity.
To save some people the trouble of e-mailing me to ask if I have ever been in the military, I will say now that, no, I have never been in the military. For some strange reason, many Americans think that if you have not "served" your country in the military then you have no right to criticize it. There are three problems with this attitude.
First of all, this is like saying that if you have not "served" in the Mafia then you have no right to criticize John Gotti. It reminds me of fellow travelers in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s saying that if you have not lived in the Soviet Union then you have no right to criticize it. So no, I am not a veteran, but I have family members who were in the military and have lived near military bases and been intimately associated with military personnel since I was ten years old. No, I am not a veteran, but I am a student of history ("Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" — George Santayana), and was born with enough common sense to know government propaganda when I see it. I can also read above a tenth-grade level, which is about all it takes to compare the wisdom of the Founding Fathers with the drivel from Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell, and Rumsfeld.
Secondly, some of the most vocal critics of the military have been in the military, like USMC Major General Smedley Butler. So it is not just non-veterans who are critics of the military.
The third problem with the knee-jerk reaction to this article and me because I have never been in the military is that it is misplaced indignation. I am only examining the question of whether a Christian should join the military. Criticism of the military is not my direct purpose.
Another objection to an article of this nature is that if it were not for the U.S. Military then no one would have the freedom right now to write anything. But if the military exists to defend our freedoms, and does not just function as the force behind an aggressive, interventionist U.S. foreign policy, then why are our troops scattered across 150 different regions of the world? Why doesn't the military control our borders? Why do we need a Department of Homeland Security if we already have a Department of Defense? Why, with the biggest military budget ever do we have less freedom in America now than at any time in history? The U.S. Military could not even defend the Pentagon. The case could even be argued that U.S. Military intervention is the cause for much of the anti-American sentiment in the world. So, like Brad Edmonds, I don't owe and still do not owe the military anything. I trust in God Almighty to keep me safe from a nuclear attack, not the U.S. Military.
Using the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3—17) as a guide, it is my contention that the military is no place for a Christian. As a Christian under the authority of the New Testament, I am perfectly aware that the Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament and were originally given to the nation of Israel. But I am also cognizant that the Apostle Paul said: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Romans 15:4) after he had just recited many of the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:8—9).
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).
The state has historically been the greatest enemy of Christianity. Yet, many Christians in the military have made the state their god. Members of the military are totally dependent on the state for their food, clothing, shelter, recreation, and medical care. They are conditioned to look to the state for their every need. But the state demands unconditional obedience. Shoot this person, bomb this city, blow up this building — don't ask why, just do it because the state tells you to. The soldier is conditioned to believe that whatever he does is right because it is done in the name of the state. The state's acts of aggression are regarded as acts of benevolence. Then, once the benevolent state is viewed as never doing anything wrong, it in essence becomes the all-seeing, all-knowing, omniscient state, since it would take absolute knowledge to know for certain that the person shot, the city bombed, or the building blown up "deserved" it.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Exodus 20:4).
The state has an image that it expects its citizens to reverence and pledge allegiance to. This is especially true of people serving in the military. Perhaps the most famous picture of the flag is the raising of the flag by U.S. troops at Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. But there is another picture of the flag that has occurred thousands of times that the state does its best to suppress: the picture of the flag-draped coffin of a life wasted in the service of one of the state's needless wars. Foreigners who object to our intervention in their country and our military presence across the globe burn American flags in protest. But they are not protesting because we are capitalists who believe in liberty, freedom, and democracy and they do not share our values. Christians in the military must reverence what has often justly come to be viewed by most of the world as a symbol of oppression. They must also pledge their allegiance to it. Christians blindly recite the Pledge of Allegiance without even bothering to find out where it came from, what its author intended, and how the state uses it to instill loyalty to the state in the minds of its youth. Never mind that the author was a socialist Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy (1855—1932), who was forced to resign from his church in Boston because of his socialist ideas (like preaching on "Jesus the Socialist"). Never mind that the idea for Bellamy's pledge of allegiance was taken from Lincoln's oath of allegiance imposed on Southerners after the successful Northern invasion of the Southern states. Never mind that "republic for which" the flag "stands" was, in Bellamy's eyes, "the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove." The Pledge is an allegiance oath to the omnipotent, omniscient state. There is nothing inherently wrong with the United States having a flag, but it has been made into a graven image that no Christian, in the military or otherwise, should bow down to.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7).
The state will tolerate God and religion as long as He and it can be used to legitimize the state. God's name is taken in vain when it is used to justify the state's wars and military interventions. Some Christians in the military envision themselves as modern-day crusaders warring against the Muslim infidel. Indeed, the president even termed his war on terrorism "this crusade." Others, all the way up to the commander in chief, invoke the name of God or His words in Scripture to give authority to their unconstitutional, unscriptural, and immoral military adventures. When a young Christian man (or woman, unfortunately) leaves home and joins the military he often learns to take God's name in vain in ways that he never could have imagined. There is a reason the old expression is "cuss like a sailor," not cuss like a mechanic, an accountant, or a fireman. Singing "God Bless America" while cognizant of the abortions, promiscuity, and pornography that curse America is taking God's name in vain. Likewise, military chaplains asking God to bless troops on their missions of death and destruction are taking God's name in vain. Many Christians were upset a few years ago when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) tried to strike out the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (which was only added in 1954). They should have cheered instead, for even though the two federal judges (the decision was 2-1) who made the ridiculous ruling that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" was an unconstitutional "endorsement of religion" ought to have their heads examined, America is not a nation "under God," and to say that it is (as when one recites the Pledge of Allegiance), is the epitome of using God's name in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).
Although the sabbath day is technically the Jewish seventh day (Saturday) and not the Christian first day (Sunday), the basic principle is still the same. Christians the world over set aside the first day of the week to attend church services. Christians in the military are often deployed to some strange city or remote country for months at a time and are therefore forced to violate the precept of "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25). Defense consultant Josh Pollack, in his "Saudi Arabia and the United States, 1931—2002," has documented that during the early decades of the American troop presence in Saudi Arabia, Air Force chaplains were forbidden to wear Christian insignia or hold formal services. During the First Gulf War of Bush the Elder, the importation of Bibles for Christian troops was discouraged, and no alcohol was permitted to U.S. troops in accordance with Islamic Law.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12).
It used to be thought that following one's father into the military was a noble thing that honored him. Thankfully, this is not so much the case anymore. Is it honoring to one's father and mother for a Christian to accept the state's amoral values that are taught in the military and reject the values learned from a Christian upbringing? The temptations in the military for a Christian young person away from home for the first time are very great. Joining the military is one of the surest ways for a Christian to dishonor his parents by associating with bad company and picking up bad habits. This is not to deny that some Christians who are well grounded in the Scriptures live an exemplary life while in the military and are a positive force for good. But see the next point.
6. Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13).
This is perhaps the greatest reason for a Christian not to join the military. But there is a difference between killing and murdering. Under certain conditions, a Christian would be entirely justified in taking up arms to defend himself, his family, and his property against an aggressor. If America was attacked, Christians could in good conscience kill and maim enemy invaders. However, when was the United States ever in danger from Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Cuba, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, or any of the other places where the United States has intervened militarily? How then can a Christian justify killing any of them on their own soil? The old adage, "Join the army, meet interesting people, kill them," is now just "join the army and kill them" since you can't meet anyone at 10,000 feet before you release your load of bombs. The U.S. Military turns men into callous killers. The D.C. sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Timothy McVey all learned how to kill in the military. When a Christian in the military is faced with an order to kill, bomb, or destroy someone or something halfway around the world that he has never met or seen, and is no real threat to him, his family, or his country, there is really only one option: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 4:29).
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
Human nature being what it is, the forcing of men and women together, especially for extended periods on Navy ships, has been the source of many broken marriages and unwanted pregnancies. Christians in the military also face incredible temptations when they are deployed overseas. In his seminal work Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson has described the network of bars, strip clubs, whorehouses, and VD clinics that surround U.S. bases overseas. The former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay in the Philippines "had no industry nearby except for the ‘entertainment' business, which supported approximately 55,000 prostitutes and a total of 2,182 registered establishments offering ‘rest and recreation' to American servicemen." At the annual Cobra Gold joint military exercise in Thailand: "Some three thousand prostitutes wait for sailors and marines at the South Pattaya waterfront, close to Utapao air base." The prohibition in this commandment applies equally as well to men who are not married, for "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
8. Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15).
Through its system of forced revenue collection (the income tax), the state is guilty of stealing untold trillions of dollars from working Americans. Very little of that money is spent for constitutionally authorized purposes. One of the largest expenditures of the state is its bloated military budget. Training, feeding, housing, transporting, paying, and arming thousands of troops all over the planet is a very expensive undertaking. Robert Higgs has estimated the true military budget in fiscal year 2004 to be about $695 billion. Besides being the recipient of stolen money, a Christian in the military may have to steal the lives of the sons and daughters of parents he has never met. He may have to steal land in foreign countries to build bases on. He certainly steals the resources of the countries he bombs. Christians in the military should heed the words of the Apostle Paul: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Ephesians 4:28).
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16).
The state is the greatest bearer of false witness that there has ever been. The latest round of lies concerns the war in Iraq. Continual government lies about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, aluminum tubes, chemical and biological weapons, threat to the United States, tie to al Qaeda, and link to the September 11th attacks are the rule rather than the exception. The Christian in the military is supporting a lie and living a lie when he devotes his time and energy to supporting a U.S. war machine based on deception, disinformation, falsehood, and lies.
10. Thou shalt not covet (Exodus 20:17).
Young people generally join the military for the wrong motive. Bored, indecisive, in trouble, unemployed, seeking to get away from home — these are some of the reasons why young men and women join the military. But perhaps the greatest reason young people join the military today is because of covetousness. Recruitment slogans all emphasize how much money an enlistee can earn towards his college education. Then there are enlistment bonuses, free medical care, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, the lucrative retirement program, and the future "veterans preference" to help get that government job after retirement. But aside from money, some people covet an increase in prestige ("The few, the proud, the Marines"). Others covet the power that powerful weapons bring. Some Christian young people join the military because they are patriotic, loyal Americans who have been conditioned to think that they owe the state something ("Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"). Their patriotism is noble, but misdirected.
Should a Christian join the military? Should anyone join the military? The U.S. Military, although officially called the Department of Defense, is the state's arm of aggression. If it limited itself to controlling our borders, patrolling our coasts, and protecting our citizens instead of intervening around the globe and leaving death and destruction in its wake then perhaps it might be a noble occupation for a Christian. But as it is now, the military is no place for a Christian.
The argument that you have to become one of them to win them is fallacious. No one would think of becoming a pimp or a prostitute in order to convert them to Christianity. The fact that a Christian is compared to a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3) is no more a scriptural endorsement of Christians in the military than God being compared to "a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine" (Psalm 78:65) is an endorsement of drunkenness.
When the nation of Israel rejected the LORD and desired a king "like all the nations" (1 Samuel 8:5), God described "the manner of the king that shall reign over them" (1 Samuel 8:9):
And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles (1 Samuel 8:11—20).
Christians should remember that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (2 Corinthians 10:4), and that we wield "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).
That criticizing the military or recommending that Christians don't join it is seen as being un-American or traitorous shows just how effective the state has been with its propaganda. The United States is the greatest country on earth for a Christian to live in, but in spite of its military, not because of it.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com
Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his website.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Criminality of War
April 13, 2011 | LewRockwell
... It is unfortunate that many conservative Christians are also conservative warmongers. To them I offer, and to all other conservative warmongers, the compelling insight of Howard Malcom (1799-1879), former president of Georgetown College, Kentucky. What it especially important about Malcom’s treatise on the "Criminality of War" is that it was reprinted in The Book of Peace: A Collection of Essays on War and Peace – published by the American Peace Society in 1845, long before the horrors of twentieth-century wars were chronicled, and even before images of war were captured on photographs.
CRIMINALITY OF WAR
By Howard Malcom, D. D.
President of Georgetown College, KY
That man is a fallen and depraved creature, is every where apparent in the ferocious dispositions of his nature. Hence, to speak of him as in "a state of nature," has been to speak of him as "a savage." A savage finds in war and bloodshed his only means of honor and fame, and he becomes, both in the chase and the camp, a beast of prey.
In proportion as war prevails among civilized nations, it banishes whatever tends to refine and elevate, suspends the pursuits of industry, destroys the works of art, and sets them back towards barbarism. Wherever it comes, cities smoke in ruins, and fields are trodden under foot. The husband is torn from his wife, the father from his children, the aged lose their prop, and woman is consigned to unwonted toils and perpetual alarms. As it passes, the halls of science grow lonely, improvements pause, benevolence is fettered, violence supersedes law, and even the sanctuary of God is deserted, or becomes a manger, a hospital, or a fortress. In its actual encounters, every movement is immeasurably horrid, with wounds, anguish, and death; while amid the din of wrath and strife, a stream of immortal souls is hurried, unprepared, to their final audit.
That tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest, is not strange. But that the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all, is matter of astonishment indeed.
But the chief wonder is that CHRISTIANS, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system. Behold a man going from the Lord’s Supper, fantastically robed and plumed, drilling himself into skillful modes of butchery, and studying the tactics of death! Behold him murdering his fellow Christians, and praying to his Divine Master for success in the endeavor! Behold processions marching to the house of God to celebrate bloody victories, and give thanks for having been able to send thousands and tens of thousands to their last account with all their sins upon their heads! Stupendous inconsistency!
Surely this matter should remain no longer unexamined. It cannot. In this age of light, when every form of vice and error is discussed and resisted, this great evil, the prolific parent of unnumbered abominations, must be attacked also. Christians are waking up to see and do their duty to one another, to their neighbors, and to the distant heathen. They cannot continue to overlook war. I persuade myself that there are few, even now, who object to its being discussed.
I propose not to discuss the whole subject of war; – a vast theme. I shall abstain from presenting it in the light of philosophy, politics, or patriotism; in each of which points of light I have studied it, and feel that it demands most serious attention. In the following observations, war will be discussed only as it concerns a Christian.
Happily, there are few who would oppose the prevalence and perpetuity of peace. The need of discussion lies not in the bloodthirsty character of our countrymen, nor in the existence of active efforts to propagate and prolong the miseries of war; but in the apathy that prevails on this subject, and the almost total want of reflection in regard to it. A military spirit is so wrought into the habits of national thinking, and into all our patriotic pomps and festivals, that the occasional occurrence of war is deemed a matter of course. Even the fervent friends of man’s highest welfare seem to regard a general pacification of the world, and the disuse of fleets and armies, as a mere Utopian scheme, and chose to give their money and prayers to objects which seem of more probable attainment. This apathy and incredulity are to be overcome only by discussion.
The following observations will be confined to two points.
I. War is criminal because inconsistent with Christianity.
II. This criminality is enormous.
I. ITS INCONSISTENCY WITH CHRISTIANITY.
1. It contradicts the entire genius and intention of Christianity.
Christianity requires us to seek to amend the condition of man. War always deteriorates and destroys. The world is at this moment not one whit better, in any respect, for all the wars of five thousand years. If here and there some good may be traced to war, the amount of evil, on the whole, is immeasurably greater. Christianity, if it prevailed, would make earth once more a paradise. War makes it a slaughter house, a desert, a den of thieves and murderers, a hell. Christianity cancels and condemns the law of retaliation. War is based upon that very principle. Christianity remedies all human woes. War makes them.
The causes of war are as inconsistent with Christianity as its effects. It originates in the worst passions, and the worst crimes, James iv., 1, 2. We may always trace it to the thirst of revenge, the acquisition of territory, the monopoly of commerce, the quarrels of kings, the coercion of religious opinions, or some such unholy source. There never was a war, devised by man, founded on holy tempers, and Christian principles.
All the features, all the concomitants, all the results of war, are opposed to the features, the concomitants, the results of Christianity. The two systems conflict in every point, irreconcilably and forever.
2. War sets at naught the entire example of Jesus.
"Learn of me," says the Divine Examplar. And can we learn fighting from him? His conduct was always pacific. He became invisible when the Nazarites sought to cast him from their precipice. The troops that came to arrest him in the garden, he struck down, but not dead. His constant declaration was, that he "came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save."
True, he once instructed his disciples to buy swords, telling them that they were going forth as sheep among wolves. But the whole passage shows he was speaking by parable, as he generally did. The disciples answered, "here are two swords." He instantly replies, "it is enough." If he had spoken literally, how could two swords suffice for twelve Apostles? Nay, when Peter used one of these, it was too much. Christ reproved him, and healed the wound. He meant to teach them their danger, not their refuge. His metaphor was misunderstood, just as it was when he said, "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," and they thought he meant bread.
Once he drove men from the temple. But it was with "a whip of small cords." Moral influence drove them. A crowd of such fellows was not to be overcome by one man with a whip. He expressly declared that his servants should not fight, for his kingdom was not of this world. His whole life was the sublime personification of benevolence. He was the PRINCE OF PEACE.
Do we forget that Christ is our example? Whatever is right for us to do, would in general have been right for him to do. Imagine the Savior robed in the trappings of a man of blood, leading columns to slaughter, setting fire to cities, laying waste the country, storming fortresses, and consigning thousands to wounds, anguish and death, just to define a boundary, settle a point of policy, or decide some kingly quarrel. Could "meekness and lowliness of heart" be learned from him thus engaged?
There is no rank or station in an army that would become the character of Christ. Nor can any man who makes arms a profession find a pattern in Christ our Lord. But he ought to be every man’s pattern.
I need not enlarge on this point. It is conceded; for no warrior thinks of making Christ his pattern. How then can a genuine imitator of Christ, consistently be a warrior?
3. War is inconsistent not only with the NATURE of Christianity, and the EXAMPLE OF JESUS, but it violates all the EXPRESS PRECEPTS of Scripture.
Even the Old Testament does not sanction war as a Custom. In each case, there mentioned, of lawful war, it was entered upon by the express command of God. If such authority were now given, we might worthily resort to arms. But without such authority, how dare we violate the genius of Christianity, and set at naught the example of Christ? The wars mentioned in olden times were not appointed to decide doubtful questions, or to settle quarrels. They were to inflict national punishment, and were intended, as are pestilence and famine, to chastise guilty nations.
As to the New Testament, a multitude of its precepts might be quoted, expressly against all fighting. "Ye have heard, &c., an eye for an eye, but I say unto you resist not evil." "Follow peace with all men." "Love one another." "Do justice, love mercy." "Love your enemies." "Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace." "Return good for evil." "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, and ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight," etc. "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither," &c. "Be ye not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink." "Render not evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing." Such passages might be indefinitely multiplied. They abound in the New Testament. How shall they be disposed of? No interpretation can nullify their force, or change their application. Take any sense the words will bear, and they forbid war. They especially forbid retaliation, which is always advanced as the best pretext for war.
Such texts as have been just quoted, relate to the single matter of retaliation and fighting. But belligerent nations violate every precept of the gospel. It enjoins every man to be meek, lowly, peaceable, easy to be entreated, gentle, thinking no evil, merciful, slow to anger, quiet, studious, patient, temperate, &c. Let a man rehearse, one by one, the whole catalogue of Christian graces, and he will see that war repudiates them all.
Examine that superlative epitome of Christianity, our Lord’s sermon on the mount. Its nine benedictions are upon so many classes of persons; the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, the merciful, the peace-makers, the persecuted, the reviled, those who hunger after righteousness, and the pure in heart. In which of these classes can the professed warrior place himself? Alas, he shuts himself out from all the benedictions of heaven.
The discourse proceeds to teach, not only killing, but anger is murder. It expressly rebukes the law of retaliation; and exploding the traditionary rule of loving our neighbor, and hating our enemy, it requires us to love our enemies, and do good to those that despitefully use us. Afterward, in presenting a form of prayer, it not only teaches us to say, "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us," but adds, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you." What a peace sermon is here! What modern peace society goes further, or could be more explicit?
But let us take a few of the Christian graces more in detail. The Christian is required to cherish a sense of direct and supreme responsibility to God. The irresponsible feelings of a soldier are a necessary part of his profession, as Lord Wellington said recently, ‘A man who has a nice sense of religion, should not be a soldier.’ The soldier makes war a profession, and must be ready to fight any nation, or any part of his own nation, as he is ordered. He must have no mind of his own. He must march, wheel, load, fire, charge, or retreat, as he is bidden, and because he is bidden. In the language of THOMAS JEFFERSON, "The breaking of men to military discipline, is breaking their spirits to principles of passive obedience." The nearer a soldier comes to a mere machine, the better soldier he makes. Is this right for a Christian? Is it compatible with his duty to "examine all things, and hold fast that which is good?"
The contempt of life which is so necessary in a soldier, is a sin. He must walk up to the deadly breach, and maintain ground before the cannon’s mouth. But life is inestimable, and belongs to God. He who masters the fear of death, does it either by religious influence, or quenching the fear of God, and all concern about a future state. There is not a gospel precept, which he who makes arms a profession, is not at times compelled to violate.
Nor is there a Christian grace which does not tend to diminish the value of a professed soldier. Some graces are, it is true, useful in camp; where a man may be called to act as a servant, or laborer. It is then desirable that he be honest, meek, faithful, that he may properly attend to a horse, or a wardrobe. But such qualities spoil him for the field. He must there cast away meekness, and fight; he must cast away honesty, and forage; he must cast away forgiveness, and revenge his country; he must not return good for evil, but two blows for one.
Survey an army prepared for battle; see a throng, busy with cannons, muskets, mortars, swords, drums, trumpets, and banners. Do these men look like Christians? Do they talk like followers of the meek and lowly Jesus? Do they act like friends and benefactors of the whole human race? Are the lessons they learn in daily drill, such as will help them in a life of faith?
Mark this army in the hour of battle. See attacks and retreats, battalions annihilated, commanders falling, shouts of onset, groans of death, horses trampling the fallen, limbs flying in the air, suffocating smoke, and thousands smarting in the agony of death, without a cup of water to quench their intolerable thirst! Do the principles of Christianity authorize such a scene? Are such horrors its fruits?
Inspect the field when all is over. The fair harvest trampled and destroyed, houses and batteries smoking in ruin, the mangled and suffering strewed among dead comrades, and dead horses, and broken gun-carriages. Prowlers strip the booty even from the warm bodies of the dying, jackals howl around, and disgusting birds are wheeling in the air; while the miserable wife seeks her loved one among the general carnage. Does all this look as if Christians had been there, serving the God of mercy? Could such works grow out of the system, heralded as bringing "Peace on earth"?
Turn your eyes to the ocean. A huge ship, bristling with implements of death, glides quietly along. Presently "a sail!" is called from sentinel to sentinel. All on board catch the sound, and gaze on the dim and distant outline. At length she is discovered to be a ship of war, and all strain their eyes to see her flag. On that little token hangs the important issue; for no feud, no jealousy exists between the crews. They do not even know each other. At length the signal is discerned to be that of a foe. Immediately what a scene ensues! Decks cleared and sanded, ports opened, guns run out, matches lighted, and every preparation made for bloody work. While waiting for the moment to engage, the worst passions of the men are appealed to to make them fight with fury; and they are inspired with all possible pride, hatred, revenge or ambition.
The fight begins! Death flies with every shot. Blood and carnage cover the decks. The rigging is cut to pieces; the hull bored with hot shot. The smoke, the confusion, the orders of officers, the yells of the wounded, the crash of timbers, the horrors of the cockpit, make a scene at which infernal fiends feel their malignity sated. At length one party strikes, and the strife is stayed. The conquered ship, ere her wounded can be removed, sinks into the deep. The victor, herself almost a wreck, throws overboard the slain, washes her decks, and turns toward her port, carrying the crippled, the agonized, and the dying of both ships! What anguish is there in that ship! What empty berths, late filled with the gay-hearted and the profane! What tidings does she carry, to spread lamentation and misery over hundreds of families!
Yet in all this, there was no personal feud or malice, no private wrong or offence. All was the mere result of some cabinet council, some kingly caprice. Could any enormity be more cold blooded and diabolical?
But no where does war wear such horrors as in a siege. The inhabitants are shut up; business, pleasure, education, intercourse are all checked; sorrow, terror, and distress prevail. Bombs fall and explode in the streets; citizens are killed in their houses, and soldiers on the ramparts. Women and children retreat to the cellars, and live there cold, dark, comfortless, terrified. Day after day, and month after month, roll tediously on, while the gloom constantly thickens, and the only news is of houses crushed, acquaintances killed, prices raised, and scarcity increased. Gladly would the citizens surrender, but the governor is inexorable. At length, to all the horrors famine is added. The poor man, out of employ, cannot purchase customary comforts at the increased prices. His poverty becomes deeper, his sacrifices greater. But the siege continues. The middle classes sink to beggary, the poorer class to starvation. Anon, breaches are made in the wall; and all must work amid galling fire to repair them. Mines are sprung, blowing houses and occupants into the air. Still no relief comes. Dead animals, offal, skins, the very carcass of the slain, are eaten. The lone widow, the bereft mother, the disappointed bride, the despairing father, and the tender babe, mourn continually. Then comes pestilence, the necessary consequence of unburied dead, and unwonted hardships, and intolerable woe. At length, the city yields; or is taken by storm, and scenes even more horrid ensue. A brutal soldiery give loose to lust, and rapine, and destruction; and the indescribable scene closes with deserted streets, general ruin, and lasting lamentation.
This picture is far from being overwrought. The history of sieges furnish realities of deeper horror. Take for instance the second siege of Saragossa in 1814, or almost any other.
Now is this Christianity? Is it like it? Christianity cannot alter. If it will necessarily abolish all war, when the millennium shall give it universal influence, then it will abolish war now, so far as it has influence; and every man who receives it fully will be a man of peace. If religious persons may make fighting a trade on earth, they may fight in heaven. If we may lawfully cherish a war spirit here, we may cherish it there!
I close by quoting the words of the great Jeremy Taylor. "As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, and tyranny to charity, so contrary is war to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion."
II. WAR IS ONE OF THE MOST AWFUL AND COMPREHENSIVE FORMS OF WICKEDNESS.
What has been said, has gone to show how inconsistent, in principle, are war and Christianity. A few considerations will now be offered, illustrative of the practices of war. We shall be thus led to see, not only that it contradicts the genius, and violates the precepts of Christianity, but that it does so in the most gross and gigantic manner.
1. It is the worst form of robbery.
Common robberies are induced by want: but war commits them by choice, and often robs only to ravage. A man who rushes to the highway to rob, maddened by the sight of a famished family, may plead powerful temptation. But armies rob, burn, and destroy, in the coolest malice. See a file of men, well fed and well clothed by a great and powerful nation, proceed on a foraging party. They enter a retired vale, where a peaceful old man by hard handed toil supports his humble family. The officer points with his sword to the few stacks of hay and grain, laid up for winter. Remonstrances are vain – tears are vain. They bear off his only supply, take his cow, his pet lamb; add insult to oppression, and leave the ruined family to an almshouse or starvation. Aye, but the poor old man was an enemy, as the war phrase is, and the haughty soldiery claim merit for forbearance, because they did not conclude with burning down his house.
The seizure or destruction of public stores, is not less robbery. A nation has no more right to steal from a nation, than an individual has to steal from an individual. In principle, the act is the same; in magnitude, the sin is greater. All the private robberies in a thousand years, are not a tithe of the robberies of one war. Next to killing, it is the very object of each party to burn and destroy by sea, and ravage and lay waste on land. It is a malign and inexcusable barbarity, and constitutes a stupendous mass of theft.
In one of the Punic wars, Carthage, with 100,000 houses, was burnt and destroyed, so that not a house remained. The plunder carried away by the Romans, in precious metals and jewels alone, is reported to have been equal to five millions of pounds of silver. Who can compute the number of similar events, from the destruction of Jerusalem to that of Moscow? Arson, that is, the setting fire to an inhabited dwelling, is, in most countries, punishable by death. But more of this has been done in some single wars, than has been committed privately, since the world began. When some villain sets fire to a house and consumes it, what public indignation! What zeal to bring to justice! If, for a succession of nights, buildings are fired, what general panic! Yet how small the distress, compared to that which follows the burning of an entire city. In one case, the houseless still find shelter, the laborer obtains work, the children have food. But oh, the horrors of a general ruin! Earthquake is no worse.
It should not be overlooked, that a great part of the private robberies in Christendom, may be traced to the deterioration of morals, caused by war. Thousands of pirates, received their infamous education in national ships. Thousands of thieves, were disbanded soldiers. War taught these men to disregard the rights of property, to trample upon justice, and refuse mercy. Even if disposed to honest labor, which a militarv life always tends to render unpalatable, the disbanded soldier often finds himself unable to obtain employment. The industry of his country has been paralysed by the war; and the demand for labor slowly recurs. The discharged veteran therefore is often compelled to steal or starve. Thus war, by its own operations, involves continual and stupendous thefts, and by its unavoidable tendencies, multiplies offenders, who in time of peace prey upon community.
2. It involves the most enormous Sabbath breaking.
The Sabbath cannot be observed by armies. Common camp duty forbids it. Extra duties are assigned to Sunday – such as parades, drill, inspections, and reviews. Seldom is any effort made to avoid marches, or even battles, on Sunday. I have been able to find, in all history, but one battle postponed on account of the Sabbath. In thousands of instances, as in the case of Waterloo, it has been the chosen day for conflict.
War tends to abolish the Sabbath, even when the army is not present. The heavy trains of the commissary must move on. The arsenal and the ship yard must maintain their activity. Innumerable mechanics, watermen, and laborers, must be kept busy. During our late war with England, who did not witness on all our frontiers, even in the States of New England, the general desecration of the holy day? Men swarmed like ants on a mole hill, to throw up entrenchments; the wharves resounded with din of business; and idlers forsook the house of God to gaze upon the scenes of preparation.
Do Christians consider these unavoidable results, when they give their voice for war? No. The calm consideration of such concomitants, would make it impossible for them to advise or sanction the profane and abominable thing.
3. War produces a wicked waste of national wealth.
The disbursements of a belligerent government, drawn of course by taxation from the laboring community, form an incalculable amount. Our last war with England cost us more than a hundred millions of dollars per annum. During the last 175 years, ENGLAND has had twenty-four wars with France, twelve with Scotland, eight with Spain, and two with America, besides all her other wars in India and elsewhere. These have cost her government, according to official returns, three thousand millions of pounds sterling, or FIFTEEN THOUSAND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! The war which ended at Waterloo, cost France £700,000,000, and Austria £300,000,000, or five thousand millions of dollars! How much it cost Spain, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Prussia and Russia, I have no means of knowing, but at least an equal sum. Thus one long war cost Europe at least forty thousand millions! The annual interest of this sum, at five per cent., is two thousand millions of dol1ars, – enough almost to banish suffering poverty from Europe! For all this, NOTHING has been gained. Nay, the spending of it thus has produced an aggregate of vice and poverty, pain and bereavement, more than, without war, would have come upon the whole human family since the flood! Who then can begin to compute the cost of all the wars even in Europe alone?
We often hear much railing against useless expenditure, and proposals for economy in dress, furniture, &c., and it is well. But those who insist on these modes of frugality should be consistent. Let them remember that all the retrenchments they recommend are but as the dust of the balance compared to the expenditures of a war. But vast as are the expenses of belligerent governments, they do not constitute a tenth of the true expenses of war! We must reckon the destruction of property, private and public – the ruin of trade and commerce – the suspension of manufactories – the loss of the productive labor of soldiers and camp followers. But who can reckon such amounts?
Further, let it be considered that all these items must be doubled and trebled in cases of civil wars, and that such form a large part of the catalogue.
Further still, war causes the great bulk of taxation even in time of peace! Witness the annual appropriations for fleets and standing armies, forts, arsenal, weapons, pensions, &c. Even since our last war with England, we have been paying annually, for the above objects, about ten times us much as for the support of our civil government!! "The war spirit" is taxing our people to the amount of unnumbered millions, now in time of profound peace. A single 74 gun ship, beside all her cost of construction and equipment, costs in time of peace, while afloat, $200,000 per annum – eight times the salary of the President of the United States. Nearly all the taxes paid by civilized nations, go in some form or other to the support of war! All the British debt which is grinding her people into the dust, was created by war. The cost of the wars of Europe alone, in only the last century, would have built all the canals, railroads, and churches, and established all the schools, colleges, and hospitals, wanted on the whole globe!
4. War is the grossest form of murder.
Private murders are atrocious – those of war far more so. But the contrary opinion prevails; and we adduce proofs. War enhances the crime of murder on the following accounts:
(1.) It is more cold-blooded and cruel.
Malice prompts private murder, and the proof of it is necessary to conviction by a jury; and the more cool and calculating, the more guilt. But murder in war is more cool and calculating, than even in a duel. The question of war or peace is calmly debated, deliberately resolved upon, and proclaimed in form. Armies are raised, and drilled, and marched, and engaged, with all coolness and calculation. The contending hosts know not each other, cherish no personal hate, and seldom know the true grounds of the contest. All is done with whatever of aggravation attends deliberate homicide.
(2.) It is more vast in amount.
Computation falters when we estimate the numbers slain in war or by reason of it. Three hundred thousand men fell in one battle, when Attila, king of the Huns, was defeated at Chalons. Nearly the entire army of Xerxes, consisting of four millions of persons, perished. Julius Caesar, in one campaign in Germany, destroyed half a million. More than half a million perished in one campaign of Napoleon, averaging 3000 men a day. Paying no attention to the innumerable wars among Pagans before and since the birth of Christ, nor to all the wasting wars of the past seventeen centuries, it is matter of distinct calculation that about five millions of nominal Christians have been butchered by nominal Christians, within the last half century! What then has been the total of war-murders since creation?
Nor is the number of the slain the real total. Multitudes of "the wounded and missing" die; multitudes perish out of armies and fleets without battle, by hardships, exposure, vice, contagion, and climate. We ought, therefore, at least to double the number slain in engagements, to arrive at true sum; and make ten millions of men destroyed within half a century by Christian nations’ quarrels!
(3.) Deaths caused by war, arc accompanied by horrid aggravations of suffering.
The wretches die, not on beds of down, surrounded by all that can relieve or palliate suffering. No soft hand smooths the couch, or wipes the brow. No skilful physician stands watching every symptom. The silence, the quiet, the cleanliness, the sympathy, the love, the skill, that divest the chamber of death of all its horror, and half its anguish, are not for the poor soldier. Private murder is always done in haste, and the sufferer is often dismissed from life in a moment. Not so in war. Few are killed outright. The victim dies slowly of unmedicated wounds. Prostrate amid the trampling of columns and of horses which have lost their riders, or in a trench, amid heaps of killed and wounded, he dies a hundred deaths. If, mangled and miserable, he finds himself still alive, when the tide of battle has passed, how forlorn his condition! Unable to drag himself from the ghastly scene, his gory limbs chilled with the damps of night, tortured with thirst, and quivering with pain, his heart siekened with the remembrance of home, and his soul dismayed at the approach of eternal retributions, he meets death with all that can make it terrific.
(4.) The multitudes murdered in war, are generally sent to hell.
The thought is too horrible for steady contemplation; but we are bound to consider it. "No murderer hath eternal life." Soldiers are murderers in intent and profession, and die in the act of killing others, and with imp1ements of murder in their hands. Without space for repentance, they are hurried to the bar of God. On what grounds may we affirm their sa1vation? O that those that know the worth of souls, would dwell on this feature of the dreadful custom!
(5.) War first corrupts those whom it destroys, and thus aggravates damnation itself.
Bad as are most men who enlist in standing armies, war makes them worse. They might at any rate be lost, but their vocation sends them to a more dreadful doom. The recruit begins his degradation, even in the rendezvous, ere he has lodged a week within its walls. He grows still worse in camp.
In the army, vice becomes his occupation. His worst passions are fostered. His Sabbaths are necessarily profaned. He becomes ashamed of tender feelings, and conscientious scrup1es. Thus an old soldier is generally a hardened offender; and the shot that terminates his life, consigns him to a death rendered more terrible by his profession. Had the money and time, which has been lavished to equip and drill and support him as a soldier, been spent for his intellectual and moral improvement, he might have been an ornament to society, and a pillar in the church.
Mark his grim corpse as men bear it to the gaping pit into which whole cart-loads of bodies are thrown. The property, nay the liberty of a whole nation is not a price for his soul! How then can Christians with one hand give to the support of missions, and with the other uphold a custom which counteracts every good enterprise?
How strange, how awful, that to such a trade as war, mankind has, in all ages, lifted up its admiration! Poetry lends its fascinations, and philosophy its inventions. Eloquence, in forum and field, has wrought up the war spirit to fanaticism and frenzy. Even the pulpit, whose legitimate and glorious theme is "PEACE ON EARTH," has not withheld its solemn sanctions. The tender sex, with strange infatuation, have admired the tinselled trappings of him whose trade is to make widows and orphans. Their hands have been withdrawn from the distaff, to embroider warrior’s ensigns. T'he young mother has arrayed her proud boy with cap and feather, toyed him with drum and sword, and trained him, unconsciously, to love and admire the profession of a man-killer.
The universal maxim has been, "in peace prepare for war;" and men are all their days contributing and taxing themselves to defray the expenses of killing each other. Scarcely has a voice been lifted up to spread the principles of peace. Every other principle of Christianity has had its apostles. Howard reformed prisons; Sharp, and Clarkson, and Wilberforce arrested the s1ave-trade. Carey carried the gospel to India. Every form of vice has its antagonists, and every class of sufferers find philanthropists. But who stands forth to urge the law of love? Who attacks this monster WAR? We have not waited for the millennium to abolish intemperance, or Sabbath breaking; but we wait for it to abolish war. It is certain that the millennium cannot come, till war expires.
Shall it so remain? Shall this gorgon of pride, corruption, destructiveness, misery and murder, be still admired and fed, while it is turning men’s hearts to stone, and the garden of the Lord into the desolation of death? Let every heart say no. Let Christians shine before men as sons of peace, not less than as sons of justice and truth. If wars and rumors of wars continue, let the church stand aloof. It is time she was purged of this stain. Her brotherhood embraces all nations. Earth1y rulers may tell us we have enemies; but our heavenly King commands us to return them good for evil; if they hunger, to feed them; if they thirst, to give them drink.
Rise then, Christians, to noble resolution and vigorous endeavors! Retire from military trainings, and spurn the thought of being hired by the month to rob and kill. Refuse to study the tactics, or practice the handicraft of death; and with "a hope that maketh not ashamed," proclaim the principles of universal peace, as part and parcel of eternal truth.
A portion of our missionary spirit should be expended in this department. Shall we pour out our money and our prayers, when we hear of a widow burnt on her husband’s funeral pile, or deluded wretches crushed beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, but do nothing to dethrone this Moloch to whom hundreds of millions of Christians have been sacrificed? Among the fifty millions of the Presidency of Bengal, the average number of suttees (widows burned, &c.) has for twenty years been less than 500, or in the proportion of one death in a year for such a population as Philadelphia. What is this to war? Every day of some campaigns has cost more lives!
We must not abstain from effort, because of apparent obstacles. What great reform does not meet obstructions? The overthrow of Papal supremacy by Luther, the temperance movement, and a host of similar historic facts, show that truth is mighty, and when fairly and perseveringly exhibited, will prevail. It can be shown, that in attempting to abolish all war, we encounter fewer impediments than have attended various other great changes. Even if it were not so, we have a duty to discharge whether we prevail or not. Moral obligation does not rest on the chance of success.
Our obstacle are neither numerous nor formidable. No classes of men love war for its own sake. If it were abolished, those who now make it a profession, could all find profitable and pleasanter employment in peaceful pursuits. Men’s interests are not against us; but the contrary. The people are not blood-thirsty. What serious impediment is there to obstruct the diffusion of peace principles? None more than beset even the most popular enterprise of literature or benevolence. Our only obstruction is apathy, and the unfortunate sentiment that the millennium is to do it away, we know not how. But we might as well do nothing against intemperance, or Sabbath-breaking, or heresy; and wait for the millennium to do them away. Nothing will be done in this world without means, even when the millennium shall have come.
Do you ask what you can do? Much, very much, whoever you are. Cherish in yourself the true peace-spirit. Try to diffuse it. Assist in enlightening your neighbors. Talk of the horrors of war, its impolicy, its cost, its depravity, its utter uselessness in adjusting national disputes. Teach children correctly on this point, and show them the true character of war, stripped of its music and mock splendor. Banish drums and swords from among their toys. Proclaim aloud the Divine government, and teach men how vain it is, even in a righteous cause, to trust an arm of flesh. Insist that patriotism, in its common acceptation, is not a virtue; for it limits us to love our country, and allows us to hate and injure other nations. Thus if Canada were annexed to our Union, we must, on that account, love Canadians. But if South Carolina should secede, we must withdraw part of our love, or perhaps go to war and kill as many as possible. O how absurd to act thus, as though God’s immutable law of love was to be obeyed or not as our boundaries may be.
"Lands intersected by a narrow sea,
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed,
Make enemies of nations who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."
Let us feel and disseminate the sentiment that true patriotism is shown only by the good. A man may claim to be a patriot, and love "his country," whose feelings are so vague and worthless that he loves no one in it! He loves a mere name! or rather, his patriotism is a mere name. Whole classes of his fellow-citizens may remain in vice, ignorance, slavery, poverty, and yet he feels no sympathy, offers no aid. Sodom would have been saved, had there been in it ten righteous. These then would have been patriots. These would have saved their country. We have in our land many righteous. These are our security. These save the land from a curse. These therefore are the only true patriots.
Let us unite in "showing up" military glory. What is it? Grant that it is all that it has ever passed for, and it still seems superlatively worthless. The wreaths of conquerors fade daily. We give their names to dogs and slaves. The smallest useful volume guides its author a better and more lasting name. And how absurd, too, is it to talk to common soldiers and under officers about military glory! Among the many millions who have toiled and died for love of glory, scarcely a score are remembered among men! Who of our revolutionary heroes but Washington and Lafayette are known in the opposite hemisphere? Who of our own citizens can tell over a half dozen distinguished soldiers in our struggle for independence? Yet that war is of late date. Of the men of former wars we know almost nothing. Essentially stupid then is the love of military renown in petty officers and the common private. They stake their lives in a lottery where there is hardly a prize in five hundred years!
Let us print and propagate peace principles. Public opinion has been changed on many points by a few resolute men. Let us keep the subject before the people till every man forms a deliberate opinion, whether Christianity allows or forbids war. Let us at least do so much that if ever our country engages in another war, we shall feel no share of the guilt. Let us each do so much that if we should ever walk over a battle-field, stunned with the groans and curses of the wounded, and horror-struck at the infernal spectacle, we can feel that we aid all we could to avert such an evil. Let us clear ourselves of blame. No one of us can put a stop to war. But we can help stop it – and combined and persevering effort will stop it.
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We have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide or that technology would save us.
Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
by Maude Barlow article link
May 12, 2011 | Alternet | Council of Canadians
Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The case for a Universal Declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama. This book reveals the path of a movement driving transformation of our human relationship with nature away from domination and towards balance. This book gathers the wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, activists small farmers, spiritual leaders and US communities who seek a different path for protecting nature by establishing Nature's Rights in law and culture. In addition to this excerpt, the book includes essays from Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Goldtooth, Eduardo Galeano, and many others. Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.
The world needs the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and all humans need to internalize its key principles if the planet, and we, are to survive.
While it is true that many people still live on the land in harmony with the natural cycles of Nature, it is also true that with every passing year, more and more people around the world are moving into the "modern" consumer economy, seeking out a living based on capital exchange and no longer living in sustainable communities and traditional societies. In 2008, the number of city dwellers equalled the number of rural dwellers for the first time in history. By 2030, says the United Nations (UN), more than half the population of the large urban centres in the Global South will be slum dwellers with no access to sanitation. There is a huge scramble by the private companies of the Global North to convert the lands they leave behind into free trade zones to serve a global economy based on the doctrine of economic globalization, unregulated markets, more and cheaper consumer goods and unlimited growth.
Unlimited growth assumes unlimited resources and this is the genesis of the crisis. From fish in the sea, and old growth forests and wetlands, to oil, clean air and water, we are plundering our planet's natural resources. Quite simply, to feed the increasing demands of our consumer-based capitalist system, humans have seen nature as a great resource for our personal convenience and profit, not as a living ecosystem from which all life springs. So we have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed either that nature would never fail to provide or that, where it does fail, technology will save the day.
Even when we recognize the effect of our behavior on the natural world, we pass inadequate laws based on curbing the worst practices, but leave intact the system of economic globalization at the heart of the problem, which gives transnational corporations almost unfettered and unregulated access to the genetic, mineral, timber and water resources of even the most remote parts of the Earth. Thomas Linzey, a U.S. lawyer working to develop the new legal framework to protect Nature, explains that the dominant form of environmental protection in industrialized countries is based on the regulatory system, legalizing the discharge of large amounts of toxic substances into the environment, and is not working. Under a new regime recognizing the Rights of Mother Earth, compensation would not be measured in terms of an injury to people, but according to damage to the ecosystem.
In the absence of such fundamental protections for Nature, political leaders and their big business advisors continue, for instance, to promote international trade and investment agreements that not only limit the ability of domestic governments to protect the natural world for fear such protection may be seen as a "trade barrier," but also award the trade in "green" technology that will be needed to clean up the ecosystems we refuse to protect. If the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth were firmly entrenched in international jurisprudence, nation-state constitutions, and the hearts and minds of decision-makers, trade agreements would be very different than they are today and would be built around the need for more local sustainable systems of food and industrial production, and the protection of natural ecosystems.
Protecting the Rights of Mother Earth will also challenge the current trend to commodify Nature in the name of a green economy. While there are many definitions of what a green economy could look like that fit very well with an Earth-centred vision, many in power now use the term to essentially protect the current economic system that promotes more growth, production and global trade. There is no need to change our lifestyle or to curb global production and trade, goes the argument; we simply have to replace bad technology with good technology and we can keep our economic and development models intact.
Let's be clear: no amount of talk of green futures, green technology, green jobs and a green economy can undo the fact that most business and nation state leaders, as well as UN and World Bank officials, continue to promote growth as the only economic and development model for the world. Until the growth model is truly challenged, great damage to the Earth's ecosystems will continue. Further, much of their false green vision is based on a market model to save Nature and create new opportunities for growth and profit.
One example of this false vision includes emissions (or carbon) trading. Governments set a cap on greenhouse emissions (ratcheted down over time) and then give away or sell licences to pollute (carbon permits) to major industries that are supposed to add up to the cap. Firms are enabled to buy and sell the licences on the "carbon market," which sets the price for emissions - the carbon price.
Carbon trading, in effect, privatizes the atmosphere, suggesting that the Earth's capacity to regulate its climate can be understood as a measurable commodity that can be bought, sold and traded. It is predicated less on reducing emissions than on the desire to make carbon cuts as cheap as possible for large corporations. It maintains the essence of the current human-centred market model that has led us - and the planet - to the current crisis. Corporations and governments can buy their way out of needed structural changes to energy practice, production and consumption patterns allowing business-as-usual to reign. Success is narrowly measured simply in terms of cost effectiveness, ignoring issues of power, social justice, inequality and community control over local ecosystems.
In the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading System (the world's largest carbon trading scheme) corporate lobbying has seen the over- allocation of permits, free giveaways of permits, and rules which have allowed some of the worst polluters windfall profits while carbon prices fluctuate widely - all undermining needed emission reductions. In other words, carbon trading opens up needed climate action to market volatility, "gaming" and corporate influence. Carbon offsets have also seriously compromised the EU scheme's effectiveness.
Carbon offsets are another form of carbon trading and an example of using the market to do a job that should be legislated. Carbon offsets are a "created commodity" that let consumers (under the voluntary market), corporations and sometimes international financial institutions and governments (under cap and trade systems) to invest in emission savings projects outside of the capped area. It is trading perceived as "good behaviour" - such as investing in a tree plantation far away - on the open market in order to offset their right to continue to pollute. Offsets typically involve a shift from the global North to South where "reductions" are cheapest.
Carbon offsets are a multi-billion dollar poorly regulated industry that permit the growth in trade of all kinds and lulls the public into thinking something real has been done for the planet. The United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a "flexible market mechanism" under the Kyoto Protocol, is the world's largest scheme. Since carbon offsets are created against a hypothetical business-as-usual scenario baseline, it is extremely difficult to ensure that the offset credits actually equate to carbon cuts. David Victor, the head of Stanford University's Energy and Sustainable Development Program, has found that "between a third and two-thirds of CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts." It is also extremely difficult to demonstrate that emission cuts are additional to what may have happened with offset credit financing. Worse still, there is clear evidence that certain projects applying for the CDM are causing serious social and environmental harm and human rights violations in the Global South. According to Michael Wara of Stanford University, the use of carbon offsets under the EU scheme meant that in 2008 European polluters will have emitted roughly one per cent more than they did in 1990.The now failed U.S. proposals for a cap and trade system would have seen up to two billion tons of offsets per year.
Another example is Payments for Ecological Services (PES), a growing movement endorsed by several major environmental groups, many governments and the private sector, that promotes conservation of natural resources through market mechanisms. "Ecological Services," such as water purification, crop pollination and carbon sequestration, are seen to have a direct dollar benefit to humans; therefore, it is reasoned, it is important to try to put an actual price tag on them. The UN Environment Program has recently done just that, and estimates that ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpins them generate services worth as much as $72 trillion a year - well over the World Gross National Income in 2008 of $58 trillion. The harvest and trade in these "natural capital" services is seen as an integral part of the global economy and so this approach seeks to pull the actual protection of nature into the market economy.
Some PES proponents cite examples that would be well suited to an Earth-centred model. For instance, the U.S. Conservation Reserve Program has for years paid participating farmers to protect their soil and water rather than use harmful chemical pesticides to grow more cash crops. This is not a pure market model, however; rather it is an example of public funds being used to promote diversity and conservation.
But others have a profit model in mind. A market model of PES is an agreement between the "holder" and the "consumer" of an ecosystem service, turning that service into an environmental property right. The consumer pays the holder or owner for protecting the biological diversity of an ecosystem property in accordance with an agreed upon price. Clearly this system privatizes Nature, be it a wetland, lake, forest or mountain, and sets the stage for private accumulation of Nature by those wealthy enough to be able to buy, hoard, sell and trade it. Already, governments and private corporations are studying Public-Private Partnerships to set up lucrative PES projects.
Similarly, there is a strong trend to turn the world's freshwater supplies into a private commodity in the name of conserving it. By turning water into a tradable market good, the case goes, the natural price of it will skyrocket, leading to its conservation. However, the model being promoted is not charging more properly for the true cost of bringing water services to the public or protecting source water, but for the private accumulation of water assets and the hoarding and trading of water. Water trading is growing around the world. Australia converted its water permits to water property rights, with the result that the government now cannot afford to buy back enough water to save the Murray-Darling water basin. Chile actually holds public water auctions and has sold most of its water rights in the South to a private Spanish company.
As well, in the name of a "blue economy," a number of governments and corporations are using their water resources to promote a water-based high tech industry as an incentive to foreign investment and wealth creation. While there is of course a place for water clean-up technology, it will be a tragedy if governments continue to allow the destruction of source water while promoting profit-making water reuse technologies. Already, utility corporations control drinking water services in many poor communities. Billions in the Global South do not have access to clean water simply because they cannot afford it, and many suffer further from water shortages when bottled water companies get long term extraction rights to local water supplies. When private interests control water sources, public oversight is lost as is the ability to manage and protect watersheds. Privatizing water puts watershed health at risk. Commodifying water renders an Earth-centred vision for watersheds and ecosystems unattainable.
An Earth-centred approach
The alternate, Earth-centred model promoted in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, would protect biological diversity as a global Commons and a strictly managed and more equitably shared public trust. The Commons approach is very old and based on the notion that common heritages, such as the atmosphere and oceans, freshwater and genetic diversity, cannot "belong" to anyone. In most traditional societies, it was assumed that what belonged to one belonged to all. Many indigenous societies to this day cannot conceive of denying a person or a family basic access to food, air, land, water and livelihood. Many modern societies extended the same concept of universal access to the notion of a social Commons, creating education, health care and social security for all members of the community.
At the same time, it is not a return to the notion that Nature's capacity to sustain our ways is unlimited and anyone can use whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want. It is rooted rather in a sober and realistic assessment of the true damage that has already been unleashed on the world's biological heritage as well as in the knowledge that our ecosystems must be managed and shared in a way that protects them now and for all time. A central characteristic of a true Commons is its careful collaborative management by those who use it and allocation of access based on a set of priorities set by the community.
The Earth-centred model also goes beyond Commons law, which is usually interpreted to mean protecting the right of access by the public to certain natural Commons, such as parks and waterfronts, not the Commons itself. The quest is a body of law that recognizes the inherent rights of the environment, other species and water itself outside of their usefulness to humans. Already, some jurisdictions are beginning to enact laws to protect Earth democracy.
The Rights of Nature was the inspiration behind a 2006 ordinance in Tamaqua Borough, Pennsylvania that recognized natural ecosystems and natural communities within the borough as "legal persons" for the purposes of stopping the dumping of sewage sludge on wild land. Earth rights have been used throughout New England in a series of local ordinances to prevent bottled water companies from setting up shop in the area. Residents of Mount Shasta, California successfully campaigned to have an ordinance on a November 2010 election ballot to prevent cloud seeding and bulk water extraction within city limits. Undemocratically, the ballot question was pulled, though it has not deterred the community and their efforts continue for the 2011 election.
In 2006, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that protection of natural lakes and ponds is akin to honouring the right to life - the most fundamental right of all according to the Court. In 2008, Ecuador's citizens voted two-thirds in support of a new constitution that says, "Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing, and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities, and individuals to enforce those rights."
Bolivia has recently amended its constitution to enshrine the philosophy of "living well" as a means of expressing concern with the current model of development and signifying affinity with nature and the need for humans to recognize inherent rights of the Earth and other living beings. The government of Argentina recently moved to protect its glaciers by banning mining and oil drilling in ice zones. The law sets standards for protecting glaciers and surrounding ecosystems and creates penalties for harming the country's fresh water heritage.
Every now and then in history, the human race takes a collective step forward in its evolution. Such a time is upon us now as we begin to understand the urgent need to protect the Earth and its ecosystems from which all life comes. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is a crucial link in this process and will one day stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time.
Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, Chair of the board of Food and Water Watch, as well as an international best-selling author. She has received ten honorary doctorates as well as many awards; including the 2005 Right Liveliehood Award. She served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly.
AlterNet articles by Maude Barlow
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Moses Kaput -- Rightwing Ten Commandments To Serve Looming Theocracy
by Robert S. Becker article link
May 18, 2011 | OpEdNews
Have you read all original "Ten" Commandments lately? Check out Wikipedia for true revelation, namely notions that didn't make it. Why do religious extremists want to post outmoded Mosaic Law on every courthouse and abortion clinic? As law now embodies what matters -- nix on murder, theft, and bearing false witness (perjury), Moses' defunct inscriptions barely suit fringe manias any better than what remains of our secular culture.
What sort of "commandment" is "I am the Lord thy God"? Can belief be commanded? How relevant are defanged prohibitions against taking the Lord's name in vain? Or worshipping idols (American or otherwise), forgetting the Sabbath, or coveting "your neighbor's ox, donkey, male or female slave." That last one works for me. Doesn't honoring parental units (what, for procreating?) go along with positive parenting?
Why not throw in punishing abortion with hanging? Or gay marriage with stoning? More noteworthy by omission are compelling Judaic-Christian wisdom: Jesus' "Love thy enemy," or "Love thy neighbor as thyself" or "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Those compassionate values puncture the heart-deficient evangelicals who mouth distinctively unfeeling, unchristian meanness -- withhold charity, punish the sick, leave hungry outcasts to starve.
Commandments for a Theocratic Age
Time for philosopher-kings to "modernize" the Good Book, especially before wingnuts take over, plastering bad dogma over every door. My task today, however, isn't religious but political -- to detail working fringe dictums that drive extremism today -- presaging a theocratic, fundamentalist government.
1) Thou shalt exalt the Christian God above all pretend deities, for Jesus sacrificed to start the conveyer belt for faithful souls.
My Commentary: Doubters and dissenters of the True Faith, even nice pagans, won't make the chosen cut; as per W., "if you're not with us, you're against us," and presumably in league with the devil. The Rapture rap specifies the next cosmic war depends on Jews (what, again!) driving out infidels from the Holy Land. And non-converters will be crushed by all-powerful Rapture, certainly playing favorites. Think of the cable news coverage.
2) Thou shalt honor the True Faith -- fundamentalist, charismatic, Reconstuctionist Protestantism -- perfectly articulated, praise the Lord, in American English 2000 years A.D.
Commentary: Mystery upon mystery for obsessed fundamentalism has an infinitude of faces and nomenclature: Dominionism, Dominion Theology, conservative Pentecostal (assorted), Charismatic-Foursquare Gospel, Neo-Calvinism, Christian Reconstruction, Christian Patriotism, Theocratic Dominionism, Kingdom Now theology, Christian Nationalism and Theonomy (install Old Testament rules), among others. Through a glass darkly, for sure.
3) Thou shalt exalt like-minded evangelicals as superior, chosen beings. For the elect know original sin and their own -- rewarded with both eternal life in heaven and divine authority to impose their belief system on earth.
Commentary: Circular logic is key to literalist faith -- the missionary exalts depravity in order to transcend it, thus born-again to salvation. Certainly, no doubt about their personal election proves them and their creed universally correct. Not only are the self-anointed saved superior to the unsaved, hence God's favorites, doubters must serve the thrall of the netherworld. White, after all, is obviously not black, thus circular logic rules our most unified voting block.
4) Thou shall exalt America as the most exceptional nation on earth, especially after Christian Europeans took their destined place. Thus, God put Anglos in charge, just like He placed man above plants, animals, and underground oil reserves.
Commentary: Perhaps all races are equal, in theory, but damned if some aren't more equal than others. Doesn't history testify to white ascendancy, especially over the important countries with the most valued resources? Proof's in the pudding -- all those white, rural, small-down, socially conservative enclaves full of Sunday churchgoers. Look, if non-believers could understand the mystery of why elites are perpetually blessed, what would set apart the faithful? Or their denominations' fundraising?
5) Thou shalt exalt free market capitalism, and let no socialist assert anything incompatible between the purity of Christianity and scope of corporate triumphalism.
Commentary: Two sides, same coin, self-evident truth. Rightwing scholars brag how Christianity answers precisely to immutable economics of Milton Friedman (what, another Jewish prophet?). Which says a great deal methinks about both paradigms. The Bible stands foursquare alongside powerful CEOs, endorsing profitability and private property, deregulation and low taxes, trickle down economics, and domination of the earth by Christians. Q.E.D.
6) Thou shalt exalt the most moralistic, impassioned televangelists, for they are the true messengers of God. Ye shall know them by the self-declared intensity of their faith -- for faith alone underscores blessedness.
Commentary: Messengers of the Lord receive direct communication from on high, thus confidently preaching God's will. True ministers don't need Vatican-like hierarchies or respect for history to tell them what goodness is, only a secret chat with the Lord. Of course, one needs ways to tell true from false preachers, the latter revealed as sexual deviants sent by God to test the faithful. Beware all philanderers who covet their neighbor's ass.
7) Thou shalt revere the Holy Bible as literally true and incapable of error -- more infallible than any pope on matters of faith and doctrine.
Commentary: Truly, the task of the true pilgrim is formidable: to unearth the one right path whose denomination understands the Bible in its holiest form. While new prophets pop up every new moon, at least evangelicals no longer have to depend on idolatrous papists from zealots called "the whore of Rome." Still to be resolved, however, is one small linguistic issue -- how perfect, incorruptible Biblical literalism survives, translated from desert scrawls and Egyptian tongues to Aramaic, then Greek, Latin, and Arabic, before culminating in modern English, itself evolving for centuries? So many mysteries, so little time.
8) Thou shalt never abort babies, but attacks on abortion clinics and doctors answer to God's plan. Because the end (life) justifies the means, doing away with baby killers is excluded from the prohibition against murder.
Commentary: Unborn babies are so holy that capital punishment suits adults only, especially Islamic terrorists, serial murderers, government whistleblowers, or those practicing unclean sex. As marriage is made in heaven, offspring of one man and one woman serve the big divine plan -- more true believers. Indeed, not reproducing undermines the order to "be fruitful and multiply" (but not "gay fruity").
9) Thou shalt spend six days taming the beast of government, then one day making up for not serving the poor, sick and needy.
Commentary: Thou shall never apologize or admit error -- except when betraying Saint Ronald Reagan. Thou shall not question ideological leaders, especially from the holier-than-thou Republican Party. Thou shall deny global warming, and human impact, and any Democrat named Al Gore. Thou shall willingly pay tithes for Pentagon militarism, anti-terrorism, police, and border guards. Thou shall salute the Flag and anthem, but never Planned Parenthood, Darwin, or any sneaky president with two (count 'em) birth certificates.
10) Thou shalt honor the total freedom of Biblical morality, especially on states rights, marriage and the dominance of the male. As the Father governs Heaven, let men head the household, control budgets and politics, rule over inferior females and children underfoot.
Commentary: Parental, Old-Time religion hasn't survived for nothing. By fiat, states rights belongs to each decentralized tribe so local majorities shall nullify any federal stature, secede and/or rejoin at will. Isn't freedom about competing forces and healthy dynamism? As our Founders prove, indisputably, our enduring national triumphalism depends on fundamentalist Christian values and leaders.
Conclusion: This is no idle task, just for entertainment. Formalizing suitable modern commandments best assures God stays on our side, not just with happy thoughts and good intentions but infinite power. Do not fearsome enemies rear at every turn? Halleluiah, praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition -- what better ally against Iran, China, Pakistan and North Korea, none of which happen to be Christian? Now that's Very interesting.
Robert S. Becker: Educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English) Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. From '92-02 he did marketing consulting & writing; since 2002, he scribbles on politics and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows.
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