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Christians should rethink Iraq war

            As I rewrote this column on Thanksgiving, my grandmother came to mind. More accurately, she’s why I rewrote it.
    I passed a rough-draft of this column around to some of the folks in the news room. It was pretty angry. Quite angry, actually. Most of them said, while true, it would turn some heads.
    But, there’s grandma. Would she permit blatant ad hominem attacks? Would she tolerate foul language or graphic descriptions just for shock value during discussions? Civil discourse, of course. Like an angry letter, I just put that one in my drawer.
    But, ultimately, for the past couple of weeks, I have tiptoed around my real stance about the war and it is time to take the verbal gloves off. It is time to show those who support the war and claim to be followers of Christ that one cannot have two masters. It is time to minister to those who have blindly followed President Bush down the primrose path of death and destruction simply because the man says he’s born-again.
    Let me put it plainly: our President's actions are not Christ-like.
    What is Christ-like? For that I use the simple question once impressed onto a rubber bracelet: “What would Jesus do?”
    Would he bomb cities? Would he approve water boarding? Would he approve torture of any kind? Would he shoot people?  Would he “pre-emptively strike” a country? Would he cause more pain, agony and strife, or would he find away to heal? Would he pray for the death of his enemies or pray for the souls of friends? Would he suffer so that others may not?
    Maybe a better question is: “How can someone who claims to be born-again (the President) do such things?” How can a man who claims to follow the teachings of Jesus destroy hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, bomb their homes, and invade their country? How can a man who claims to follow the teachings of the Bible borrow vast sums of money and pass that debt to his children?
    Maybe the best question is: ”Why haven’t American Christians tried to stop him?”
    Nineteen men attacked the United States and killed nearly 3,000. We responded by attacking Afghanistan and Iraq with over 150,000 troops and have succeeded in killing over 500,000 people, not to mention the millions who have been driven from their homes. They destroyed buildings; we destroyed cities and countries.
    Is this justified? Is this what Jesus preached? Didn’t he dine with the unclean, the unwanted and the outcast? I thought we were all children of God. All except the Iraqis, I guess.
    Wouldn’t we have been the bigger country, the better country, if we had simply shrugged off 9/11 and said that we were too mature to be goaded into retaliation? America should have picked itself up, rebuilt the towers, strengthened our defenses (not the TSA) and gone about the business of making America a great place - maybe even tracked down binLaden, who’s recently been considered insignificant to the war on terror.
    Because of our actions as a world neighbor, new extremists are born every day – every time we shoot a brother, a mother, a sister, a father or a friend.          I am willing to change my tune on this if someone can show me some Sunday school material which supports invading another country. Show me the lesson plan which shows the farmer killing his neighbor’s for something their sons did. Show me the lesson plan that teaches retaliation, vengeance or “pre-emptive strike.” Where’s the clay-mation version of “Iraqi Freedom”, the watercolor “tank activity insert” or the Plaster of Paris grenade?
    Remember the shooting of five Amish school children last fall in Pennsylvania? The actions of this community are emblematic of the actions we as a nation should have taken, especially by those who believe that America is a Christian-based country.    
    The Amish try to take Christ at his word: namely to turn the other cheek and love thine enemies, according to Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College who has written several books on the Amish.
    "They believe their calling is to accept and absorb hostility without fighting back or falling apart," Kraybill said, as quoted in USA Today shortly after the incident. "Their faith tells them to suffer like Christ did on his way to the cross."
    It further reported that during a prayer service the night after the shooting, an Amish neighbor came into the home of the shooter, Charlie Roberts, and “wrapped his arms around Charlie’s dad for an hour,” saying, “We will forgive you.”
    That’s what I call strength in God. That’s what I call “building your faith upon the rock.”
    That’s what we – America – should have done.
    Phil Boyum may be found with a plate full of green-bean casserole (with the French's Onions).

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