Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
We Say NO
A Christian statement for finding a peaceful solution to dealing with Iran’s nuclear capability
You have sown much and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough;
you drink, but you never have your fill; you put the wages you earn in a bag full of holes. —Haggai 1:6
We make this statement in the midst of Lent, the Christian season leading up to Easter. The traditional emphases of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving, all of which focus the mind and heart on the way gluttony corrupts our personal and common life. Appetites have a way of overwhelming wisdom. Righteousness is pursued by a commitment to clarifying disciplines: prayer, to calm the heart’s fretfulness; fasting, to purge the body’s toxic buildup; almsgiving, to recall God’s bias on behalf of those denied access to the earth’s bountiful table of provision.
Sisters and brothers, especially in the household of faith: the Apostle Paul’s instruction—overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21b)—is both a spiritual truth and the foundation for politically realistic strategies to transform conflict. The Way of the Cross leads home.
. . . they are a law unto themselves and promote their own honor.
Their own strength is their god. –Habakkuk 1:7b, 11c
Despite assurances to the contrary from the U.S. Administration, we believe our nation's leaders may be seriously calculating the benefits and risks of attacking Iran. Our reading of this moment in history, in light of our commitments as citizens and our convictions as followers of Jesus, impels us to oppose such a move.
We fear that our political leadership–led by the Administration with the complicity of Congress–is pushing us to the brink of moral, financial, ecological and diplomatic bankruptcy.
As with the ancient empire described in the Prophet Habakkuk's oracle, our government is setting its “national interests” above international norms of justice, usurping all authority to itself. With an escalating military budget–already larger than those of all other nations combined–we seem to have established our own destructive threat as the source of national glory and honor.
Pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out with fatness, their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues range over the earth. –Psalm 73:6-9
It is not our habit to engage in partisanship on any political party's agenda. We believe in the separation of church and state. But not in the separation of values from public policy.
In the Reformed legacy of the Christian community (toward which some in our organization lean) there is a tradition of invoking a status confession, of declaring that some moments in history require the church to refuse neutrality and abandon silence. And in the Anabaptist tradition (toward which others of us lean), Jesus’ insistence on loving enemies precludes the willingness to kill them.
Not only are these religious convictions suffering scandal; so, too, are the core values of this Republic’s founding. It was Thomas Jefferson who, in 1807, asserted, “The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.” Now, with the Administration’s 2002 “National Security Strategy” document, the U.S. claims (for the first time) justification for waging preemptive war. This policy undermines our democratic traditions, any and every theory of when war is “just,” and the very foundation of international law itself. The contradiction is staggering.
Accordingly, should the U.S. preemptively attack Iran, we shall vigorously protest. For some of us, this commitment includes the willingness to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience or, as some would call it, Divine Obedience.
In the same way, we also pledge vigorous support for any leaders willing to consider Iran’s security concerns and national interests alongside those of the United States. Competition in belligerent behavior carries catastrophic risks. The only enduring security is mutual security.
Another way is possible. Waging peace will require at least as much commitment–as much courage, pride, honor and ingenuity–as the pursuit of war.
We say no to war against Iran. It is both a contradiction to the Way of the Cross and a defamation of national honor. We say yes to the strategies of multilateral diplomacy and other nonviolent initiatives. We invite other Christians, other people of faith, and other people of conscience to deliberate these convictions and consider similar commitments.
If you agree with this statement, please sign it. The statement and the names of all who signed on will be sent to the US and Iranian governments after Easter.
In addition to endorsing the “We Say NO!” statement, BPFNA invites you to personally commit to closely monitor the news about Iran in the coming days and to decide ahead of time some active form of resistance should such an attack occur.
Such resistance could be as simple as having conversation with your children, with family members, with neighbors, friends and co-workers. It might mean focused reading about Iran or writing letters to elected officials. Or it might mean taking part in public demonstrations against the war or even a conscientious act of nonviolent civil disobedience/Divine obedience. The options are many.
While it can be easy to make such a decision for action, it may be difficult to follow through on it. Resisting the “powers that be” requires intentional effort. It’s never easy, is often inconvenient and is occasionally expensive. Therefore, we suggest that you find a leverage point close to where you are; decide what you have to give; and put your heart into it. Afterwards, think critically about your decision and make adjustments as appropriate.