Easter and Drone Warfare: Religious Leaders Deliver an Easter Message to President Obama

Happy Easter! Yes, today is Easter Sunday. Spring is here. We celebrate nature returned to life after a long dark winter. This is a time of physical rebirth that fills us with hope and optimism. It’s a time for planting gardens, cleaning house and just generally starting over.

But today is not just (or even principally) about celebrating spring. Today’s focus is Yeshua returned to life after the tragic events of his arrest, rigged trials, torture, and execution. This is a time to celebrate spiritual rebirth and the fact that a new transformed life is possible not only for Yeshua of Nazareth, but for all of us as individuals, and as members of communities and nations.

Easter promises that all of us can enter God’s sphere and live new lives there as though we believed Yeshua’s words about treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

Resurrection in that sense means overcoming our fears of death. As Americans supposedly living in the “home of the brave,” we appear to be an especially timorous people. So we arm ourselves to the teeth and pass “Stand Your Ground” laws allowing us to shoot one another if we feel threatened by them. And these days we seem to be threatened by everyone – especially if they’re different in color, nationality, religion (especially Muslim), or sexual orientation. Truth be told: our lack of bravery borders on shameful cowardice.

In foreign policy our monumental American terror in the face of death has brought our “leaders” to implement a policy of remotely controlled death squads (drones). This means that from the comfort of air-conditioned “theaters” our brave drone “pilots” prowl about the world looking for suspected terrorists and “signature” targets. They patrol Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and who knows where else looking for impoverished young men who meet the target profile. The victims are young, poor, and probably Muslim. They are carrying the very weapons we claim the right to bear; they are associates of or nearby others merely suspected of being terrorists.

So we bomb them – and any others who happen to be at hand including women, young children, the elderly and babies. We classify the casualties as “collateral damage.” Better that they die, we think, than that we endure the remote possibility of someday being attacked and deprived of life.

All of that seems terribly out-of-sync with the Christian faith 70-75% of us claim as our own. Yeshua had no fear of death. Or rather, he overcame his fear and endured torture and death on behalf of others. Saving his own life in favor of sacrificing others was not Yeshua’s Way. Quite the opposite.

Imagine if 70-75% of U.S. citizens refused to fight our unending wars simply because we claim to follow Yeshua’s Way. Imagine if we called upon our faith to demand that President Obama and CIA chief John Brennan stop the cowardly drone death squads. A faith like that would be worth embracing; it would make a difference.

In the film clip at the top of this post, religious leaders use the occasion of Easter to express such faith. Their words contrast sharply with the cowardly justifications fearfully mouthed by Obama and Brennan also centralized in the clip. As you watch our officials speak, see them as the fearful, timorous, cowardly bullies their words attempt to disguise.

How might we as believers add our voices to the call of our true leaders in this Easter invitation to rise with Yeshua to a new truly transformed way of life?

(Discussion follows)

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Easter and Drone Warfare: Religious Leaders Deliver an Easter Message to President Obama”

  1. Mike — I like it that you dare to criticize our ‘leaders’ from your pulpit. Until many more begin to do this as you are, we will have only a sumissive conformist religion in America. Keep up the good work. I pray that others will catch fire with the truth as you have.

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  2. Thanks Mike for the clip from warscost.com I have put the site on my list.
    I thought the Catholic representation was weak, far from the pulpit. Even Bishop Gumbleton usually a stalwart on these matters was somewhat vague. Seeming to favor ‘bomb-lets”. But then the whole clip was sound bites. I can see why habeas corpus is a dead duck in the US. Especially since the judiciary branch is stacked with Catholic fundamentalists – with a bent to homophobia.
    I agree with Mike Kavanaugh that until we take it to the pulpit and speak out, it will be business as usual.
    Thanks Mike for all the work you did over the term and how enlightening and inspiring it was. Food for body and soul. Extend our thanks to the team. Domo arigato!
    We wonder what your next project will be – and if you are seeking suggestions!

    Regarding your 7 lessons I would like to comment, and ramble a little.
    Truth and history are indeed hardest to uncover. For example even last week, we here on the Sea of Japan found it hard to determine if the Empire’s Stealth Bombers flew training or scare missions over North or was it South Korea!! All we know for sure is this. Dr. Strangelove in the cockpit. Morons in the Pentagon. Hubris in full flight. Humankind in the dark!.
    The first prerequisite in seeking truth has to be that one is presumed to be allowed an open, free and searching mind, the most basic human aspiration – and yet from the get-go this is the one condition Christianity seemed to negate. “Do not ask questions – through belief one will be saved”. And when in doubt worry not – the man in the cockpit – is infallible!
    Now that seems to me to be a genuine mystery.

    Empire if evil, is because it forbids basic human freedoms. Expression, and in the case of Roman Catholicism even thinking outside the box is denied. (Personally I was a fan of “bad thoughts”.)
    Organized religions if evil, is because it supports Empire. Claiming to have the keys to the Kingdom gives it power – and money – and all that beyond the grave. The temple burial business in the Far East is as profitable as the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland ever were – or the Death Will Industry is now in a worldwide boom. In Japan dying is cynically referred to as the final enslavement, the body taken hostage (by religion). The family will finance sporadic and innovative memorial services for half a century or more and the day they stop paying, the plot is sold on. Some of the best actuaries end up in employ. Wooed away from the derivatives scam! I exaggerate a little!
    Buddha would turn in his grave!
    As we all know there have been prophets all thru history, since civilization began in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. All shared in the same Jesus Message but realized they had to low-key it to survive the Pharaoh and Caesars of each period. They were all “Christ” Conscious in the same way christian mystics were. They just expressed it differently.
    Paul paraphrased from a “pagan” sage a century before his time when he identified God as the “one in whom we live, move and have our being”.
    Those who stay with today’s church based on true faith are to be admired, they have however an obligation in conscience not to stay silent if used as props for separatist ceremony. When I was studying to be a priest at Holy Week we prayed in litany for the “perfidious Jews” and I sat, or slept, through it! Twenty years later it was praying for Judas Iscariot priests. (a title later to become a well know brand of Argentine wine). Abusive priests have yet to make the grade. Bundling both over time is the traditional historic solution. Make no mistake about it! Grandchildren Alert!
    I believe that Church Central is as corrupt at core as the empires it supports and supported. It is held together only by the millions of surrounding healthy cells. Implosion however is just a matter of time. Universal free access to information is the fuse already ticking.
    Expecting Pope Francis to be elected thru the power of the Holy Spirit is not fair on the Holy Spirit! It is akin to “washing the hands” of the “strange ways” which may follow. Francis was screened and sifted from kindergarten to where he is. Larry King once rhetorically asked a critical guest: “Do you really think our Chairman calls me every day to tell me what views to express?” The guest answered…”No Larry – if there was such a need you would never have got the job”.
    The church will change. Power must return to the parish and the people. (The cardinals can have honorary functions like similar kicked-up-stairs officials. There are many things they could be good at outside what they have failed at. They could always start a bocci-ball league!)
    I believe that the core tenets in all ancient religions from Krishna to Christ are essentially the same.
    They believed in a Creator (the Oneness), who does only good. And there is only one law, the Universal (golden) Rule imbedded in our heart, in our conscience and in Nature which we are part of. This ultimate and only yard-stick of social behavior is that we afford to all living fellow members the same rights we expect from them.
    Loving God is optional. Dogma and liturgy is not central to the Message. Evangelizing has been and still can be a crime against human rights.
    It is interesting that the only Golden Rule, the rule of mutual love and respect, is in all humankind the only one we all agree on! Now, is that also not a genuine mystery?
    But there is always a snag!
    The snag is that to begin changing the world based on this self-evident rule, I must change myself first.
    The question is – where do I begin.

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