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Response to War and Faith sermon by Daniel E. H. Bryant, 2/23/03

By Darrel Rothauge

[Editor's note: Dan invited Darrel, a member of the congregation, to give a response to his sermon in a dialogue session after the service. Approximately 50 remained for the discussion. Below is Darrel's opening statement.] 

Let me start by saying that I am not pro war.  In an ideal world, we would all get along. There are times however, when war is justified. Some believe that this is one of those times and others believe that it is not. It is wonderful to live in a country where people can have differing opinions. I feel that I am especially blessed to be in a Christian community that can have differences of opinion and still be united in Christ Jesus.

I would like to look at some of the points that Dan made. Some people say that since a lot of people in the United States don't want to go to war with Iraq, we should listen to them, because the United States is a democracy. However, The United States is not a democracy, but, rather, a constitutional republican form of government, as required under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. And according to Thomas Jefferson [(1743-1826), 11 March 1790] "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."
The President of the United States of America was not elected by a minority of voters, but, rather, by a majority of the Electoral College. Neither of the two primary candidates in 2000 won a majority of the votes. If we were to look at a map of the United States and see how the voting went on a county
by county basis in the last presidential election, we would see that George
W. Bush won an overwhelming majority of the counties. In such an extremely close election, the candidate with the broadest geographic appeal wins. This
is an intentional result of the Electoral College design, which has served us
well (to prevent one region from dominating the Presidency). Each state has
two Senators and therefore two electoral votes, regardless of population. 
George Bush had a larger geographic appeal, winning more states than Gore by a margin of 30 to 21. This appeal is even more pronounced when looking at counties - where Bush trounced Gore, 2,434 counties to 677. Since George W. Bush did win, we as a nation, should follow suite and support our leader.
First Peter 2:13 says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men." 
Romans 13:1-5 says "1. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist
have been instituted by God. 2.Therefore he who resists the authorities
resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3.For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no
fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive
his approval, 4. for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong,
be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God
to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. 5. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience."
I did not vote for President Clinton. I feel that some of his actions while in the White House were immoral and unethical. He lied to the American people. Yet when he ordered the bombing of Iraq and military actions in Kosovo and Somalia, I supported our Commander In Chief. His administration had far more knowledge of the situations than the American populace. I believe that our current administration and our military and security experts also have, as well they should have, more knowledge in security affairs than the American populace. Very few of us have the time or inclination to be directly involved in every decision that needs to be made in our government.

We elect people to represent us. To research the "what ifs" of every possible decision dealing with just one problem is usually more than one single person can do. Elected representatives hire experts to study the issues. If we disagree with the direction that our city, state, or nation is going, we can make that known at the ballot box.
In these troubled times, when we here in America are being attacked, (World Trade Center, the Pentagon, snipers, etc.) should we turn the other cheek? 
From the commentaries that I have read, written by religious scholars, turn the other cheek refers to when our pride has been struck. I do not believe that if someone kills one of my sons I should say, "here, have my other son
too, and after you kill him, take my wife". It is incumbent upon us to protect those we love. If we allow terrorist groups to continue unhindered, we will cease to exist as a country. If there is someone in our community that is killing his neighbors, his friends and acquaintances, and those he does not agree with, and we have the ability to stop him and we choose not to
get involved (preemptive strike) because he hasn't killed "me" yet, when he kills again, aren't we culpable? 

If there is a leader in our world community that kills his own people, his neighbors, and supplies others that kill worldwide and we are aware of his
actions and we choose look the other way, wouldn't we be culpable? Are our inactions then just as bad as his actions? If criminals and "evil doers" know that there are no consequences to their evil actions, can we expect them
to change to behavior that is acceptable to the world community? If there is an individual in our world community who blatantly disregards societies rules
and mores and all we do is say "bad boy, stop it or else", and there is never
an "or else", do you really think that he will stop?
It appears to me that the countries in the UN that are opposed to holding Hussein to the agreements he signed at the end of the last Gulf War, have
strong financial interests in keeping Hussein in power. Some people have a misguided notion and claim that Saddam Hussein can be deterred from
aggression by the mere presence of UN inspectors and that inspectors will
prevent him from building nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass
destruction, and that even if he were to acquire them, he could still be
contained. Unfortunately, these claims don't mesh with the last 12 years of history. Many defectors have come out of Iraq, including Saddam's 
son-in-law, who led the Iraqi program to build weapons of mass destruction, and they have reported that outside pressure had not only failed to eradicate
the nuclear program, but that it is bigger and more cleverly spread out and
concealed than anyone had imagined it to be. 

Saddam has stated that he wants to turn Iraq into a "superpower" that will dominate the Middle East, to liberate Jerusalem and to drive the United States out of the region. Saddam wants nuclear weapons, according to his half brother and former chief of intelligence, "to have a strong hand in order to redraw the map of the Middle East." According to intelligence sources, including some of the highest-level defectors now in America and abroad, Saddam Hussein believes that once he has acquired nuclear weapons, the United States will be so terrified of getting into a nuclear confrontation and that it would not dare try to stop him should he decide to invade, threaten or blackmail his neighbors. 

Until now, America hasn't had to deal with a country that views nuclear weapons as a tool for aggression. Hussein apparently believes that he can run international inspectors in circles and that by making minor
concessions he can forestall an evasion indefinitely. However, given his current behavior, as well as his history, and his disregard for anything but
his own power, if we, as a world community, do not stop him now, we would be culpable when he or his comrades engage in another September 11 type of
attack or worse. 

We must consider what the costs of war are now. We must also consider the costs of non-action. What will our cost be the next time we are attacked? (Remember the loss of life on September 11 and the effect to our economy.) What will be the cost of a nuclear-armed Iraq tomorrow? 

Do you suppose that all of the nations that support the United States are misguided and that France and Germany are right? Or do you think that France and Germany are concerned that an invasion of Iraq would expose their illicit trade with Iraq and show the world how much they have been contributing to Iraq's manufacture of weapons of mass destruction? 
Just by chance, could the liberation of the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, allow the 60% of the Iraqi population dependent on UN food aid to become independent? If the UN would unite and show Saddam Hussein that we mean business, and that our warnings are not just idle threats, do you suppose that we may be able to avert a war? ( You know, "Peace through strength")

Should we - America - become isolationists? Should we bring home all of our troops? Should we assign our military to protect our borders to keep out all
foreigners and throw out all of the illegal aliens? Should we cut off all foreign aid to other countries? Should we take care of only ourselves and let the rest of our world community fend for themselves? Will the world be better off without us? Will the oppressed in Iraq be better off under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein? If we become isolationists, will our economy prosper? Will the world economy prosper? Or should we knuckle under to those who oppose war under any circumstances and allow the world to
be controlled by radicals and terrorists?
Do protests here in the U.S. encourage tyrants around the world? Do terrorists feel that since there is not agreement by the people here in the
U.S. that they can continue their oppression and evil ways and even escalate
them? Do protests here in the U.S. enhance the moral of our fine soldiers around the world?
I am not convinced that war is the answer. But I am convinced that inaction and a policy of appeasement is not the answer. I hope and pray that the leaders of our great nation and of the world will come together in one accord
and help the tyrants of the world to see the light and live together as one
world community.


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