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End Drone Warfare

Pilgrims Mennonite Church Resolution to Advocate for the End of Drone Warfare

December 7, 2014

 

We, as a Church in the Anabaptist tradition understand the message of Christ to be one of peace for the entire world.

 

Living our faith with integrity, individually and corporately, involves beating our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, not taking up the sword nor training for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4). In the past, when the nations were at war with one another and called on us to participate and fight, we found ways to hold consistent witness: an attitude of nonresistance and the offer of alternative service.

 

Now we are faced with a different kind of warfare, where we are not called upon to enter the military. This new warfare, maintained by the Government in our name, uses new methods, such as combat drones. In the face of this new type of conflict, we are called to find new ways to embody a faithful witness to the peace of Christ. We grieve for the thousands already killed in the name of our safety and protection. We find this violence on our behalf abhorrent and contrary to the life God is calling us to.

 

Therefore, in the name of Christ who alone offers true peace and security, we commit ourselves to:

  • Renew our emphasis on trusting God to protect us, not relying on the false idol of military might.
  • Work and support ministries of healing and renewal for those affected by the violence caused in our name.
  • Actively engage in public witness to our faith: “Some trust in their war chariots and others in the horses, but we trust in the power of the Lord our God” (Psalms 20:7). Examples being—

                        1.  Raise public awareness:  participate in public vigils/witness at drone sites and

                             proposed drone sites.

                        2.  Contact the PA governor and other representatives and voice opposition to the

                             proposed drone command center in Horsham, PA.  The Governor is the head

                             of the PA National Guard.

                        3.  Name victims of drone attacks in our worship services and pray for their

                             families.

                        4.  Witness to our concern via a letter to the local newspaper.

                        5.  Advocate for the adoption of a national Peace Tax Fund.

 

  • Pray for our world and all those caught up in the web of violence, soldiers and civilians alike.

 

We affirm the attached “Resolution of Lancaster Mennonite Conference” and call on our denomination to do the same. In the name of God, whose peace passes all understanding. Amen.

 

Resolution of Lancaster Mennonite Conference

 Submitted to Mennonite Church USA

For consideration at its 2015 Assembly

 

MC USA is a denomination that remains committed to the belief that participation in war is contrary to the will of God (CoF Article 22).

 

The United States of America (USA) is experiencing an era of boundless and endless war.  This era began September 14, 2001 when Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). It is not expected to end within the foreseeable future.

 

This is a different kind of war, without traditional armed forces operating under rules of war. The entire world is the battlefield.  The enemy is shifting and ill-defined; sometimes it is a group with a history of recent collaboration with the USA.  Often the enemy is described as “terrorists”. 

 

This continuous state of war is the new normal. One consequence is that our nation no longer experiences times of national debate related to the morality of its participation in war.   Drone warfare is emblematic of our current state.  It is carried out in nations whose governments are not at war with the U.S.A.  It entails no declaration of war and little oversight by Congress.  The President decides where, when and who to target. It is of doubtful legality under international law and, when directed against a U.S. citizen, is of doubtful legality under U.S. law. 

 

Drone warfare is a cheap way to conduct war and avoids the loss of American life. This changes the calculus of war, making it painless for the vast majority of Americans.  However, drone warfare often targets private residences and thus kills many innocents, including women and children. Drone warfare terrorizes civilian populations by making normal routines of daily living acutely stressful.  Many who experience drone attacks may become radicalized by the experience. They perceive it as an acute injustice, which fosters a desire for revenge and heightens the risk of more terrorist acts.

 

We remain committed as a church to the belief that participation in war is contrary to the will of God.  Yet, as we live in an age when terrorist acts breed fear among us, we experience uncertainty about how to make our belief relevant to neighbors and friends and part of the “good news” we have found in Jesus Christ.  When our young men were being drafted into the military, our belief translated into a specific witness within that context.  Now, we need renewed understanding of how to live out the “new creation” that is in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

 

It is easy to ignore the ethical and theological challenges of drone warfare, with its seeming efficiency and practicality, as well as its minimization of the loss of American lives.  Yet, it behooves Mennonite Church USA and our local congregations to examine our country’s use of drone warfare in light of our call to participate in the ministry of Christ - who was God’s love made incarnate and who modeled a way of peace and a concern for justice for all people.  We must find a way to consider the suffering of the victims of drone warfare, many of whom may be innocent of any ill-intent toward the United States of America.  We must not let our moral sensitivities become calloused to the loss of human life as we adapt to the normality of continuous war. 

 

Therefore, the delegate assembly of Mennonite Church USA:

 

1. Calls affiliated congregations to a renewed emphasis on trusting God and the way of Jesus, not violence, for our security.  For this teaching to be effective, it must challenge our societys commitment to the moral necessity of the use of violence to protect our lives and interests; it must challenge our governments purposes in engaging  in acts of war and violence; and it must challenge our own, often secret, reliance on our countrys military acts to ensure our safety and security.  As Christ followers, we must seek the renewal of our minds in Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2).

 

2. Calls the agencies, educational institutions and conferences affiliated with Mennonite Church USA to ministries of healing and renewal in response to the moral injuries experienced by those who feel the guilt for having killed in the name of security and experienced by those who have become inured to the violence done on their behalf (Amos 5:21-24, John 8:11).

 

3. Directs the staff of Mennonite Church USA to actively seek and implement forms of public ecumenical witness to our confession:  Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the Lord our God(Psalm 20:7).  Four specific actions wherein the witness of the broader American church is urgently needed include the following:

 

1.   Repeal of Authorization for Use of Military Force.

2.   Restrictions on weaponized drones and other forms of robotic weaponry by placing them in the same category as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

3.   Prohibition of presidential “kill lists”.

4.   Regular publication in church newspapers of names and photos (if available) of         

      persons killed by drone strikes.

 

Affirmed by Lancaster Mennonite Conference, Bishop Board, October 17, 2014

 

 

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