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Those Nasty Pacifists
Annoying moral superiority...

[John Mark Reynolds] 4/5/06

Sometimes it is hard not to see pacifism as a view that is at best pleasantly parasitic on culture and at worst suicidal to society, like advocating universal celibacy. Shakers may be pleasant people, but if they don’t recruit your kids, then they die out, because there will be no children of their own. In the same way pacifists seem to depend on non-pacifists for their very existence.

Now my friends who are pacifists will point to the witness of martyrdom as being a way that those who will not resist evil with force can triumph. The blood of the martyrs, they point out, is often the seed of the Church and this is true. But it seems to me that it is true only in those situations where they people doing the killing are not very good at it or do it sporadically (like Rome). Early Japan and parts of Arabia have been very good at sowing the religious ground with salt so that whatever seed the martyrs sowed died. It is easy to mock Constantine or to sit back and be to pure live in the world as it is, but there is a reason Christianity still exists in Europe and does not exist in Arabia and the Far East in its ancient forms.

John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. His personal website can be found at and his blog can be found at

Of course thoughtful pacifists have suggested answers to these worries, but that does not stop most of us from having the intuition that pacifists are trying to live in the world to come and not in the world as it is. When God has a heavenly host led by Michael the Archangel, it seems hard to see how Christians can be sure, totally sure, that fighting is never the answer. Aren’t we glad God is going to bring Evil to an end using force at the end of all things? Or do we wish he would send France and the UN to deal with the Diabolical Realm? (”There, there Satan. We can see your point of view, but can’t you see ours?”)

Whatever the merits of historical Christian pacifism, and it is a minority notion in church history, modern pacifism has one trait that is utterly annoying. They adopt a tone of moral superiority to every other Christian unjustified by their actual arguments. They have failed to persuade most of us, but now they just sneer at us.

This is particularly odious in the case of the war protesters just freed by our brave troops in Iraq. Say what you will about the war, the smarmy morally bankrupt inability to see a difference between our troops in Iraq and the terrorists is inexcusable intellectually. Even if war is an evil that should always be opposed, one can see a moral difference between the Marines and the terrorists. The terrorists fight with no restraint, the Marines try to follow the rule of law, however, imperfectly. George W. Bush may have slain his hundreds (taking their point of view), but the radical Islamic thugs in the region have killed their millions. Anyone who makes the two morally equivalent cannot be trusted to make any moral distinction.

Here is the delightful press release put out by the pacifists who were freed by the US and British army.

My comments are in italics as usual.

CPT Statement: CPTers Freed

Note the passive language of the pacifists. Our brave troops rescued these ingrates. They were not freed by the terrorists or by an act of nature. In fact, the CPTers did nothing, yet in their own narcissistic minds they are the story. But for most of us, they are not the story. We are happy they are free, but the real story, the real action, came from the armed forces of the Coalition who defeated evil men to liberate ungrateful ones.

23 March 2006

Our hearts are filled with joy today as we heard that Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember have been freed safely in Baghdad. Christian Peacemaker Teams rejoices with their families and friends at the expectation of their return to their loved ones and community. Together we have endured uncertainty, hope, fear, grief and now joy during the four months since they were abducted in Baghdad.

Who abducted them? It could be space aliens for all we know. Was it bad that these unnamed folk did this thing? We know what the pacifists endured, but not who caused them to do the enduring. Note again the utter self-centered nature of the pacifists. One cannot even kidnap them, they can only endure suffering.

We rejoice in the return of Harmeet Sooden. He has been willing to put his life on the line to promote justice in Iraq and Palestine as a young man newly committed to active peacemaking.

Active peacemaking seems to consist, in their weird world, of going to a place where one is not wanted, doing nothing constructive except getting in the way of real progress, and putting oneself in harms way so that people bringing peace to a nation (the Coalition) will have to risk their lives to save the peacemakers.

We rejoice in the return of Jim Loney. He has cared for the marginalized and oppressed since childhood, and his gentle, passionate spirit has been an inspiration to people near and far.

Note that these ingrates do not rejoice in the heroes who actually acted (active life saving) to rescue these men. Instead the men who did nothing but get saved are described in glowing detail. It is as if a hospital decided to celebrate the patient instead of the doctor who saves the patients life. These are the sort of folk who resent the police who arrest the criminals that terrorize their own neighborhoods.

We rejoice in the return of Norman Kember. He is a faithful man, an elder and mentor to many in his 50 years of peacemaking, a man prepared to pay the cost.

He went where he was doing no good, where nobody much wanted him, and put himself at risk. He then forced others to save him at great risk to self. People who commit suicide are prepared to “pay the cost” but we do not celebrate their lives.

We remember with tears Tom Fox, whose body was found in Baghdad on March 9, 2006, after three months of captivity with his fellow peacemakers. We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our gladness today is made bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join in the celebration. However, we are confident that his spirit is very much present in each reunion.

Nobody was released. The ones blessed enough to be saved by the Armed Forces of the Coalition were freed by the Coalition. The terrorists would have killed them all.

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country.

They learned that nobody wanted them there. The terrorists wanted to kill them, the average Iraq citizen lives by a moral code that despises such weak thinking folk, except for the large number of pacifist Moslems in Iraq, and the Coalition troops had to save them.

They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict.

While they might have attempted to be non-violent, their foolish behavior gave the terrorists a chance to be terrorists. That does not justify their behavior, but it does make them full of pride or folly. Their plan to live non-violently did not go well, since their being there triggers predictable violence.

They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers.

This also did not go well.

We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

You must read this again and again. The troops that kept the pacifists heads on their bodies are to blame for terrorism. Apparently before we invaded Iraq it was a haven of joy and love. This despite the fact that if we had not invaded Iraq, this same group would be blaming us for the deaths caused by sanctions on the Hussein regime. They also seem not to care that more people in Iraq would have been murdered by the regime than have died in the War and its aftermath.

It appears that unless the US is involved deaths in Iraq do not count.

Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families.

What kind of acts? They could manage to call the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition “illegal,” but could muster no adjective (not even “naughty”) to describe the brutal murder of one of their own. (By the way: under what legal system was our invasion “illegal?”)

In the spirit of the prophetic nonviolence that motivated Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we refuse to yield to a spirit of vengeance.

It appears that they will also not yield to common sense or gratitude either.

We give thanks for the compassionate God who granted our friends courage and who sustained their spirits over the past months. We pray for strength and courage for ourselves so that, together, we can continue the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace.

No thanks for the men who save them. Will they ask our government to let them die when they are captured? Or are they going to go on putting themselves in harms way so that our sons and daughters will have to go save them so that they can go on prophesying the message of their god? This is, of course, not the God of the Bible who calls Himself a God of War. It appears to be the God of folk who would rather prance about drawing attention to self, putting soldiers at risk, and then doing something.

I have great respect for pacifists who join the medical corps of our Armed Force or groups like the Red Cross. Those brave folk act. These pacifists with press agents are only worth our attention at this moment because of their callow ingratitude for the men and women who liberated them.

Throughout these difficult months, we have been heartened by messages of concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Europe, and North America.

Sadly, such concern did not motivate the Moslems who killed your friend. There is no hard “prophetic” word for the killers or their enablers in the Islamic clergy . . . only kind words for the minority that did nothing to actually liberate their friends (who in fact have never liberated anybody in Iraq) and hard words or no kind words for their liberators.

That support continues to come to us day after day. We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq.

Detained illegally? Under whose legal system?

The moral equivalence presented between the terrorists and the Coalition is sickening.

Ask yourself, “Would you rather be held by the Americans and British or by the terrorists?”

The worst Americans will humiliate you, go to jail for it, but let you live. Most Americans will act according to the rule of international law and respect your right to life and basic dignity. You will get food, medical care, and shelter. You will even get a Koran. The terrorists wanted to cut off heads and put the results on television.

During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

Once again the arrest of Sadaam thugs and others is compared to the actions of the terrorists.

With Tom’s death, we felt the grief of losing a beloved friend. Today, we rejoice that our friends Harmeet, Jim and Norman have been freed safely. We continue to pray for a swift and joyful homecoming for the many Iraqis and internationals who long to be reunited with their families. We renew our commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq as a way to continue the witness of Tom Fox. We trust in God’s compassionate love to show us the way.

What would be better: our going home now, allowing Iraq to plunge into violent chaos or winning a war we are winning and leaving a strong Iraq state with a chance at peace and prosperity? We know the pacifists wanted to live Sadaam in power (killing thousands) and now want us to cut and run killing more thousands. Again it appears that unless the Coalition is fighting, death does not bother these folk. Were they going to Sadaam’s Iraq (or present Sudan or North Korea) to protest the actions of the tyrants then? Or do these moral cowards only attack Bush, who will order troops to protect them, and not attack tyrants who would quickly give them the “prophetic” martyrdom they claim to crave?

Living through the many emotions of this day, we remain committed to the words of Jim Loney, who wrote:

“With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.
With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil.
With God’s unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved community.”

As for the rest of us, to paraphrase a far better poet, we shall not cease from mental fight, nor shall the sword rest in our hands, until we have built in Iraq a green and pleasant land.”


It must have dawned on a few of the folk who wrote the first press release that they looked. . . well. . . bad for not thanking the troops who save them. Of course, what really made them look bad was comparing those same troops morally to the terrorists who tried to kill them, but that is for another day.

These folk, who should be good for days o’ laughs, released the following:

23 March 2006, 9 p.m. ET
We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed, that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them, nor remembered those still in captivity. So we offer these paragraphs as the first of several addenda:

Here is a thought. If you were just saved by a police officer, what would you say first? If this “addenda” is to be believed, they composed a very long press release and just forgot to thank anyone. Note that they did NOT “adequately thank” which seems to be aggressive pacifist speak for NOT THANKING THE TROOPS AT ALL and comparing them to terrorists.

We can be glad to know that this is the first of many addenda. . . these group will be the gift that keeps on giving to President Bush.

We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues.

Why? What would they have done if shots had been fired? Condemned the rescue? Vote for the anti-war Democrats folks and you will get folk who take this twaddle seriously! We are still waiting for the apology for calling the Armed Forces of the US the cause of the terrorism in Iraq.

We are thankful to all the people who gave of themselves sacrificially to free Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom over the last four months, and those supporters who prayed and wept for our brothers in captivity, for their loved ones and for us, their co-workers.

One line for the troops and a second line about pacifism and then it is on to thanking their friends and the members of the Academy. . . and all the little people. . . soon they will be thanking us for loving them, really, really loving them.

We will continue to lift Jill Carroll up in our prayers for her safe return. In addition, we will continue to advocate for the human rights of Iraqi detainees and assert their right to due process in a just legal system.

Jill Carroll is now free - rescued with American guns pointing the way. Note that once again. . . there is no word that terrorists should STOP killing people and kidnapping them only another complaint about US troops and our legal system. I assume this is to purify their post from the one sentence added to thank US troops.



copyright 2006 John Mark Reynolds



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