March 23, 2006


3 Western peace activists freed in Iraq military operation (AP, 3/23/06)

A coalition force on Thursday freed three Christian peace activists taken hostage in Iraq, ending a four-month hostage drama in which an American among the group was shot to death and dumped on a Baghdad street.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said the captives were rescued in a joint U.S.-British operation in rural area northwest of Baghdad, between the towns of Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad, and the western suburb of Abu Ghraib, 12 miles from downtown.

British officials in Baghdad said those freed were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74. The men — members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams — were kidnapped on Nov. 26 along with their American colleague, Tom Fox, 54, whose body was found earlier this month. [...]

In a statement, the Christian Peacemaker Teams said the activists went to Iraq "motivated by a passion for justice and peace." The group called for coalition forces to remove their troops from the country.

Should we return them to the extemists on the way out?

U.S., Iraqis foil insurgent attack, capture 50 (Chicago Sun-Times, March 23, 2006)

Emboldened a day after a successful jailbreak, insurgents laid siege to another prison Wednesday. This time, U.S. troops and a special Iraqi unit thwarted the pre-dawn attack south of Baghdad, overwhelming the gunmen and capturing 50 of them, police said.
The bolder the better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2006 7:34 AM

We should return them now. They had requested that no violence be used to rescue them, and this was a raid. So I think the Caliphascists should get a "do-over".

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 23, 2006 9:04 AM

Such is the gratitude of the holier-than-thou.

Posted by: Mikey at March 23, 2006 9:18 AM

How dare they imitate Christ! That's not what a good Christian should do! They should take up arms and fight the enemy just like Jesus would have done had he not been completely opposed to such an approach.

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 12:10 PM


Indeed, he used a whip, if you'll recall.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 12:13 PM

Are you referring to the money-changer incident? It hardly counts as a mandate for military invasion.

Jesus's stance on violence is very clear:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Clearly, from a Christian perspective, these "Christian Peacemakers" are following Christ, whereas the US military and its allies are minions of Satan.

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 12:37 PM


Yes, He was a hypocrite. When push came to shove He grabbed the whip.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 12:42 PM


Are you saying we shouldn't respect their desires, that the Coalition forces should impose (by force!) its own view of the matter?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 23, 2006 12:47 PM

oj: Not at all. The incident at the temple was about Jesus flaunting his extreme hatred of capitalism.

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 12:51 PM

AOG: I don't understand your question.

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 12:54 PM


So we can at least put to rest the canard that extreme hatreds and violent reactions are unChristian. When we're called to be like Christ we have one heck of a lot of leeway as regards what we do to evil-doers.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 1:08 PM


Jesus was talking about how you and I are to get along; not how I am to lie down before enemy terrorists, invaders, or a criminal in my house. Or are you saying it is not possible to 'love' someone without submitting to them in every way?

Dovish Christians who don't understand this wind up like the old missionary at the end of "The Sand Pebbles".

The whip was used on those who violated the first, third, and eighth commandments. I am guessing your comment about capitalism is sarcastic, but if not, you are delusional.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 23, 2006 1:15 PM

Jim, if only. Catholics are no friends of capitalism. Priests were and probably still are among the Communists in South and Central America and Europe.

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 1:28 PM

But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2006 1:30 PM

The incident at the temple was about Jesus flaunting his extreme hatred of capitalism.

Actually the incident at the temple was about what can't be bought and sold, namely virtue or holiness. If it's an object lesson for anyone it's for progressives, who are forever trying to buy themselves virtue with other people's tax money.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 23, 2006 1:37 PM

Morko: When the question is asked "What did you do to aid your brothers in Iraq, when they cried out in need?" I don't think the answer of "nothing" is quite the correct one...(and I'm being generous that "nothing" is equivalent to the actions of these "Christian peace activists"--actually they are objectively & openly aiding oppression & murder).

erp: Recall who was the Cardinal who most aggressively ended the evil of "liberation theology", and where he sits today...

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 1:51 PM

Jesus was a pacifist and an idealist who demanded extreme moral rectitude and self-control from his followers. He led a doomsday cult, whose members were expecting the world to end during their lifetimes. Practical considerations were of little importance to them, which is why Christianity is rife with such hopelessly impractical injunctions as "turn the other cheek".

The reality is that Christianity as expressed by Jesus is an incomplete creed, and Christians have had to invent many things, often directly contradicting Jesus's teachings, in order to have a viable religion. I think there are exactly two short passages from Jesus that can be interpreted as authorizing the use of violence: the money-lender incident and "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". Contrast these very limited and ambiguous passages to Jesus's overwhelmingly pacifist and forgiving general demoanor, and you will get an idea of his stance on violence.

Joe: I don't think the money-changers were at the temple in order to look or feel pious. They were there because it was a good place to do business. The Jewish clergy probably got a share of their profits. If you want to find a modern parallel for that, think about people who use religion to get rich, e.g. televangelists.

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 2:43 PM

b. Times change and the church has, if not changed, made a slight correction, with it.

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 2:59 PM

"He led a doomsday cult, whose members were expecting the world to end during their lifetimes."

No He didn't. Yes they did, since they misunderstood a great deal. As do we, surely.

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 3:01 PM

Morko: the money changers were there to facilitate the purchase of sacrificial animals. Jesus was opposed to animal sacrifice, as were a number of earlier prophets including Isaiah and Jeremiah if memory serves. Their basic point was that external and tangible rituals are not a substitute for getting your mind right -- you can't buy virtue. It's another variation on "render unto Caesar..." If Jesus had wanted to make a point about capitalism he'd have taken his bullwhip into the souk. That said, your point about Jerry Falwell is spot on.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 23, 2006 3:02 PM


Actually, Jesus contradicted Himself often enough that you don't have to invent anything, especially since on the Cross He acknowledged He'd understood nothing up until then.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 3:49 PM

Morko is right.

Non-violent resisters have the right to place themselves in jeopardy. They don't have the veto in preventing others from saving them from people who would kill them, otherwise they'd be using force against one group, but not the others.

However, we must be prepared that they will put themselves in jeopardy again. This will probably cause a lot of people to view them as "ingrates" without realizing they have no reason to express any gratitude. If this will bother us, then we shouldn't have rescued them.

The entire point of non-violent resistance (I do not count non-violent resistance as pacifism, as pacifists do not resist evil) is to provoke a change in the individual conscience by demonstrating supreme virtue and love. It does not work with every individual, but the idea is that if done enough it will change enough people so they decsist in their own cooperation with evil, ultimately causing its collapse.

The key is whether when they die, whether people see that it was injustice that killed them.

Far from being impractical though, it leads to massive changes in various societies from the Roman Empire (although the concept was not given a name then) to India to the American Civil Rights movement to the Velvet Revolution and the recent demonstrations in Georgia and Ukraine.

Of course, one must be prepared to actually die and be content that change may not occur for a long time. Not many people have the courage to do that. I have respect for these people in a way I did not respect the "peace activists" who appeared in Iraq before the war only to later flee anyway or suddenly discover Saddam had duped them.

The only problem I see with this group, is that they are not Iraqis, but interlopers. The potential for them to create change is much reduced because outsiders have less chance of emotionally impacting a tribal society. If they do not deceive themselves on this, and risk it anyway, it's even more virtuous.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 23, 2006 5:50 PM

When they put themselves in such situations they know the military will come and save them and therefore bear moral responsibility for what follows.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 5:57 PM

Morko, where in the New Testament does Jesus come across someone committing a crime?

And what's his reaction?

Posted by: Sandy P at March 23, 2006 6:21 PM

Sandy: He forgives the adulteress. Why do you ask?

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 7:04 PM


But then what does He do?

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 7:10 PM

He says, "go and sin no more"?

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 7:19 PM

Bingo. When God is on hand to forgive and command it may be presumptuous for mere mortal to judge and punish. But He's commanded us to do so when He isn't walking around.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 7:26 PM

"Judge not that ye be not judged."

Posted by: Mrk at March 23, 2006 7:28 PM

Oh Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?

Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 7:34 PM


morko comes across as someone barely familiar with the major themes of Christianity without actually KNOWING all the niggling details: hardly one capable of telling the more knowledgeable of how to act like Christians.

--Jesus took up the whip to chase out the moneychangers WHO WERE IN THE TEMPLE. They were in the "Court of the Gentiles", which was part of the temple complex proper. Jesus' words "My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples" should have been clue enough, but dedicated to the gentiles for prayer, and his demand was that proper respect be paid to the ENTIRE temple, not just parts of it. By the way, his action was confirmation of the Holiness of the Temple itself. Opposition to capitalism? Hardly, given all the parables about buying and selling he used! his concern was for the sanctity of the temple, and he'd have driven out Democrat politicos angling for votes just as vigorously, and use the SAME words.

--The original capital crime was murder: The Jewish law added in other capital crimes later. Jesus, by sparing the woman taken in adultery, was going back to Genesis, as he did when questioned about his policy on divorce and remarriage. Actually, he DID condemn her, but reminded the pharisees there that, if you were going to enforce the law of Moses, that the law also stated that the Witnesses (those without sin) cast the first stone. If they actually DID that, they'd have gotten in trouble with the Romans, who rserved for themselves the death penalty option. He, of course, could not condemn her, since He wasn't a witness nor appointed a judge.

--Jesus' counsel to turn the other cheek and not to resist evil was a ban on PERSONAL revenge: nothing forbids the faithful disciple from taking up arms to DEFEND AND DELIVER OTHERS: Deliverance was the name of Jesus' game, and he went out of his way to bind up and defeat demons oppressing people, AS WELL AS RESISTING THE EVIL OF THE PHARISEES AND THE MONEYCHANGERS.

--Jesus' teachings were personal: Christianity as originally given was not a State Religion, which specifies religious crimes and punishments. We know what a state religion looks like: read the Torah or the Koran. The new testament explicitly addresses the Church as a larger organization, but if it could specifically direct advice about how to run the Church, then if it was intended to be a state religion, where are the counsels and requirements when the Church takes over the State? There are NONE: Christianity is NOT designed to be a state religion, nor be a religion qualified to run the state, because its core writings are totally silent in this respect. On the contrary, as a personal religion, we would expect that most of its advice is directed to the believer's attitude and actions toward the state, which it is.

--Much was left unsaid by Jesus when he departed: he warned the disciples about this in the Upper room during the last supper, and John specifically states that Jesus said that he couldn't say some things because the disciples couldn't handle them, and had told them that the Holy Spirit, who would come after he left, would guide them into all truth. My personal position is that everything in the New Testament is true, but not all religious truth is in the New (or Old) Testaments. Jesus left behind a skeletal religion that had to be fleshed out by later revelation BY DESIGN. However, there's enough truth so that dangerous falsehoods can be detected, although innocuous ones, like morko's, can slip by because the first century text wasn't big enough to specifically warn us 21st century believers that what he'd say would be hogwash.

Posted by: Ptah at March 23, 2006 10:55 PM


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