President Trump’s march to war in Iran must be blocked by faith communities and Congress. The words of Jesus must now be taken seriously, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” It is time for followers of Jesus to once again act on those words.
The U.S. killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani could have been done at any time. Prior administrations understood such an assassination could cause great retaliation against American and other lives. He was indeed a bloody killer himself. But why now? Could a war with Iran be used to distract from an impeachment trial?
This attack is a deliberate and major escalation of violence that appears to have been undertaken without any credible strategy — and it must be opposed on grounds of faith. Time and time again, this president has no strategy other than to serve his own personal, political, and financial self-interests. This seems to be another such time.
Donald Trump’s assassination of Iran’s second most powerful leader — of a nation state and not just a terrorist organization — is indeed an act of war and will be responded to as such by Iran, with potentially catastrophic consequences for human lives in the Middle East and around the world. This act of violence will continue to fan the flames of xenophobia and Islamophobia here at home. Indeed, this is perhaps the most disastrous and dangerous action since the American decision to make war on Iraq 17 years ago.
While we await fallout from this escalation, we recognize that it’s just the latest in a series of tit-for-tat provocations of decades worth of past presidential administrations that always seem to take a short view. Donald Trump has rejected diplomacy and exacerbated tensions with Iran since the beginning of his administration. And faith communities have a long history of answering these provocations with calls for de-escalation. As a broad coalition of Christian groups said this summer, we must come Back from the Brink:
Our scriptures instruct us to avoid war and to live as peaceably as possible with all. We call on all our religious leaders, theologians, clergy, and laypersons to speak out against the option of war with Iran. Loving peace is never enough; we must stop making war and do the hard work of learning to make peace, which will require courage, calm resolve, and responsible leadership.
Jesus calls us to be peacemakers and not merely peace lovers. Human conflict is inevitable and constant, but followers of Jesus are called to resolve that human conflicts in ways that reduce our bloody wars. Jesus calls those conflict resolvers ‘children of God.’ Whether Christians are pacifists or believe in just war theory, an attack like this is not justifiable and cannot allow us to be passive in our response.
Trump’s escalation of violence must be met with active opposition and de-escalation by people of faith and by our legislators in the House and Senate. The president’s escalation of violence against Iran is both unconstitutional without the authorization of Congress, and immoral without the support of our faith communities who choose life, peace, and justice.
Therefore, Sojourners will stand with leaders of many other faith communities against war with Iran. With violence and threats on every side, we will call for the reducing and resolving of our real conflicts without war and its inevitable human suffering.