Commentary
By Jazmine Steele 7-12-2017

The global conversation on cybersecurity and cyberwar has been stewing for years. The Trump administration and its ties to Russia are forcing the American public — including people of faith — to quickly find answers to long-standing questions. 

Donald Trump Jr. met — both electronically and in person — with Russian officials vested in his father’s win of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His father goes back and forth on whether he has a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president most recently suggested a collaboration with Putin on cybersecurity issues, before quickly backing away from the suggestion after criticism.

These are the facts. The stench of a rat is sharply present.

America as a largely Christian nation is under scrutiny for its values and integrity. It’s an interesting time to be a person committed to faith in action. How does Christian faith inspire a response to these chaotic times? 

As the depths of Trump’s connection to Russia unravel, in the background, there has also been a recent rise in international cyber attacks that have affected large public institutions and hundreds of thousands of people.

Our dependence on technology forces us to face the reality of political threat and national security.

In May, Trump issued an executive order focused on strengthening cybersecurity of the federal networks and critical infrastructure. The executive order places emphasis on long-term, strategic cybersecurity planning and financial investment from the administration to develop job training in this industry. The good news is that this means job growth for professionals looking to work in cybersecurity, but with this industrial growth we have to make sure we are doing our due diligence as citizens of this nation and as people of faith to increase advocacy and make tough decisions. Every day, technology finds a way to embed further into our lives. At its best, technology provides convenience and at its worst creates opportunity for risk. Conversations about national security and technology are in order as faith continues to undergird politics. In times of peril, faith has always carried people forward.

The just war theory was developed in the fifth century and primarily is credited to Augustine of Hippo. Hundreds of years later Thomas Aquinas added to the discussion on faith and war to help Christians determine how to respond to the persecutions and invasions taking place against Christians. It had been determined that the pacifist Christian response was nullified and that there needed to be a response to the attacks. Some people then — and even now — argued that war altogether is not in alignment with Christian teachings. However, there was a larger concern that if the Christians did not respond to the attacks, they would have easily been killed off. The just war theory provided a moral framework that granted believers in Christ a faithful response to the privilege of self-defense. 

It’s the choice between being a “turn the other cheek Christian” or a “turn over the money tables in times of injustice Christian.”

Today, people of faith are called to wrestle with similar questions to classic problems as we prepare to vote in midterm elections and continue to hold public officials accountable. This call is for believers of all races, gender, and ages. We simply can’t afford to dismiss the considerations of technology in our lives or view it as an issue for young people to tackle. Conversations about the Christian response to cybersecurity need to be taking place in our churches, homes, and higher education institutions. Sooner than later, the collective power of the American people must be harnessed.

Jazmine Steele is Press Coordinator for Sojourners.

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