Patriotism is Not Enough

This fall I was in a large suburban Presbyterian church in Kansas City. I found that almost everyone in that large congregation had our present war fever on his or her heart and mind. These were not by any means your garden-variety leftists or pacifists, who form the usual list of suspects, and these were not Cambridge crunchies, by any means. This was Kansas, for heaven's sake—Alf Landon and Bob Dole country—and these were Presbyterians. They love their country, and they love their God; and what do you do when your country is headed where you think your faith and your God don't want you to go?

How can we have an intelligent conversation on the most dangerous policy topic of the day without being branded traitors, self-loathing Americans, anti-patriotic, or soft on democracy? That's a good question, especially when even the president of the United States questions the patriotism of those few in the U.S. Senate who question his policy or challenge his authority to wage war at will. Must the first casualty of patriotism always be dissent, debate, and discussion?

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2003
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