princeton theological seminary

the Web Editors 3-22-2017

“It is not my practice to censor the invitations to campus from any of our theological centers or student organizations,” Barnes said in a letter addressed to the seminary community. “Yet many regard awarding the Kuyper Prize as an affirmation of Reverend Keller’s belief that woman and LGBTQ+ persons should not be ordained… In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the Presbyterian Church in America’s views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year.”

Image via RNS/Screenshot from Vimeo

As the seminary said in announcing the award, Keller “is widely known as an innovative theologian and church leader, well-published author, and catalyst for urban mission in major cities around the world.”

But Keller is also a leader in the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, which is the more conservative wing of U.S. Presbyterianism and does not permit the ordination of women or LGBTQ people.

Sarah Sayeed 2-25-2015
Drone preparing for takeoff. Image courtesy Digital Storm/shutterstock.com

Drone preparing for takeoff. Image courtesy Digital Storm/shutterstock.com

Bugsplat is software used to calculate and reduce the death of innocent people in drone strikes. It's also how Predator drone operators talk about the people whom the American military kills in these missions. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that the U.S. is responsible for 2,500 deaths in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia since 2001, including dozens of children. This figure doesn¹t even count Iraq and Afghanistan. But we don't know for sure how many innocents die because most Americans, including too many of our political and military leaders, do not even know when drone strikes happen, whom exactly they target and why, and whether they are successful in achieving their objectives. 

Drone attacks require the president's review and approval. And it is the military's responsibility to execute plans so that no innocent lives are lost. But our democracy is a work in progress, and it will only function well if American citizens stay involved. Given President Obama's request last fall for Congress to approve strikes in Syria, we should call on elected officials to fully debate the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force — which has often served as a blanket legal justification for drone strikes, going far beyond its original purpose to take action against those responsible for the September 11 attacks. Repealing the act will help reinstate the checks and balances that are hallmarks of democracy. Our leaders must be more transparent.

Photo courtesy of Everett Historical via Shutterstock / RNS

A predator drone takes off from Balad Air Base in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Everett Historical via Shutterstock / RNS

For the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it, drone strikes kill terrorists before terrorists can kill innocents, and the strikes keep American soldiers out of harm’s way.

But for a group of faith leaders, drones are a crude tool of death that make killing as easy as shooting a video game villain, and they put innocents in harm’s way.

These religious critics — 150 ministers, priests, imams, rabbis, and other faith leaders who gathered at the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary in late January — have spent the weeks since drafting a statement that calls on the U.S. to halt targeted lethal drone strikes.

“There are enough problems with the current drone policy and the use of drones that we need a break,” said the Rev. Richard Killmer, director of the conference. “Drones have become a weapon of first resort and not last resort. It has made it a lot easier to go to war.”

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