The leader began with the story. “There is evil abroad.” And the tale continued from there. There are two basic scenarios. The evil will soon be turned against us. Or the evil victimizes people like us. This was Putin against Ukraine. Bush-Cheney against Iraq. Hitler against Poland. Nicholas II against the Austria-Hungarian Empire. The justification for the Crusades. And so on and on. States with Christian backgrounds do what states have always done. They choose an enemy and go to war against it for greedy purposes and cover them with the noblest of excuses. The just-war theory practically requires those excuses to be made. Therefore I am asking a simple question. When can Western Christians discard this theory?
They Are For War
“Too long have I made my dwelling among those who hate peace. /I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (Psalm 120:7) The famous line ends the psalm that begins with lying. “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips and a deceitful tongue./What shall be given to you? And what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?” (vv.2-3)
Note the psalmist knows the liars are after something. They wish to take something and are willing to lie and destroy to get it. The lies continue to grow. Putin claims he attacks Ukraine for the sake of ethnic Russians living there. But he wants to have the resources of the country to increase his wealth. So long as Putin remains leader of Russia he continues to be the wealthiest kleptocrat in the world. But he makes a more common claim of all liars who begin wars. His enemy is the government of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people are victims of their government. Russia will bring them peace.
Saving Ukraine (or Iraq, or Afghanistan, etc.) from itself is the noble goal. “Peacekeepers” are sent in to do that job. Simply stated just-war theory is the Redemptive Violence Myth. Church leaders know this nonsense for what it is. Why do they continue giving tacit support to the lies?
One reason is because imperialism historically serves to enhance the power of church leaders. The Russian Orthodox Patriarch is still smarting from the Ecumenical Patriarch recognizing the canonicity of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. If Ukraine dissolved then, the Patriarch receives the power over those churches. As one former Russian leader would have asked, “How many divisions does the Ecumenical Patriarch have?”
Time to Stop
The story sometimes turns against the teller. During the winter of 1917, Russia’s soldiers walked away from the front. They wanted to know why they were fighting. By March 1917, the Romanov dynasty over Russia ended. The soldiers stopped. The Tsar’s power ended. It was as simple as that. And the Church was caught flat-footed.
It is time to stop. The story will continue to be told. One reason the people of the U.S. did not want to be involved in World War 2 was because of the lies of “atrocity stories” from the Great War. When the stories were found out to be lies, people asked, “what did we go there for anyway?” When the government turned against, the Bonus Army the question stuck. The only way to stop the lying is for Church leaders to stop buying into it. More importantly, it is time for churches to stop taking the benefits of it. Clergy retirement funds should be sure about their investments. The same thing can be said for other Church investments. We should impose sanctions on ourselves as acts of repentance. There is no better witness than to walk away from war-profiteering.
War Profiteering and Ukraine
Ukraine is the recent example of war-profiteering continuing to be a commanding part of the U.S. economy. The sanctions imposed on Russia and her leaders do not stop these manufacturers. Christians in the U.S. have little will to stop this. The fact is we have little power to do it. But we can end our involvement in it. And turn our investments into better if not as lucrative returns.