By Bill Mefford
Sixteen years ago today (March 20) the United States illegally invaded Iraq, committed torture and other war crimes (under policy direction from the Bush administration), and as a result, hundreds of thousands of people died, trillions of dollars were wasted, and the world has never been the same since. Many of us at the time were calling for the weapons inspectors from the United Nations to be given enough time to do their jobs; to finish inspections that would have found there were no weapons of mass destruction and thus, no reason for the war at all. The only weapon of mass destruction was and continues to be the United States and our nationalist foreign and economic policies.
No amount of revisionist history can change any of this. This is fact.
Sixteen years ago I was a student at Asbury Seminary. What did my fellow evangelicals at the seminary do about stopping a war that would ultimate kill hundreds of thousands of people and be found to be based on a lie? Not a dam thing. There was near unanimity in their support for the war, even when it was showed that Bush and his administration had lied. There was greater outcry against a small increase to the cost of tuition at Asbury than there was to an illegal invasion or administration-sponsored torture.
Sixteen years ago I became an outspoken opponent of the war simply and solely because I knew that following Jesus meant that war is wrong and preemptive war is murder. Many of my fellow evangelical students stopped talking to me, they ripped bumper stickers off my car, and ripped signs out of my front yard. Though practically the entire seminary agreed on their support for the war and the President Bush especially, the presence of a handful of students speaking out against it was too upsetting for many of my classmates to take. There wasn’t widespread disagreement for so few of us opposed the war. But even two or three of us endangered the stifling and unthinking uniformity that made them secure in their blissful ignorance.
Sixteen years have gone by and I have yet to know a single self-described evangelical who has repented of their support for this horrific war. Not a single one. In fact, even when the reason for the war was changed by the Bush administration from the search for WMD to “building democracies in the Middle East” the only concern I heard from other evangelicals on campus (and elsewhere) was how the cost of the war might inhibit the federal government from giving them tax cuts. For real.
Sixteen years have gone by and while no evangelicals spoke out against the Iraq War when it first started because they did not think the church should be engaged in political issues, many evangelicals became quite politically active when President Obama came to office and his top priority was to enact universal health care. Thus, evangelicals are silent and easily bought off with tax cuts when it comes to the killing of over half a million mostly Muslims for no reason at all, but they become enraged and rise up in revolt when poor people are given a chance to be given something that might make them well. To recap, dead Muslims are cool, but healthy poor people are not. And evangelicals still claim to be “pro-life” with a straight face.
Sixteen years have gone by and over 80% of evangelicals voted for and remain quite supportive of donald trump while many evangelicals believe President Obama was born in Kenya and Hillary Clinton intentionally killed four State department employees in Benghazi. Yet, evangelicals still claim that their love of Scripture springs out of a love for truth.
Sixteen years have gone by and I am no less anguished, infuriated, and devastated by a war that killed hundreds of thousands of beloved children of God. For. No. Reason. At. All.
Sixteen years have gone by and I have become spiritually homeless because I could no longer live within an evangelical movement that has completely betrayed what it believed and stood for.
Sixteen years have gone by and God is still calling on us to repent of this human rights nightmare.
Sixteen years ago have gone by and it is still not too late for me and you and especially our evangelical sisters and brothers (mostly brothers) to repent of our support and benefit from state-sponsored torture and murder.
Let us pray God does not have to wait for repentance for sixteen years and one day.