As people of faith, we regret the recent United States’ retaliatory aggression towards militant groups operating in Syria, using a “proportional response” approach that is not likely to yield positive results. Twenty-two militants were killed by the United States. The militants had killed a civilian contractor and injured nine others on February 15.
We see the absolute futility of war, and its power to dehumanize. We know that human flourishing entails breaking cycles of violence, being courageous peacemakers, and focusing on the root causes of conflict. Violent conflict is a path of mutual destruction.
Instead, all actors must move forward in a way that upholds our shared, sacred human dignity:
+ All parties, primary and proxies, must begin by re-humanizing each other without excusing unjust and violent actions.
+ The U.S. Administration must halt violent attacks and military escalations. It must return forcefully to intense diplomatic processes, recognizing that lasting peace requires a commitment to the shared well-being of every human, from Iran to Yemen, to Syria, Iraq, the United States and everywhere in between.
+ Our U.S. Congress must act to reassert its existing war powers by demanding pre-authorization for deadly attacks outside of a true national emergency.
+ U.S. actions and strategy in the region must thoroughly address the root causes of the conflicts in question, such as distrust, trauma, economic resources, and political influence.
+ All of us must support nonviolent creative actions of resistance to any unjust and violent actions.
As a community of faith, we renounce the continuation of violence as a bargaining tool and call on the United States to work aggressively towards lasting peace in the Middle East. Specifically, part of that would include the United States recommitting to the Iran Nuclear Deal, which in 2018, the Episcopal Church urged (see 2018-D051).
“No more of this!” Jesus exclaims after the high priest’s slave’s ear was cut off (see Luke 22: 47-53) at the moment of his betrayal and arrest. We too cry “No more fighting!” In Luke’s Gospel, at this moment, Jesus adamantly instructs the one who struck the slave to put the sword back in its place for “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (see Luke 26: 47-56). God does not desire the death of anyone, may we turn towards life (see Ezekiel 18:32), reconcile and embrace the plowshare (see Isaiah 2:4). Amen.