Group of Christian Leaders Rally Against U.S. Action on ISIS

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A group of 53 Christian leaders and activists are urging the Obama Administration not to militarily strike the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria in a published letter. Several of the organizations represented have a history of willful blindness to the Islamist ideology and have allied with American Islamists with extremist histories.

The letter was published by the Catholic Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. One of the group’s stated objectives is:

“Identifying and eliminating the root causes of violence and conflict with a focus on…U.S. aggression and national security policy (e.g. war on terrorism and war in Iraq and Afghanistan). The nexus of violence and poverty is clear.”

The worldview of this Christian group is that Islamic extremism is a response to American imperialism. In other words, its America’s fault and the Islamist terrorists are victims, even if their methods are deplorable.

This perspective is fundamentally in error and naïve. ISIS calls itself the Islamic State because that’s what it is fighting for. According to its own words, it is fighting for a caliphate and sharia governance (i.e, an Islamic State). There is no logical way to connect opposition to American foreign policy with this agenda.

In a blunt interview with NBC News, an American from North Carolina who tried to join ISIS and was arrested said, “My reason for the support of ISIS is because they’ve proven time and time again to put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal,” Don Morgan said.

By characterizing American military action as “aggression” and ISIS as victims, the organization is assuming the worst of American intentions and the best of ISIS’, even going so far as to ignore ISIS’ own words and actions.

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns views Islamic terrorism as an outburst against inequality and poverty. Studies have repeatedly debunked this. The latest was a Queen Mary University of London study that concluded that there is no connection between Islamic terrorism and poverty, lack of education or unemployment.

This latest letter endorsed by 53 Christian activists claims that, “More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.” They argue that U.S. military action “will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict.”

The logic is that military action is always counter-productive. If this logic were followed during World War II, the existence of Nazi Germany would be accepted. The Nazi regime was dismantled because the Allies accurately attributed the conflict to an immoral ideology.

The letter’s policy recommendations have already been mostly tried, yet its authors present it as something new and innovative. This includes humanitarian assistance, engagement of Iraqi leaders, sanctions and replacing U.S. airstrikes with “community-based nonviolent resistance strategies.”

Endorsers of this letter include leaders of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the American Friends Service Committee, professors from various universities and clergy from around the country.

While activists like these may argue that they don’t necessarily oppose all uses of force, their worldview inevitably leads to appeasement and inaction in the face of major threats and human rights abuses.

Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, writes that proponents of this trend “often demand maximalist, unattainable standards [for military action] that default towards a functional pacifism.”

In the current instance of ISIS, Tooley compares the letter to “telling a woman being chased down the street by a rapist that instead of seeking an armed police officer she should urge her aspiring assailant to get counseling for his anger issues.”

Yet, the protest by some of the letter’s endorsers is unsurprising given their history of partnering with Islamists. The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society endorsed a 2012 letter protesting five members of Congress for requesting investigations into the relations between U.S. governmental agencies and Muslim Brotherhood entities.

The letter defends the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism-financing trial, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group founded by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues.

The United Methodist Church is listed on ISNA’s website as an interfaith partner. The church also endorsed a letter protesting the New York Police Department for its intelligence-gathering programs and showing of The Third Jihad, a Clarion Project documentary that exposes the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist extremists.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) participates in the same actions and more. It works with Islamists in producing reports on Muslim-Christian relations and published a book whitewashing radical cleric Imam Zaid Shakir and the school he founded, Zaytuna College. In July, the Church divested $21 million from Israel. The Iranian regime and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke celebrate the anti-Israel activism of the Church.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Kairos Response, United Church of Christ Israel-Palestine Network and others belong to the Interfaith Boycott Coalition, the faith-based wing of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This bloc is defending a woman accused of perpetrating a bombing of civilians in Israel.

Overwhelmingly, the American people reject these Christian activists’ arguments. The latest poll shows that 71% of Americans support airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and 65% support doing the same in Syria. About 58% support arming Kurds fighting ISIS.

Another poll found 76% in favor of airstrikes on ISIS with only 23% opposed. About 62% favor military aid to forces fighting ISIS. These high numbers come before President Obama’s speech making the case for military intervention.

These Christian activists have adopted the Islamist narrative while ignoring the Islamists’ words about their own intentions. By teaching their supporters that ISIS is the result of American “aggression,” they are promoting inaction that will further the Islamist extremist cause and enable the persecution of fellow Christians.


Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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