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Why is our Christian President so Violent?

Why is our Christian President so Violent?

For his final State of the Union address, President Obama delivered a characteristically eloquent and passionate speech. He issued a heartfelt call for unity and cooperation in a country whose political climate is just a few notches short of civil war. He asked us to consider how we might move forward as one nation, affirming our highest ideals rather than the hateful rhetoric of would-be despots.

Obama’s final State of the Union was in many ways a masterpiece of American political theater. He reminded us of the best of our tradition, calling us to live up to our history of welcoming the outsider and being a land of opportunity for all people. Despite the fact that this canonical history is to a great degree aspirational rather than actual, I was at many points uplifted to hear the president invite us to live into the more beautiful aspects of the American Dream.

Given how compelling the president’s speech was, it was disappointing to hear him spend so much time asserting America’s “strength” on the global stage. There were long stretches of the State of the Union that were unabashedly imperial. The president spoke with pride about the overwhelming US military budget, which has been draining the lifeblood of our poor and middle class for decades. He cited the 10,000 airstrikes he has overseen as if it were a badge of honor. He bragged about assassinating Osama Bin Laden, with swagger that was reminiscent of George W. Bush.

None of this is surprising. I’m not so naïve as to expect the commander of “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” to renounce the way of the sword. Caesar will be Caesar, and the empires of this world are not likely to be governed by peacemakers any time soon.

And yet this president – like almost every other president in our country’s history – is a confessing Christian. So were almost all of the national leaders gathered in the Capitol Building. We are a nation governed largely by professed Christians who have no compunction about taking up the sword and “destroying” those who threaten America’s economic and military dominance. For all his lovely words, President Obama has once again made it abundantly clear: He is more than willing to destroy whole nations if they threaten the US Empire. 

How do we as the followers of the crucified messiah reconcile ourselves to the fact that many of the most violent people in the world are our co-religionists? In this time of such great fear about militant Islam, who will protect us from nuclear-armed Christians? How can we share the good news of Jesus’ way of love while launching 10,000 airstrikes on people around the globe? How many must die at the hands of Christians before the followers of Jesus finally resolve to follow our humble commander-in-chief to the cross? 

To all of our leaders who profess faith in the Lord Jesus: I beg you to consider whether your commitment to American military dominance is compatible with your decision to live as citizens in the reign of God. And for all of us who seek to follow the risen savior, whether we hold political authority or not: How long will we choose to compromise our faith and support a nation that so disregards the law of love and the Spirit of Peace whom our Lord Jesus sends us? 

My prayer is that President Obama, and all of our Christian leaders, would come to more fully know the power of Christ’s love, which frees us to lay down the sword and take up the cross. On that day, ISIS won’t stand a chance.

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  • broschultz

    To become a political leader in this country requires too many compromises to remain true to Jesus. One of the first things I was led to do by the Holy Spirt when Jesus came into my life was to resign as a local committeeman as well as from the office of Treasurer of my local political club.

    • I think you’re probably right, Jim. Especially those positions (many) that involve decisions around armed forces – whether police or military.

  • This is a heart-breakingly accurate concern. It’s also why I can’t take any politician seriously who campaigns on the backs of men and women of faith while raising his rifle in the air. Yet I always hear:
    “But Ryan, he’s a strong Christian who stands against abortion and same-sex marriage. (?!?!)”
    Morality is not Christianity.
    “Some trust in chariots…”

    At the end of the day, I’m not upset by the politicians. As you say, Caesar will be Caesar. What I’m upset by is how few Christians will call out the double standard of murder in the name of the empire. I’m upset by how many Christians accept this as part and parcel and defend their own right to participate.

    I don’t even have the will-power to debate it. I’m just so broken by it.

  • Paul Slifer

    I don’t know why I get my hopes up for the State of the Union by Obama, I should have learned by now! I keep waiting to hear the message of peace but we get the same old story of how powerful the USA is.
    He was like some drunken frat boy, beating his chest, chanting ‘USA,USA,USA!!’ at times, but I guess that’s what the people want to hear and maybe that’s the only title the USA can really lay claim to; most powerful.
    Does it really cross the minds of the majority of our self confessed Christian politicians to strive to be the most PEACEFUL country on the planet?
    Have they read the sermon on the mount and understood that Jesus’s main message to us is the message of peace, no matter the sacrifice?
    Do our Christian American politicians “love our enemy’s” and “resist not evil”?

    Jesus weeps

  • Dawn Scaroni

    How can we share the good news of Jesus’ way of love and turn a blind eye on the homeless (other than children) or other needy people who die alone after seeking help from the church? It’s not just airstrikes and abortions that are used to commit murder – there are thousands of ways we (the professing church) murder people every day… and no one says a thing about it… it’s considered “normal”, “we helped them a few times already and they didn’t change or get work or do what we wanted our way during the established timeline” and after all, “they deserve it” Let’s check our own “Kill Lists” and repent before we launch anymore words at Obama… (and I didn’t even vote for the guy)