Those of us who are followers of the nonviolent Jesus of Nazareth call upon you our brothers and sisters in Christ who have taken up arms on behalf of the American Empire, to lay down your arms! Simply put, you cannot bear both the weight of the cross and the sword. You cannot love your enemies and simultaneously kill them. The notion that one can follow Jesus and serve the State by the taking up of arms is a lie. Christian nationalism is heresy, it is the great apostasy. Many of us have been misled by our parents who were lied to by the institutional church when they were taught, through a misapplication of Romans 13, that being a good American citizen is commensurate with Christianity. Going to war is never commendable, it is a mortal sin. Your intentions may be good, and your actions brave in the eyes of the United States government, but the taking up of arms must be condemned. Patriotic Americans can serve their country as soldiers and may support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Christians cannot, and you our brothers and sisters must choose. You have been told that it is your duty to serve your country; yet Jesus tells us that it is our duty, our only duty, to love God, love our neighbor, and love, not hate (not kill) our enemy.
Prior to the Constantinian shift of the 4th century whereby the church of Jesus Christ was legalized, domesticated, appropriated, and adopted as the official State religion of the Roman Empire in order to justify the violence of the State; followers of The Way, the members of the early church, practiced a way of being in the world that was at its core, nonviolent.
The words of Clement of Alexandria (216 A.D.) reach out to us: “The Church is an army of peace which sheds no blood…In peace not war we are trained. If you enroll as one of God’s people heaven is your country and God your lawgiver. And what are his laws? You shall not kill, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also. (Protrepticus, 10, 11, 116; Paedogogus 1, 12)
In his refusal to take up arms, at the pain of execution, St. Maximilian (295 A.D.) in response to his prosecutors proclaimed “I am a Christian and cannot fight…I cannot serve as a soldier, I cannot do evil. … I will never serve. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ.” The very last words of Jesus to his church were “Enough of this! Put your sword away.” (Lk 22:51, John 18:11) Platonic thought has replaced Christian truth, and a pagan justification for war has supplanted Jesus’ embodiment and vision of shalom.
Now you our brothers and sisters who are soldiers for Empire have a choice: serve God or serve man.
If all Christians put down their arms and refuse to fight, there will be an end to war. But this end of war and beginning of peace starts with you, the single individual. If you choose your God over your country you will not walk alone. You have brothers and sisters who will support you and who will accompany you on the journey of resistance and authentic discipleship. If you wish to study war no more and embrace the nonviolent path of Jesus contact us at Amos House, or reach out to one or more of the following resources:
Catholic Peace Fellowship: http://www.catholicpeacefellowship.org/index.asp
Mennonite GI help: http://co.mcc.org/us/co/
The Quaker GI Rights hotline: 800-394-9544.