Over the weekend I was present for a discussion that perfectly illustrates my concern with how uncritically we assume that faith is compatible with war and nationalism.
An article was being passed around the living room during a family gathering, and as each person finished it they would, in turn, register their frustration and anger at the perceived injustice the article pointed out
Apparently the government vetoed some language that was going to be featured on new war memorials because it was overtly religious and, in the administration’s opinion, violated the separation of church and state.
Now I have my doubts about the ideological slant of the magazine, but the event in question probably did take place on at least something like those lines. But here is what worries me; what does it say about our understanding of faith, war, and nation that we would want to baptize war memorials with religious language in the first place?
Whether such language on our nation’s memorials would violate the sanctity of the secular state is not my concern – what about the possibility that placing religious language on monuments to mass killings and the exercise of violent state power violates the sanctity of the Bride of Christ?
Christ who called us to turn the other cheek, Christ who told Peter to lay down the sword, Christ who insisted that we go the second mile with the oppressor and not resist evil with evil.
How is it that the tension between the message of Christ and our embrace of war seems to be so easily ignored? Shouldn’t we at least see the necessity of asking the question, instead of somehow convincing ourselves that faith and war fit together so easily?
And that’s why I keep pressing this issue lately. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, far from it, but I do think we need to wake up to the tension.