For Whom is the Bell Tolling in Iraq?

The conservative churches believe that God has chosen the U.S. as an instrument of God to achieve Kingdom of God by promoting American ideals

I am a citizen of Japan, from Tokyo, Japan. I am currently studying at Lincoln Christian Seminary in Illinois, U.S.A. majoring in contemporary theology and philosophy. The following is my opinion regarding the U.S.-Iraq war as a Japanese Christian seminarian, who is studying in the middle of "pro attack Saddam" American Christians in central Illinois, in terms of religious and democratic aspect.

Even though we are at war everything around me in central Illinois, USA is as usual. Even though people in Iraq are under the rain of bombs I am eating good food and living in peaceful condition. I have been enjoying the chocolate cookies my friend baked two days after the war declaration. Little kids are running around me with joyful faces. And we are talking about Jesus_$B!G_(B love in the churches... I guess, those who can enjoy such a peaceful life, like me (at least physically), are a minority in the world. Thinking of this, we need to realize how gracious it is that we can greet each other with "peace."

In spite of my disappointment and bitter feeling towards George Bush and his supporters, I am trying not to argue with my American friends, since many of them support George Bush and his war campaign against Saddam Hussein. We can never understand each other. It is not easy for me to admit this, since most of my American friends are Christians (means the followers and disciple of Christ). Therefore, I have a difficult feeling-emotionally, logically, rationally, religiously, and consciously.

It seems like those who support George Bush believe an illusion that the U.S. can actually promote and establish so-called "American democracy" in Iraq even though Iraq_$B!G_(Bs cultural, historical, ethnical, and religious backgrounds are totally different from that of the U.S. They believe that everybody in the world DO appreciate the "American Way of Democracy (Life)." But is that true? My answer is very much in the negative.

There is an interesting phenomenon in American history based on my observation and research. The conservative churches are/and have been, relatively, speaking very pro- "promoting the American way of democracy" to the world. Because they believe that God has chosen the U.S. and its people as an instrument of God on behalf of achieving the Kingdom of God on this earth by promoting American ideals. This is at the subconscious level, so most of conservative Americans do not realize how much this philosophy has influenced their mindset. This American philosophy I am speaking of is the "Manifest Destiny."

To me, it is very scary that conservative American Christians can make easy such decisions on very important things (like this war) by their extremely subjective, one-sided religious beliefs. More accurately, it appears to me that they support this war simply because George Bush is a conservative Christian (at least he says so). Based upon this religious belief, they can justify this tragic event in the name of Christ. Isn't such an attitude the same as that of the Crusaders in the Medieval era?

My objection against them is based on following reasons:

-How can we be so certain of our understanding of God and His will? Aren't we finite beings? -Didn't God say, "Do not kill"? -Didn't Christ say, "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also"? -How can we so confidently and arrogantly assume that our subjective thoughts are objective?

We need to remember these words: - With this kind of naivety we have killed the prophets of Israel! - With this kind of naivety we have killed Jesus at Golgotha! - With this kind of naivety we have killed Arabs during the Medieval Era! - With this kind of naivety we have let the Nazis kill the Jews! - With this kind of naivety we have killed the innocent throughout ecclesiastic history!

I wonder can't we see Jesus' tears...? Can't we hear the silent voice of God, saying "I am the authority, not you!"? I told some of my American Christian friends in Lincoln, where I live, "Do not forget this! You are responsible for the lives of the innocent that may be killed by the American attack. This is to be the very result of your support over the war. This is not a merely event you watch on TV! They are...they really are under bombing!"

I don't know if those who are "easy-pro-war-people" can hear the bell tooling in Iraq... The U.N. has been tolling the same bell for the U.S. and U.K. I believe those people in Moscow DO hear this bell...the sound of the bell of Kremlin. The minister of the church I attend is a U.S. navy chaplain. As a military officer, he is also pro war, but he commented to me when a few weeks ago that George Bush Jr. is religiously very naive. He imposes this naive religiosity too much into his political decisions. His father, Bush Sr., was not like that.

I want to pray to God for the world, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." We all, including me, are to stand before God on the day of His glorious and merciful judgment.

I believe Saddam Hussein is an evil man in the way he has made his people terribly suffer. But I don't think that he is a threat to the U.S. and to the world at this moment. As long as Iraq is an independent country, we cannot expect, and we cannot require Iraq to show every weapon they have. In the same way, the U.S. does not show everything they have. It is not easy, but this is the reality of the world and this is what we have to admit in diplomatic relations. Quite honesty, to me, the U.S. has been more of a threat to the world in terms of her diplomatic policy and military power. I don't feel the U.S. is a dangerous country to Japan now because Japan and the U.S. are allies. If the U.S. were not our ally, obviously no other country would be more a threat than the U.S. to us.

Nevertheless, we need to know that it is very natural for us to have different understandings toward history, diplomacy, peace, war, etc. depending on each nation's perspective, since we all have different historical experiences in different times, in different places, and with different religious minds.

A Reflection from the 22nd of March's Sunday Worship Service We had very a difficult feeling in the worship service on the first Sunday morning after the U.S. took a military attack against Iraq. Our minister expressed his difficult feelings regarding this war, and the aggressive and arrogant impression that the U.S. has given to the world. He put himself in a very difficult position - a Navy chaplain and a Church minister. These two titles contradict each other. But his sermon on this Sunday morning sounded very fair regardless of his personal position about this war. The following is the best comments he made in his sermon: We Americans have to be sensitive that the people around the world fear in America's capability, and fear of what America might do with her power without listening to the world.

But when they prayed for their public leaders on that morning I wondered how they prayed and what they really prayed for. Every Sunday we pray for God like this, "For those in position of public trust, especially George our President, and Rod our Governor, that they may serve justice, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person, we pray to you, O Lord." I wondered if we ever had a universal common understanding in respect of "JUSTICE," "DIGNITY," and "FREEDOM." I know a simple fact that these American-oriented ideas - justice and freedom - do not appear as justice and freedom to some nations. In the same way that someone's notion of justice and freedom does not appear to Americans as just and free, American notions of justice and freedom may not appear as something good to other nations.

I accept a simple fact that the strategy of the U.S. and the other nations did not match at this time. However, we cannot deny another simple fact that the U.S. and U.K. did not respect the democracy of the U.N., and in so destroyed it. My philosophy is that the U.S. needs to listen to the majority voice of the U.N. regardless of whether it agrees or disagrees as one of the members of the U.N. But the U.S. did not respect the majority voice of the United Nations_$B!D_(B The U.S. should leave the U.N., if the U.S. is not happy to accept the U.N.'s democracy. It must leave! The U.S. does not know how to accommodate the political strategy and democracy, or does not know how to accomplish her diplomatic goal in terms of democracy. I would hate to see the U.S. leaves the U.N., but I would feel better than if the U.S. remains in the U.N. being selfish. This is the very destiny of the democracy that the U.S. promoted in the human history. Perfect peace from God be with you

Kenichiro Kira, Japan citizen, Illinois, USA

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