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In Theory: Faith and the decision to fight

September 13, 2013

President Barack Obama this month asked Congress to authorize punitive military action in Syria. He made the request in response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons near Damascus.

Q: How would your faith and/or worldview guide you in such a decision?

In the late 1930s, in spite of atrocities being perpetrated against the peoples of Europe and Asia, the United States was reluctant to become involved in European/Asian affairs. The U.S., like the rest of the world, was reeling from worldwide depression. Refusing to differentiate between aggressor and victim, the United States passed several Neutrality Acts, leaving people to fend for themselves against terrorism. All of that changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In 1948 South Africa initiated a strict policy of apartheid where Afrikaners dominated indigenous people for many generations. Nelson Mandela and many other courageous leaders who spoke out against such policies were jailed, tortured or killed. It took 38 years for the U.S. Congress to override the U.S. president’s veto of sanctions on South Africa and participate in the liberation of its people.


The book of Genesis tells the story of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew, Lot, from unprovoked captivity (Genesis 14:14-16.) All humans are related. I believe the good Samaritan would have done more than just aid the wounded man found on the side of the road (Luke 10:25-37.) I believe he would have tried to stop the ambush. I know that our beloved country is overloaded with concerns in Egypt, Afghanistan, North Korea and other places, but in Syria, people are suffering and they need us to do something and do it quickly.

The Rev. Dr. William Thomas Jr.
Little White Chapel


Benjamin Franklin said one time that there is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace. And right this moment I think I am leaning toward the no-strike position, although I can certainly understand the reason for hitting Syria. But as one of my parishioners said to me, what good will come of some rockets hitting Syria? Innocent people will die and the Assad regime will remain in power.

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