Since Sept. 11, I have listened with intense interest to my Muslim brothers and sisters speak openly in defense of Islam as a religion of peace and non-violence. They have been forced to reiterate the principles and teachings in the Koran (Qur'an) that separate the terrorist acts on America from the understandings to protect and preserve all human life as taught by the Prophet Mohammed.
Yet, there has been a glaring omission in the media of Christian clergy and scholars representing the teachings of Jesus about violence and retaliation. Now, we have witnessed the orders from President Bush, a self-avowed 'born again' Christian and member of the United Methodist Church, to use the holy day of his faith to begin military action.
If Muslims have been placed in a position to examine their faith, then it seems we Christians, too, must assess our understanding of what Jesus taught about forgiveness, mercy and the treatment of all persons, including our enemies and those who harm us.
God's commandments to Moses included, "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." For Christians, including Mr. Bush, Sunday is our Sabbath. His order to begin bombing on a Sunday at noon (EDT) fails to keep this day holy.
We who are Christians must raise difficult questions about what it means to be faithful and obedient to God as instructed by Jesus. When we compromise our religion to accommodate political expediency or military strategy, we may discover that the charges and accusations placed on those who say they are waging a 'holy war' will be brought against us.
Issues pertaining to the Highest Authority will be raised, and God—known among Jews, Christians, and Muslims as the Creator and Sustainer of Life—will stand in judgment. It is that same God who says to our three religions, "Vengeance is mine."
As a pastor, I raise these issues with a heavy heart and concerned conscience. The bombing of Afghanistan and its already suffering people on the Lord's Day at the hands of professed Christians stains and offends my faith.
The Rev. Art Cribbs is pastor of Christian Fellowship Community Congregational UCC in San Diego.