I am categorically opposed to this war with Iraq, primarily because of my faith-based understanding. Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers;" at no point does he mention "war makers" or say, "Do unto others before they do unto you." We are called by our Christian witness to settle disputes in a moral and loving way, instead of by weapons meeting weapons, and egos meeting egos. This is the mandate of the Gospel: to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself."
I also am opposed to the war because wars usually affect people of color disproportionately. In the U.S. military there is a poverty "draft." Young people often go into military service because of economic issues, such as wanting access to higher education or job and career training. People of color also join the National Guard in order to subsidize income. Mostly, they have not counted on a war and, in this case, did not count on being shipped off to some foreign land for a war that no one seems to know the reason for. The poor, blacks and other people-of-color tend to be disproportionally represented in the military; therefore, their causalities also tend to be over represented.
I believe the reasons for this war are oil and continued U.S. imperialism. Our government wants governments in its own image. There is also the globalization factor, wherein corporate structures and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF feel that in order to achieve the conditions for globalization, there needs to be a seamless ideology and a seamless economy that render everything homogenous and friendly to business exploitation.
For the last few weeks, I have been preaching to my congregation on the book of Revelation, which is an anti-empire book. John writes, encouraging Christian witness even in the face of the Roman empire and its far-reaching and demanding powers.
The United States in the 21st century has replaced the Roman empire of the first century. Understanding the backdrop of the Gospel, the words of Jesus and this scenario from Revelation, and seeing through the thinly veiled rationale of the Bush administration for war, black pastors, in general, have been very vocal in opposing the war against Iraq. Black pastors and members of our churches question the down payment for the war of $75 billion, particularly when questions remain about funding decent healthcare, affordable housing, job- and career-training, and childcare.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools." Lord, help us, and by his help I will continue to stand against this war and any other greedy, immoral adventure.
The Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler is Senior Pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Washington, D.C.