Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Christianity and War

By: Rebecca Muller

Has our country evolved into a military machine?
--Rebecca Muller, AFSC-NC intern

This was one of many important questions/topics, posed by West Point graduate Mark Heller, who participated in the April 5th panel discussion “Christianity and War”, held in the Guilford College Gallery in Founders Hall.

The panel, sponsored by Guilford College Friends Center and American Friends Service Committee, was part of a series of events accompanying the Windows and Mirrors travelling mural exhibition reflecting on the human cost of war in Afghanistan.

There were four panelists participating: Heller, who describes himself as “disillusioned with the military”, Kevin Matthews, Eric Handy, William Berry, and Frank Massey.

Matthews believes that war has to do with anger leading to retaliation and stated that Jesus would not fight in a war. He believes that no Christian has to justify not going to war. “If Christians had remained Christians then World War II would not have happened”, Matthews said. He thinks that the authority to go to war has to be legitimate and there must be a just cause to back up the decision.

Heller, who attends Sandy Springs Friends Meeting, stated that the human brain is not fully formed until age 25 so the soldiers who enter the military at 18 are getting in something that they don’t understand. He also believes that the previous administration did not understand the seriousness or effects of war. “What if Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld had had to stay in Iraq for the duration of the war?” Heller asked.

Eric Handy, the son of a Methodist Minister and part of the ROTC program at A&T State University, believes that there is a need to have military officers with knowledge of what it means to be a Christian. He also believes that war should always be the last result and that military leaders are responsible for having clear-cut standards of war. “According to the news, the marker of success is the number of dead soldiers”, Handy said

Frank Massey, who was born and raised a Quaker, recalled that although his great-grandfather was selected to fight he knew that “war was not the answer.” He believes that the military is a social experiment including different views and genders. Citing the number of soldiers coming from poor and minority communities Massey asked, “Is there an economic draft?”

William Berry, a Peace and Conflict Studies major at Guilford College who participated in the discussion reflected on the “Lambs War:” “There is a war that protects life and Christians fight this war.” Berry referred to this as a grassroots, non-violent social movement that Christians engage in for a spiritual and peaceful world.

Opinions varied during the evening, but the discussion was rich throughout.

To view picture of the Christianity and War program click here

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