Washington, DC – Nearly 200 Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical faith leaders and professors issued a statement calling on the Obama administration to take stronger steps to protect civilians when carrying out airstrikes in Syria. Prominent signers include Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, professor and former President of the Chicago Theological Seminary, Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and Baptist ethicist Dr. John Shelley.
The administration recently announced that it had scaled back criteria for ensuring that civilians are not harmed in strikes aimed at ISIL.
“News that your administration has abandoned the stated policy of making every effort to protect civilian lives in the course of drone strikes undermines America’s moral authority,” they wrote. “As people of faith, we see this as a grave moral issue. We urge you to put back in place your policy that no strikes will take place unless there is a ‘near certainty’ that civilians will not be harmed.”
“When you mirror your enemy, you risk becoming your enemy,” said Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, a United Church of Christ pastor and former President of the Chicago Theological Seminary. “The U.S. is now on that path and it is a profound moral mistake.”
“Our faith traditions argue that civilians must be protected in war,” said Rev. Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ pastor and Director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality and University Chaplain at Pacific University. “We are at our best as a nation when we live up to our highest ideals. It is our sacred responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. The president must order U.S. forces to resubmit to his original policy regarding the use of drones.”
The statement and full list of signers is available here. Titles are for identification purposes only.