August 23, 2005

The Robertson Brouhaha

I'm sure just about all of our readers are aware by now that Pat Robertson, one of the most prominent Christian evangelists in America, has suggested the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. I don't think I could sum up my disgust with Robertson any better than Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, did in a recent statement:

Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is appalling to the point of disbelief. As a former member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, I am convinced of the immorality of political violence and know its unpredictable and devastating effects on millions of people. One wonders if Robertson's premise would one day be applied to opposition candidates in this country who might be a threat to an incumbent's re-election.

It defies logic that a clergyman could so casually dismiss thousands of years of Judaeo-Christian law, including the commandment that we are not to kill. It defies logic that this self-proclaimed Christian leader could so blithely abandon the teachings of Jesus to love our enemies and turn our cheeks against violence. It defies logic that a former candidate for the presidency could skirt the brink of international law to call for the assassination of a foreign leader on the grounds that he might some day be a danger to us. It defies logic that this so-called evangelist is misusing his media power not to win people to faith but to encourage them to support the murder of a foreign leader. I have no doubt that most of Pat Robertson's viewers have already rejected this idea, and that the 45-million people represented by the member communions of the National Council of Churches resolutely condemn it.

I would point out that the preemptive or preventive assassination of a foreign leader is the logical final conclusion to be reached in a worldview of preemptive/preventive aggression. That's why the Christian Church must speak out in the strongest possible terms against all preemptive/preventive aggression, including (and especially) the ongoing Iraq War and Occupation. The system of preemptive/preventive aggression is inherently inconsistent with Christian principles of just war, with the general principles of all religion, and with the norms of international law -- and that system leads to the same kind of thinking that Pat Robertson has now so forcefully displayed. We are moving quickly down a one way street to chaos; I hope people are beginning to realize that.