Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why "Mormons for Peace"

Perhaps there are already some other organizations out there that actually call themselves "Mormons for Peace." I was dismayed that I couldn't find any on the internet so I started this simple site.

It seems to many these days that being Mormon and being 'four-square' behind waging war in the Mideast is synonomous. I know for a fact that I'm not the only 'Latter Day Saint' who believes there is nothing unpatriotic or heretical about skepticism for the war. This website is an attempt to voice that.

Skimming news articles, I see now and then that some brave soul decides to create a banner that reads "Mormons for Peace". Bravo! I wish there were more like that.

Red State / Blue State should not define what a Mormon (or any Christian) feels about the men, women, and children dying in the war we are waging in the Middle East or even how waging that war affects our freedoms here at home.

[In citing Christianity I do not mean to disaffect any other religious people that would like to participate here; rather Christianity is the religious tradition that I know best: it defines much of who I am and also why I favor peace over war.]

I live in Utah and have voted primarily Republican since I turned 18 (down in Mesa, Arizona). I am also a practicing, observant, lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ['a Mormon'].

The first Iraqi war affected my college roomate and I as we seemed the only two people in our dorm that questioned the "Bring a bat to kill an Arab" night ("and get $1 off!") at our local dance club in Provo. I also attended part of a nearly ignored peace-in by a group of professors at Brigham Young University that year.

The most memorable speech I heard was by a professor who recounted running counter-intelligence missions as a young soldier in WWII. He explained that – even during "the Good War" – it was only possible to achieve success by lying to the American public in spades. His unit was often assigned to minimize bad PR by covering up the accidental bombing of an innocent German village family for instance. He said his point was not to disparage WWII (in which he seemed to feel that US involvement had been important and just) but rather to point out that you can't just blindly trust your government in a time of war.

"War is Hell," he said, and "both sides lie, cheat, and sin". Of the many wars recounted in the scriptures, he pointed out, you could count on one hand the number that actually seemed to be directed by God. Most were the result of forgetting God and being steeped in sin. He called for cool heads and rational discussion. He worried that it took no convincing to lure the average Latter Day Saint at our University into the evils of war.

Now, years later, I fear that is still very much true. Perhaps more so than back then. Even with my background, I am ashamed to say that I watched with a kind of fascinated – even excited – anxiety for the bombs to drop on Baghdad [live! on CNN]. The events of 9/11 had shaken me and I whole-heartedly supported the mission to rid the Afghans of the Taliban and even, at first, the mission to rid the world of Saddam and his 'WMD'.

Subsequent reflection and investigation have caused me to step off of the militant bandwagon and start questioning the intentions, goals, and accomplishments of current U.S. foreign policy. If you'd like to help me then you've come to the right place.

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