Clergy: U.S. has right to defend itself

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2001

News Editor

Today marks one week since the first United States attack on Taliban leaders and soldiers in Afghanistan. While most support President George W. Bush’s "War on Terrorism" there are some that still oppose the idea of war and continue to protest.

However unfortunate the war, it is considered a just war based on the Catholic ‘just war theory.’

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"The war is unfortunate, but necessary," said Father James Dean of St. Martin’s Catholic Church. "It had to be a last resort, and it was because you cannot negotiate with terrorists. What they did to us was irrational."

Dean bases his thoughts on the ‘just war theory,’ which was originated by St. Augustine, and because of the research and groundwork performed by the president and his staff, Dean believes the right decision was made.

"The ‘just war theory’ is based on self-defense and discrimination," he said. "The Ten Commandments state ‘Thou shall not kill,’ but we have a right and an obligation to defend ourselves."

Dean said since civilians and non-combatants are not being targeted in the "War on Terrorism," the discrimination portion of the ‘just war theory’ applies to and justifies the United States’ action.

"We are not targeting the innocent people and many of them are innocent," Dean said. "Our attacks are directed at the perpetrators and are aimed at the proper places."

Dean said the ‘just war theory’ is internationally recognized and is not new to the United States.

"President George Bush called the Gulf War a ‘just war,’" he said. "I believe it was based on this theory.

"You have to realize that 30 percent of the military is Catholic and there are 63 million Catholics in the country. You have to believe that they look at these things."

Dean believes our intervention and support of Israel was the turning point of the radical believers of Islamic faith.

"Israel is their enemy and they are retaliating against us for helping their enemy," Dean said. "They believe we are Satan. Their entire life is a Holy War and they are intent on converting everyone to their religion and will use violence to do it.

"But what kind of strength do they have? If our effort is quick and strong enough we can be successful."

Dr. John Brannon, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Troy, also believes the United States is justified in declaring "War on Terrorism."

"They have demonized us and to them that justifies anything they want to do to us," Brannon said concerning the terrorist attack on Sept. 11. "There are always radical wings in religion. There were even radicals in Christianity. Think about Jim Jones and David Koresch.

"These radicals are willing to die for and kill for their religion. What makes us different is before I would deny my faith, I would die for my faith, but I would not kill you for not being a Christian."

The image the Taliban has of the United States, which to them is synonymous with Christianity, is drastically different than the actual lifestyle of most Americans.

"They don’t see the good and the compassion we have for folks," Brannon said. "Somewhere along the way we became their enemy."

Brannon thinks the United States’ response to the terrorist attack have been well-calculated in that the United States is not targeting civilians.

"We didn’t ask for this fight, but we will not back down," he said. "Osama bin Laden is clearly a dangerous threat to our way of life and to our faith. He attacked us and we legitimately have a right to defend ourselves."

Even though the war is unfortunate, Brannon said he has never been prouder to be an American or a Christian than now.

"We have forgotten all political lines," he said. "We have a deep sense of patriotism. We will continue to feel it if we bind ourselves together for this cause. How we have responded to this is indicative of the fiber of this country. We are truly one nation under God."