I was recently asked a very simple question about the present conflict in Iraq. It was asked by a person I respect and honor because she is a true patriot, viscerally opposed to war in any guise, but unfortunately, blinded by faith. She asked me where are the churches?
Where are the churches is a provocative question based on the assumption that churches actually care about people. Unfortunately, they have given up that particular niche a long time ago, sometime between the Albigensian Crusades and the wholesale slaughter of innocent opponents of the tribes of Israel as described in the Old Testament. A more cogent question that should be addressed to all participants in any war should be: What are you thinking?
The question can be asked of our leaders and our followers, it should be repeated daily and matched to atrocities. The question should be mandatory to any parent encouraging their child to bear arms, and it should be writ large across prisons, army bases, churches and temples, high schools and military academies.
It should adorn polling places and political rallies. It should be translated into any language spoken by killers and victims. It should be personal and require an honest answer at the time of death and injury. It may be the last question on anyone's mind, because inflicting atrocities is mindless and dying, in the heat of our present conflicts, is rarely a time for reflection.
It should be non sectarian, and not tied to any mythology, either Christian, Jewish or Muslim. It should be the universal cry of the oppressor and the oppressed as they plunge the knife, pull the trigger, let off the bomb or send others into harms way.
Where are the churches indeed? They are lined up on either side of any conflict, encouraging mayhem, promoting violence and destroying hope and pity.
Peter W. Brown