While Republicans voice ever more strident opposition to President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, seeming to have no other suggestion than bombing yet another country and triggering a third Middle East war in little more than a decade, more and more groups have come forward to support the president, including, recently, 70 nuclear nonproliferation experts.
The latest is a group of 51 Christian leaders, who represent dozens of Christian denominations and organizations. In a letter to Congress today, they voiced their support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the best means of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
Their letter reads as follows:
Dear Member of Congress:
As Christian leaders in the United States, we are writing to urge you to vote in support of the negotiated settlement over Iran’s nuclear program. We live by God’s call to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). After decades of hostility, the international community has crafted a nuclear accord to limit Iran’s nuclear program and prevent the United States from moving closer toward another devastating war in the Middle East.
The July 2015 diplomatic agreement with Iran will dramatically shrink and impose unprecedented constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. In exchange, the international community will begin to lift sanctions on Iran. It also establishes the most robust monitoring and inspection regime ever negotiated to verify Iran’s compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program.
As Christians, we feel called to speak out for the possibility of peace. As faith leaders from the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons in war, we have a particular responsibility to speak boldly when opportunities arise that lead to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at home and around the world. This historic accord moves us one small step closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.
This agreement helps de-escalate tension in a region that is already suffering the effects of war and violence in ways unimaginable to most of us in the United States. It is also a testament to the effectiveness of diplomacy to take countries from the brink of war and resolve concerns peacefully.
This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).This agreement moves us further away from the possibility of war and another nuclear-armed nation. There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it. Rejection of this deal would be a rejection of the historic progress our diplomats have made to make this world a safer place.
The stakes on this matter have never been higher. That is why more than forty national organizations, including more than a dozen faith-based groups, wrote a letter earlier this year urging lawmakers to vote in support of this deal. The groups noted that this “will be among the most consequential national security votes taken by Congress since the decision to authorize the invasion of Iraq.”
As people of faith, we urge you to support the international agreement with Iran and reject legislation to undermine the deal. We will be praying for you.
Christians recognize that war is a poor alternative to peace. Republicans, in thrall to the so-called Religious Right, eschew diplomacy in favor of war. They have taken Augustine of Hippo’s “just war” theory and come to the conclusion that pretty much any reason can be used to justify a war. They use religion as an excuse for violence, just as they use it as justification for their various bigotries and racism.
It is interesting that while Sen. Tom Cotton (who can’t find Tehran on a map) claimed today that “Harry Reid wants to deny the American people a voice entirely by blocking an up-or-down vote on this terrible deal,” while himself ignoring the many voices raised in support of the Iran nuclear deal, like the letter here.
Obviously, it is too much to hope that this letter, or any number of letters from the various groups that have expressed support for peace, will have any effect on Republicans in Congress. What letters like this do accomplish is to unite those in opposition to war, and to make public the broad support diplomacy enjoys in this war-weary nation. It puts Republicans on notice that their decisions will be remembered, and in future elections, come back to haunt them.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.