Thursday, March 24, 2005

Death and Blood: The NAE's Version of Answered Prayer

When a friend told me about what follows, I didn't want to believe it. An article entitled "Do the Prayers of Evangelicals Impact World Events?" ends up claiming that good Christian folk helped American bombs and bullets find their target: Saddam Hussein's two sons. This 2003 article sits in plain sight on the National Association of Evangelicals' main website, from the Office of the NAE's President yet, and once again illustrates the disconnect for many biblically-rooted Christians between evangelicalism's version of American nationalism dressed as Christian faith and the real thing.

"Did prayer have something to do with the 'impossible' feat of Saddam Hussein' sons being killed in a firefight on Wednesday July 23, 2003?" the article begins, and continues, "Mosul, the city where Uday and Ousay Hussein were killed, was the most heavily targeted area by praying Christians using Operation Iraqi Care (OIC), a global prayer effort coordinated by the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Prayer Team."

The NAE is one of evangelicalism's most well-known entities, and in the past has shown the ability to be moderate politically. However, in recent years, as with much of evangelicalism, the NAE has drifted further and further toward the right and a surprisingly naive alliance with American corporate / military policy. In short, the NAE seems to be confusing Christianity with nationalism.

After a few paragraphs discussing how various Christians prayed over Mosul, giving it more prayer concentration than other cities, the punchline sounds like the worst sort of fundamentalist aberrations of Islam:

"God works in wonderful and mysterious ways. Operation Iraqi Care is one tool that He is using to bring peace and democracy to Iraq and to pave the way for the proclamation of the gospel and the spread of the evangelical church. Thousands of people have been mobilized to pray; the majority somehow chose Mosul and almost simultaneously we see tangible results in the death of Saddam's sons. Coincidence?"

Doubtless the answer to the above is supposed to be "No, it was prayer!" And of course, that response in turn means we are supposed to assume a number of things:

1. That our role in Iraq as a military power is part of God's work rather than fallen man's violent history of power-mongering.
2. That killing two human beings is something God wanted to do, and wanted us to do in His Name!
3. That part of our reason for being militarily in Iraq -- PAY ATENTION!! -- is to create an environment there where our religion can be spread and gain influence. THIS IS A RETURN TO THE CRUSADES. THIS IS THE MAKING OF RELIGIOUS WAR. And it is not Christian; not one Bible verse comes to mind that would justify making bloody, hellish war where thousands of innocent Iraqis, along with combatants on both sides, die in the name of the Prince of Peace.
4. That American military policies are, nearly without question, the will of God.

I find these ideas horrendous and blasphemous. Until the NAE removes this posting from its site, and apologizes for suggesting such vile things, I suggest we inundate them (and any media sources we can find to tell this story) with email. They offer this information at article's end: "For additional comments or interviews please contact: Kyle Fisk, NAE Executive Administrator / (719) 268-8211 kfisk@nae.net." Please, email Mr. Fisk. And email all your friends, Christian, Muslim, or pondering observer. Ask them to also let the NAE know why this sort of Christianity sounds more like Satanism than a religion worshipping a God of Love.

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Another commentary on this article has come to my attention.

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The original article in its entirety is pasted below, along with the URL from whence it came:

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The URL:
Do the Prayers of Evangelicals Impact World Events

Office of the President - Public Relations Department

July 25, 2003 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Do The Prayers of Evangelicals Impact World Events?

Did prayer have something to do with the "impossible" feat of Saddam Hussein' sons being killed in a firefight on Wednesday July 23, 2003? Mosul, the city where Uday and Ousay Hussein were killed, was the most heavily targeted area by praying Christians using Operation Iraqi Care (OIC), a global prayer effort coordinated by the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Prayer Team.

OIC is one of the evangelical responses to help the people of Iraq following the war and removal of the dictator, who had for decades oppressed the Iraqi people. Individuals, families, churches, organizations and others can "adopt" an Iraqi town and pray specifically over that region, its people, its rebuilding and for the Christians within that city. Since its inception only a few months ago, OIC has mobilized thousands of Christians to bathe the country of Iraq in concentrated prayer.

Out of dozens of potential cities to adopt, over fifteen percent of our thousands of prayer warriors adopted the city of Mosul, compared with less than nine percent adopting Tikrit and just over eleven percent praying for the capital, Baghdad.

According to Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times, the death of Hussein' sons "ay diminish but not eliminate attacks that have killed 40 American soldiers since President Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1." In another editorial, the Times proclaimed this as "the most encouraging news out of Iraq in weeks." There is additional speculation that Saddam himself, may be in the same region of Iraq. Is this simply an odd circumstance or is God moving through the prayers of His people?

God works in wonderful and mysterious ways. Operation Iraqi Care is one tool that He is using to bring peace and democracy to Iraq and to pave the way for the proclamation of the gospel and the spread of the evangelical church. Thousands of people have been mobilized to pray; the majority somehow chose Mosul and almost simultaneously we see tangible results in the death of Saddam's sons. Coincidence?

For additional comments or interviews please contact:
Kyle Fisk, NAE Executive Administrator
(719) 268-8211 kfisk@nae.net

3 comments:

chris said...

The president of the NAE seems to be completely infatuated with the Bush Administration's War on Terror.
I would like to believe that his position (which borders on Christian Nationalism) is not representative of the NAE as a whole. I'm currently reading "Toward An Evangelical Public Policy" on Baker books. This book sheds light and brings hope to the possibility for a more thoughtful Evangelical Foreign policy. Its very thorough and is very informative historically, theologically, and practical, with a wealth of representative voices from Left and Right. Still I' d be no more eager to rush out and join the NAE. Especially with this far right leadership. Pres. Ted Haggard's Foreword to the book is indicative of the position seen here. (At least he's consistent.)
Here's another similar PRESS RELEASE link on Democracy in Iraq.

http://www.nae.net/index.cfm?FUSEACTION=editor.page&pageID=17&IDcategory=1

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the prophet Bob Dylan's sone: with God on our side"

Jordan said...

Just found your blog. I'm a believer in the Middle East, it's frankly distubing how distorted government actions are, but the true challenges often lie corporately; by and large. the government here does not abuse people (give or take; capital punishment is quite active here, and prisons aren't nearly what they could be) but some of the horrors I have heard and seen with families and with corporations are a true travesty.

On the prayer issue, we pray as a church for visions during Ramadan for the Muslims; we pray for the secular and Muslim leadership, and at the same time prayer for the poor, the oppressed.

To be honest; I don't really know what to do. War here has been a reality, you just keep going to work, keep living, because how else can you survive? Nonetheless, the whole area needs our constant prayer and support; but one that is holistic and Christ-centred, not policy centred.

I believe that God cares a lot more about us than our idealogies. And that goes for all of us, on all sides of the fence.

Thanks for the website, and it's good to be here.