It is still too early to discern the shape of a peace movement in response to the terrorist attacks, but mainline Protestant and Catholic groups are already in the forefront of protests against American use of force and retaliation in the conflict, according to reports.
The National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 21) reports that faith-based peace groups showed a range of responses to the attacks, but were united in the call against military action for the attack as well as a concern about vengeance against Muslims and others of different cultures. Like other peace activists, there is more ambivalence about a strict anti-retaliation stance, since the American response would be largely defensive rather than aggressive, according to an article in Time magazine (Oct. 8).
In a report on the mainline response to the attacks in the Catholic newspaper The Wanderer (Sept. 27), Mark Tooley of the conservative Institute for Religion and Democracy finds an emphasis on peace and interfaith understanding but little attention to justice. He cites statements from the National Council of Churches, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), and Episcopal Church where the stress is on avoiding further violence and retaliation.
Lacking is any “alarm about the possibility of further terrorist attacks and more American lives lost…They do not express alarm about the rise of radical Islam that likely fueled the terrorism. Instead, they are concerned about prejudice aimed at Arab-Americans.” Tooley says the mainline churches are employing a sort of “psychoanalysis” in their concern for the attackers’ anti-American grievances.
“Note the Presbyterian desire to `understand the pain, frustration, and sense of powerlessness’ that supposedly fueled the attacks of terrorism.. Is `frustration’ a legitimate cause for annihilating thousands of strangers?”
(National Catholic Reporter, P.O. Box 419281, Kansas City, MO 64141; The Wanderer, 201 Ohio St., St. Paul, MN 55107)