North Korean authorities recently released an American citizen who had been accused of proselytizing for Christianity in North Korea, where such conduct is a criminal offense.
Why would the communist authorities in North Korea care if people are practicing Christianity? Because government officials are afraid that Christians might give foremost allegiance to God rather than to the government, especially in areas where the government’s actions contradict the laws of God.
Here in the United States, thanks to the efforts of our American ancestors, the Constitution prohibits the federal government from doing what the North Korean government does.
As a practical matter, however, U.S. national-security state officials don’t need to concern themselves with the fear that North Korean national-security state officials have. That’s because most American Christians, at least insofar as the U.S. national-security state is concerned, unquestionably pledge their foremost allegiance to the federal government, not to God.
This is best manifested by the unconditional praise and thanks that Christians give to the troops, who serve as the agents by which the national-security state violently imposes its will on others around the world. In offering such praise and thanks, there is never an independent judgment on whether what the troops are doing is good or bad. The American Christian automatically assumes that whatever the troops are doing is good and whoever they’re doing it to is a “bad guy.”
What if the troops are actually engaged in conduct that violates God’s laws? That question never enters the mind of most American Christians, including Christian ministers. American troops are American men and women. They’re serving our nation. They’re defending our rights and freedoms. They’re our friends and neighbors. They attend church services with us. They’re on our team. Everything the troops do, the American Christian mindset holds, is automatically consistent with God’s laws. After all, don’t forget: The troops are Americans!
We witnessed this phenomenon especially in Iraq. Here was a war in which the U.S. government was clearly the aggressor nation and Iraq was the defending nation. Yet, many American Christians automatically came to the support of the troops, cheering for them, praising them, exalting them. It didn’t make any difference that the U.S. government was aggressing against people who had never attacked the United States. Once the invasion was underway, American Christians declared that the time for debate and discussion was over. It was our team — our men and women — who needed our support. The Iraqis had no right, American Christians said, to defend their nation against the United States. Those Iraqi citizens who chose to oppose the troops were automatically considered “bad guys” who deserved to die at the hands of the troops.
All the prayers in church services across America were devoted in support of the troops, never to the people whom the troops were killing.
It was not much different with respect to Afghanistan. American Christians unconditionally supported the troops there as well, notwithstanding the fact that most of the people whom the troops were killing had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact, many of the Afghan people who were killed were doing nothing more than resisting the foreign invasion and occupation of their country, something that many people around the world would do in the face of a foreign invasion and occupation of their country.
Many American Christians rationalized their support of the troops in Afghanistan by convincing themselves that the Afghan Taliban government had conspired with al-Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks. The truth is that the only reason President Bush sent the troops into war against the Afghan government was because the Afghan government refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for Osama bin Laden. There was no extradition agreement between the United States and Afghanistan.
Consider the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a man with CIA ties who is accused of committing the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner over Venezuela air space, killing dozens of innocent people, including the young members of Cuba’s fencing team. Despite the fact that there is an extradition agreement between the United States and Venezuela, U.S. officials, no doubt pressured by the CIA, refuse to comply with the treaty and steadfastly continue to harbor this accused terrorist by refusing to extradite him to Venezuela.
Does Venezuela have the same moral right to invade the United States to take Posada into custody that the U.S. government claimed in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden, where there was no extradition treaty?
If Venezuela did invade the United States to take Posada into custody, would American Christians support the Venezuelan invaders as a matter of principle? Of course not. We all know that they would automatically come to the support of our team, our men and women, our friends and neighbors, our nation, our troops.
Most American Christians never ask the critical question: Is what the troops are doing, including assassinating, shooting, and bombing people in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere contradicting the laws of God? If they were to ask that question, they would then have to decide which entity to devote their foremost allegiance to: God or the federal government. If they chose God, then they would necessarily have to oppose, not support, the troops.
American Christians decline to ask that question, at least insofar as any “national-security state operation” is concerned. Instead, American Christians have come to defer to the judgment of the national-security state and automatically come to the support of the troops, regardless of what the troops are doing.
In the process, whether they realize it or not, American Christians have elevated the military section of the federal government to the level of an idol, one whose actions are automatically considered consistent with God’s laws, one whose troops must always be supported, praised, and thanked, regardless of what they are doing.