Public Perception of Drone Warfare

As drone strikes become all too common, the Church of the Brethren has taken a leadership role in the faith community’s response to drone warfare. Our 2013 Annual Conference Resolution on Drone Warfare makes it clear that the use of drones is at odds with our commitment to peace.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo

“All killing mocks the God who creates and gives life. Jesus, as the Word incarnate, came to dwell among us (John 1:14) in order to reconcile humanity to God and bring about peace and healing. In contrast, our government’s expanding use of armed drones distances the decisions to use lethal force from the communities in which these deadly strikes take place. We find the efforts of the United States to distance the act of killing from the site of violence to be in direct conflict to the witness of Christ Jesus.” -2013 Resolution on Drone Warfare

One of the biggest battles to be fought in the campaign against drone warfare will happen right on U.S. soil- in the hearts and minds of U.S. citizens. In 2015, Pew Research found that only 35% of Americans disapprove of the use of drones in warfare (link). An AP-GfK poll the same year found that only 13% of Americans opposed drone usage (link).

Numbers like these are disheartening, considering the tremendous ethical concerns and transparency issues that arise in the United States drone program. Humans on the ground are labeled as “targets” based not on proven crimes, but because they fit a profile of possible combatants. Children experience fear for their lives and families when they hear the telltale buzzing of a drone overhead. Soldiers operating drones face emotional and mental trauma. The use of drones even contributes to anti-American sentiments around the world- increasing the chances of more conflict later down the road.  

If the public had a greater understanding of the true impact of drone warfare on civilians, soldiers, and even American security, we believe that the percentage of Americans opposed to drone warfare would increase dramatically. If public perception of the drone program reflected the true moral, ethical, and security concerns, it would be much easier to get the U.S.

This is why it is so important to work towards increased public awareness of the U.S. drone program. Our government will not take steps to increase transparency and limit the use of drones without the American public speaking out for justice and peace.

Fortunately, there are ways to get involved in changing the public perception of the U.S. drone program! The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, one of our partners through the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare, has put together five 30-minute documentaries that can be used in congregations to start the conversation on drone warfare.

Two of the documentaries feature Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, who provides a Peace Church perspective.

We need individuals from congregations to host showings of these documentaries in their congregations. We will provide access to the documentaries and an easy-to-use discussion guide. These videos and discussions are a great way to engage your congregation in deep discussions about peacebuilding and the ethical problems with the drone program.  If you are interested in more information or if you decide to host a screening, please contact vbateman@brethren.org.

By helping the public understand the drone program, we can work towards a more just and peaceful world. Please join us in this effort by hosting a documentary viewing and discussion in your congregation!

 

The Church of the Brethren and Afghanistan

We believe that peace and security will not be found through military, economic, and political reprisal, or in the drastic curtailment of civil liberties in the United States. These avenues may satisfy the desire for retaliation and the appearance of greater security, but in the long term they can neither change the conditions that give rise to terrorist impulses nor eradicate the threat of terrorist attack. The perpetrators of acts such as these should be held accountable for their deeds. However, their apprehension and prosecution should be carried out within the rule of applicable law, without the loss of additional lives.

 

These were the words spoken by the General Board of the Church of the Brethren on October 22nd, 2011. I have yet to find a statement that better reflects the Christian call to nonviolence in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

This year marks a number of turning points – both in the churches witness against violence, and the war on terror for the United States. This month, Christian peacemakers from around the world will gather in Kingston, Jamaica, for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, an event that will mark the end of the Decade to Overcome Violence – an initiative of the World Council of Churches. Coming out of this convocation will be a Just Peace Declaration – providing the church a framework for its peace witness moving forward.

This September will also mark the 10 year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, and a decade of our country being at war. Furthermore, July of this year marks the anticipated beginning of a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. Despite many statements on the War in Iraq, the Church of the Brethren has not made a statement on Afghanistan, or the War on Terror, since October 22nd, 2001. As we move toward all of these milestones, I want to hear from you. What word does the Church of the Brethren have to offer our country, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, regarding the War on Terror and the War in Afghanistan? What would you like to have us say?