Are we in a holy war?

Tue, 09/23/2008 - 3:27pm
By: Letters to the ...

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right; also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.” –Sarah Palin

Some people are concerned about the above quote and at the prospect of having a vice president who would make such comments. Charles Gibson, referencing this quote in his recent interview with Palin, asked her if we were in a holy war. Online bloggers seem ready to crucify her for making herself out to be one who can actually hear from God.

First, let’s not misread the quote. Palin does not say that our soldiers are on a task from God. She’s simply stating that we should pray that we are acting in God’s will. “Pray ... also for this country, that ... our national leaders are sending soldiers out on a task that is from God” (versus sending them out on a task that is from man only and is against God’s will.)

She continues, saying that we must pray that there is a plan, and that that plan is God’s plan. She doesn’t want us in a war without a plan. Furthermore, she wants whatever plan we are implementing to be God’s plan.

Do Palin’s comments suggest that we are fighting a holy war? Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, a holy war is a war waged for what is supposed or proclaimed to be a holy purpose, as the defense of faith.

So, should radical members of the Islamic faith conquer our land, and we find ourselves fighting for the right to practice Christianity, then according to this definition, we would be fighting in a holy war.

Was what al Qaeda did on Sept. 11, 2001, the beginning of such an attempt? Only they can answer. Regardless of al Qaeda’s intentions, or even whether they call this a holy war, most Americans do not see it as such. Our military is simply protecting the lives of our U.S. citizens from further attacks which al Qaeda will undoubtedly attempt if given another chance.

One way we’re doing this is by helping the Iraqi government in their fight for freedom and democracy. This could also be considered a holy war if we decided to conquer Iraq in order to take away the religious freedom of its citizens and force them to become Christians. That is not the case.

This should certainly not be considered a holy war because Sarah Palin or any other leader asks for God’s help or direction.

Some are upset for another reason. They assert that such a comment from a state governor is a violation of the separation of church and state. Without getting into the original meaning of “separation of church and state,” it should be noted that this comment was not even spoken in the context of a political rally or convention; she said it in her own church.

Since the Bible specifically instructs Christians to pray for those who are in authority, perhaps the pastor asked her to share prayer requests with the congregation. I would expect any governor, so asked, to answer with his or her deepest concerns, be that failing school systems, the rate of violence in the streets, the prospect of building a gas pipeline, or his or her personal concerns about the war in Iraq.

Of those people who are upset with Gov. Palin, a few may believe that a political leader should not be a Christian, or if a leader is a Christian, he or she should not openly express that faith.

Most people, however, realize our country was founded on Christian principles, and we are still considered a Christian nation.

Do expressions of faith from national leaders undermine atheists’ or the Muslims’ right to believe as they choose? Certainly not.

In America, the atheist is still entitled to his atheism, and the Muslim is entitled to his Islamic beliefs. And certainly, the few who hold to such beliefs would not presume to impose their religion on the Christian masses ... or would they?

Laura Johnson

Sharpsburg, Ga.

login to post comments