Unfazed by the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there can still be found Christian warmongers who defend these fiascos. But Bryan Fischer, who blogs for the American Family Association, is not your typical Christian warmonger. He is a Christian warmonger on steroids.
Fischer is the director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association and host of the daily “Focal Point” radio talk program on American Family Radio. But he should also be a member of the Christian axis of evil.
I first discovered Mr. Fischer when a reader alerted me to a recent column of his (“The Feminization of the Medal of Honor“) about the awarding of the Medal of Honor to a soldier for heroism in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta took a bullet, pulled a soldier to safety, rescued another one from Taliban, and lived to receive his medal in person – the only one of the eight Medal of Honor winners during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to do so.
Fischer maintains that “we have feminized the Medal of Honor.” This is a “disturbing trend” that he has noticed, but “which few others seem to have recognized.” He laments that “every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts has been awarded for saving life.” He is upset that “not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy.” Fischer wants U.S. soldiers to do one thing – kill:
So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?
I would suggest our culture has become so feminized that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valor that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of braver
We rightly honor those who give up their lives to save their comrades. It’s about time we started also honoring those who kill bad guys.
The reaction to Fischer’s column was fierce. The comments posted were overwhelmingly negative. I made the mistake of printing out the article without checking to see how long the comment section was. The comments actually took up fifty-one pages versus the one page taken up by the article. The reaction was so fierce that two days later Fischer wrote about the subject again in another column (“The Feminization of the Medal of Honor – Part II“) in which he complained that the comments about his first piece were “angry, vituperative, hate-filled, and laced with both profanity and blasphemy.” (I read them all and saw very little profanity and blasphemy). Fischer deludes himself by accusing “readers who have reacted so viscerally to what I wrote” of not reading all of his 600-word piece or not reading it at all and just relying on “what others said about the column.”
In his second column, Fischer begins by clarifying that “it is altogether right that we honor heroism and bravery when it is expressed in self sacrifice” and emphasizing that he believes in honoring soldiers for “exceptional bravery in defense of our own troops.” But then he brings up his passion again – killing:
What I am saying is that I am observing a trend in which we single out bravery in self-defense and yet seem hesitant to single out bravery in launching aggressive attacks that result in the deaths of enemy soldiers.
It is striking that a certain amount of the criticism I have received actually verifies my thesis. In response to my call to also honor those who have killed bad guys in defense of our country, I have been called everything from savage to brute to bloodthirsty to anti-American to un-American to traitor to “expletives deleted” to the antichrist himself.
Surely some of this supports my contention that we have become too squeamish to honor such valor. It’s almost as if it embarrasses us, as if we feel there is something inappropriate about awarding our highest honor to those who kill the enemy in battle.
It apparently is easier for us to honor valor when exhibited in self-defense, but we find ourselves reluctant to honor killing the enemy when we are the aggressor in a military setting.
I guess Fischer’s ideal candidate for the Medal of Honor would be Lt. William Caley or a worker on the Manhattan Project.
After trying to justify his unholy desire with Scripture, which arguments I will examine in due course, Fischer closes his second column thusly:
War is certainly a terrible thing, and should only be waged for the highest and most just of causes. But if the cause is just, then there is great honor in achieving military success, success which should be celebrated and rewarded.
The bottom line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process. What I’m saying is that it’s time we started imitating God’s example again.
There are two issues here that need to be addressed. One, Fischer’s support for U.S. soldiers killing in Iraq and Afghanistan. And two, Fischer’s attempt to justify, with Scripture, his passion for killing.
Fischer just takes it as a given that the current wars the United States is embroiled in are just wars. The truth, of course, is that they are two of the most unjust wars the United States has ever fought. See, for example, five hundred random articles on the Internet, many of them mine. And, to rephrase Fischer: If the cause is unjust, then there is great dishonor in achieving military success and such success should be condemned and punished. A war that is not justifiable is nothing short of mass murder.
The mentality of Fischer and other Christian warmongers is that the enemies of the United States are enemies of freedom and if the U.S. military is doing the killing then the cause is just. But why are Iraq and Afghanistan even considered to be bad guys that are our enemies? Did Iraq and Afghanistan attack the United States on 9/11? Did any of the men that are claimed to be the 9/11 hijackers even come from Iraq and Afghanistan? Oh, but we didn’t go to war just because of 9/11. Right, the Bush administration, congressional war hawks, and their willing accomplices in the media gave twenty-seven different rationales for the Iraq war alone. No Iraqi or Afghan was ever or is presently a threat to any American in the United States. And no Iraqi or Afghan was ever a threat to any American solder until the United States invaded their countries and started unleashing the full force of its military. And neither can soldiers be said to be acting in self-defense because the war itself was not for self-defense. It was an act of naked aggression that was supposed to be a cakewalk, but it backfired with disastrous results for the United States.
My greatest problem with Fischer is his misuse of Scripture. As Wilma Ann Bailey remarks in her book You Shall Not Kill or You Shall Not Murder? The Assault on a Biblical Text (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2005): “People want to kill people, and they want biblical permission to do so.”
Regarding Fischer’s contention that “we have become too squeamish to honor such valor” as killing our enemies, he says that “the Scriptures certainly know nothing of such squeamishness.” He then gives the example of King David, a man who had slain “his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7), “fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter” (1 Samuel 23:5), smote the Amalekites “from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled” (1 Samuel 30:17), “smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer” (2 Samuel 5:25), and warred against the Philistines, Moab, Zobah, Syria, and Edom (2 Samuel 8:1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 13, 14). And remember, says Fischer, that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
But as I have pointed out many times, it is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. military. Although God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, it does not follow that God sponsors American wars or that America is God’s chosen nation. The U.S. president is not King David, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, and God never commanded any Christian to war on his behalf. The fact that King David did what he did under divine sanction has absolutely no bearing on anything the U.S. military does.
And Fischer is not giving us the whole story of King David:
Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. (1 Chronicles 28:2-3)
I guess King David is not a good example after all.
Fischer also invokes John the Baptist’s conversation with Roman soldiers: “Christianity is not a religion of pacifism. Remember that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers who came to him to lay down their arms, even when they asked him directly, u2018what shall we do?’ (Luke 3:14).” True, but neither is Christianity a religion of murder. I have discussed John the Baptist’s rules for soldiers here.
Fischer’s desire for “massive casualties” to be inflicted while being honored by one’s god is reminiscent of a Muslim suicide bomber that Fischer would label a bad guy and our enemy.
Aside from theological differences, it is because of warmongering chickenhawk Christians like Fischer that non-Christians, nominal Christians, Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, and mainline Protestant Christians often have an unfavorable opinion of evangelical Christians. Fischer has also further damaged the image of the American Family Association.
Bryan Fischer is not the greatest Christian warmonger of all time, but he is without doubt a Christian warmonger on steroids.