Call from the Faith-based Community to Stop Drone Killings

A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings

As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:

•                The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;

•                The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;

•                Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;

•                Drone strikes violate other nation’s sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);

•                Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keeps the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;

•                Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;

•                The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;

•                Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.

•                The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.

The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.

We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.

Signees: (organizational affiliations for identification only)

Reverend Lesley Adams, Chaplain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Episcopal Priest

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, LA

Andra Baylus, Interfaith Bridge-Builder, Co-Founder of the DC Interfaith Peace Initiative

Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area

Pastor Dale Bracey, Presbyterian Church

Reverend Dr. Matthew Braddock, Sr. Minister, Christ Congregational Church UCC, Silver Spring, MD

Betty Campbell, Religious Sisters of Mercy

Reverend Ben Daniel, Pastor, Foothill Presbyterian Church, San Jose, CA

Cantor Michael Davis, Rabbinical Council, Jewish Voices for Peace

Reverend Richard Deats, Pastor, Nyack, New York

Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International

Grace Roberts Dyrness, Doctorate in Planning and Development Studies

Samina Faheem, Executive Director, American Muslim Voice

Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah, Founder and Chairwoman, National Association of Muslim American Women

Reverend Dr. Jerrold L. Foltz, Wellspring United Church of Christ, Centreville, VA

Reverend John L. Freesemann, Pastor, Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church of San Jose

Reverend Dr. Diana C. Gibson, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, Presbyterian Pastor

Reverend David W. Good, Minister Emeritus, The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme,Connecticut

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Coordinator for FOR Interfaith Peacewalks, Co-Founder Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence

Naqi Haider, Community Organizer/Executive Director of Muslims for Peace, Inc.

Reverend Peter Hinde, Order of Carmelites, Doctor of Divinity

Reverend Stephen Kelly, S.J., Murray Jesuit Residence, Oakland, CA

Elder Derrick Kikuchi, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, California

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice LA

Dr. Wayne Martin, First Congregational Church, Eugene, OR

Cyrus McGoldrick, Civil Rights Manager, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)- New York

Kathy McNeely, Director, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Muslim Peace Coalition USA; Chairperson, Parliament of World Religions

Blair Pettyjohn, Ahimsa Christi, Peace Group of Dayspring Church

Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America, Fremont, CA

Reverend George Regis, Episcopal Church

Father Bill Pickard, Vice President, Pax Christi of North Eastern PA

Reverend Charles W. Rawlings, Los Gatos, California

Pastor John F. Steinbruck, Retired Lutheran Pastor, Retired Captain U.S. Navy

Jean Stokan, Director, Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Dr. Susan Stouffer, Director, Peace Center, United University Church, Los Angeles

Pastor John Wimberly, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC

Father Louie Vitale, Franciscan priest, Pace e Bene