Submitted by Dr Gary Kohls, MD
Written By: Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
“Instead we will probably get Christian newspapers and magazines featuring such articles as, “Jesus’ Snipers,” “Sniping Jesus’ Way” or “When the Mission of Jesus Needs Snipers.””
“Lord, there are bad guys out there. Just help us kill them.” — Evangelical Christian Chaplain, Bravo Company (quoted in Newsweek, 11/10/03)
Todd Starnes, an Evangelical Christian and Fox TV News talking-head (who also has his own Fox radio show, reaching millions of vulnerable people with his presentation of “reality” and Gospel “truth”) said last week that “Jesus Christ would have been a fan of Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, American Sniper” (the mythologized story of America’s top Christian killer in Iraq, Christopher Kyle).
“I’m no theologian,” said Starnes, “but I suspect Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.’”
You’ve gotta love those American Evangelicals. They call the shots as they see them. They don’t pussy foot around morally or theologically when it comes to war. Unlike their Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox co-religionists they do not incessantly dabble in ethical hair-splitting in order to twist Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies” into somehow meaning that a Christian can love his or her enemies while simultaneously destroying and mutilating them and those they love.
The Evangelicals know what war is. They know what really goes on in war. They know the spirit of lethal enmity in which war has to be waged by the men and women who actually do the fighting, killing and dying if they are going to successfully do the job that they think their President sent them to do.
Of course, in reality, they will never know the real reasons why the President and his paymasters sent them to kill and maim people in far off places. They are Christians. They have the true faith. They are the true believers of the true faith. Anyone else is just Godless. And, if the Godless ever dare oppose the United States (which is “under God” and a place “with liberty and justice for all”), then they have no right to exist because only truth has a right to exist. Then, they have no right to exist because by being enemies of this Christian nation they ipso facto are enemies of its God.
In this 70% “Christian” nation (on paper only) the populace has been drawn to see the film American Sniper, like flies are drawn to flypaper. It is a box office megahit, dwarfing by orders of magnitude the receipts of the powerful story of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign, Selma, a powerful Academy Award-worthy movie that is simultaneously being offered to U.S. audiences. Tragically, very few U.S. Catholic Bishops will have the courage to point out the relative spiritual values of either film or to critique American Sniper from a gospel values perspective, if they dare say anything at all.
Taking the Side of the Oppressors by Being Silent in the Face of Injustice
As Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican Archbishop once said: “If you see injustice and say nothing, you have taken the side of the oppressor.” Likewise, Martin Luther King said: “It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social change is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the silence of the so-called good people.” And of course, Jesus himself commanded his followers to not just “love your enemies but also to “put away the sword, for he who lives by the sword will surely perish by the sword.” Those three prophetic voices need to be heeded, at least by professed Christians.
But silence in the face of the human slaughter and destruction that their government’s wars demand (and that members of their faith communities are executing), has always been the Bishops’ strong suit and cornerstone on which they have built their pleasant and lucrative relationship with the government.
Silent acquiescence, while Christians in their spiritual care dash head long into the spiritual flypaper of American Sniper is normal for them. “Mum’s the word” is the norm wherever anything related to U.S. military homicide is involved, regardless of the level of human desolation that it brings down on men, women and children, civilian or military, in utero or extra utero, today or tomorrow.
Putting on the Mind of Cain
So there is no reason to anticipate that the U.S. Bishops will even warn Christians that this multi-million dollar film is a cinematic deception intended to brainwash people into putting on the mind of Cain, which is as far removed from the mind of Jesus as hell is from heaven. Indeed, this cunning film’s power lay in the fact that it can lead Christians ever more deeply into believing that the mind of Cain is the same as the mind of Christ.
In my judgment, American Catholic Bishops, as well church leaders of all stripes, have a moral obligation to warn the parents of Christian young people (whose brains are not yet fully developed) against viewing this murderous piece of propaganda. At a bare minimum a warning of this film’s potential to morally corrupt young people should be issued by every Bishop to the people of his diocese. Any Bishop of any Church who would do that would have neuroscience, common sense and the Gospels to thoroughly back-up what was said.
Instead we will probably get Christian newspapers and magazines featuring such articles as, “Jesus’ Snipers,” “Sniping Jesus’ Way” or “When the Mission of Jesus Needs Snipers.”