Almost two years ago, I reported that there are no more churches in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department. Now, Andrew Doran at AmCon Mag tells the story of how the Iraq War became a war on Christians. Hopefully, the U.S. will not repeat the mistake for a third time in Syria.

Did you know that prior to the invasion of Iraq, Pope John Paul II sent Cardinal Pio Laghi, who was also a Vatican diplomat, to see President George W. Bush in order to convince him not to attack? The Vatican had the wisdom to see what many in the world could not: that an invasion would result in a protracted war with tens of thousands of deaths and an increased hostility to Christians in the region.

Obviously, Bush and Co. didn’t listen.

Amid the chaos and sectarian violence that followed, Iraq’s Christians suffered severe persecution. Neither the military nor the State Department took action to protect them. In October 2003, human rights expert Nina Shea noted that religious freedom and a pluralistic Iraq were not high priorities for the administration, concluding that its “diffidence on religious freedom suggests Washington’s relative indifference to this basic human right.” Shea added, “Washington’s refusal to insist on guarantees of religious freedom threatens to undermine its already difficult task of securing a fully democratic government in Iraq”—more prescience that would be likewise disregarded.

If it is true that President Bush felt that this was “a war of good against evil” and that his work was “providential” – as he himself has said – then perhaps he ought to re-evaluate his relationship with God.

My own understanding of the Iraq War shifted over time. Believe me, I did not always understand either the implications of the Gospel or the lessons of libertarianism with respect to war. I watched “Shock and Awe” with the rest of them in, well, shock and awe. I would like to think, though, that if I had understood more quickly how devastating war was to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps I would have abandoned the lie sooner.

So let this be a lesson to us Christian libertarians now: when the next war is on the horizon, remind your fellow Christians who do not understand that the lives of their extended family in Christ hang in the balance. Maybe then, they will listen more closely.

Make sure to read the rest of Doran’s article here, and don’t forget the lesson.

Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Linda B

    Norman, I am not sure where you get this stuff, but it is simply not true that there are no Christians in Iraq. I agree that many of the post-invasion decisions were poor, but I know for certainty that Christians still meet in Iraq, perhaps in larger numbers than before. And I also know that females now have the ability to read the Bible for themselves: something they could not do under Saddam (and something that many in the Catholic church do not hold in high regard).

    However, the war was not about trying to make Iraq a Christian nation, nor was it about bringing religious freedom to what had been a totalitarian state. It was about taking power away from a man who declared himself to be the next Hitler, BEFORE he had the power to act upon that desire. Saddam proved, with his invasion of Kuwait and Kurdish genocide within his own country, that he had the willingness to act upon that fantasy, and he was rapidly gaining the means. Iraq had far less infrastructure and the people were far less educated than those in neighboring Iran because Iraq’s money all went to the military. When Saddam repeatedly refused to obey the peace treaty that ended the war in Kuwait, what do you think Bush’s response should have been?

    For that matter, should Libertarian Christians in the USA take the position that we should sit back smugly and watch genocides, declaring that it is not in our best economic interest to rescue people, as we did with Rwanda?

  • Nobody ever said there were no Christians in Iraq. I know Christians from Iraq who had to flee — even educated, employed Christian women. What I have said:

    (1) The State Department reported there were no more organized churches in Afghanistan. Of course, there were undoubtedly home congregations meeting in secret, but the church was decimated as a consequence of interventionism.

    (2) Christians in Iraq were persecuted severely and received little help from their “liberators” following the invasion in 2003. This is well documented.

    (3) If we expect to continue interventions in the Middle East in places such as Syria, Lebanon, etc., then these consequences will continue. Such “blowback” never enters into the calculations of the blowhard leaders at the top.

    There is no defense for an invasion of Iraq. It is changing the narrative to claim that we were invading to stop Saddam “before” he had such powers — the regime didn’t try that story until years later after their other arguments had been shown to be outright lies. Saddam had no WMDs (that we didn’t give him in the 80s), especially no nukes. Iraq had no involvement with 9-11. Saddam wasn’t even a fundamentalist Muslim. In fact, Iraq BEFORE invasion was secular, post-invasion it was the U.S. that helped install a fundamentalist leader. Nice job, U.S.A.!

    For a bit more:

    Oh, and don’t forget that Saddam was the U.S.A.’s best buddy during conservatives’ most hallowed period of American history: the Reagan years.

    It used to be that conservatives thought the U.S. shouldn’t be the policeman of the world. My, how times change.

    Libertarians, on the other hand, recognize that war is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. (HT Smedley Butler)

    We shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of other nations. In order to prevent genocide, we don’t carry the biggest stick and drop it whenever we want. Instead, we foster trade, offer asylum to the persecuted, keep immigration as open as possible, and exchange in culture rather than bombs.

    Interventionism *does not work*, and is ultimately immoral.

  • Nick (Five Solas Reformation)

    The underlying theological problem that causes most American Christians (many of whom probably are just cultural Christians and aren’t even saved) to think so un-Biblically about foreign policy is the flawed systematic framework of dispensationalism. To be fair, there are some really godly dispensationalist preachers and theologians who have been mightily used by God in many ways, but that doesn’t change the fact that their flawed method of interpreting Scripture is the basis for all sorts of bad theology.

    Dispensationalism has only been around for a couple of centuries, teaching that God relates to man according to periods in human history. Proponents therefore see a total distinction between national Israel and the Church, and the Church is viewed as God’s “plan B.” From this springs their commitment to national Israel and all of the bad theology that comes with it (like demanding U.S. intervention in the Middle East).

    In all ages of the church prior, people knew that the proper view of interpreting Scripture was covenant-oriented. The Church has always been God’s plan, His one true people composed of Jew and Gentile alike. In their writings, you never see Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards or the Puritans talking about waiting for the restoration of national Israel.

    We have to address the incorrect theological framework of dispensationalism if we’re to help get the church in America back on track.

  • JDB


    I agree……For a Christian-centric culture, many self-professed Christians either forget or do not realize that our actions have an equal and opposite reaction…..That is evident in the fact that 700 Iraqi Christians (the last estimate I read) are dead. Countless “Christians” in Syria are now dead. Not to mention that by propping up Hosni Mubarak with weapons and money, we have put countless Christians in Egypt at risk now that Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are in power.