Sunday, November 08, 2009

Senior chaplain in Helmand province: 'We kill to defeat evil'

The senior padre of Task Force Helmand, 11 Light Brigade, has said British soldiers in Afghanistan should be prepared to die in a 'fight against the evil of fundamentalism'.

Padre Mark Christian said killing 'to defeat evil' was 'morally permissible'. He leads today's Remembrance Sunday service in Lashkar Gah, where hundreds of soldiers will gather to remember not only the fallen of past wars, but also their own friends, colleagues and brothers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

We only see their faces for a few seconds on the news, but they are quickly forgotten amidst the glitz of X-Factor. Parliament hears their names routinely read out each week by the Prime Minister, and their heroism is quickly subsumed to party political point-scoring. But those who live in the warzone face the reality of death every day.

The Padre said: "In a perfect world, the world that God intended for us, we would all live at peace with each other.

"But we don't live in that world, we live in a fallen world where evil exists and it is the obligation of all good people to confront evil and to defeat it where they can.

"Unfortunately that necessitates us in doing things like killing, which in the abstract is wrong.

"But when you are doing that to defeat a greater evil I think it is morally permissible but it requires our soldiers to have a very, very high degree of understanding of morality."

Politicians have largely ceased seeing things in terms of good and evil: everything is relative. Cranmer wonders if, just occasionally, our solidiers ask themselves if that which they are fighting to defend is worth dying for. Why die to bring liberty and democracy to Afghanistan, when liberty and democracy are in peril in the United Kingdom?

By confronting the evil abroad, we take our eyes off the evil at home.

Or we simply cease to call it evil, and so it ceases to be.


Blogger Manfarang said...

In other words we have lost.
Clearly the people of Afghanistan don't want a bunch of foreign killers on their soil.

8 November 2009 at 08:36  
Blogger Nick Gulliford said...

"By confronting the evil abroad, we take our eyes off the evil at home."

We buy the heroin to fund the Taliban to fight against our forces.

The moat in our own eye is the breakdown in our families which has led to the drug addiction and other manifestations of social breakdown.

We find it easier to confront the Taliban than our own wretchedness.

8 November 2009 at 08:40  
Anonymous martin sewell said...


Far too shallow.

Evil loses because God ultimately made us for better purpose.

I can only be grateful that the real test fell to my father's resilient generation and not this one

8 November 2009 at 09:16  
Blogger Kenpachi said...


If only we could again find the character and spirit that men and women of that time once held, we'd be so much the better for it.

8 November 2009 at 09:41  
Anonymous len said...

How do you fight an Ideology with a spiritual dimension? For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, EPH 6:12.

8 November 2009 at 09:43  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Every generation is tested and this one no less than others, Mr Sewell, but the Padre's words are not true.
Our being in Afghanistan is a diversion from our own dreadful problems at home. What is more evil about the Taleban or Alqaeda (sp?) than about socialism, that is well on the way to destroying our society?

If the Padre was interested in fighting evil rather than buoying up the troops' resolve he would be crying to the heavens for the reconversion of his own country rather than supporting a 'war' against a country that is no threat to us.

I find it hard to see why Afghans are 'evil' but this shameful scum pretending to run Britain is not.

8 November 2009 at 09:45  
Blogger Manfarang said...

I don't know how old you are but are you telling me your father fought in the Third Anglo-Afghan War?

8 November 2009 at 09:51  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Politicians have largely ceased seeing things in terms of good and evil: everything is relative. Cranmer wonders if, just occasionally, our solidiers ask themselves if that which they are fighting to defend is worth dying for. Why die to bring liberty and democracy to Afghanistan, when liberty and democracy are in peril in the United Kingdom?

By confronting the evil abroad, we take our eyes off the evil at home.

Or we simply cease to call it evil, and so it ceases to be.

Your Grace, although I do not agree with everything you say words such as these are the reason I hold your blog in high esteem.

8 November 2009 at 09:55  
Anonymous Fran said...

Whilst listening to the excellent BBC Radio 4 service at 8.15 this morning, it occurred to me that one of the (many) reasons why Christianity makes sense is that it alone confronts the atrocious reality of evil, both human and spiritual.

Christians do not have to claim that human beings are inherently inclined to good as do Muslims and, I believe, Jews (please correct me if I'm wrong). St Paul interpreted the third Chapter of Genesis thus 'for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.'

Likewise, Christians may take seriously Our Lord's insistence that we creatures of flesh and spirit exist alongside a spiritual world at war "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven!" and understand that we are part of that cosmic battle for good or ill.

Because of this Christians need not be overwhelmed - although we may be appalled - at the depraved things humans do to each other.

We must, however, CHOOSE to be on the side of right, and thank God, Christians need not partake of the poisoned chalice of moral relativism.

Christians can reject the assertion that terrorists who seek to oppress and restrict other people's rights are freedom fighters.

They can utterly reject those cultural norms which imprison women in their houses, permitting them to die of sickness or wither from lack of education and opportunity without pretending that they are as moral as our own culture - for all its faults.

What Christians cannot do, though, is to cease the struggle to offer freedom from oppression, physical and spiritual, to everyone who wishes it.

For as Donne wrote, 'No man is an island'. The particular evil NATO faces in Afghanistan makes no pretense at its desire to spew its evil worldwide by taking nations over - starting with Afghanistan, then Pakistan and from thence, with the help of the nuclear threat which would then be in its grasp, to the very heart of what is left of Christian civilisation.

For this reason I support what NATO is doing in Afghanistan. NATO is not, and MUST not act 'in the Name of Christ' for Our Lord specifically instructed His followers not to impose His Lordship on the world like this.

Instead, St Paul makes it clear that God has given the task of protecting people from evil to Governments and their appointed authorities.

'Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. ..... For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.' KJV

For this reason I support NATO's actions in Afghanistan, because I truly believe that it is acting

' .. that we (and those Afghan people who want it) may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.' KJV

Yes, yes I know; there are governments who do the wrong thing. Sometimes Christians even have to disobey them.

But not without praying for them first. Here's St Paul again. 'Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority' KJV

To sum up. Evil is real and terrible. All of us are either acting with it or fighting against it: there is no middle ground. And our governments, police and armed forces deserve our prayers, for they are our first line of defence against it, from both within and without our national borders.

8 November 2009 at 10:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets do the job properly then. Why is there no longer a threat to Pearl Harbour from Japanese bombers, why are the streets of America safe from Imperialist Japanese suicide bombers? Send them all to heaven in a puff of radioactive smoke. The Japanese are very nice people now; civilised and innovative.

Simple equation:

Murdering barbaric medieval war mongering country + Nuclear Bomb = Solution

8 November 2009 at 11:11  
Anonymous Fran said...


What lazy equivalence. What sloppy thinking.

8 November 2009 at 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it lazy when they did it the first time? Maybe if you had been captured and tortured by the lovely Japs you might not think so. How many of your relatives are getting slaughterd in AGSTN now? And what are you doing that is so 'not lazy and cosy at home'?

Don't answer that, you are blogging!

8 November 2009 at 11:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What do you tell your kids when ask why their dad went there in the first place. Went to play soldier and got blown up, why did he do that when I was here at home needing my dad? Was that really more important to him.

Difficult and sloppy questions.

8 November 2009 at 11:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there some weird unwritten law that says killing soldiers in small packets over a longer period of time is somehow more righteous than dispensing with the same number all in one go?

Are soldiers not Innocent? Do they somehow qualify to be killed more? It is indeed much easier on the conscience. And easier to swallow in small amounts. But how many is it going to take?

You only get one life - don't give it away for f... all I say.

8 November 2009 at 12:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it came to weird and wonderful weapons, guys, Joshua had no qualms. The very book where you guys get your inspiration from would have Josh sweping through AFGNSTN like a whirlwind (all at the behest of God).

8 November 2009 at 12:18  
Anonymous non mouse said...

'For the Fallen'
By Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

8 November 2009 at 12:28  
Blogger Bryan said...

'fight against the evil of fundamentalism'

I'm glad to know that Britain has declared war against me, before her soldiers come to kill me. It might have been a shock otherwise.

"Fundamentalism" isn't evil. Islam is evil.

Fundamental Christians are only evil in the eyes of the World (Satan's Children) because they dare believe the Bible to be Truth, God's Word. And of course the biggest reason Britain (and the EU, and the US, ...) desire to paint Fundamental Christians with the Terrorist brush is that we dare to follow the Lord Jesus Christ (as described in the Bible, and not the State Approved version).

Ah, well. It is not like the Lord Jesus didn't tell us that this was coming. And that it will get worse yet.

How sad, in India, Christians live knowing their Hindu neighbors may at anytime be incited to riot, rape, maim, kill, and destroy their homes at any moment. In the Middle East, Christians who have lived in peace for a millinea amongst the Islamists, now are being terrorized, murdered, and chased out of their own countries. In the West (Britain, US, EU ...) we need only fear that the police and soldiers will come. Maybe not today, but soon, very soon.

8 November 2009 at 12:38  
Anonymous Fran said...


"What do you tell your kids when ask why their dad went there in the first place. Went to play soldier and got blown up, why did he do that when I was here at home needing my dad? Was that really more important to him."

Any child could ask this of any parent whose work frequently took them away from home. At least the father or mother who was working in Afghanistan could answer that their work was protecting their child and its world from harm.

8 November 2009 at 12:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She could answer that, and in fact that is the only explanation worth trying, let's hope the truth never comes out though for their sake.

"Mum, why didn't they just blow the stupid place off the map"?

Also, include yourself in that if you like, but not one of those men are over there protecting me, I don't want them to, I don't need them to.

This will go on and on and on until eventually they will slip one of their own sloppy big bombs through the net, and it might be your cosy world that gets evaporated.

8 November 2009 at 13:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another on bites the dust:

Can you pop round Fran an tell the kids! Cheers.

8 November 2009 at 13:34  
Anonymous Orwellian Prophet said...

Animal Farm is not the place it was. Some foolish piggies left the gate open and in wandered a very unusual little fellow from a distant Zoo. His behaviour was quite extraordinary, loud trumpeting and strange posturing umpteen times a day. Most of the animals regarded him with disdain or mild amusement until he grew up with a bulk, and attitude to match the thickness of his impenetrable hide. The farmyard is now a no-go area. Chickens flee from under his feet in a blizzard of feathers and the cows cannot even venture out of their own sheds. But the sheep - who are in the majority – have found the solution. They moved to the fields and hills and though they may catch sight of the creature on the horizon they simply have to close their eyes and guess what – he disappears!

8 November 2009 at 13:40  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 November 2009 at 14:30  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...


You are a moron.

On second thoughts, you are worse.

8 November 2009 at 15:23  
Anonymous not a machine said...

How do we fight evil is perhaps one of the most difficult questions .The liberal blair era wich had even earlier origins when the horrors of total war could be captured on moving pictures offered us this new idea , that evil had origins and if we tackled the origins and causes , all would be well .
There are many examples of where the devout have decided to not bear arms citing the never ending circle of blood fueds and innocent lives wasted . I have some sympathy
with that view as winston said "jaw jaw is better than war war" and with the advent of atomic weapons he was no doubt more concious .

I do not like wars that are as a result of weak politcs , but there are leaders who choose the armoury and its power first , they useually run impoverished countries to fund it , zimbabwe, north korea .

For me it is perhaps easist defined as defending the good , growing poppy to make cheap heroine wich then funds ak47s is clearly an act of terrorism even if the victims of heroine dont actually get shot .

heroine has been comming from afghanistan for many years it is estimated that 90% of uk heroine comes from there .

Some ideas on war are more cultural absolutes but again evil can be found in those thoughts .
We then arrive at morality and humanities wich we see in developed nations , a sort of cultural reltivism that to me misses the point of home and births a whole new set of struggles .

I try my best to honour our forces , I do not dwell on wether it was a pointless war , i think of those who recieved a telegram , those who endured the most darkest of times clinging to life and those who must carry on with wounds both physical and other.

The athiest would tell us he/she has the solution , with no evil we do not need war , yet it is these godless idealogues that have murdered the most , always constructing the image of a perfect future to justify the deliberate wasting of the god centered , as its wisdom questions there authority.

But the wishy washy liberal fails as well , so weakness can lead to evil.

The more I look of the christian understanding of individual to discipline his/herself and try and work the challenge of the faith , the less I see why should believe we need a secualr society or the incredulity of the socialist progandists eutopia .

8 November 2009 at 15:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are correct, there are far worse things than morons, but I am glad to have at least stretched you beyond first thoughts. It sucks doesn't it?

8 November 2009 at 15:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8 November 2009 at 15:44  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

If communicants would ignore anonymice, His Grace would be most appreciative.

8 November 2009 at 15:47  
Anonymous Fran said...


Anyone whose relatives in the British forces have died in Afghanistan can be proud of their sacrifice - as indeed most of them are.

You know nothing of my world; don't presume to comment on it.

And of course you need someone to defend you and keep you safe. Stop talking like a fool.

8 November 2009 at 15:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a vast majority of public opinion that thinks we are sending these lads out there for a lost cause Fran, and I am one of them, that is all I need to know about your world. Fran is safe....this is all that matters.

8 November 2009 at 16:05  
Anonymous GTGTWG said...

Is anybody interested in all the little innocents in Afghan...babies? Mothers losing children? And what about our soldiers. I'm sure very few of them wish to be in Afghan. We shouldn't be there in the first place. Bring them home and let the Afghan people sort their own problems and government we should be doing with the sorry shambles of the lab/lib/cons we have here.

8 November 2009 at 17:50  
Anonymous Ron Todd said...

Just because we lost one or two Afghan wars does not mean that we will lose them all.

Nuking them nasty as they are is no solution. Given the low population density in the Taliban controled areas it would take a lot of nukes to kill a significant proportion of them. Then we would still have to deal with fanatics from Pakistan and Sauding Arabia. A nuclear armed state and our main supplier of oil.

Not to mention the fith column already in this country.

8 November 2009 at 19:25  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 November 2009 at 19:47  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 November 2009 at 20:02  
Anonymous Goldman Sachs said...

I related to this on Bishop Alan's today:

, it’s time for the politicians who started this war to tell us, and especially the troops whose lives they are risking daily, where and how they think it should end. Osama and chums legged it to Pakistan years ago now, and most money and resource for terrorism comes from Pakistan and Saudi. So what are doing in Afghanistan, and how are going to know when we’ve done it? We’re all ears, and very much hoping the current ceremonies at Wooton Basset will not become a permanent fixture of our national life...

8 November 2009 at 20:10  
Anonymous invincibly ignorant said...

Good point GTGTWG and what about all those wedding parties that keep getting blown up out there
/sarc off

The last time we left the Afghanis to 'sort out their own problems and govt' the twin towers were destroyed.

8 November 2009 at 20:13  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

There has been some eccentricity on this thread.

It is foolish to speak of nuclear weapons - though, as my father escaped deployment to the Far East thanks to Truman authorising the use of nuclear weapons and so I- and many others - may have this decision to thank for our existance.

Much of the positive news out of Afghanistan passes unreported by the uber- liberal mainstream media.

Fran, you might appreciate a remark of Rick Santorum.
" Original Sin is the only philosophical proposition for which there is clear empirical evidence."

8 November 2009 at 22:09  
Anonymous IanCad said...

M S,
Some would argue that the doctrine of Original Sin is a theological invention rather than a philosophical proposition.
Sen. Santorum is the man who many believe would impose a Roman Theocracy on the USA given half a chance. May he long remain out of office.

9 November 2009 at 00:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The two countries with most cases at the ECHR are Italy and the UK. Governments are obliged by treaty to implement findings of the court, but it is Italy so I think it will be ignored.

Judges have opinions but lack arms and legs to enforce them.

For example British banks have thousands of unenforced County Court Judgements against them

9 November 2009 at 05:17  
Blogger Doug said...

So if killing to permit evil is morally responsible then how do you equate that with greens who see people as a disease on the earth or those who see copenhagen as the beginning of climate communism! Shall we just descend into anarchy?

9 November 2009 at 05:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Outstanding insight into the mind of the modern politician:

'Or we simply cease to call it evil, and so it ceases to be.'

9 November 2009 at 08:10  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9 November 2009 at 08:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His Grace has reached Dog Tired! I will blast another fiver off this week on pay day. Curiosity eats away at me.

9 November 2009 at 09:00  
Anonymous Fran said...


I did appreciate Rick Santorum's comments! Thanks.

9 November 2009 at 13:32  
Anonymous Ron Todd said...

Tree Sleeper

I thought all doctrine was man made.

9 November 2009 at 17:14  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Great post, Your Grace. Our boys and the people of Afghanistan are exactly that: another X Factor. They distract another sector of society.

Does this mean I can look forward to you killing Gordon Brown? :)

9 November 2009 at 20:00  
Blogger TreeSleeper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9 November 2009 at 21:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miss Snuffle

Gordon is doing just fine knocking out suicide letters and is in no need of assistance from His Grace.

9 November 2009 at 21:58  
Blogger ZZMike said...

War is rarely clear-cut. The US was moved to remain neutral until Pearl Harbor. We didn't come to England's aid until [???].

A few nations have tried to win a war in Afghanistan. England, for one (well-documented by Kipling). Russia, for another. Both failed. We (the US) hasn't succeeded, either.

There are, however, thoroughly rotten fighters over there, which nobody else seems to be able to do anything about.

One of our military men has a good strategy: "forgiving them is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."

10 November 2009 at 02:41  

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