Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Osama Bin Laden: ‘murdered by the United States of America’


That is how the clever people at Ekklesia (‘the UK’s premier religious think-tank’) see it.

They might as well have called him a martyr; a cultic sacrifice after the fashion of St Stephen, the Apostle Paul, Archbishop Oscar Romero or Shahbaz Bhatti; a reflection of the death of Christ. For when a Muslim is killed in the pursuit of jihad for the glorification of Allah, it cannot be denied that it grips the imagination of a thousand of Mohammed’s warriors and exercises many more. By calling it murder, Ekklesia elevate Bin Laden’s death to the level of the Cross: he is the scapegoat; the sacrifice; and all the stones of Arabia cry out of justice.

Murder is forbidden in Scripture: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is an express command within the Decalogue and refers to unlawful killing. It is not simply a prohibition but also a positive teaching that instills respect for life, which is a loan, a blessing of God. Precisely because human life belongs to God, however, we must take care not to absolutise or idolise it. In some exceptional cases, God may command killing. In such instances, paradoxically, the protection of life requires the surrender and sacrifice of life. Old Testament and Just War Theory aside (as they may prefer) it is curious that the UK’s ‘premier religious think-tank’ appears to be unwilling or incapable of reflecting upon (for example) Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 5:1-3; Rom 13:4; Jn 19:10f. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ reaches the Christian in such a way that in all the detailed problems that may arise we cannot exclude the exceptional case.

Is the self-confessed and widely recognised mastermind of the September 11th atrocity an exception?

Is it murder to execute a man who has schemed in the wholesale annihilation of 3000 innocent people?

By calling it ‘murder’, Ekklesia placate the Islamists and bolster their contention that this is not about the just pursuit of honour, justice or freedom, but simply a murky economic struggle for world domination: ie, it is about the possession of oil. There is no understanding of propitiation, vindication, justice or judgement. The death of Bin Laden is simply ‘murder’, of the same degree as Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

Ekklesia take the view that Bin Laden was an utterly insignificant figure and ‘not highly regarded by most Muslims’ because ‘his understanding of Islam (was) no less abhorrent than many Christians’ perspectives of Hitler’s understanding of Christianity’. One has to wonder how many Muslims Ekklesia know, and how they have arrived at ‘most’ in a world of more than a billion. Wearing their repugnant anti-Americanism on their sleeves, they refer to the ‘murder’ as a necessary ‘violent revenge for Americans’: they protest that Bin Laden’s influence was due to his ‘elevation to a position as “super-terrorist” by US Presidents Clinton, Bush (the Lesser) and Obama’.

Note ‘the Lesser’.

There is no attempt to conceal their contempt for the leader of the free world: Ekklesia doubtless offered no petitions, prayers, intercession or thanksgiving for these kings and authorities (1Tim 2:1-4). The only peace and quiet they care about is that which affirms and propagates their own conceptions of godliness and holiness, in order that all people may be saved through the knowledge of Ekklesia’s truth.

But that’s not all. The way many of us think about Bin Laden arises, they aver, ‘from a racist strand of thought’. Brilliant, isn’t it? They racially denigrate Americans and elevate Islam to the position of super-race, and then accuse us of racism and ignorance. And they sneer at the ‘paucity of intelligent reflection and comment’ of those who conflate Bin Laden’s thinking into ‘fundamentalist Islam’.

Well, if Bin Laden’s thinking is ecumenical, moderate and multi-faith, His Grace no longer understands the meaning of the word ‘fundamentalist’. Perhaps such profound theological enlightenment is revealed only to ‘the UK’s premier religious think-tank’.

Egregiously, they say Bin Laden’s death is ‘largely irrelevant to most Muslims in the Middle East’, seemingly oblivious to the fact that many voices in the Middle East were protesting as news of the death spread, with Hamas referring to him as an ‘Arab Holy Warrior’. And on al-Qaeda, Ekklesia say: ‘We might not sympathise with their modes of engagement, but their causes are often at least partially legitimate.’

The legitimisation of al-Qaeda grievances is consistent with their cry of ‘murder’. But which grievances would these be? The occupation of Palestine by the evil Jews? The even more evil ascent of American hegemony? The filth of the infidel’s foot on sacred Saudi Arabian sand? The illegal Iraq war? The invasion of Afghanistan? The Crusades? Their ‘causes’ have no coherence; indeed, some of these points of disputation are within the power of the disparate and divided ‘Islamic world’ to resolve themselves if they cold but cooperate and unite. Instead, they prefer to grieve against the West and curse Christianity. And Ekklesia grieve and curse with them, thereby granting spiritual succour and moral affirmation to the military, financial, and training assistance which is necessary for these freedom-haters and anti-democrats to pursue their ‘partly legitimate’ objectives.

Many Christians will take the view that Bin Laden’s death was a justified extra-judicial killing in the context of a global war against disparate terrorist cells, each of which is united in their opposition to our culture, customs, traditions, our way of life and our faith. By calling it ‘murder’, Ekklesia only embolden those who plot a further September 11th or July 7th bombings or who scheme to bring down passenger-filled jets. For if ‘the UK’s premier religious think-tank’ calls it murder, who are the Islamists to argue against them? And so Ekklesia perpetuate an eye-for-an-eye blindness, and ‘partly legitimate’ the arbitrary murder of thousands of innocent people going about their daily business.

The author of the piece is apparently a lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Stirling. It is extraordinary for a credible academic to cry ‘murder’ while simultaneously admitting that he is not in possession of all the facts. One might expect more academic rigour. But this is Ekklesia. They appear to be aware of the moral principle which forbids murder, but utterly ignorant of centuries of Scholastic moral theology and the principle of ‘Double Effect’ (the distinction between intention and foresight): the Christian may indeed act in such a way as will foreseeably produce an evil effect in order to secure some proportionate good or avoid some proportionate evil. The principle does not convey a formal moral truth about murder: it arose largely out of attempts to understand the morally significant differences between murder and other kinds of killing. But it does grasp the fundamental distinction between foresight and intention. One wonders, if Dietrich Bonhoeffer had succeeded in his attempt to kill Hitler, whether Ekklesia would be referring to Bonhoeffer as a murderer.

If the killing of Bin Laden was murder, it constitutes a grave sin. That must be how Ekklesia see it. For many others, the thought and intention behind the act outweighs the act. How otherwise did Aquinas ascertain that the value-bearing elements of the human act are four: act-as-such; object; circumstance; and finality? We discover through moral reasoning and insight that the created order demands of us right thought as well as right action; good final intention as well as good object. This is moral knowledge, only gained as we deliberate and reflect upon particular acts which are, for one reason or another, ambiguous and difficult.

But, for Ekklesia, there is no ambiguity or difficulty: Osama Bin Laden was murdered. And what does His Grace know? In the awesome presence of the self-styled ‘UK’s premier religious think-tank’, he manifests nothing but a ‘paucity of intelligent reflection and comment’.

103 Comments:

Blogger gildas said...

It was a just and proportionate and necessary act

3 May 2011 at 11:26  
Anonymous Mark said...

I vehemently disagree with the Ekklesia article, but there is a valid concern about how nations can be at war with terrorist groups. Is Osama Bin Laden at war with the US and therefore a valid kill target if he can't be captured? Or is he a criminal in which case must be judged in a fair trial before executed?

From reports it seems the US made the best choice here, but there are still wider issues to be addressed. That said, Ekklesia doesn't bring this issue up for discussion by presenting the issue this way. Rather it buries the issue beneath a pile of stupid deliberately controversial arrogance and hot air. If this is the level of questioning about the legitimacy of killing Osama on foreign soil, then there is no debate to be had.

3 May 2011 at 11:29  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

YG, forgive my ignorance, but who are ekklesia and why should i care what they say? I'm afraid a cursory look at their website doesn't enlighten me.

3 May 2011 at 11:30  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr John in Cheshire,

Have you not heard? They are 'the UK’s premier religious think-tank’.

3 May 2011 at 11:35  
Blogger killemallletgodsortemout said...

"The death of Bin Laden is simply ‘murder’, of the same degree as Herod’s slaughter of the innocents".

Speaking of innocents - I think there were none more innocent than those who died in all the outrages that were set up by bin Laden.

Premier religious think-tank, my arse.

3 May 2011 at 11:41  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Is it murder to execute a man who has schemed in the wholesale annihilation of 3000 innocent people?

To which Muslims would, with some justification, point to the West’s annihilation of many tens of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, I doubt if the ‘you killed more people than us’ game gets us very far.

The death of bin Laden is largely irrelevant, save that it may provoke even more attacks on Pakistani Christians and it may prompt some Muslims to seek revenge through terrorism. Of far more concern is that, in Britain and Europe, Muslims continue to outbreed the indigenous population by a large measure, with the inevitable result that Europe will fall to Islam. Indeed, with the demographic triumph of Islam over European Christendom as certain as eggs is eggs, one wonders why Muslims bother to blow themselves up at all.

3 May 2011 at 11:46  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace

In February 1998 Osama bin Laden declared war on the USA in a London newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi by sending a fax signed by himself and four others, see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fataw%C4%81_of_Osama_bin_Laden.

In August 1998 Al Qaeda blew up the US embassy in Kenya, killing over 200 people.

If you declare war and act subsequently in a war-like fashion you should not be surprised if the party that you have attacked responds. indeed, there is every indication that Bin Laden relished the fight.

The USA has just killed its self-declared enemy.

Why is that murder?

3 May 2011 at 11:54  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3 May 2011 at 11:58  
Blogger Andrew said...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, your grace? Von Stauffenberg surely.

3 May 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Andrew,

Bonhoeffer reasoned the moral justification for killing Hitler. There are many references and studies, but the BBC puts it 'bite-size'

3 May 2011 at 12:28  
Blogger English Viking said...

1 down, 1.2 billion to go.

3 May 2011 at 12:34  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Like you Cranmer Ekklesia attempts to legitimise their views by referring to biblical texts. Do you not see how absurd this is? Surely it is better to make your moral judgements based on common humanity rather than trying in vain to justify them based on religious belief.

I am often criticised here because I adhere to a relativist morality without absolutes but when push comes to shove so do you. “Thou shalt not kill” is a good starting point but can never be an absolute as Bin Laden’s extra judicial killing demonstrates.

It would have been morally preferable to capture him alive and then put him on trial but we all know the implications of doing that even if it had been possible.

Hearing you bickering with your co-religionists is a source of amusement to me, you cling to your beliefs like a drowning man to a piece flotsam that is sinking under your weight. You will never be able to reconcile the contradictions so why not ditch them and join us in the real world?

3 May 2011 at 12:38  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"Hearing you bickering with your co-religionists is a source of amusement to me."
I suppose you deliberately adopt this tone of bien-pensant superciliousness in order to annoy. Unless you are willing to discuss a matter on an equal footing with your adversary you will never enlighten him - if that was your intention.

3 May 2011 at 12:46  
Anonymous Sniper said...

Your Grace,

Victims are murdered.

Criminals (where the law allows) are executed.

Vermin are exterminated.

3 May 2011 at 12:49  
Anonymous Philip said...

Ekklesia cannot be taken seriously as a group represnting Christianity. Christians should represent God's word to society, not relfect worldly opinion into which some so-called Christians have allowed themselves to be moulded. God's word obviously distinguishes murder from the role of the state in 'bearing the sword' to protect life and its use of capital punishment for murderers.

3 May 2011 at 12:56  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

Acts of mass political terror cannot be addressed by trials. Remember 9/11 was a political act of asymmetrical warfare intended to produce a political result. When a terrorist act causes significant loss of life and cost in order to advance a political agenda, a conviction at trial does not equalize the scales or sufficiently deter further terrorist acts. The terrorist organization has still realized its objective at marginal - actually trivial - cost. What is the relative value of the life of one or two terrorists compared to the impact on the US? To fight terror you must fight the cause of the terrorist. You must attack that for which he fights. And if he insists on using asymmetrical warfare against you, then you must pre-emptively kill him.

carl jacobs

3 May 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

All Ernst can say is 'Thank God Hitler committed suicide'.

No wonder this country is in a moral mess, it seems it cannot distinguish between a nation righteously wielding the sword and personal responsibility.

E S Blofeld

3 May 2011 at 13:28  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Ekklesia cannot be taken seriously. By prominently displaying advertisements for the abortion promoting organization "Christan Aid" on its home page Ekklesia is iself an accessory to the killing of the innocent.

3 May 2011 at 13:46  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

This killing highlights one of many dilemmas for Christians, of which Islamists take every advantage, as summed up by David Blunkett following the latest Wikileaks disclosure. He said, "I still don't think we fully have grasped collectively the challenge that we face from those whose whole raison d'etre is to use our democracy and freedom against us and to carry through what they see as their life's work in destroying everything we stand for."
Here are two he may have had in mind who haven't grasped the challenge:
http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2011/04/puzzle.html#comments

3 May 2011 at 13:47  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Without direction from the koran the hadiths and suras, in other words Islam in essence, Bin Laden would have far less direction for hi deeds than did either Pol Pot, Hitler or Stalin.

Islam is the enemy and has been since the 6th century. This is just the latest phase of a very old world war. Christian and post Enlightenment ethics have softened the minds of Western policy makers to the extent that they are afraid to address the real adversary which is and has been staring them in the face since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

I am sickened when I hear Christians and Muslims saying that they share a common ancestry and worship the same God - they may well believe they do, but they also believe in such a load of other totally unbelievable stuff as well I suppose that it is hardly surprising.

I just waiting for the likes of Ekklesiastia to start bleaching OBL's kill record by direct comparison to the number of abortions that have been carried out - don't fret though, they are probably crunching the numbers right now.

3 May 2011 at 13:50  
Blogger Shaun Michael said...

YG, you will forgive the intemperance of the remark, I hope, but any sois-disant "think tank" that does not know the difference between "murder" and "killed while resisting capture" presents a very poor excuse for thought. Your remarks on their mischaracterization of Bin Laden's death are finely pointed, as always. Surely we have enough trouble with the victim mentality of the jihadist without teaching him new terms and giving him new Western "authority" on which to justify the almost-inevitable retaliation.

3 May 2011 at 13:59  
Anonymous Gordo said...

Why take this so seriously? Stirling is where you go when you can't get good enough marks to get into a real University.

3 May 2011 at 14:09  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Cranmer said ...
"Many Christians will take the view that Bin Laden’s death was a justified extra-judicial killing in the context of a global war against disparate terrorist cells, each of which is united in their opposition to our culture, customs, traditions, our way of life and our faith."

Not this christian. Moral theology is very clear that an intrinsically evil act cannot be justified evn if it produces good.

The use of the term 'murder' in the article cited is unjustified. If he was killed in the act of attempting to seize him and bring him to justice, then that is defensible and an outcome not intended even if predictable. If, however, it was a fore planned summary execution, and there is no evidence it was, that would be an entirely different matter.

3 May 2011 at 14:38  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Little Black Sambo said...

Unless you are willing to discuss a matter on an equal footing with your adversary you will never enlighten him - if that was your intention.

Well how about challenging my assertion: I adhere to a relativist morality without absolutes but when push comes to shove so do you. “Thou shalt not kill” is a good starting point but can never be an absolute.

3 May 2011 at 14:42  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Co-religionists?

I suppose that makes you co-politicians with Stalinists, Maoists and fascists.

If you were actually trying to persuade us that we were wrong, rather than feel smugly superior, you wouldn't make such moronic simplifications. Different religions are as different as different atheist philosophies.

There is no contradiction between absolutism and double effect. Try to read what's been written rather than jumping to ill considered conclusions.

3 May 2011 at 14:59  
Anonymous Paul said...

Ekklesia is full of it. Osama Bin Laden got what he deserved. Does Ekklesia make a habit of such nonsense ?...

3 May 2011 at 15:11  
Blogger revdrron said...

We are learning to do (and say) a great many clever things. The next great task will be to learn not to do (or say) them. - Gilbert Keith Chesterton (Confession #1: clever quote! Confession #2: brackets mine)

3 May 2011 at 15:11  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Lakester91

Co-religionists? Sorry I assumed Ekklesia was a Christian organisation.

3 May 2011 at 15:13  
Anonymous Kelso said...

"Welcome to Hell Osama. You'll be working 3 shifts stoking the Number 4 Furnace. Your Supervisor is Dr Mengele. Any questions?"

3 May 2011 at 15:20  
Blogger rrchapman said...

Your Grace,

Is it not true that Al Qaeda was behind the March 3 attacks in Spain, also? My guess is that if Spanish agents had found bin Laden first and killed him, Ekklesia would have said, "No one expected the Spanish Inquisition."

As to taking a life, I believe St. Jack of Oxbridge (C. S. Lewis) answered that question in one of his Perelandra books.

3 May 2011 at 15:35  
Anonymous Papal Bill said...

‘UK’s premier religious think-tank’...
Odd, this clumsy expression 'think-tank'. What sort of tank do they have in mind - a septic tank, the kind used where there is no mains sewerage, or a battle tank - the kind of thing that argues its muddy corner from a gun turret?

3 May 2011 at 15:57  
Blogger thestreetman said...

Your Grace,

I have no doubt that Ekklesia will henceforth feature prominently on the BBC.

3 May 2011 at 17:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to disagree with His Grace. There is hot pursuit where it is legitimate to kill an enemy and there is revenge. Revenge is illegitimate. Ten years of searching for bin Laden can hardly be said to be hot pursuit. We are supposed to have a superior legal system and a belief in the rule of law. Killing out of revenge makes us no better than bin Laden and his odious form of Islam. He should have been captured and brought to trial. The gloating over bin Laden's death is also disquieting to say the least as are the pictures of those ghoulishly watching the killing of bin Laden and others. The USA has sunk to a new low under Bummer Obama. We will all live to regret what has been done in our name. See http://cork-richardrant.blogspot.com

3 May 2011 at 17:39  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Ekklesia is a joke and always has been. It is frankly an absurd organisation and Stirling University is not credible and never has been.

That aside Bin Laden was a combatant. He was killed in battle, call it murder or execution if you like, but that is no different from how Bin Laden killed. He was a loose end that had to be tied up after such a long period since 9/11.

If Clinton had not been such a lawyer, he would have accepted Bin Laden when Sudan offered him to the USA but Clinton decided he did not have enough evidence for a trial in the US system !!!

The absurdity of this position led Clinton to rocket attack a pharmaceutical plant instead.

The wonderful absurdity of Dr Marten at Stirling University is that he is a "Eunuch". In terms of the hard-edged world he is a castrated man incapable of fighting but simply argumentative.

Our Western Power is based upon application of force. The Third World knows it. It is the reason Islam is so dotty, it fears Western Power but constantly seeks to provoke it. It is a failure in every country that is Islamic but continually thrashes against The West. Its weak and defeatist European Zone has wilted and sponsored Islam on Welfare but the US has reached out and eradicated the threat.

The British once had practical men like General Nicholson in India, but is now a broken and cowed nation feminised and willingly supine......Islam has found its host in Western Europe.

3 May 2011 at 17:47  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Premier Think tank your Grace? your irony is applauded for its excellence. This lot aren't even in the Isthmian league.
I wonder what their view would of been on the 'brutal' murder of Goliath, before he had a chance to surrender to a stone wielding shepherd boy?.
"Teenaged Thug Murders war Hero!"
LOL.

3 May 2011 at 17:55  
Anonymous obreption said...

In the reporting of the killing of OBL one is reminded that truth often vanishes when the eager press-pack get on the case. Evelyn Waugh is alive and well and while Scoop covered journalism in one war, I was reminded of these endless conversations between Guy Crouchback and his father regarding the Lateran Treaty and the Italian fascists. Waugh's trilogy "Sword of Honour" had its light and dark sides but it seems that Obama planned this killing with clinical precision. A report from Pakistan mentioned that the OBL house had survived the 2005 earthquake. So from the evidence, can we assume that Obama succeeded where God or Allah had failed?

3 May 2011 at 18:03  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The US known for helping finance IRA terror attacks on British soil, are now judge, jury and executioner.

3 May 2011 at 18:10  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Bin Laden left multiples of the 3000 killed you cited, by the way.

OS understands that a large cache of information was also carted away along with the monster's carcass. Here's hoping it is put to good use, and that we see justice served upon Bin Laden's subordinates, colleagues, enablers, financiers, and protectors. Your Grace is doing your bit, by calling the lies published by Ekklesia by their true name. Sunshine is a wonderful disinfectant.

Let this weekend's victory serve as the vital turning point in the war against the monsters; and may Bin Laden's subordinates, colleagues, enablers, financiers, and protectors forever lay awake at night, listening for the helicopters that will one day visit them in the dark.

3 May 2011 at 18:26  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thanks for 'foregrounding' this, Your Grace.

It's nonsensical that the resources of Western Intelligence, in Aghanistan and everywhere, couldn't find OBL until now. There has to be more to it, and a good bit of that has to be Pakistani.

Clearly we nurture cohorts of the impediment in our midst - many enjoying the freedom of Post Colonial Studies departments in western universities. This gem from YG's link encloses a sweet nut:
So long as Americans and Europeans continue to think in simple dichotomies of good (us) and evil (them), advanced (us) and primitive (them), having rights (us) and threatening our rights (them), and so on, the ‘clash of civilisations’ will continue. Huntingdon thought he was describing a reality, when in fact he was describing a choice – in classic Marxist/Leninist terms we can see this as an ideologically-driven reversal of cause and effect designed to preserve existing systems of dominance.

Righ --- t. Pots and kettles? Sadly, they're boiling their pots on our stoves - and have no intention of reversing the anti-British-American-western-white-Christian rhetoric they incite. Indeed, they'll take over as many arts/science programmes as they can.

btw - why was it convenient for Pakistan to give up OBL just now? And who's been orchestrating al quaida (?sp) during OBL's decline?

3 May 2011 at 18:32  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ opreption (18:03)—A report from Pakistan mentioned that the OBL house had survived the 2005 earthquake. So from the evidence, can we assume that Obama succeeded where God or Allah had failed?

God or Allah’s failed attempt to assassinate bin Laden in the 2005 earthquake killed 75,000 people. In Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s attempts to avenge 9/11 killed many more than 75,000. In terms of suffering inflicted on innocents, there is little to choose between God/Allah and the United States.

3 May 2011 at 18:39  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"It is extraordinary for a credible academic to cry ‘murder’ while simultaneously admitting that he is not in possession of all the facts." ..." the created order demands of us right thought as well as right action; good final intention as well as good object."

Taking the link to the Ekklesia article and reading that before going on with the critique of it, to a cursory glance there could have been some reservation about whether the critique fairly repesented the article. But

1) "Bush (the Lesser)....Note ‘the Lesser’ ".... and

2) "The way many of us think about Bin Laden arises, they aver, ‘from a racist strand of thought’ "

pinpoint the slant of the article, and render the article liable to the critique as a whole.

There remain reservations about the transaction, its circumstances, timing and intentions which neither the article nor the critique were addressing. But who need doubt that Osama bin Laden, now reported to be finally deceased, had gone out of his way for years to promote and practice the wickedness of incitement to murder, with remorseless pride and unashamed.

Johnny R (11:46) brings the main issue to attention.

3 May 2011 at 19:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are Ekklesia and how are they financed? Wouldn't be surprised to find they sprung up out of the garden so faithfully cultivated by that son of the manse.

3 May 2011 at 19:09  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Mr Davis,

Quite right, but I have seen you slate religion as an entity before, so the point still stands, just not in this instance.

I'm not sure they really are our co-religionists, in that I don't know whether any Christian denomination officially endorses them.

3 May 2011 at 19:13  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ MrJ (19:02)—This article quotes from Niall Ferguson’s new book, Civilization:

❛If the Muslim population of the UK were to continue growing at an annual rate of 6·7% (as it did between 2004 and 2008), its share of the total UK population would rise from just under 4% in 2008 to 8% in 2020, to 15% in 2030 and to 28% in 2040, finally passing 50% in 2050.❜

3 May 2011 at 19:17  
Anonymous Flossie said...

Paul @ 15.11

Yes!

3 May 2011 at 19:38  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I thank your grace for this post ,it appears I may need to do a little reading to aquaint the theology better,but greatfull for the point in the known directions.
The Ekklesia article at first one could think of as being clumsey , and a rally point ,for those who when faced with the awkardness of the commandement "thou shalt not murder". Perhaps it has been so long since we have heard the wild west commentary reflecting the justice that makes sense in a lawless enviroment ."wanted dead or alive" useually occures after murder itself.

Clearly Osama has wished to evade justice ,and no doubt his many supporters have seen it as prophetic ,in bringing down the infedels power. Yet where do these Islamic prophecies come from , as much of what motivates Islamic terrorists seems to be commandment from Allah in conquest. Given Islam holds moses in high esteem ,then the actual hand of god who gave moses the ten commandemnts must have a certain pre authority to Allah.
Of course we do not hear if Islam has such theological problems , and Osama bin Laden was pretty clear in his own mind about innocents not mattering to Allah wether muslim or not ,which then begins to smack of Allah stuck in a dialogue of militant revolution and mercurial teaching ,centerd around himself ,even ensuring that only his words were to be the last in Islam ,thus creating the only theological subsequent route , of no additional thinking required . Which perhaps explains quite a lot about why there has been so little cultural progress in some parts of Islam.
It will even end up finding a way to kill off moderate Islam ,after killing off any abstract of educated thoughts on what Allah actually did , where as we pour endlessly over the historic christ and the apostles lives and journeys , and even then the further lights that have been inspired by christ.
Its finality is its violent self ,quite different to seeking the Father in the humility of the fathers creation.A heros reward for conquest rather than the intimate reward of personal salvation.
The wierd shock of Osama Bin Ladens killing by armed force perhaps comes from so much belief that he was dead anyway ,such was his dissappearence ,a great warrior for Islam in hiding ,perhaps bestows a hidden strength that he evdaded the evil infidel. Yet his followers treat his beyond the law in killing innocents, as normal and not theologically problematic.
It is very easy to end up in philosphy when considering such things as wars ,but then if you /experience know the supernatural god ,that doesnt suffice either.

Justice is perhaps a fair enough treatment of Osama Bin Ladens killing as it was his own declared war against the USA ,costing not only christian/jewish/innocent lives but many direct and indirect muslim lives. If Islam values the creation of mourners ,who wanted a better life and choice, the palace and 72 virgins heroic reward begins to look like the bribe for murder.

3 May 2011 at 20:07  
Anonymous chevron said...

He was unarmed when killed. The normal procedure would have been to arrest him and put him on trial. However the orders on the raid were specifically to "take no prisoners". So him, his son, an aide, and an unknown woman, were all shot.

Are you really arguing that a state is free to explicitly order an individual be eliminated without due process? When is a deliberate extra-judicial killing of an individual (outside a war imperative) by a state entity not murder, exactly? (The Bonhoeffer example linked above is very different as individuals within a corrupt state have no judicial recourse).

3 May 2011 at 20:12  
Anonymous Graeme Smith said...

Whilst I don't agree with Ekklesia's use of the term murder, I also struggle with the rather bizarre terms used to describe Osama Bin Laden. Now I'm assuming that most people who post here would call themselves Christians, this being a Conservative Christian blog, and would therefore that humanity is made in the image of God. Therefore, to describe any human, even one who has been responsible for as many heinous acts of violence, as 'vermin', 'monster' is surely devaluing the image of God.

It also produces a certain ironic thought to come to mind. One of the main ways in which people are radicalised is by an incessant emphasis on the part of those 'doing' the radicalisation on the fact that the people being targetted are one of two things: a) less than human because of the way they act, or b) treat 'our people' as being less than human. So where does this leave us?

In scenario a) we are surely just as guilty at dehumanising others (ie all those we think of as vermin/monsters etc) and are therefore only a relatively small step away from calling for their extermination. In scenario b) we prove the radicals correct when we call human beings vermin.

One thing I do wonder is what Jesus would have done in this situation. Somehow I can't see him celebrating in the way many of those claiming his Lordship are, and few of us have been victims of a 'weapon of mass destruction' like the cross was in its day!

3 May 2011 at 20:15  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Chevron : unarmed or not guilty ?

Graeham smith: cant argue that we are all in the image of god as defined by the eden begining. However jesus being the son of god is perhaps a refinement of the initial image .

3 May 2011 at 20:29  
Anonymous Graeme Smith said...

not a machine: therefore even more important for us to follow Jesus' lead, surely?

3 May 2011 at 20:31  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The US known for helping finance IRA terror attacks on British soil.

The Government of The United States has NEVER financed the IRA.......Irish sympathisers in the USA have....


Just as Muslim Sympathisers in the United Kingdom have funded Pakistan-based terror organisations to bomb and kill in India and Kashmir, but the British Government fails to stop such fund-raising despite requests from the Indian Government.

Britain is the centre for Islamic terrorism in Europe after Margaret Thatcher allowed Algerians fleeing French crackdowns were permitted to set up base in Londonistan.......under John major MI5 did little, and Stella Rimington does not even mention Islamic terrorists in the index of her autobiography.....

Governments throughout the Middle East wonder why Britain provides facilities to so many Muslim terrorist groups.....no doubt Bred in the Bone can clarify

3 May 2011 at 20:40  
Anonymous chevron said...

(NM) "unarmed or not guilty?"

Unarmed, as a reported fact.
and
Innocent until declared guilty (all four of them) within a properly recognised court of Law.

What is repugnant is that his arrest was not ordered, but his certain killing. There is a difference. Had he died as a result of a resisted arrest, so be it. But his extra-judicial execution was determined. And that, when carried out by an agent that has recourse to due judicial process, has no excuse whatsoever.

How can any state demand respect for the Rule of Law when its own actions ignore said Rule?

3 May 2011 at 20:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

according to the U.S spokesman, Bin Laden was not armed when they arreseted him. He should some resistence but he was not armed. So why did they not put him to trial like Saddam Hussein was put to trial in court? why did they shoot him?

ccording to U.S law the guilty should be put to trial, right?

It all just sounds a little strange to me.

3 May 2011 at 21:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*showed

3 May 2011 at 21:09  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Greame Smith: on a personal level ,that works ,the problem seems to be in things other termed evil ,wishing/visiting death on things not it,without much discussion.

I do not have a immediate solution ,but god perhaps knows the answer to this troubling question and I suspect it is a law of sorts.

mmm funny old day in politics ,Huhne rants at AV in cabinet briefing and then himself briefs press about it , Nick Clegg is quiet pondering if Osmas death has any good reason and Labour are quiet but unions threatening era of mass strike unrest (like the economy needs that when all there is in the coffers, is debt).
I just hope Dave will have the positive ongoing work feeling , when red eds screen may fall at tommorows PMQs intersting dilemma for ed to choose which questions he can ride proud on whilst causing mass amnesia . However one commentators article caught my eye "labour must not be air brushed from history" I ponderd, why would Ms Riddle prefer an exit more brutally crowd pleaseing.:)

3 May 2011 at 21:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why was the world not shown his face!!!!!!

where is the damn evidence???!!!!!!

SHOW MEEEEEE!!!!!

Afghanistan... then Iraq.... Pakistan is next

3 May 2011 at 21:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace:

Jonathan "US murdered bin Laden" Bartley of "Ekklesia" is the main proponent of the Yes to AV campaign.

I think the UK should know!

Alana

3 May 2011 at 21:14  
Anonymous not a machine said...

chevron : If he was not guilty ,i would have thought he would have no problems handing himself in for trial and becoming a hero .wasnt it guantanmo detainee who said Osama was mastermind of 9/11 , what about Osamas own videos etc , what more proof do you need ?

3 May 2011 at 21:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's not the point, we all knew what the outcome for Saddam Hussein would be. STILL, he had to be put to trial.

3 May 2011 at 21:30  
Anonymous not a machine said...

anon : does the concept fugative from justice have any meaning ?

3 May 2011 at 21:42  
Anonymous chevron said...

(NM) "If he was not guilty ,i would have thought he would have no problems handing himself in for trial and becoming a hero"

Are you proposing that we abolish trials for all suspects if they do not hand themselves in, as they must automatically be guilty? Don't be absurd. Everyone should be equal under the Law, and that implies adhering to due process.

(NM) "wasnt it guantanmo detainee who said Osama was mastermind of 9/11 , what about Osamas own videos etc"

Whatever the facts of the matter (I do not believe that the Public is ever privy to all details), that does not affect due process. If he wants to admit guilt, he can expect to be arrested and put on trial. He can then admit guilt again (or be found guilty -- or not, as the case may be), and be sentenced accordingly.

3 May 2011 at 22:04  
Anonymous bluedog said...

non mouse @ 18.33 said 'btw - why was it convenient for Pakistan to give up OBL just now?'

All the noise suggests the Pakistanis knew nothing of the impending US operation. The US has rightly decided that the Pakistanis are completely untrustworthy.

Solution, look to the land of Osama's birth, Suadi Arabia. Just as it is impossible to believe that the Pakistanis did not know OBL's location, so too with the Saudis, where OBL had support within the royal family.

Now the Saudis currently face a proxy war with their Shi-ite nemesis Iran and they need US help. They also face an internal threat from a nascent democratic movement. OBL was no democrat, preferring Islamic governance structures. However he could have become a potential Saudi revolutionary emir and had publicly declared his wish to overthrow the Saudi monarchy.

Pulling this together, the Saudi monarchy would have seen OBL as a loose end that needed tidying up.

This communicant believes the intial tip-off about OBL's compound would have come from Riyadh. Thus the Saudis have made themselves helpful to an increasingly ambivalent US and may have bought themselves time.

Anyway, now for the Pakistani nuclear weapons, there's more work to do!

And when is Dave going to dump the Baroness? Having a Pakistani in the British Cabinet is looking increasingly reckless and unjustifiable. The Americans must be amazed by Dave's immaturity and naivety.

3 May 2011 at 22:06  
Anonymous Simon said...

Graham Davis

If you'd like to have a more meaningful discussion, you might try

Ship of Fools

You'll find a wider spread of opinion there I think.

3 May 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger The Big Man said...

If someone is unarmed and consequently shot and killed, is that not murder? Terrorist, thief, rapist or crackhead, if they are unarmed and could be captured, shouldn't they? Instead of killing. After all Mr G W Bush did say dead or alive. Cynics will say that alive would have caused too many problems.

3 May 2011 at 23:08  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thank you, bluedog@ 22.06; that's enlightening. Also MrJ and JohnnyR.

3 May 2011 at 23:23  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

I look at The Ten Commandments,more like a set of strong recommendations, or simply good advice.

Thou who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Who in there right mind could rationally consider that the British or American Establishment are without sin with respect to premeditated and unprovoked murder of the innocent?

Killing people is not a good idea, because killing people gives other people an excuse to kill you.

In other words, an eye for an eye always results in one hell of a lot of blind people, with nothing to show for it.

Of cause, this is not strictly the case otherwise there would be precious little killing in the world, especially government sponsored mass, or otherwise murder of any kind.

The TRUTH is that there are many people who directly and indirectly benefit from wars and other similar types of conflicts.

Like for example.

Government, especially world government, the medical profession, strangely well informed investors, media organizations, scientists, inventors, drugs, and armament manufacturers, banks, especially the owners of the central banks, builders, masons, architects, property developers, gangsters, black-marketeer's, and budding despots, especially if they appear to win, along with many others.

This is why WARS, and violent conflicts happen. They happen because those that have the most to gain from them, as well as almost infinite amounts to lose without them, conspire to MAKE THEM HAPPEN.

Therefore working out who is really ultimately BEHIND every major and most minor wars for the last 2000, or many more years is EXTREMELY EASY to do.

Therefore, the question is, why does it seem that no one has bothered to do so?

Answer they have. Even the BBC, bless em, did so around 10 years ago in a BBC2 documentary named Hitlers Bankers, yet it would seem that the whole of the country must have been watching the football, or Eastenders at the time, for all the difference the information made to public consciousness.

For those that missed it.

The British/American Establishment financed the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Who's death was announced exactly 66 years before that of Osama Bin Larden, on the Ist day of May 1945.

Pure coincidence?

You can bet your life that it was not.

3 May 2011 at 23:44  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

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4 May 2011 at 00:17  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

If Bin Laden deserved to die, then it is not murder. A judicial process is a civil institution, to preserve social order and not necessarily a moral necessity.

Where I most object to this raid was the flouting of national sovereignty. The evils that have been done to Britain in recent decades, mostly by the EU and European Council, with the complicity of our establishment, have made me cherish national sovereignty. I'm loath, even in such contexts, to see it floated so clearly, even by the US or Israel.

Graham Davis; your fist paragraph makes no sense. If you think religion is true and has an impact on morality, then why would you not introduce into discussions on morality? Particularly those dominated by your co-religionists?

Your grace; One thing I've come to learn about Islam and its culture is it is extremely complex and multifarious. Westerners almost always seem to make glaring mistakes or not useful generalisations in describing it. For instance they often use terms like Islamism or hardline Islam, without differentiating the multiple forms of less 'Westernised' and less 'modernised' Islam.

The writer of that piece is a professor of 'postcolonial studies'. That is a euphemism for a radical, post-modern and Marxoid influenced study of international relations and global politics. One wonders why a religious think tank would have such a person's article.

4 May 2011 at 00:19  
Anonymous bluedog said...

The Big Man @ 23.08. You presume Bin Laden was unarmed. If the US releases full video of the operation we will know the truth. Certainly the residents of the compound appear to have been heavily armed. Given the many photos of Bun Laden either holding or firing a weapon, is it not likely he had a weapon in the compound?

If you live in Kuwait, you may have been influenced by misleading reports.

4 May 2011 at 00:32  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

Did anyone else squirm at seeing Peter King, the man who recently defended his links to the IRA by a perfunctory statement that they'd never attacked the USA, get such prominence in the discussion of this event.

I doubt the US would like it if us Brits performed a Mossad-style extradition of that scumbag.

4 May 2011 at 00:47  
Anonymous Kelso said...

Your Grace:

Many of your readers do not understand The Law of Land Warfare as expounded in numerous articles of international law.

Terrorists, that is people who are not part of a nation-sponsored army, and who do not wear uniforms to distinguish themselves from civilians, and engage in violence which not only attacks soldiers but civilians have no rights under the Law of Land Warfare.

The Law of Land Warfare provides protection for enemy combatants captured. It restrains violence against unarmed people of whatever nationality.

In short, it is illegal to kill an enemy prisoner of war. It is perfectly proper to shoot immediately a terrorist, who by his allegiance and actions has placed himself outside the protection of the Law of Land Warfare.

Good riddance Osama, and tell Dr Mengele hello.

4 May 2011 at 01:01  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Chevron : so what is the sentence for intentional mass murder of civillians ? perhaps 10yrs evasion is a decent trial.

Atlas shrugged : I sometimes enjoy some of your improved off piste mental adventures , but it would be better if you had mentioned that it was the American delegation that warned that financial repayments of the treaty of versallies would not cure germany ,perhaps that is why they wanted to help ,be carefull not to make too many conspiracies out of events :) like most good national socialists hitler needed someone to blame for loss of 1st ww and then later for running out of money (they never do blame profligate and cronie overspending).It was an interesting piece of TV though .

4 May 2011 at 02:13  
Anonymous chevron said...

(Kelso) "It is perfectly proper to shoot immediately a terrorist, who by his allegiance and actions has placed himself outside the protection of the Law of Land Warfare."

But only on account of the US ascribing "enemy combatant" status to anyone they choose to brand as terrorists. Unilaterally creating this third class of individual, who is neither civilian nor military, and receives the legal protections of neither group, is extremely dodgy and has been roundly criticised the world over. As you are well aware the lack of safeguards have resulted in quite a few innocents being locked up and tortured at Gitmo for many years without trial or other legal recourse.

(West) "If Bin Laden deserved to die, then it is not murder."

Well I think you ought to die. You are evil incarnate! Therefore I shall kill you. Why can't I? Morally, I'd be justified if I could reconcile it with my conscience and believed that I was doing right (it would not change the absolute nature of the act, but it would morally absolve me). And yet would it be considered murder by everyone else? I think it would, and I'd get no protection from the Law claiming that I thought you were evil and had to be eliminated (even if it was patently obvious that you were, indeed, evil and deserving of death under the Law)! Why? Inconveniently, there is the principle of the Rule of Law and deferment of judgement to a proper authority. These days this generally requires arrest, fair trial, and sentencing according to the Law. And just as any individual is subject to the law, so is the entire apparatus of the US government.

"Murder" as a legal label for the OBL "take no prisoners" kill order and elimination of an unarmed man seems accurate under just about any system of Law. Perhaps those who ordered the killing, and even those who carried out the orders, have had no moral qualms. But that does not affect the legal status. And neither does it prevent the act being morally wrong in an absolute sense (as it is not justified through the exercise of lawful authority).

(NM) "so what is the sentence for intentional mass murder of civilians? perhaps 10yrs evasion is a decent trial."

Do you have to be absurd? As you well know, the sentence depends upon the legal system: some would impose a death penalty, others would likely impose life imprisonment. And being "on the run" is never a substitute for a trial.

4 May 2011 at 03:05  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

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4 May 2011 at 03:39  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4 May 2011 at 03:43  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'Well I think you ought to die. You are evil incarnate! Therefore I shall kill you. Why can't I? Morally, I'd be justified if I could reconcile it with my conscience and believed that I was doing right (it would not change the absolute nature of the act, but it would morally absolve me).'

If you could truly justify it to yourself and God, then I see nothing wrong with your comments.

'And yet would it be considered murder by everyone else? I think it would, and I'd get no protection from the Law claiming that I thought you were evil and had to be eliminated (even if it was patently obvious that you were, indeed, evil and deserving of death under the Law)! Why? Inconveniently, there is the principle of the Rule of Law and deferment of judgement to a proper authority. These days this generally requires arrest, fair trial, and sentencing according to the Law. And just as any individual is subject to the law, so is the entire apparatus of the US government.'

Now we come to controversial issues, those which are coloured by ideology and different views on law(including international law) and governance and justice.

I'm a very conservative man. My ideas of international law are a limited ones, I have little time for ideas of extensive and universal jurisdiction. For me the rule of law only has a real, general meaning in terms of historic and well established, national systems of jurisprudence, rights, liberties and privileges. The rule of law has precious little to do with the situation of one nation tracking down a terrorist combatant, from a second nation in a third nation. Though I know that the likes of Geoffrey Robertson and the Court in Strasbourg love to grab more and more power for their idea of uniform, international justice, I still believe it has only a small, specialised role for flagrant war criminals and certain problems in international relations. This is a significant opinion among Western conservatives, no doubt, it was the general opinion of international law 50 years ago. In recent years many have tried to extend it but it is still a very controversial area and I defend the older, more limited ideas from the much of the left, from 'human rights' lawyers and European Union and UN figures and such.

So I don't much care he got no trial, though I wouldn't blame Pakistan if it were annoyed.

4 May 2011 at 03:48  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

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4 May 2011 at 04:31  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

'"Murder" as a legal label for the OBL "take no prisoners" kill order and elimination of an unarmed man seems accurate under just about any system of Law. Perhaps those who ordered the killing, and even those who carried out the orders, have had no moral qualms. But that does not affect the legal status. And neither does it prevent the act being morally wrong in an absolute sense (as it is not justified through the exercise of lawful authority).'

See above for my views on claims about systems of law in this context.

However you're also drawing wrong, or at least controversial, links between morality and legality. Or rather you're drawing the wrong links, in the wrong places, from my perspective.

The legality or legal sanction of an act does not enter into the pure, Christian morality of an act. Like many of the Schoolmen, Eastern Christians, Anglicans and others, and unlike Augustine, I think that God ordained the state and it has some religious sanction, but that enters the picture at a lower level than we're talking about. For the purposes of our discussion I maintain that we can consider the legality of an act and the Christian morality as separate. So the exercise of lawful authority has little to do with the matter here. If someone kills your friend and you then kill them then that is a justifiable and just act. You should have to be locked up, but that is because society cannot tolerate such flagrant attempts at purely private justice and law, for it harmony, good and longevity and not, in my opinion, because your act in itself was wrong(we may complicate the matter which questions over the moral worth of social harmony and the moral sanction of law and government, but for the purposes of our discussion they are not important and enter at a lower level of morality.).

4 May 2011 at 04:32  
Anonymous Gordo said...

I asked this question over on Anna Raccoon as well, does anyone recognise this:

"It has been said -- and it is a fact -- that these 11 men were the lowest of the low; subhuman was the word which one of my honorable Friends used. So be it. But that cannot be relevant to the acceptance of responsibility for their death . . . In general, I would say that it is a fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it, to stand in judgement on a fellow human being and to say, "Because he was such-and-such, therefore the consequences which would otherwise flow from his death shall not flow."

Nor can we ourselves pick and choose where and in what parts of the world we shall use this or that kind of standard. We cannot say, "We will have African standards in Africa, Asian standards in Asia and perhaps British standards here at home." We have not that choice to make. We must be consistent with ourselves everywhere."

4 May 2011 at 06:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

"Murder" as a legal label for the OBL "take no prisoners" kill order and elimination of an unarmed man seems accurate under just about any system of Law.

Lex Talionis is common in the region

4 May 2011 at 07:29  
Anonymous MrJ said...

1) Atlas shrugged (3 May 23:44) "The British/American Establishment financed the rise of Adolf Hitler. Who's death was announced exactly 66 years before that of Osama Bin Larden, on the Ist day of May 1945. Pure coincidence? You can bet your life that it was not."

Noted: is there a Bookmaker in the sky with whom anyone ready and willing could place that bet? When will the bet be won or lost? Where and in what currency would the winnings be payable?

Will the bet be off "If the US releases full video of the operation [when] we will know the truth." -- bluedog 4 May 2011 00:47. ?

2} A troubling issue which will not go away: "...just as any individual is subject to the law, so is the entire apparatus of the US government. 'Murder' as a legal label for the OBL 'take no prisoners' kill order and elimination of an unarmed man seems accurate under just about any system of Law."--chevron 4 May 03:05.

3) Gordo 4 May 06:49 "It has been said ..." Enoch Powell on the Hola Camp (Mau Mau, Kenya) scandal.

4 May 2011 at 07:37  
Anonymous len said...

I wonder how many noted the date of Bin Laden`s death and the method?.

In God`s estimation we all deserve to die,those who accepted Christ`s atonement are considered by God to
have already passed through death.Those not'in Christ'must bear the accountability for their own sins.Evil and sin lurks everywhere, and along with it comes death. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ is able to heal the hurts and to make a difference in a world full of sin, hatred and murder.

To put this one man`s death in proportion,
According to the Reader's Digest (April 1998) and other well documents reports, the lighter skinned fanatical Muslim extremists in Sudan have killed an estimated 1 million black Christians in that country since 1987. Black Christian women and girls are sold as slaves for as little as $35.00 US each and these girls and woman are being forced to convert to Islam or die.

The rights and wrongs of the' Bin Laden affair' I will leave to a Higher Court.

4 May 2011 at 08:06  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

The contemporary Roman Catholic Church has come to the conclusion, I believe, that killing even murders is wrong. I know little of their reasons for this. It has been usual for Christians to accept that murder deserves death. I agree with this, but I'm not enthusiastic about the death penalty because I accept what another Catholic, Tolkien, once wrote.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

It is generally best left to God to settle such things, but that doesn't mean that in a situation like this it is wrong to kill.

4 May 2011 at 08:47  
Anonymous chevron said...

Ah, Westcountryman, I see where you are coming from. Our differences spring from these lines of yours:

"Like many of the Schoolmen, Eastern Christians, Anglicans and others, and unlike Augustine, I think that God ordained the state and it has some religious sanction, but that enters the picture at a lower level than we're talking about. For the purposes of our discussion I maintain that we can consider the legality of an act and the Christian morality as separate."

I agree with the first bit, that God ordains the state, and has given the authority to sovereign powers to dispense justice. God also also defines morality: it is an absolute. In the God-given right to dispense justice, an otherwise absolutely immoral act ("Thou shalt not kill") is wholly justified through the application of Sovereign justice.

The problem is that the US government is not Absolutely sovereign. All officers of the government (officials, president, judges) swear to uphold the Law. Thus for the US, the actions of the government are only justified morally if the Law is upheld. Ignore the Law, and the God-given justification for an otherwise absolutely immoral act (ie. a caveat to the injunction, "Thou shalt not kill") does not apply.

As I see it, legality is the God-given justification available for the otherwise immoral acts of the State, just as the voice of conscience is God-given justification for the otherwise immoral acts of the individual. Justice and morality are indeed distinct matters, but they are surely linked.

4 May 2011 at 09:48  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Within an absolutist moral value system killing Bin Laden was wrong so a good Christian cannot reconcile “Thou shalt not kill” with the obvious moral benefits of killing him. This is clear from the contradictory comments posted here.

The only way to resolve this conflict is to recognise that moral behaviour must always be conditional on context which makes it relativist. Since virtually all religious doctrines prescribe behaviour as either moral or immoral and disregard context they are a worse than useless guide for humankind to follow.

It goes without saying that killing is always the last option but on this occasion it was justified because:

Bin Laden, by his own admission ordered the 911 attacks and many more besides so there is no need to prove culpability.

To have taken him alive risked more casualties both of soldiers and civilians.

If he had been tried, convicted and imprisoned in the USA it would have risked a generation of reprisals and the possibility of his escape. He is more dangerous alive than dead.

Atlas shrugged 3 May 2011 23:44 exemplifies your dilemma I look at The Ten Commandments, more like a set of strong recommendations, or simply good advice. This pick and mix attitude is why the CofE is in terminal decline. Much as I loath Islam its cultural brainwashing means that there is little dissent, apart from the Sunni/Shia split.

Educated Christians are faced with an impossible dilemma, take the fundamentalist route or continuously reinterpret their faith until it is reduced to nothing.

4 May 2011 at 09:50  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

There is dispute, but the commandment is generally taken to be you shouldn't murder and not you shouldn't kill, by both most traditional Christian denominations and by traditional Judaism.

Context is important, that is obvious, there is nothing against this in Christian morality. Perhaps you might find some fundamentalists who have a very narrow(and I do not mean by this traditional or restrictive but the preference for the spirit over the law.). Indeed in Christianity there is a difference between the inner virtues and the outer virtues or moral code. This is why Jesus says that he who looks on a woman with lust has committed adultery. What he is referring to is moral goodness of an advanced, inner level. The outer virtues are not unimportant but they are only important, from a Christian(or at least a traditional, Catholic and Orthodox) perspective to the degree they contribute to the inner virtues and inner being. All traditional religions make such distinctions, which on the face of it rules out the sort of interpretation of traditional morality that you seem to want to set up Graham; that is about strict and narrow extrinsic moral codes.

I do wish that all these religion-bashers have the least familiarity with traditional religion and did not simply take the time to learn about only the crudest popular theology and fundamentalist branches. Hence you get statements like this;

'Educated Christians are faced with an impossible dilemma, take the fundamentalist route or continuously reinterpret their faith until it is reduced to nothing.'

The poster clearly has little knowledge of traditional Catholic, Celtic, Orthodox or magisterial Protestant Christianity.

4 May 2011 at 10:20  
Blogger Westcountryman said...

- note I just I have added I believe to my comment about traditional Judaism. I'm no expert. And when I say the commandment is taken to mean, I mean literally translated or rendered and not just arbitrarily redefined.

Chevron; I see your point. I would say it is a, to put it crudely, a lesser duty, than say not murdering. These Navy Seals did not murder but ignored, perhaps, a legitimate government. We could talk in more detail about this but I take your point.

There are also important questions though about what is a legitimate government. Does it include non-Christian governments? Does it include tyranny? I would say it does include non-Christian governments but not tyrannies(and I mean real tyranny not just 'undemocratic' governments.). Does it perhaps only include the sort of regal, medieval and avowedly Christian governments of Byzantium and the medieval West? What should be the duty of a Christian to the sort of Jacobin and 'Enlightenment' based ideas of rights and government that have come to dominate much continental law and much of the ethos of the likes of the EU, European Council and the UN? There is even the question of whether one form of government alone is legitimate and all the rest illegitimate or whether there are multiple ones or perhaps a hierarchy and therefore we should aim to make our government one of these(or this) best government(s).

But most important for our discussion here is what is the status of international law and national sovereignty. I would reject Christian sanction for the advanced sort of views of international law and 'human rights' law and principles coming from the likes of Geoffrey Robertson or the EU/ECHR. Where I think the idea of legitimate legality may have been broken was the floating of Pakistan's sovereignty.

4 May 2011 at 10:47  
Blogger Simon Barrow said...

Needless to say, the fulminations in this article have nothing to do with what Ekklesia's staff, associates, contributors or co-contributors actually think. If people want to read the range of material we have published on Bin Laden and related matters, rather than misrepresentations of it, the aggregate links are here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/binladen and http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/MiddleEast To be clear: Bin Laden was a brutal murderer. Whether killing him and others in response is legal, moral, right or effective in seeking to overcome terror and injustice - and whether Christians should ever sanction such tactics - are other issues which deserve thoughtful debate. My own view is that Christians should seek to overcome hatred with love, both personally and corporately; and should seek to speak into policy and political debate from that perspective. I realise that's not popular among anonymous attack-dogs in the blogosphere and elsewhere. Grace and peace, S.

4 May 2011 at 12:44  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Dear Mr Barrow,

This is simply a summary analysis of the highlights of precisely what one of your associates thinks on the matter of Bin Laden's 'murder'. And he is indeed a declared Ekklesia 'associate', and upon his website you are referred to as the ‘UK’s premier religious think-tank’. Since his website is published by you and carries your logo, it is evident that this is how you, your staff and associates are content to style yourselves.

The 'range of matters' you have published about Bin Laden are irrelevant in the context of this post, which was published immediately following Bin Laden's death.

4 May 2011 at 13:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is difficult to see how the killing - murder ?- of a foriegn national in a foreign country is anything but yet another blatent disregard by the US of geneva convention, international law or even just human rights. Frankly should an northamerican be so -attcked by anyone of mifddle east - islam, muslim belief- it woudl just be a eye 4 eye. Perhaps a group should invade BO' residence and shoot him twice in head, would seem to be an equitable response. Is it not time the US were taken to international court over their actions?

4 May 2011 at 13:52  
Anonymous MrJ said...

At last a response from Ekklesia (Cranmerially rebutted) but not from the author of the article, Michael Marten "Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Stirling and an Ekklesia associate"; instead an unconvincing disclaimer from Simon Barrow "Co-Director, a theological writer, commentator, consultant, educator and NGO trainer."

May we now hear from the author, Mr Marten, after he has had the opportunity to consider the critique, and such of the comments as he may deem worthy of his attention?

4 May 2011 at 16:01  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, without wishing to adopt an ad hominem position, your communicant notes in passing that Mr Simon Barrow's blogspot profile prominently displays his star sign, Aries. For some, this may raise questions about Mr Barrow's bona fides.

4 May 2011 at 21:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt that Google turns-up some interestingly biased pieces of rhetoric - and this ranks amongst the top. Bin Laden was murdered; there is no conjecture on this - it's a simple fact - and anyone that refers to "us" (Americans) and "them" (everyone else) is nothing but a racist fool.

Bin Laden was a terrorist and deserved to be tried, convicted and punished for his crimes. He was also a father and one of God's children; as such deserving of legal justice and basic human and judicial rights.

The US murders in the name of justice. Criminals on both side of this issue.

4 May 2011 at 21:55  
Blogger Simon Barrow said...

To clarify, since it has been misunderstood: The fulminations I referred to were the abuse and mischaracterisations directed at Dr Marten's article here, not the article itself. Ekklesia is delighted and honoured to have him as an associate. Whether readers agree with it or not (including the use of the term "murder"), his piece is a thoughtful one, expressed without the kind of malice critics here have shown, and part of a range of pieces we have (and will continue) to publish on the variety of concerns arising from the killing of Bin Laden. Grace and peace, S.

5 May 2011 at 04:24  
Anonymous Bucky said...

It is sad that we forget the justice system. He may have made some dislikable decisions but what does it have to do with his sons. That is like if my dad did something and I get the punishment.

5 May 2011 at 05:27  
Anonymous Dimwitt said...

If this is a move to take over the oil rich middle east. Why not just butcher everybody over there and strip them of everything. In the name of U.S. JUSTICE and PEACE we react with brute violence.

5 May 2011 at 05:36  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Simon Barrow, star sign Aries.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/coffeebreak/horoscopes/index.html#aries-forecast

Extract, 'You're made of more magic than you know'

ROFL

5 May 2011 at 06:10  
Anonymous len said...

No one ( as far as I know, apart from the Presidential team and the unit on the ground)has the full facts as to exactly what happened, and what was intended with Bin Laden.(I cannot imagine Bin Laden was ever going to surrender meekly to the Authorities.)

So Ekklesia`s charge of'murder'is supposition.

This is not based on fact but on the current Worldview where the perpetrator of crime is given much more consideration than the victim.
This is partly the reason for the breakdown of law and order and the disintegration of our Society.

5 May 2011 at 07:35  
Anonymous Phil said...

Is this like the wild west? No court system? Have we gone so far just to move backwards?

5 May 2011 at 08:52  
Anonymous MrJ said...

In order to assess the validity of Simon Barrow's "... the abuse and mischaracterisations directed at Dr Marten's article here..." (04:24) I have read again the comments and find nothing that could justly be called "fulmination" in this context, other than Graham Davis (3 May 12:38). In general the comments are worthy points presented in the terse and pithy style suited to the occasion (one or two are a little too verbose), and if considered thoughtfully make better sense than the Ekklesia article.

By contrast, Simon Barrow's unconvincing protestations are more like damp squibs or Catherine wheels. And he seems to be practising some confusion about what "article" he is identifying.

1) 12:44: "...the fulminations in this article have nothing to do with what Ekklesia's staff...."
2) 04:24: "...The fulminations I referred to were the abuse and mischaracterisations directed at Dr Marten's article here, not the article itself."

No wonder some of the comments expressed reservations about Ekklesia.

5 May 2011 at 09:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

man kills man it is his way,it is unimportant ,we are just fungus on a fertile planet , there is no god ,thank god , at least we have stopped eating each other

5 May 2011 at 16:36  
Anonymous Tarka the Rotter said...

So...Osama bin Laden is dead - move on, nothing to see here...

6 May 2011 at 09:25  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Had I the opportunity to kill Bin Laden, I hope that I would have had the courage to do so, taking the 'sin' upon myself, to be judged by my maker.

16 May 2011 at 12:22  

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