News Friday confirming the death of Tom Fox at the hands of a self-identified Iraqi terrorist group calling themselves the "Swords of Righteousness Brigades" is quite possibly a double tragedy. And not because of his own loss of life - or the tragic times facing his loved ones.
Mr. Fox was a member of a Canadian-led team belonging to "Christian Peacemaker Teams" (CPT), which according to their website is jointly based in Chicago and Toronto. Formed in the mid-80's by a coalition of North American Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers, as well as others, the teams like to say they are "committed to reducing violence by getting in the way".
Obviously, each of the founding organizations come from a "pacifist" tradition or background. I will comment further about "pacifists" another time. Suffice it to say most I've known appear to be solidly based believers, hold strong beliefs in the 'rightness' of their doctrine, and are extremely courageous and helpful in living for Christ among their communities.
CPT uses the following scripture references from the NRSV to justify their official "missions".
Exodus 20:13 You shall not kill.
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Matthew 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As far as what CPT was doing in Iraq, their official site also states, "Iraq: (has been) a Baghdad-based presence since October 2002. Team members accompanied the Iraqi people through the U.S.-led 2003 war and continue during the post-war occupation to expose abusive acts by U.S. Armed Forces and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance."
I find this official explanation from CPT extremely troubling, creating a dangerous gap between their ministry and the results of their actions. Why did they only link the term "by U.S. Armed Forces" with efforts to "expose abusive acts"? Wouldn't an informed Christian viewpoint have included exposing abusive acts by all forces? Of course it would! Does nothing the insurgents do come up to the level of abuse? What utter rot! Of course it does. Almost everything the insurgency does is "abusive" in nature, and if they were but uniformed troops of an organized state would be acting virtually completely contrary to international law. How deceitful!
The only explanation I can come up with is this. The "enemies" of the CPT are not the insurgents. Those irregulars have morphed into becoming their friends. Instead, the CPT have decided among themselves "U. S. Armed Forces" are now their enemies. And in so doing they have totally failed to follow Matthew 5:43-44. In their eagerness to "get in the way", they just haven't recognized (or admitted) this disconnect yet.
And so the double tragedy. Tom Fox was a believer, trying to perform an important "ministry" and in so-doing demonstrate a noble Christlike spirit. But it can NOT be noble to just willingly 'give up' your life for a mistaken purpose. And I challange anyone to construct a 'supporting' peaceful purpose in Fox's slaying. It changes nothing, and it makes the group of which he was a member also seem to be ineffectual in their 'ministry' efforts. They publicly ignored a true evil, and the outcome has now become a double disaster. I am so sorry.
Unlike results portrayed in the movie "The End of the Spear", this story seems much more likely to end up merely an unimportant postscript, and not become the "tipping point" his group probably sought. I fail to see how this tragedy will bring glory to God, even though I pray I am wrong, and that eventually it might.
Reasoned comments will be recognized.