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Iran Statement From Evangelical Group Draws Fire Over Question of Moral Equivalency

01-11-2020
US Iran tensions

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is facing criticism for a statement released on Friday that appears to draw a moral equivalency between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States.

WEA’s message appeared to criticize the United States' sanctions against the Islamic Republic. 

White House officials held a press hearing on Iran sanctions, where authorities affirmed that the US will continue to apply economic sanctions against the Iranian regime as a result of the attack on U.S. and allied troops.

WEA tweeted that they are grieving over the recent acts of violence between the US and the Middle East, but encourages leaders of these countries to use "dialogue that prevents further crises and leads to the removal of sanctions which disproportionally impact civilians."

Bishop Efraim Tendero, Secretary General and CEO of WEA wrote, "WEA deeply grieves the recent acts of aggression and violence between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Iraq. The WEA calls on the leaders of these countries, and their allies, to resist hostile rhetoric and to de-escalate the current crisis. We encourage dialogue that prevents further crises and leads to the removal of sanctions which disproportionally impact civilians."

"Guided by our belief that each human bears the image of God and enjoys inherent dignity, and pursuant to our scriptural responsibility to be ambassadors of reconciliation, we further call on all citizens worldwide, especially evangelicals, to express political and ideological differences in a manner that does not demean, denigrate or de-humanize."

"The violence playing out in Iraq further threatens the presence of Christians in the country, whose numbers since 2003 have drastically dwindled. The protection of Christians and other religious communities in Iraq requires active support for peace and stability from the international community, and puts an onus on the United States and Iran to pursue de-escalation and dialogue."

"The WEA calls for prayer for the political and military leaders of Iran, Iraq and the United States—and all leaders and peoples of the region—that they might seek and possess peaceable wisdom from above, leading to the path of peace. We pray also that this discernment might include de-escalation of conflict, dialogue and the re-establishment of trust, and an end to the cycles of violence and death that beset the Middle East."

Rev. Johnnie Moore, President of The Congress of Christian Leaders told CBN News that WEA's statement has caused more confusion than clarity.

"Like many Christians around the world, I pray for peace in the Middle East and support all reasonable and moral efforts at de-escalation, whenever possible, including with Iran. I have personally worked on these efforts and I believe peace is possible. However, the World Evangelical Alliance is wrong to even infer a moral equivalency between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran in their call for peace,” Moore said.

“If this was their intention, as it seems to have been, then they ought to be absolutely ashamed of themselves for promoting a lack of moral clarity about a nation known to be one of the world's foremost violators of human rights and religious freedom; a nation where anti-Semitism is its national policy.”

"Yes, the WEA is right to remind us that Christian theology teaches that all people are born bearing the image of God, but the WEA is wrong to not acknowledge that some people choose to desecrate that image by deploying their own free will in pursuit of evil. By speaking imprecisely, I'm afraid the World Evangelical Alliance has enabled greater moral confusion - not clarity - in an already, morally confused world, and they've done so at the worst possible time."

Rev. Moore said, "They have promoted in their statement an uncritical Christian theology which is only a few steps removed from anti-Semitic Christianity that enabled the rise of Hitler and the Nazi's holocaust. I am also calling on pastors throughout the United States, and around the world, to dedicate time in their services on January 19, 2020 to speak out against anti-Semitism in solidarity with the Jewish community around the world - just days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz."

Also, Rev. Moore points out that there are no moral comparisons between the US and the Middle East, especially when the Iranian regime recruits and deploys child soldiers as young as 12 years old to combat.

The Department of State tweeted that such behavior occurred while under Qassem Soleimani.

“The WEA should immediately clarify their statement or Christian leaders ought to reconsider their association with the international body, as I am doing,” Rev. Moore concluded.

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