A coalition of primarily evangelical leaders, plus some Roman Catholics, is urging assertive U.S. actions against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Their concerns contrast with the Religious Left, which seems mostly to prefer quiet acquiescence to a nuclear armed Iran.
The conservative Christians, operating as “Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran,” argue “Iran’s nuclear weapons program will destabilize the Middle East, lead to an arms race in a volatile part of the world, and threaten the United States and its allies in Europe.” These assertions are hardly controversial. Yet for some reason, it is left to conservative religionists to make these arguments. Shouldn’t religionists on the left, ostensibly so concerned about both theocracy and nukes, also be distressed about nuclear-armed Iranian mullahs?
The Left likes to target the end-times theology that purportedly guides some conservative Christians. But Iran’s clerics, and its president, have a very detailed, grisly and publicly expressed end-times scenario that nukes could actually help implement. Shouldn’t resistance to nukes for Iran’s theocracy be religiously broad-based and ecumenical? Instead, it is religious conservatives who are making the reasoned case. They are in some ways reminiscent of responsible religious liberals of the mid 20th century, guided by thinkers like Reinhold Neibuhr, who rigorously espoused deterrence of Nazi and Communist aggression.
“Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran” recently sent a letter to U.S. Senators that urged expanding the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, increasing U.S. emphasis on Iran’s enormous human-rights violations, enhancing Voice of America’s Persian News Network’s support for the “pro-freedom movement in Iran,” transferring responsibility for pro-democracy funding in Iran from the State Department to the National Endowment for Democracy, aggressive identifying front companies of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), and applying pressure on firms paying Iran in advance for oil and gas.
The conservative Christian group cited Iran’s most recent refusal to negotiate over its nuclear program, along with Iran’s persistent denial of access to meaningful inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. They also cited diplomatic cables from Wikileaks that vividly illustrate the anxiety of Arab governments over a nuclear Iran. Coalition signers include Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, evangelist James Robison, broadcaster Pat Robertson, mega-church pastor John Hagee, and William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, among others.
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