Should Christians Be Pacifists? No, Say Influential Evangelicals

More than 50 Christian academics, journalists and campaigners have written a statement arguing against pacifism and American isolationism.

Pfc. Janelle Zalkovsky, watches while other U.S. soldiers survey a newly constructed road in Ibriam Jaffes, Iraq, 2005.Reuters

The group, which is mostly comprised of evangelicals from prestigious institutions such as Wheaton College and Duke University, has published a critique of Christians who are either pacifist or who want to reduce America's role in the world.

The declaration says: "Other Christians have erred by holding the state to the same standard as the church or the individual, resulting in pacifism and, we believe, an abdication of government's rightful responsibilities."

The argument is made in 'Providence', a journal on Christianity and American Foreign Policy.

"The 2016 presidential election has presented a clarion moment for a statement of principles," the declaration says. It goes on: "we stand in the tradition of centuries of Christian reflection on the role of the state and the just use of force, from Augustine to Aquinas, from Luther and Calvin to Niebuhr and Elshtain".

A number of Christian voices have called for a more pacifist approach to foreign intervention, while the rise in profile of the libertarian movement has highlighted the number of Americans who think the US should have a significantly reduced roll overseas.

With the vast financial cost and cost to life of the government's commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the last 15 years, the post-war consensus has been questioned – with Christians among those asking whether there should be a reassessment of foreign policy goals.

The authors of the declaration are in no mood to compromise, though, stating: "All nations can and should join in the collective effort to foster accountable governance, free entrepreneurship, and mutual security."