A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings

As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:

  • The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;
  • The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;
  • Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;
  • Drone strikes violate other nations’ sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);
  • Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keep the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;
  • Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;
  • The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;
  • Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.
  • The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.

The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.

We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.

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Reverend Lesley Adams, Chaplain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Episcopal Priest
Reverend Dr. Eileen Altman, Associate Pastor, First Congregational Church, UCC, Palo Alto, CA
Reverend Dr. Israel Alvaran, United Methodist Church, San Francisco, CA
James Atwood, Retired, Presbyterian Church USA, Springfield, VA
Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles, CA
Jean Barker, Interfaith Community Organizer, Kennett Square, PA
Andra Baylus, Interfaith Bridge-Builder, Co-Founder of the DC Interfaith Peace Initiative
Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jamaica Plain, MA
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco, CA
Reverend Roy Birchard, San Francisco Fellowship of Reconciliation
Tsukina Blessing, Co-Founder Occupy Chaplains, Seattle, WA
Reverend Beth Bostrom, Wesley Foundation Director, United Methodist Minister, Miami, FL
Pastor Dale Bracey, Presbyterian Church
Reverend Dr. Matthew Braddock, Sr. Minister, Christ Congregational Church, Silver Spring, MD
Reverend Mary Karen Brown, Retired United Methodist Minister, North Bend, WA
Reverend Geoff Browning, Peacemaking Advocate Presbytery, San Jose
Patricia Bruno, Order of Preachers, Dominican Sisters, San Rafael, CA
Betty Campbell, Religious Sisters of Mercy
Reverend Sally Carlson, Deacon, Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia
Reverend Ewing W. Carroll, Jr., Retired, United Methodist Clergy and Missionary, Hong Kong
Pastor John Chamberlin, United Methodist Church, National Coordinator, East Timor Religious Outreach
Marilyn Chilcote, Pastor, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, CA
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Ph.D., Professor of Rabbinic Literature, American Jewish University
Reverend Bill Coop, National Committee of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Reverend Ben Daniel, Pastor, Foothill Presbyterian Church, San Jose, CA
Cantor Michael Davis, Rabbinical Council, Jewish Voices for Peace
Reverend Richard Deats, Pastor, Nyack, NY
Reverend Sandra Decker, Interfaith Community Minister, San Francisco, CA
Reverend Sharon Delgado, United Methodist, Earth Justice Ministries
Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
Reverend Maureen A. Dickmannm, Pastor, Rock Bridge Christian Church Columbia, MO
Reverend John P. Donovan, St. James Church, Johnson City, NY, Diocese of Syracuse
Reverend Dr. Frank Dunn, Senior Priest, St. Stephen Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
Reverend Deborah Espen, Director, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, Boise, ID Samina Faheem, Executive Director, American Muslim Voice
Reverend David Farley, Pastor, Echo Park Methodist Church, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah, Chairwoman, National Association of Muslim American Women
Reverend John M. Fife, Former Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Therese Fitzgerald, Buddhist Minister, Dharma Friends, Hana, HI
Reverend Dr. Jerrold L. Foltz, Wellspring United Church of Christ, Centre