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Afghanistan

Started by peter_speckhard, August 16, 2021, 08:12:33 PM

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James S. Rustad

I remember talking with some of my in-laws about Afghanistan a few months after it started.  I predicted then that the US would be there way longer than they thought and that it was most likely going to end in disaster.  At the same time I was hoping I would be wrong.  I would have greatly preferred if the the US had knocked down the Taliban and gotten right back out.
"Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem." -Thomas Jefferson

prsauer

From my foxhole this is entirely a pastoral issue. This is a massive humanitarian crisis that impacts the faith life of Soldiers I serve and the countless Veterans of this war that are in our parishes. It also impacts the real lives of Afghanis who are currently threatened. This will no doubt have implications for our Lutheran humanitarian agencies. I have tried not to be overtly political - this is not about party. However, political decisions have real world ramifications for real people and there are significant theological dimensions to that.

The church will always be engaged in issues the world defines as "political". Discussing the ramifications of those issues and the church and her minister's response is a far different thing than the overly simplistic  political posturing and name calling that more often than not kept me and many others away from this board..

This discussion strikes me as being of a different character all together than the political ones that have been shut down in the past - but perhaps I am too close to it to be objective.

.
Quote from: Charles Austin on August 18, 2021, 08:19:37 PM
And the theological import or input of or for all of this is....?
(Now laughing at how, not so long ago, when the discussion got contentious, a thread deemed "political" was shut down.)

Charles Austin

I wasn't in a foxhole, but walking the streets of my world when I contended, way back in 2016, that if we were to preserve the blessings that God has given our country and use those blessings to benefit our neighbor and use our standing as that light on a hill in service to the world, we had to pay very close attention to the moral character of those who would be our leaders.
Oh, and also pay attention to the moral character - not to mention the experience and competence - of those our leaders choose as their top aides and associates.
But that was some time ago.
We have a moral obligation to those who helped us in Afghanistan and who now face grievous peril. How we carry out that obligation or if we will carry it out is still taking shape.
And, lest the urge to pounce on the present leadership take further control of certain partisans, we must note that this war was promoted through the administrations of four presidents, two Republicans, two Democrats.
Our country, we must admit, has failed its moral obligations before, and it is possible that we will do so again.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

J. Thomas Shelley

#48
Quote from: Charles Austin on August 18, 2021, 11:26:34 PM
Our country, we must admit, has failed its moral obligations before, and it is possible that we will do so again.

We live in a broken, fallen world.

We have unclean lips and we dwell in a people of unclean lips.

Individually and collectively we live out Romans 7 in this vale between Eden and the New Paradise.

So it is not just "possible" that we will fail moral obligations again; it is highly probable and almost inevitably certain.

And that is the crux of the perpetual pastoral issue.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

John_Hannah

Last evening on the news I saw a 10-15 second snippet showing a group from Lutheran Social Services of DC packing boxes that are being prepared for Afghan refugees. So we are in the news, however briefly.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

peter_speckhard

Today I've read several articles of women being tortured and/or killed for not wearing a burqa. I think there are several theological issues related to that phenomenon concerning the nature of symbolism and adiaphora. For example, I've not heard anyone in all the commentary on Afghanistan say anything like, "Why don't they just wear a burqa? Are burqas so uncomfortable? What's the big deal? It's a hat, not a thumbscrew." Nor do people say, "Why is it so important to the Taliban that the women wear burqas?" Everyone seems to instinctively understand that entire worldviews and ideologies are clashing, and the otherwise meaningless symbol of a burqa identifies the sides.

I have an article in the upcoming September Forum Letter about preferred pronouns that explores this phenomenon. But in this thread I'll ask a few questions. Should a Christian woman agree to wear a burqa for the sake of getting along? Are women who refuse to wear burqas and end up getting killed for it to be considered martyrs? To what cause? At what point does a harmless symbol like a hat or a gesture become a line in the sand that we would choose torture and death (if we were as brave as we hope) rather than go along with it?

peter_speckhard

Afghanistan is old news. Right now the top three stories on CNN are that it rained for the first time (instead of snowing) someplace in Greenland, that three senators have Covid with minor symptoms, and that people in some school district harassed teachers about masks. 

John_Hannah

Once again Lutherans are in the news (as footnotes). Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is mentioned as facilitating the flow of Afghans out. (Today's NY Times.)

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Dave Benke

Forwarding this link, received from many and various sources, for donations for Afghan refugees to be routed through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS):  https://secure2.convio.net/lirs/site/Donation2?df_id=4079&4079.donation=form1&mfc_pref=T/

I'm certain our congregation will be contributing, and encourage individuals and leaders on this board to do the same. 

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

John_Hannah

Quote from: Dave Benke on August 20, 2021, 10:50:11 AM
Forwarding this link, received from many and various sources, for donations for Afghan refugees to be routed through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS):  https://secure2.convio.net/lirs/site/Donation2?df_id=4079&4079.donation=form1&mfc_pref=T/

I'm certain our congregation will be contributing, and encourage individuals and leaders on this board to do the same. 

Dave Benke

Thanks, Dave. A very, very good cause indeed. I made my donation.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

peter_speckhard

This article also mentions LIRS as an organization that specifically requested in advance the president handle the withdrawal differently to avoid a refugee crisis, but was ignored.

https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/aug/19/bidens-incompetence-brought-us-chaos/

prsauer

#56
It is a rare speech today that can unite the British Parliment, but listening to MP Tom Tugenhadt passionately speak of his own experiences in Afghanistan does just that. It echoes so many of the sentiments I have heard from veterans in these last few days. His talk of patience, and forever peace have existential echoes that remind me of the way the church used to view the world, before our culture of immediacy took over..

It is almost 8 minutes, but we'll worth the listen.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B1eLbcDRZIE

Marshall Hahn

Another consequence of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan is the threat to the fledgling Christian communities in that country:

Afghan Christians are reportedly fleeing to the mountains in a desperate attempt to escape the Taliban who is going door to door trying to kill them.

An underground church that partners with Frontier Alliance International (FAI) has reported that the Taliban are targeting Christians for death. According to FAI:
The Taliban has a hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill. The US Embassy is defunct and there is no longer a safe place for believers to take refuge. All borders to neighboring countries are closed and all flights to and from have been halted, with the exception of private planes. People are fleeing into the mountains looking for asylum. They are fully reliant on God, who is the only One who can and will protect them.

The Taliban are going door-to-door taking women and children. The people must mark their house with an "X" if they have a girl over 12 years old, so that the Taliban can take them. If they find a young girl and the house was not marked they will execute the entire family. If a married woman 25 years or older has been found, the Taliban promptly kill her husband, do whatever they want to her, and then sell her as a sex slave.

Husbands and fathers have given their wives and daughters guns and told them that when the Taliban come, they can choose to kill them or kill themselves—it is their choice.


(The above is from the Daily Wire at -  https://www.dailywire.com/news/glenn-becks-nazarene-fund-raises-more-than-20m-in-3-days-to-rescue-christians-from-afghanistan)

Glenn Beck has raised $22 million this week for the Nazarene Fund in an attempt to bring 5,000 Christians out of Afghanistan.    I only heard of this by accident scrolling across the radio dial, and tried to find out more about the FAI and the Nazarene Fund since I had not heard of either one before.  I could not find anything to dispute the legitimacy of either one.  No matter what you think of Beck - and I am no fan of his - this is a remarkable effort.

Marshall Hahn

Michael Slusser

The Wikipedia article (updated last Thursday) on Christianity in Afghanistan has this general overview:
QuoteChristians have historically had a small community in Afghanistan; there are currently no reliable estimates of its population. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not recognize any Afghan citizen as being Christian, except many expatriates (although, Rula Ghani, the country's First Lady from 2014 until 2021, is a Maronite Christian from Lebanon). Afghan citizens are not legally permitted to convert to Christianity; although there are no explicit laws that forbid evangelizing by non-Muslims, many authorities and most of society view its toleration as contrary to the practice of Islam. There is only one legally recognized Christian church building in Afghanistan, the Catholic chapel at the Italian Embassy which has been operational since the 1930s. Under the Taliban, there were many more restrictions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Afghanistan

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Charles Austin

From LIRS:
Washington D.C. – The Biden administration has relocated approximately 7,000 people from Kabul to various destinations, including nearly 1,800 American citizens or legal permanent residents as of August 19. Reports from the ground indicate a continuation of volatile conditions, including Taliban checkpoints limiting access to the airport in violation of international law, insufficient crowd control contributing to multiple deaths, and erroneous denials of entry to the airport for legal permanent residents.
   Despite an increased presence of military personnel and consular officials at the airport in Kabul, evacuations have not reached the estimated capacity of 5,000 to 9,000 people per day as outlined by Pentagon officials. To date, the Biden administration has failed to publicly communicate destinations for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) applicants, Priority 1 (P-1) refugees, and Priority 2 (P-2) refugees, nor has it specified how it will assure and uphold humane conditions and legal rights of those evacuated.
   The following is a statement by Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a national refugee resettlement agency assisting in the relocation and resettlement of Afghan allies and refugees:
   "The administration's immediate priority must be a drastic increase in evacuation flights, whether they are military or commercial. There is no excuse for even a single empty seat when tens of thousands of lives are on the line. At the same time, it must leverage every possible means to secure safe passage for all those who wish to flee to reach the airport. At this juncture, one misstep in the streets of Kabul could be a literal death sentence.
  "We cannot in good conscience tie a life-or-death humanitarian operation to the current August 31 timeline unless we act more swiftly. Our government made a commitment; abandonment is not an option. We must continue this lifesaving work until the mission is fulfilled. If political will matches military might, the U.S. can still implement the boldest evacuation in modern history. But that window of opportunity is just inches away from closing.
   "Make no mistake – the administration's failure to heed the call of veterans and advocates months ago has put our nation in this unconscionable position. It cannot let innocent Afghans die by bureaucracy. The American people have resoundingly declared that they will not stand for the mass murder of our Afghan allies. All eyes are on President Biden as he determines the enduring legacy of our nation as one that keeps its sacred word, or abandons its friends in their darkest hour."
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

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