The Coalition for Peace Action (CfPA) hosted an Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary from January 23-25, 2015. Fr. Jim Noonan, MM and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns staff member Anna Engelmann were two of the more than 150 attendees. The following statement contains the policy recommendations released by CfPA at the conclusion of the conference; this was published in the March-April 2015 NewsNotes.
The Hebrew Bible states, and the New Testament affirms, "Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:15, I Peter 3:11)
The Quran teaches, "Act justly for that is what piety demands." (49:9)
The Sikh tradition teaches that all of humanity is one family. "The sword may only be used for self-defense or to protect life when all peaceful means have failed." (Guru Gobind Singh, Tenth Guru of the Sikhs)
Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
Pope Francis has said that, "War is madness" and warns that perhaps World War III has already begun, "one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
We, the more than 150 religious leaders who attended the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary, January 23-25, 2015, represent many of the world’s religions, and the Just War, Pacifist and Just Peace traditions. We are compelled to address our growing concern about the use of lethal drones by the United States and other countries.
Our concerns center on the nature of lethal drones as a weapon, namely their use in targeted killings of specific individuals most of whom are Muslims, their impact upon targeted communities, their operation by remote control, and the consequences that drones increase hostilities. After two and half days of presentations and conversation and in full awareness of the differences in our faith traditions and our beliefs about war, we have come together to issue this statement of recommendations.
1. We call on the administration to immediately halt targeted lethal drone strikes.
2. We call on the administration to be transparent and accountable on the past use of such strikes by public disclosures including but not limited to:
Acknowledging strikes conducted
Accounting for victims
Explaining official criteria for the "kill list"
Disclose all legal justification for authorization of strikes
Detailing the methods of investigating deaths
Disclosing the standards and mechanisms for compensating victims
3. We call on Congress to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used as a legal justification for the lethal drone program.
4. We call on the president to rescind the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Special Operations Command, or any other government agency or contractor to use weaponized or lethal drones.
5. We call on the president and Congress to commission an independent study on the impact of lethal drones on drone operators, targeted persons and affected communities to determine the full extent of costs and consequences (including political, economic, social, psychological, racial, and religious) of the use of drones from 2001-present.
6. We call on the U.S. government to pursue a negotiated global ban on semi-autonomous and autonomous weapons systems.
7. We call on the U.S. government to press the international community to abide by and especially hold our allies accountable to the same recommendations as stated here, beginning with an immediate halt to targeted lethal drone strikes.
We call on our leaders to take us off the path of unending war by implementing these recommendations. As people of faith, we advocate the rigorous pursuit of Just Peace, based on upholding dignity and human rights for all, with resources dedicated to this alternative at a level matching that spent on the current drone warfare program.
Learn more about CfPA and find links to the January 2015 presentations and sessions at http://www.peacecoalition.org.