Religious leaders protest Obama drone policy
March 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Religious leaders protest Obama drone policy

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – A group of rabbis, reverends and priests has a message for President Barack Obama: stop the drone war.

In a video produced by the Brave New Foundation, a group that uses video and social media to protest against drones, Jewish and Christian leaders describe the practice as "assassination by remote control," which violates religious principles.

“From a New Testament point of view, drones are completely appalling,” the Rev. Paul F. M. Zahl, the retired Episcopal rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, told CNN. “The whole idea of killing a guy without giving the guy a chance to surrender is preemptive. That for me was completely contrary to the teachings of Christ.”

The video criticizes the Obama administration, stating that the use of war does not follow Just War Theory, which has Roman and Catholic influences.  The theory includes criteria that legitimize war, including ensuring that war is a last resort and that it is being carried out with the right intentions.

According to the religious leaders in the video, titled “Drones and Religion,” the drone program fails to meet several of these criteria.

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“The use of remote-controlled drones to assassinate targeted persons without charge, trial, or even at least the chance to surrender, is about as un-Christian a maneuver as I can imagine,” Zahl said. “I decided to protest this inhuman policy because it goes against the core principles on which I’ve built my life.”

“The Obama administration is playing God,” said Joe Nangle, a Franciscan friar at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, Virginia, in the video. “Instead of a culture of life, we are dealing death.”

The video, which includes running commentary from the six religious leaders, also includes video from speeches by Obama and his new director of the CIA, John Brennan.

“This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists,” Obama said in a  a clip from an online forum he held in January that is included in the religious leaders' video.

The video also uses biblical languages and stories to emphasize its anti-drone point.

“We are Goliath, and David is about the size of a mouse,” Zahl said in the video, alluding to the biblical story of David defeating Goliath in a one-on-one fight. “It is about that evenly matched.”

The Obama administration’s drone policy has drawn a great deal of attention in the last few months.

In February, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a classified document that seeks to justify the administration’s policy of targeting Americans overseas via drone attacks. The document provides the Justice Department's legal rationale for the controversial policy of using lethal force against U.S. citizens fighting on behalf of terrorist groups.

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After the memo’s release, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky filibustered the nomination of Brennan as CIA director because of the Obama administration’s drone policy. Paul’s filibuster shone a light on drones, leading many Republicans and some Democrats on Capitol Hill to question their use.

The White House has defended such strikes as “legal,” “ethical” and “wise.”

“This president takes his responsibilities very seriously," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about drones in early February. "And first and foremost that's his responsibility to protect the United States and American citizens. … The U.S. government takes great care in deciding to pursue an al Qaeda terrorist to insure precision and to avoid loss of innocent life.”

- CNN’s Pam Benson contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Foreign policy • Politics

soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. kevobx

    All of the leaders in the world (James 4:4) are all Satanists! All these scarf wearing hankerchief devils in their cunning purple (Exodus 28:15) All religions are devil sun worshippers praising men as their spiritual gods (1st Corinthians 3:21) The state of Israel is a man made Jewish religion the devil! Biblical King David and his son king Solomon worshipped other gods! Jacob and Joseph have been redeem (Psalm 77:15) Watch, the mark of the beast is in your devices, to blind you subliminal, it is done so subtle so cunning. The entire world is afraid to read the Bible because they love their things (Jeremiah 18:11-12) God is grace and truth, so tell the truth because honesty belongs to the devil, prove all things. The world is shut up, all they know is I, my and we out of their mouths the spiritually dead (Matthew 15:11) Search out the raven and the dove *Ecclesiastes 10:20 for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter. *Daniel 7:28 Hitherto is the end of the matter. *John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. *Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. *Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (The faith of the world is them saying I, my and we lovers of themselves, )

    April 4, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  2. kevobx

    Most High God is written in Psalm 78:56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: *Psalm 83:17-18 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish; That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over the earth. (Why is the world so proud? They all hate grace and truth!)

    April 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  3. kevobx

    The biblical Ephraim are the Puerto Ricans! They do not who Joseph is *Genesis 41:55 and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you do. *Acts 7:18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. (*Amos 9:7*)

    April 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  4. kevobx

    Jewry is for him the devil! *John 7:1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. *Matthew 4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; *Luke 3:20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. *John 7:52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. *Revelation 1:3 for the time is at hand. (*Amos 7:16*)

    April 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  5. kevobx

    Saint Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and Saint Peter denied Christ (Acts 5:29) Satanists worship him Satan the world is worshipping the sun (Ezekiel 8:16) All these lukewarm people, in the middle of the sea hiding behind the word honesty. The truth sets you free. The world seeks after signs! (Ezekiel 12:11) *Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; *Job 9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked:

    April 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Kara Leigh Aghijlar

    CNN you should watch out for your reports! They are entering into the homes of judges and filing in their stories with preposed notions if they are asked to leave or face jail. Your studio has become a hate-monger and tourettes. You may very well see us in the court room over this report.

    April 1, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  7. Ivan

    I for one support the drone program,you would think the religious groups would be envolved with the gun issue and killings going on in this country,or am I just missing it.

    March 31, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  8. Awabnavi

    Drones are part of the strategy to commit GENOCIDE in Afghanistan like the GENOCIDES of the Natives of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, etc., and to take over that country too.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Matt

      Muslims are killing students like Malala in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who are involved in un-Islamic activities like studying.
      Muslims are killing teachers in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who are involved in un-Islamic activities like teaching.
      Muslims are killing principals in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who are involved in un-Islamic activities like education.
      Drones are killing terrorists, who are involved in un-godly activity like Islam.
      Happy Easter.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  9. who you calling big nose?

    Why didn't any of these leaders speak up when we were bombing apartment buildings in Iraq? Oh yeah, because it was George "I 'm on a mission from God" Bush that was doing it.

    March 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • .

      that's right. i almost forgot. like the time clinton bombed the aspirin factory!

      April 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  10. Stalin

    The Soviet Union will Rise again!!! I have been thawed out and I am ready to seize back the glory of the USSR!!

    March 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Ivan

      And it sounds like a bunch of fools on this sound off.

      March 31, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  11. W.G.

    These rabbi´s and preachers can kiss my @ss . I´m glad we´re using drones they keep more of our soldiers alive !
    Jesus never said give the enemy a chance to surrender . He encouraged his apostkles to get swords because he
    knew they would be persecuted . Can any of these rabbi´s and preist show me one of the alcaida soldiers on
    the battlefield that has tried to surrender ??

    March 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Gaia

      My children of different creeds working together to prevent a faceless murder weapon.
      Against the strongest power of the world.
      I smile upon this banding.
      May the end of the Roman Empire repeat itself infinitely.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  12. Quest ion

    WITW is going on?

    March 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  13. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:


    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, mohammed's book of death for all infidels and muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere .......................................................

    So the drones keep us up to date anytime, anywhere!!!

    March 30, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Salero21

      The atheist want to dominate the world by any means necessary also. That's why I say they are among the worst of men, they are like rabid wolves. All they care about is to have fun like monkeys, they monkey around.

      Atheism is monkey business. Atheism is for fools.

      March 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Wow

      Oh wow, Salero – you've outdone yourself. How specific and enlightening you've been. lol.

      March 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Kim Jong Un

    Is almost sunrise here in Pyongyang. In an hour you should ALL surrender after the first strike. If not a second wave will follow. The Victory will be ours soon.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  15. Fidel and Raul

    We are ready on our side camarade Kim. We will help in Florida.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  16. Kim Jong Un

    Surrender now Obamo, surrender ALL of your troops, and we may have some pity on you. Otherwise you will be annihilated. Utterly destroyed, no one will survive. Total Victory is ours forever.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:38 am |
  17. Kim Jong Un

    I have 400,000 parachutists and 100,000 special forces. They will totally defeat ALL of your best troops. Your women will be made maidservants to my men. We like the blondes and the redheads specially. The Fat one will be made to scrub the floors and shine the boots of my soldiers. You will be totally defeated. The Victory is Ours.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  18. Kim Jong Un

    A fleet of mighty ships are near Hawaii, my faithful and brave soldiers will sweep thru Alaska then Washington, Oregon, California. The West coast will be ours in a matter of days. We'll move then over the Rocky mountains into the Great Plains. We'll be in the Capital of your country in less than a month. You will be totally defeated. I'll be your Great Leader.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  19. Kim Jong Un

    I have order my faithful soldiers to start marching. The final Victory will be ours and I will be your Great Leader forever.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:28 am |
  20. Kim Jong Un

    Bombing on America start in 5 minutes. A sea of fire will overtake you all and then I'll send in 2 million soldiers to invade America. You will obey me.

    March 30, 2013 at 1:26 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.