Religious leaders soft-pedal on celebrating death of Bin Laden

Posted May 3, 2011 by Andrew John
Religious leaders have reacted more soberly to the reported assassination of Osama Bin Laden, with one saying that to rejoice in his death “carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us.”
Osama Bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden.
The UK-based Christian think tank Ekklesia says in a bulletin today that several religious leaders have been quoting the words of the civil-rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, who said: “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”
The think tank quotes Andrea LeBlanc, from one group of 9/11 victims’ relatives, who said in a Guardian article that she hopes for the restoration of the US to the path of justice, not war.
She writes: “There are not many things I know to be absolutely true, but one of them is that violence begets violence. I suppose bin Laden’s death proves the point. I and my fellow members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows want the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks brought to justice, but we believe justice is achieved in the courtroom, not on the battlefield.”
And the Rt Rev. Alan Wilson, Anglican Bishop of Buckingham in the Diocese of Oxford, commented on his Facebook page: “Osama Bin Laden’s death is a military success, but he was a human being better put on trial as a criminal than killed in a way that some will call martyrdom.
Cycle of violence
“We also have to note he was in Pakistan, and known to be so. The billions spent and hundreds of thousands killed in conventional war in Iraq, and even the fourth Afghan War, seem to have had nothing at all to do with his demise.”
US “emergent church” leader Brian McLaren, currently in Britain, is quoted as saying: “Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence?”
And Hussein Rashid, a native New Yorker and Muslim commentator, said: “The way Osama bin Laden died is difficult for me as an American opposed to the death penalty and committed to the courts as a space for the performance of justice. [Bin Laden’s] death does not heal the world, but allows the dirt in the wound to be washed away. Now we need to spend time healing, and it will be a job. The symbol is dead, what he symbolised should die as well.”
Meanwhile, Father Brian Dawson, from Havelock North in New Zealand, said on his Twitter feed (commenting on US President Barack Obama’s remark that “America can do whatever we set our mind to”): “Imagine what it could do if it set its mind on peace”.
And Sheldon C. Good, assistant editor and web editor of the Kansas-based Mennonite Weekly Review, wrote: “As a follower of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, I cannot celebrate the violent death of any human being. I pray that our fear may cease, that God’s just peace can reign on earth as it is in heaven. And I heed Jesus’ words that we shall love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”