An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and F-16 Fighting Falcon return from an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat mission. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Shannon Collins)

To work at peace: Resources available from Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare

By Carol Blythe

I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I like gray skies; the drones cannot fly when the skies are gray.” That’s what Zubair Ur Rehman told a U.S. congressional committee about a U.S. drone strike that killed his grandmother Mamana Bibi as she picked vegetables in a field in Pakistan in 2012, according to The Washington Post.

Various religious organizations signed on to a January 2017 statement to express concerns about U.S. drone strikes. The statement raised concerns about U.S. drone strikes that cause an unacceptable number of civilian casualties — including Mamana Bibi — and create long-term hostility in affected communities. Sadly, reports indicate that an increased number of civilians have been killed in U.S. drone strikes since January 2017.

Concerns arise from the conviction that all people are beloved children of God. Those who grieve the loss of life from U.S. drone strikes are concerned that almost all of the victims of the strikes are Muslim.

The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare (INDW) offers for free download or streaming five 30-minute films that examine drone warfare from our faith perspective. A church school class on Sunday or a mid-week study group can use one or more videos in a study series.

Moral and Safe?: War, Peace, Drone Warfare and the Religious Community” is an excellent introductory film that describes the history, nature and use as well as legal and moral challenges posed by drone warfare. It features interviews with military individuals, leaders of diverse religions and human rights advocates. A trailer and a free study guide are also available.

The Religious Community and Drone Warfare” includes additional moral and theological perspectives of drone warfare from faith leaders. A presentation on the principles of “just peace” is particularly insightful. A trailer and free study guide are also available on the INDW web site.

In addition, INDW offers 30-minute versions of three U.S. drone warfare documentaries that include footage from affected countries as well as comments from attorneys, human rights workers and investigative journalists.

Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars (Robert Greenwald, 2013) investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes through compelling interviews with Pakistani victims, investigative journalists and human rights workers.

Drone” (Tonje Hessen Schei, 2014) provides an in-depth look at changing attitudes toward “going to war.” The film examines the role of drone operators, political leaders and anti-war activists.

National Bird” (Sonia Kennebeck, 2016) follows the journey of two whistleblowers who break the silence about U.S. drone warfare. The film also includes interviews with a family victimized by U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” And, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

To work at peace — as called by Jesus — we must be educated about current threats to peace. The video series available at no cost from INDW will help American Baptists learn more about the current state of U.S. drone warfare that affects too many people in our world.

INDW encourages congregations to converse about how to work for peace. Sign up for the INDW list-serve, organize an inter-faith vigil for peace in your community, and learn more about peace and justice advocacy at The Christian Citizen and at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days website.

Carol Blythe works part-time for the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare. Her volunteer advocacy in the Washington, D.C., area includes serving on the steering committee of Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment by strengthening the voice of freedom and peace. She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.