Recently I was stuck in traffic and noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. It read “God Bless Our Troops. Especially the Snipers”.
The first part – God Bless Our Troops – okay I get that. Of course we all uphold the courage and sacrifice of the brave men and women who fight our wars for us, often young people with limited options for college or career. Although I do sometimes wonder about the absence of bumper stickers that say “God Bless the Peacemakers”.
But a wish that God especially bless the snipers? Snipers, originally called sharpshooters, are highly trained marksmen with high powered rifles, chosen because of their superior ability to kill. While I certainly would not wish to withdraw protection or blessings from snipers per se, the idea that a God would sanctify the taking of a life is as absurd as it is reprehensible.
It has been said that if we have envisioned a God who hates the same people we hate, we can be sure that our god is a figment of our imagination. In fact, every religion makes it abundantly clear that coming to terms with our enemies is fundamental to our spiritual growth.
I have to remember this also applies to me. Even if I find violence and warmongering to be reprehensible, if I hate war’s champions, I violate the terms of their, and my, humanity.