Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Why Christians Should Not Pray for the Troops

By Laurence M. Vance
Some years ago I gave my expression to my own feeling – anti-patriotic feeling, it will doubtless be called – in a somewhat startling way. It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance of what were thought to be “our interests,” we were invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were in danger. At the Athenæum Club a well-known military man – then a captain but now a general – drew my attention to a telegram containing this news, and read it to me in a manner implying the belief that I should share his anxiety. I astounded him by replying – ‘When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.’” ~ Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
If you skipped over the quotation from Herbert Spencer, then go back and read it. If you just skimmed the quotation, then go back and read it carefully. If you read it all the way through, then go back and read it again.

“When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.” These are harsh words. Most—probably a great majority of—Americans think that this is a despicable attitude to have about U.S. soldiers. You know, the ones who “serve” us, keep us safe, preserve our freedoms, “support and defend” the Constitution, keep us from having to speak a foreign language, and fight “over there” so we don’t have to fight “over here.”

There are almost 50,000 U.S. military personnel in the Persian Gulf region and tens of thousands more military contractors. There are 35 U.S. military bases that surround Iran.

More U.S. troops are now being deployed to the Middle East after President Trump’s foolish act of state terrorism in ordering the political assassination of Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. According to military.com, in the days since the Jan. 3 drone strike that took out Soleimani, “roughly 9,000 conventional troops have been deployed to the Middle East, ranging from Marines on amphibious ships to Army Rangers and paratroopers.” “We’re going to war, bro,” cheered a young soldier of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, while he held up two thumbs and grinned.

I have already heard, and heard reports of, conservative Christians expressing the opinion that we should pray for the troops being deployed to the Middle East. We should pray for their safety, pray that they be kept out of harm’s way, pray that they avenge the attacks on the American embassy in Iraq, pray that they neutralize the threats to the United States, and pray that they get the terrorists before they get us.

A more shameful prayer has never been uttered.

U.S. soldiers are invaders, occupiers, destroyers, aggressors, and killers. As a conservative Christian, I cannot in good conscience pray for their safety or the success of their mission. And I fail to see how any Christian can.

The fact that U.S. troops are young and dumb, just obeying orders, are ignorant of U.S. military interventions for the past 200 years, don’t draft the rules of engagement, don’t make U.S. foreign policy, can’t just quit their job, don’t get to vote on whether the United States should intervene militarily, or just joined the military because they couldn’t find a job is immaterial.

Christians should not pray for the safety or the mission of the troops when they fight unnecessary, immoral, offensive, unjust, foreign wars.

Christians should not pray for the safety or the mission of the troops when they intervene militarily based on lies.

Christians should not pray for the safety or the mission of the troops when they fight “in a region and in a string of backwater countries that have virtually no bearing on homeland security, safety and liberty?”

Christians should not pray for the safety or the mission of the troops when help carry out a reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy.

Christians should not pray for the safety or the mission of the troops when they fight against a country that is “zero threat to the American homeland.”

Doing these things is like praying for a member of a criminal gang or the Mafia while they “shake down” a store owner, “send a message” to a rival, or commit acts of violence.

A military uniform does not magically transform evil into good.

But does not the Bible say that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (1 Timothy 2:1)?

Okay then, if you want to pray for the troops, then here are some things you can pray for:

  • Pray that they stop fighting immoral and unjust wars.
  • Pray that they don’t make widows and orphans.
  • Pray that they stop killing civilians.
  • Pray that they stop being a pawn of the Pentagon.
  • Pray that they engage in defense and not offense.
  • Pray that they stop intervening in other countries.
  • Pray that they stop serving as the president’s personal attack force.
  • Pray that they cease being a global force for evil.
  • Pray that they stop policing the world.
  • Pray that they don’t reenlist.
  • Pray that they come home, permanently.

And especially for now, pray that they will have the moral courage to say enough is enough, I refuse to deploy to another country and fight for Uncle Sam.

Laurence M. Vance is a columnist and policy advisor for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger, and book reviewer at LewRockwell.com. He is the author of Gun Control and the Second Amendment, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and War, Empire and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society. Visit his website: www.vancepublications.com. Send him an e-mail.

 The above originally appeared at LewRockwell.com and is posted here with the permission of the author.


  1. It's beyond ironic & most inappropriate that an article contending that Christians should not pray for troops would begin with a quote (as if it's a foundational basis for his thesis) by 'Herbert Spencer,' an 'agnostic' who eschewed religion entirely & was an inspiration for the eugenics movement, & government sanctioning of sterilizing the "feeble minded." The least Lance should have done is quote an anti war Catholic, or a saint, of which there are countless. I don't disagree with the point made in Lance's article here but there are much, much better foundational supports for his contention.

    (Or, do foundational supports in the realm of ideas not matter? Of course they do, or at least they should , if one seeks to be effective & influential.)

    In other words you don't begin quoting an "agnostic evolutionist" if you seek to persuade Christians. đŸ™„ LOL. That is beyond clueless.

    A little about Spencer:

    Edward L. Youmans (1821–1887), who founded Popular Science Monthly in 1872, was a tireless promoter and popularizer of scientific ideas. In this article, he explains the significance of Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), a British writer who developed a comprehensive account of man, society and nature based on the idea of evolution, the gradual development of more complex forms from simpler elements. As Youmans explains, this was a revolutionary idea, challenging longstanding Biblical ideas of the creation and God’s relation to mankind. Youmans argued that Spencer’s development of the principle of evolution not only predated Darwin’s, but was both more comprehensive and more fundamental.

    Spencer, who invented the term “survival of the fittest,” had broad influence in the United States. His emphasis on development through time helped make “progress,” a term that, with its cognates, occurred frequently in Youmans’s article, the fundamental principle of political and social thought. As Youmans points out, applying the concepts of evolution and “survival of the fittest” to human beings leads to the idea of “divergent varieties of man, some of them higher than others.” This kind of thinking was a direct inspiration for the eugenics movement in the United States. This movement, in turn, affected popular opinion and law. In 1927, in Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court ruled that Virginia had the right to sterilize its “feeble minded” citizens. Justice Holmes, who wrote the opinion (only one justice dissented), was influenced by Spencer, as was the Chief Justice William Howard Taft. Holmes remarked in his opinion that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

    1. Remember that even agnostic humanists have been influenced and have benefited from a Christianized culture, despite their attempts to rebel against Christ the King. Yes, Spencer should be criticized for his rebellion, but it appears that God used him in at least this one analysis.

  2. While I do see your point, and I understand that it is hard to feel patriotic in this day and age, as a foreigner who's country has been liberated by the united states army, I can tell you that they are definitely not a force of evil, and there definitely are good sides to it.


    1. Your country must've been liberated during one of the world wars cause since then the all the wars that the United States have been involved in have been illegal. You can turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn't happen but our millitary constantly kills civilians with their drone strikes. A hospital here, school there and my fellow christians just don't care. Its a shame tbh.

    2. Anonymous, I'm not sure how you're defining "illegal," but there are also major moral issues with the US government getting involved in the two world wars.

  3. There is something satanic about the state's ability to squeeze criminality out of courage.

  4. Comforting thought (not!) - that soldier thrilled about going to war, bro, will eventually return State side after deployment, fully experienced at killing innocents at State orders. How will he then react then that same State orders him to turn his gun on dissident fellow citizens?

  5. All prayer is a waste of time. Then again, I'm not superstitious, having little use for mysticism and all things supernatural.

    1. Well, taking a subjective-value perspective, we could say that those who engage in prayer attach value to it.

    2. "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little bit stitious."

      - Michael Scott

    3. N A Pster, I'm all for people praying, if that brings them benefit---and I'm sure it does psychologically benefit some people; I'm not against religion or mysticism, I don't crusade against it or anything. In fact, I think it's sort of charming and quaint.
      But there being zero evidence there is a God, one must conclude that praying to it in order to effectuate change is a waste of time.

    4. SJ, two follow-up points, not to be argumentative, but because I find it to be a fascinating discussion.

      First, I would distinguish between a belief in or evidence of God, and religion. The latter is a code of behavior that one follows under the belief that it comes from God. I think it is entirely reasonable to suspect or believe that God "exists," yet also believe that (i) we do not or cannot know what God wants of humans, and/or (ii) God does not interfere in human life (the latter being the deist philosophy).

      Second, there is some good philosophical work that has been done to "prove" that God "exists." Both Aristotle and Aquinas made some compelling arguments, nicely summarized in Ed Feser's very readable book, "Five Proofs of the Existence of God."

  6. Why would anyone want to wish good luck to any Mercenary working for the leading terrorist government in the world? I mean really!!