A Quest for Order
1987 Church of the Brethren Resolution
The need for order; the threat to order in three major developments.
To acknowledge order as the intention of God and to identify threats to order.
To provide a current resolution from the church on selected public policy issues where we have no recent statement or where a new resolution would indicate a present urgent concern.
Related previous Annual Conference decisions:
1966 Statement on Communism and Anticommunism
1970 Statement of the Church of the Brethren on War
1977 Statement on Justice and Nonviolence
1977 Statement on Christian Ethics and Law and Order
1980 Statement on “The time So Urgent: Threats to Peace”
1981 Resolution on El Salvador
1982 Statement Addressing the Concern of Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States
1983 Resolution on Providing Sanctuary for Latin American and Haitian Refugees
1986 Divestiture of Investments in South Africa
1986 Resolution on Making the Connection
QUEST FOR ORDER
We believe that God the Creator brings order out of chaos; that where the earth is “without form,” there the Spirit of God is moving to bring light and life (Gen. 1:2, 3, 24). When God acts, the order that is created is of truth and right (Isa. 45:19). Even in the worship of God, “all things should be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40).
We are convinced that the early Christians lived orderly lives within their own community; they were counseled toward order within the state (Rom. 13).
Order and harmonious relations are values cherished throughout the history of the Brethren. Radical obedience, fellowship, simplicity, non-resistance, are part of our story related to order. Even so, we recognize that blind adherence to order can result in demonic use that is unjust coercive and oppressive.
True order is an expression of love. Love creates order within the family, among neighbors, and extends to the world. We believe that God intends order among and within nations of the world.
We affirm obedience to human law, including obedience to the law by government itself, when laws are justly drawn. We are a people whose inclination and commitment are to live with order in our society. Yet, we recognize that civil disobedience to law can be a form of ultimate obedience to God, a prophetic judgment a witness against unjust law, and can bring clarity to discipleship, giving priority to obedience to the Divine rather than to the human (Acts 5:29). For society, such disobedience is disorder that ultimately creates order.
The order which we cherish is now threatened by three major interrelated developments.
1. Much of the energy that has driven this nation for more than 50 years has been a negative, obsessive anti-communism. It has been a goblin in the media, a tarnish to the reputations of people, an inhibitor of honest public debate, a manipulator of votes and elections of public officials, a justification for the passions and crimes of war. So long as we derive our motivating forces and direction from such an obsession, such a negative, we act from forces that are ultimately self-destructive and disordering.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER THAT IS ENERGIZED BY THE POSITIVES OF JUSTICE AND PEACE.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER THAT PROTECTS SELF-DETERMINATION IN FORMS OF GOVERNMENT AND ECONOMY FOR THE NATIONS AND PEOPLES OF THE WORLD.
2. The use of secret wars, covert actions, and violent intelligence operations has developed since World War II as national policy. Destabilization of governments, murder, assassination, and dealing with those involved in illicit drugs and other forms of organized crime have become government activities. Covert war is even more destructive to international order than overt war; it lacks public accountability, and its legacy is usually despotism. The history of covert actions that is known, in such places as Iran, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Albania, Cuba, Burma, Chile, Nicaragua and Angola, show these actions to be repugnant and self-defeating, morally and practically.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER THAT IS INFORMED BY LEGAL AND ACCURATE SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER THAT DOES NOT ENGAGE IN TERRORISM IN ANY FORM, INCLUDING TERRORISM DIRECTED BY GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES, SUCH AS THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.
3. There is increasing evidence of contradiction between public law and public statement and actual government action. Military support of Nicaraguan Contras may be prohibited by law but secretly, ways are found to fund the war and arm the Contras. It may be loudly declared that we do not deal with terrorists, but even as the statement is made, attempted deals are in process. Arms control is declared as public policy, but arms superiority is pursued. High officials of government are known to work against the legislative man- date of their offices.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER THAT EMBRACES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC POLICIES CONSISTENT WITH PUBLIC LAW AND PUBLIC STATEMENTS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE MUST SEEK AN ORDER IN WHICH THERE IS INTEGRITY AND REASON FOR PUBLIC TRUST IN OFFICIAL ACTIONS AND STATEMENTS.
To move toward the order that we seek:
- We call upon our government to seek a new relationship to Central America with an end to Contra aid and an end to military intervention in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We support the Contadora and other regional peace settlement efforts.
- We call upon our government to seek a new interaction in Southern Africa with an end to apartheid in South Africa, an end to support of UNITA efforts to overthrow the government of Angola, and an end to the South African occupation of Namibia. We support government and business efforts to eliminate our participation in the apartheid system.
- We urge the support of our government for an international conference to assist in the pursuit of a Middle East peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and Arab neighbors. We support the legitimate interests of the Israelis and the Palestinians, with both having the opportunity to identify their own representatives.
- We call upon our government to use its good offices to work toward an end to the war between Iran and Iraq. It is time for an honest effort to end the carnage between these combatants.
- We plead for concrete steps to arms reductions with the Soviet Union, compliance with existing treaties such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and adherence to the limitations of the unratified Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II. We support programs of confidence building, such as cultural and informational exchanges.
- We call for the withdrawal of United States military bases in the Republic of the Philippines. We wish to give support to the efforts in the Philippine government to achieve new levels of justice and economic development in their nation.
- We petition our government for a change of priorities in our national budgeting, away from spending for war and toward spending for human services. We call for an end to nuclear weapons testing, an end to all expenditures related to the Strategic Defense Initiative, and an end to all chemical weapons research and production.
- We call upon our government to pay a fair monetary restitution to the Japanese-American families who were unjustly detained in relocation centers during World War II.
- We are concerned about the protection of refugees, affirming the immigration reforms achieved, but believing the implementation of the legislation needs to be monitored by concerned citizens and the Congress to achieve its intended result. Again, we call for the end to the deportation of Salvadoran refugees through the Statement on Communism and enactment of legislation such as the DeConcini-Moakley bill. We, members of the Church of the Brethren, assembled in Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 30-July 5, 1987, declare it our purpose for our church and our nation to pursue order in ways listed above. We will especially endeavor to:
- liberate ourselves from an obsessive anti-communism;
- eliminate covert warfare in the foreign policy of our nation; and
- demand integrity in the statements and actions of our government.
We believe the Creator calls us to greater order in our international relations. We pray, too, that in the future we shall experience a greater measure of order in our national life. Even to labor for greater order is an achievement for order.
We direct the officers of Annual Conference to communicate to the Administration and the Congress concerning this quest for order.
Action of the General Board: At its meeting on June 29, 1987, the General Board approved and recommended to Annual Conference the paper “A Quest for Order.”
Action of the 1987 Annual Conference: Robert W. Dell, Standing Committee delegate from the District of Northern Ohio, presented the recommendation from the Standing Committee that Annual Conference adopt the resolution, A QUEST FOR ORDER. The resolution was adopted by the delegate body with one amendment which has been incorporated in the preceding wording of the text.