This morning, I was invited onto BBC Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme to discuss my response as a Christian pacifist to the situation in northern Iraq. Our discussion followed headlines reporting that English church leaders have criticised the UK government’s response to Islamic extremism.
The stories from Iraq are getting worse. There is news of massacres and threatened massacres, reported deaths and abductions, the sufferings of Yazidis, Christians and the many Muslims who reject the message of ISIS. It makes me sad and angry in equal measure.
It is is over a month and a half since the last RUSI conference at Church House, focusing as it did on land warfare, and they have been back for more with a focus this time on the “future of air warfare”: Drones, in other words. The Rev Dr Keith Hebden explores the entanglement of the Church of England is military industries and warfare, highlighting the contradictions between this and the mission of Christian peacemaking.
This week, I've seen two movements that I love become sullied by complicity with the arms trade.
First, Church House (a leading Christian conference centre) hosted a gathering of arms dealers and generals. Now, London LGBT Pride are about to allow a section of this week's march to be used to publicise a company that is complicit in homophobia– and other human rights abuses – around the world.
Where will a group of generals and arms dealers gather tomorrow (24 June) to discuss the future of land warfare? A military camp? The Ministry of Defence? An underground bunker? No, it's the headquarters of the Church of England.