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Respond to violence with the love of God

Travis E. Poling
Monday October 29, 2001

The Daily Planet received this letter addressed to the Berkeley City Council: 


As our nation begins a new era of warfare that clearly shadows the destructive patterns of past administrations, the willingness to publicly renounce the American crusade against our enemies is a rare occurrence. After coming across a news article online I realized that I was not alone in my disapproval of the un-Christlike response to the events of Sept. 11. 

I am a member of the Church of the Brethren [], a denomination which believes Jesus Christ’s central message is to respond to violence with nothing but the love of God. We try to “ask God to bless anyone who curses us, and pray for anyone who is cruel” (Luke 6.28 Contemporary English Version).  

The church has taught since its establishment in 1708 that “all war is sin.”  

Therefore, I support your decision to “condemn ‘the mass murder of thousands of people’ Sept. 11 and asking Congress to ‘break the cycle of violence’ and ‘bring the bombing (in Afghanistan) to a conclusion as soon as possible.” 

Although I can not come to Berkeley to pull the city out of the slump that may arise from the boycott, please know that I sincerely appreciate your statement. I do not support the individuals who attacked our nation, or anyone who has in the past, for the same reason that I do not support the American government’s agenda of revenge. God’s love was made clear by the life of Christ who healed, consoled and died for his enemies so that all may know what peace on earth is truly meant to be. 

I thank you for “calling on the U.S. to work with international organizations to bring the perpetrators of Sept. 11 to justice; and work with other nations' governments to address poverty, malnutrition, disease, oppression, subjugation and other conditions,” and “to lessen dependence on Middle East oil and commit to conversion to renewable energy sources such as solar and fuel cells within five years.” These issues are fundamental to reconciling the brokenness and outrage “that tend to drive some people to acts of terrorism” and drive others to acts of retribution.  

The Church of the Brethren continuously strives for constructive alternatives to violence in all its forms, and joins all who do the same in “seeking peace” in this present situation. May God’s blessings be with you all as you walk the path of the One who was also harassed, even killed, because of his belief that the only thing that will ever save our world is nonviolence. 


Travis E. Poling 

Hagerstown, MD