I said I’d put up any response to the death of Osama bin Laden without comment. So here’s the first official reaction, from the usual suspects at the National Council of Churches (also signed by the leaders of the ELCA, UCC, Disciples of Christ, Church of the Brethren, and the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops–apparently Gradye Parsons of the PCUSA and Katharine Jefforts-Schori of the Episcopal Church were MIA):
The death of Osama Bin Laden is a significant moment in the turbulent history of the past decade. It does not eradicate the scourge of terrorism nor does it bring closure to the grieving and pain the world has endured since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, for which he was the primary architect. The National Council of Churches deplores and condemns the extremism he personified, the twisted illusions that wrought years of violence and evil in the world.
Now the member communions of the National Council of Churches pray for God’s help as we commit ourselves to moving forward together as witnesses for God’s love and peace. In November 2001, as the world reeled from the terror attacks, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service challenged their communions to take the lead:
It is time [we said then] for us as an ecumenical community to make a renewed commitment to a ministry of peace with justice, and to make real in these days the call of Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) In his Beatitudes, Jesus calls us, his followers, to be merciful if we are to receive mercy; he reminds us that the peacemakers are blessed and will be called children of God. And, he proclaims us “the light of the world”; our good works should be a beacon to others so they may give glory to God. (Matthew 5:14-16)
We lift up “Pillars of Peace for the 21st Century,” a 1999 Policy Statement of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. We reaffirm and highlight the Statement’s call to build a culture of peace with justice characterized by these convictions:
1. “the transcending sovereignty and love of God for all creation and the expression of that love in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, whose mission was to reveal understanding about that divine presence, to proclaim a message of salvation and to bring justice and peace;
2. the unity of creation and the equality of all races and peoples;
3. the dignity and worth of each person as a child of God; and
4. the church, the body of believers, whose global mission of witness, peacemaking and reconciliation testifies to God’s action in history.”
Osama Bin Laden is dead. Just as Christians must condemn the violence of terrorism, let us be clear that we do not celebrate loss of life under any circumstances. The NCC’s 37 member communions believe the ultimate justice for this man’s soul — or any soul — is in the hands of God. In this historic moment, let us turn to a future that embraces God’s call to be peacemakers, pursuers of justice and loving neighbors to all people.