A U.S. Army Reserve chaplain has resigned in opposition to U.S. policies on nuclear weapons, militarized drones, and preemptive war. In a letter to President Obama, Captain Christopher John Antal stated he can no longer serve as a chaplain for an “empire.”
From September 2012 to February 2013, Antal was an Army chaplain to a battalion supporting the 3rd Infantry Division in southern Afghanistan. Although his unit didn’t have operational responsibilities for drones, the chaplain saw them launch and land, and was therefore fully aware of the consequences of remote-control killing.
In a poem he wrote in 2012, called “A Veterans Day Confession For America,” Antal accused the U.S. of sanitizing killing and condoning extrajudicial assassinations. His commanding officer was informed of his prose, and in a blatant attempt to silence dissent, Antal was investigated and banned from travel. Officially reprimanded, he was sent back to the U.S. with a “do not promote” evaluation and discharged from active duty. According to Veterans For Peace, the minister challenged the punishment, which resulted in his re-activation and promotion to Captain in the U.S. Army.
In his letter sent to President Obama on April 12 — also published on the website of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern — Antal laid out the reasons behind his resignation. Citing opposition to U.S. imperial overreach, he wrote:
I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy. The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.
Voicing opposition to U.S. nuclear weapons policy, the chaplain also accused America of investing millions of dollars into arms that threaten the existence of mankind and the planet. Adamant in his refusal to support terror and “mutually assured destruction,” he added, “I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection.“
Slamming the U.S. for claiming extrajudicial authority and impunity from international law, Antal said he can no longer reconcile these policies with what he called his “sworn duty to protect and defend America.” Nor can he reconcile the principles of his own religious faith — including justice, equity, and compassion — with U.S. warmongering.
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