Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Jan./Feb. 2013.
Every Christian should give thoughtful consideration to the tragedy of war and to what it means for individuals and a nation to go to war. In a widely-reported story in August 2012, ten Nobel Peace Laureates, including Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote and signed a letter to NBC protesting a new reality television program, “Stars Earn Stripes.” The reality program, hosted by retired four-star general Wesley Clark, paired minor celebrities with former U.S. military personnel and put the teams through various training and simulated military exercises including live fire experiences. The Nobel Laureates protested the program, which was widely advertised during the 2012 London Olympics, arguing in part:
Preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining.
Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People—military and civilians—die in ways that are anything but entertaining. Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence. War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome, if ever.
Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.1
The letter drew quite a bit of attention across the political and religious spectrums. Some saw it as an indictment of the U.S. military while others saw it as an indictment of the entertainment industry or contemporary U.S culture and society as a whole. Unfortunately, most Americans and television viewers probably did not think anything about it at all.
“Rock Beyond Belief,” an event featuring secular speakers and musicians, was held on the main parade ground at the Fort Bragg military base.