Religious Leaders React to Osama bin Laden's Death

How have different religious leaders responded to Osama bin Laden's death?

Newscasts and the Internet are abuzz with nonstop reports on the killing of the al-Qaeda leader who long evaded intelligence agencies. His death in Abbottabad, Pakistan Sunday has many implications. How will it impact the 2012 presidential campaign? Will it spark retaliatory attacks by bin Laden’s supporters in the United States or abroad? Does it truncate the U.S. role in Afghanistan?

As many rejoiced in New York’s Ground Zero and outside the White House in D.C. Sunday night and Monday morning, several observers also noted that this occasion should also be marked with reflection, solemnity. How should people react?

The following is a roundup of reactions by different faith-based organizations and religious leaders to the end of the long manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist:

  • “We continue to pray for those whose lives were lost on September 11, their families, and those in the Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much to bring a measure of justice to this terrible tragedy,” said the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, rector of Trinity Wall Street, in a statement posted on the church’s Website. “Let us also reflect on the wisdom of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that justice requires reconciliation, and while we seek the end of violence, we work and pray for reconciliation and peace.”

  • “Before the news last night, it was clear that Osama bin Laden was already losing. The ‘Arab Spring’ of young Arabs and Muslims through nonviolent democratic movements has been a repudiation of bin Laden and his radical terrorist agenda. The death of Osama bin Laden could be a turning point in our ability to both resist evil and seek good, to turn away from the logic of both terrorism and war, and, as the Bible says, to find the things ‘that make for peace.’” ~ Jim Wallis, theologian and CEO at Sojourners.

  • Speaking about President Obama’s speech Sunday night, Eboo Patel wrote, “He was very clearly our commander in chief - recounting how he told C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta to make the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden his top priority, getting frequent briefings on the relevant intelligence and giving the final order that authorized the fatal mission. His demeanor was focused and serious. ‘I did what had to be done,’ he seemed to be saying. Vanquishing evil is necessary but insufficient. Obama seemed most human to me, most American, most presidential, when he spoke of life, not death. He recalled America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a nation shocked and grieving, a country focused more on community than revenge.”

  • “We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam." ~ statement issued Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
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