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.
- “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, according to a Catholic News Service story . “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.”
- “Ecclesiastes expressed it best. There is not just a time to love but also a time to hate. I hate Osama bin Laden but I will not rejoice in his death. It would have been better for the world had he never been born. But once he was, and once he directed his life to unspeakable cruelty, it was necessary for him to be stopped and killed. And for that I give thanks to G-d and the brave soldiers of the American military for making the world a safer, more just, and innocent place,” wrote Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of This World: The Values Network, in a column on the Huffington Post Website.
- “We did the best we could do, and that is often where we are left. We are left with a sense of sober satisfaction. This is no small comfort to all those who are still grieving — the loved ones of September 11, and the loved ones of all who lost their lives while wearing the uniform of the United States fighting bin Laden and the forces of terror. But, as is always the case, we are left with a sense that a higher court is still needed. Christians know that Osama bin Laden escaped the reach of full human justice and a trial for his crimes, but he will not escape the judgment that is to come. Bin Laden will not escape his trial before the court of God. Until then, sober satisfaction must be enough for those still in the land of the living,” wrote Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler on his blog.
- “I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and some of the white people in my city danced and said, ‘good!’ We, Americans, didn’t like it when we saw people dancing in their streets when the World Trade Center buildings came down. Not even sports teams allow the winner to gloat in front of the team they’ve beat. It is behavior unbecoming to an American. It feeds those who already hate us, who think that we are arrogant and selfish and self-serving. We have a right to be happy that bin Laden is gone, but gloating is not good,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, senior pastor of Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio.