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Why is the Church Silent on Gen. Nkunda? (now/ GC statement!)

UPDATE: See this morning’s GC statement in the comments.

I’m surprised that the Adventist Church has not issued an official statement clarifying the current church standing and Adventist history of the the Congo warlord Laurent Nkunda.

Since Spectrum reported on the Associated Press piece, documentary, and the earlier New York Times item on November 11, hundreds of articles have been published about Gen. Nkunda. They invariably connect him to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Center for Research on Globalization writes:

Nkunda is a long-standing henchman of Rwandan President, US-trained Kagame. All signs point to a heavy, if covert, USA role in the latest Congo killings by Nkunda’s men. Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.

Now that’s just great.

Just on a messaging note, it might be nice to have official word as to Nkunda’s history and current relationship to the church in these news stories. Before we blow millions of dollars sending out “Cosmic Conflict” and “Revelation Offers Hope” mailers during this coming year of Evangelism, we might take advantage of this inexpensive opportunity to clarify our ethics and pastoral image.

Is he a member? Did he attend Adventist schools? Did he really do evangelistic work for the denomination? Is or was he ever a Seventh-day Adventist pastor?

I mean seriously. This guy is a convicted war criminal (2005) and is under investigation by the ICC and yet for awhile now he has been able to claim not just Adventist membership but uncontested pastoral authority in the world media.

Recently The American Spectator wrote:

Organizing a few thousand ethnically aligned soldiers and convincing them of the legitimacy of their complaints has long been the path to political power in the Congo. Laurent Nkunda, former Congolese Army officer, teacher, psychology student, Seventh Day Adventist pastor, long-time fighter for the rights of the Watutsi is now the commanding general of a Tutsi rebel army of 4,000-6,000 in the northeastern Congo.

The China Post calls him an Adventist lay pastor, on Yahoo he’s called an ordained Adventist preacher.

Dangerous bloggers like David Hamstra, Sherman Haywood Cox II and the Adventist Caricaturist have all had to remove “Adventist” from their work, but as far as I know there has been no official statement to the media regarding Gen. Nkunda’s use of Adventist or pastor.

Is this Congolese war really that important? Is it worth the hassle of some official clarification and a press release?

In today’s Guardian, Anna Husarska senior policy analyst at the International Rescue Committee writes:

A mortality survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and released earlier this year demonstrates that this conflict is the most deadly crisis since the second world war: an estimated 5.4m people have died as a consequence of the war and its lingering effects in the last decade. Today, a quarter of a million people are on the run, almost half of them on territory under rebel control and with almost no access to aid. They need food and shelter, clean water and latrines, medical care, and education. Women and girls need protection from sexual violence, which flares up when families are forcibly displaced.

I understand that if gayness was mixed in with the sexual violence toward women, lots more Adventist men would get all up in arms about this immorality; but perhaps we might recognize this as an appropriate, even morally warranted place for the Adventist voice. The central figure does claim to be one of us.

And just so that we’re clear on the message about us that the world is getting these days, here today’s Asia Times echoing the same story:

Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.

Why are we silent? Clarifying his Adventist and ministerial credentials as well as the non-combatant Adventist stand against martial violence is not only good PR for us, but it also undercuts some of the character authority that he’s using to “religion-wash” this heinous conflict. Saying something is really, seriously, the least we could do.

UPDATE: See GC statement below.

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