Global Christian group: Trump’s North Korea threats ‘almost indistinguishable’ from Kim Jong-un’s

Another religious group says his remarks only “make[s] matters worse.”

DAY 92 - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington after an interview with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
DAY 92 - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington after an interview with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Major Christian groups in the United States and South Korea are calling on President Donald Trump to dial back his increasingly violent threats against North Korea, saying his firebrand remarks only “make[s] matters worse.”

Tensions between the White House and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un steadily heightened throughout the week, with Trump declaring on Tuesday that threats from the North Asian peninsula—such as publicly suggesting a nuclear attack on Guam—will be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” He doubled down on the near-apocalyptic rhetoric two days later, responding to a question about his remarks by saying, “Maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” By Friday morning, Trump was in full escalation mode, tweeting at 7:29am: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

The exchange has alarmed observers the world over. Yet it received a modicum of religious support from devoted Trump supporter Rev. Robert Jeffress this week, who touted the heavily disputed theological claim that God has given Trump authority to “take out” Kim Jong-un.

“The latest statements by the President of the United States of America adopt a tone almost indistinguishable from the threats emanating from North Korea. While no doubt intended to project strength and resolve, they risk taking the world yet closer to the precipice of conflict.”

Major Christian groups in the United States, South Korea, and across the globe, however, are now beseeching Trump to end his war of words before it escalates into something fare more real. On Wednesday, the World Council of Churches (WCC)—which represents a massive coalition of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, and other denominations claiming more than 500 million practitioners across the world in at least 110 countries—issued a letter demanding the deescalation of tensions and comparing Trump’s rhetoric to that of the North Korean dictator.

“In this regard, WCC must express its very grave concern and alarm at the escalating rhetoric and accelerating cycle of threat and counter-threat between antagonists in this situation,” the letter reads. “The latest statements by the President of the United States of America adopt a tone almost indistinguishable from the threats emanating from North Korea. While no doubt intended to project strength and resolve, they risk taking the world yet closer to the precipice of conflict.”

The same sentiment was echoed in another letter sent to South Korean President Moon Jae-In by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), which represents millions of Christians in the peninsula. Authors expressed deep concern over threats of war, and named the President of the United States as an unhelpful force.

The NCC letter opened with a reference to Revelation 16:16—which discusses Armageddon—and closed with Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

“To make matters worse, President Trump has declared that ‘North Korea would face fire and fury, one never witnessed by the world,’” the letter states. “Military tension is at its height in the Korean peninsula and there is fear of war spreading among the people.”

Here in the United States, the National Council of Churches (NCC)—which represents roughly 45 million Christian Americans within 38 denominations and faith communities—issued a similar call. The NCC and the NCCK already issued a joint letter to Trump on the matter back in April, but reiterated their call for peace and diplomacy this week.

“Recent comments by the leaders of the United States and North Korea threatening hostilities are beyond alarming,” the public statement read in part. “Such threats, of ‘fire and fury…the likes of which the world has never seen’ by President Donald J. Trump, and ‘all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland’ by spokespersons of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, only serve to bring our countries, and the world, to the brink of war. We therefore urgently call upon both leaders to tone down their similar and mutually inflammatory rhetoric.”

The NCC letter opened with a reference to Revelation 16:16—which discusses Armageddon—and closed with Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Other faith groups have also spoken out against the spate of saber-rattling. On Thursday, Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that echoed recent remarks from Catholic bishops in Korea. According to Crux, Cantu said that while threat of attack from Kim Jong-un cannot be “underestimated or ignored,” the “high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue.”

Individual faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, and other traditions have also made strident calls for peace. Others have been more reticent: the National Association of Evangelicals did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.