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Osama bin Laden’s Death Merits ‘Prayer More Than Revelry’

Missionary groups are asking U.S. Christians to pray for peace and safety as well as the opportunity to spread the Gospel as word of Osama bin Laden’s death spreads across the globe.

Osama bin Laden

In a story written by Stephanie Samuel for the Christian Post (, she states that that the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention says it has more than 5,000 personnel members serving internationally, several of whom have been calling the Virginia headquarters today with a message for Americans.

“They have really pled that Christians here, instead of celebrating, would fall on their knees and pray for an opportunity to share the Gospel,” said Wendy Norvelle, IMB associate vice president and spokesperson.

The story went on to say that Norvelle noted that in the aftermath of any death, people turn to faith for comfort and answers. In the aftermath of bin Laden’s death, she anticipates that many people will be seeking to feel safe and assured.

“When there is a need for a sense of safety and peace, there’s an opportunity to spread the message of a peace that surpasses human understanding,” she said.

However, there is now a heighted risk for Christians who are trying to spread this message in Middle Eastern countries, said Samuel.

CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a heightened terror alert Monday, asking Americans and U.S. allies to be “vigilant and resolute” after the Sunday mission that invaded the Pakistan compound of bin Laden. The al-Qaida leader was killed in the resulting fire fight. His body was captured, verified and later buried at sea.

Across America, celebrations broke out as news spread of Osama bin Laden’s death. In New York City, crowds chanted and cheered through the night (Photo: CBS News)

President Barack Obama announced the news late Sunday night on national television, saying “justice has been done.” Today, more leaders came forward and heralded the announcement.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon responded Monday, saying, “The death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism … Personally, I am very much relieved by the news that justice has been done to such a mastermind of international terrorism.”

Dr. Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, she wrote, praised the U. S. military’s actions, saying, “If anyone ever deserved the forfeiture of his life for crimes against humanity, it was Osama bin Laden.”

The news also elicited a range of emotional displays and actions from American citizens.

An anonymous celebrant left flowers and a note which reads, “Vengeance is now ours. May peace now be yours. God Bless America” at the Boston, Mass., memorial for 9/11 victims.

Excited crowds of cheering and joyous Americans gathered Sunday night in Washington, D.C., and New York, the locations of the 9/11 attacks, to celebrate the news.

Norvelle said Christians living abroad should continue their interactions with the communities they live and work in. However, she asserted, “All people need to be vigilant and need to avoid situations … where you are caught up in a crowd.”

She warned against joining demonstrations and urged them to be aware of their surroundings.

And rather than engaging in “tit for tat” behavior, Norvelle encouraged Christians to exercise the biblical displays of prayer, forgiveness and peacemaking.

In the Blog of the Family Research Council ( Rob Schwarzwalder has written a story with the headline, “How Should Christians Respond to the Death of bin Laden?”

In it he said, “Theology professor Christopher Morgan has written a thoughtful response to the death of Osama bin Laden in which he notes that Christians ‘can rightly grieve that Osama bin Laden opposed the true and living God and will be punished accordingly. But we also can rightly rejoice in the defeat and judgment upon people who are evil–and he was clearly evil and deserving of every punishment earth can give.’

“This seems to hit about the right balance: bin Laden was made in the image and likeness of God, was loved by Him, and was a sinner for whom Christ died. Personal hatred of the man is not in keeping with Jesus’ message of love. Yet that message was designed for His followers, not the secular state — which, the Apostle Paul reminds us, ‘does not bear the sword in vain’ (Romans 13:4). Bin Laden was, as Morgan notes, ‘clearly evil,’ a mass murderer who for many years pursued an agenda of indiscriminate killing. Grief at his eternal punishment and satisfaction that earthly justice has been done are rightful, and simultaneous, responses to the death of this author of so much human destruction.

“Yet there are two additional dimensions to the demise of bin Laden that Christians should consider: The potential for retribution against believers in Jesus, and also the opportunity bin Laden’s death brings to share the Gospel.”

Brian Hutt, writing in Christian Today-India, said, “There are fears that the death of Osama bin Laden could incite Islamic militants to carry out revenge attacks on Christians in Pakistan.”

Hutt notes that “Christians make up only three per cent of the population in Pakistan and are regularly the victims of killings and attacks … Just last week, a church and missionary school were targeted by Muslim extremists in Gujranwala after Christians were accused of defiling the Koran. The attack has prompted hundreds of Christians to leave the city out of fear for their lives.”

Is the room for rejoicing when the life of a person, though evil, is taken?

Fr. Frederico Lombardi, of the Vatican Press Office writes, “Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the death of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.”

The question many Christians are asking is – how should we respond to hearing of his death?

Today (Monday, May 02, 2011) American Catholic Radio programs and online blogs were buzzing with opinions and reactions.

Some said that this was de-facto capital punishment, which the church discourages except in rare cases. They quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states.

Students celebrate the news of Osama bin Laden’s death in front of the White House.
(Photo: ZUMA Press)

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (CCC, 2267)

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, “Some Catholic bishops, reacting to the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said that although his killing was ‘unjustified,’ it was a ‘big deal’ in curbing terrorist violence in the world.

“’Although [his death] is a [form] of violence and no act of violence can be justified… it’s a big deal to curb violence,’ Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said in a phone interview with reporters on Monday.

“Iñiguez, who is also head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Public Affairs Committee, hoped that the killing of Bin Laden, the architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon almost 10 years ago, would pave the way for the decline of terrorist activities around the world, which have claimed many innocent lives.”

Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, regretted that bin Laden had met a violent death. “The Church,” he said, “never endorses violence or associates with violence. Violence perpetrated by religion is never acceptable to any civilized society.”

Dr. Jim West, a protestant professor in Tennessee quotes a Facebook posting from Jeremiah Bailey, which states, “Justice may require the death of evil men, but it never requires our joy at their passing.”

Note: ANS welcomes the views of our readers about this topic. Please send your messages to Dan Wooding at and also include your full name, where you live, and which group or church you are associated with. We will then select the best of the messages for a special feature.

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