Chris Antal is a minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern, New York. He served as a U.S. Army chaplain in Afghanistan before publicly resigning this week over the Obama administration’s drone warfare program.
By voluntarily resigning over his continued concerns about drone warfare, he forfeits benefits that otherwise would have accrued to him through his eight years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Below is the letter he wrote to President Obama in April.
Dear Mr. President:
I hereby resign my commission as an Officer in the United States Army.
I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy. The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.
I resign because I refuse to support U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The Executive Branch continues to invest billions of dollars into nuclear weapons, which threaten the existence of humankind and the earth. I refuse to support this policy of terror and mutually assured destruction.
I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection. The Executive Branch continues to claim extra-constitutional authority and impunity from international law. I refuse to support this policy of imperial overstretch.
I resign because I refuse to serve as an empire chaplain. I cannot reconcile these policies with either my sworn duty to protect and defend America and our constitutional democracy or my covenantal commitment to the core principles of my religion faith. These principles include: justice, equity and compassion in human relations, a free and responsible search for truth, a commitment to the democratic process, and the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Respectfully submitted, Christopher John Antal
In 2012, Antal delivered a sermon in Afghanistan and posted the text on a Unitarian Universalist website. At the time, he identified himself by name and as an Army chaplain in Afghanistan. It was titled “A Veteran’s Day Confession for America.” Below is an excerpt:
… We have made war entertainment
enjoying box seats in the carnival of death
consuming violence, turning tragedy into games
raising our children to kill without remorse.
We have morally disengaged,
outsourcing our killing to the one percent,
forgetting they follow our orders
the blood they shed is on our hands too.
We have insulated ourselves from the painful truths veterans carry.
Our bumper magnets proclaim, “Support our Troops,”
but for too many, suicide is the only panacea.
Our insulation is their isolation.
We have made our veterans into false idols,
blood sacrifice on the National Altar of War.
Parades and medals perpetuate the hero myth,
glorifying those who kill and die on our behalf. …
Antal said in an interview, “I suspect—although I can’t prove—that what happened with me [in 2012] was part of the impetus to change the [Army] regulations and to further compartmentalize the ministry of the chaplain to just a ‘house priest.’”