By H.A. Penner
I hold that weaponized and surveillance drones are immoral. They are contrary to everything my Mennonite faith teaches.
Ever since I learned over a year ago that the U.S. military is planning to install a drone command center in Horsham, Pennsylvania, I have been traveling there monthly to witness to my deeply-held beliefs that it is wrong.
I hold that weaponized and surveillance drones are immoral. They are contrary to everything my Mennonite faith teaches. We are called by Jesus to love one another, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to love our enemy.
Stopping drone warfare is a religious issue for me. As a matter of conscience, I feel compelled to protest what weaponized and surveillance drones represent—the killing of innocent people as well as the loss of religious freedom and civil liberties.
I believe that the world is comprised of one human family. All people in the world are created by God and are our brothers and sisters. If someone would attack my blood brother or sister, I would try to stop them. This is the way I feel about innocent persons being killed by drones in places like Pakistan and Yemen.
To date, at least 178 children and more than 2,400 other civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen. The United States is making extrajudicial decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The U.S. government is playing judge, jury and executioner. Is this what we call the rule of law?
How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakistanis were flying drones over the United States to spy on and kill American people?
Surveillance and weaponized drones recruit many more people into so called “terrorist groups.” Is this making the world a safer place? Does this strengthen America’s national security? Would the U.S. call another country “terrorist” if their drones encircle communities in the U.S. day and night, seven days a week?
Deploying weaponized and surveillance drones to spy on and kill many innocent people is creating more enemies of the United States. Every person killed has family members and friends who mourn the loss of their loved ones. Many seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.
Sadly, the U.S. “war on terror” is a recipe for perpetual wars, endless suffering and death for people around the world including ourselves. Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send Peace Corps personnel to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.
It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people another government doesn’t like. The Nuremberg Principles require citizens to attempt to stop crimes against humanity. Killing innocent civilians is a crime against humanity. Doing nothing or remaining silent is complicity in these crimes. In protesting at the proposed drone command center, I seek to uphold international law.
At a time when our country is becoming more dependent on drone warfare, including the use of surveillance and weaponized drones on its own citizens, I invite my fellow citizens of the U.S., people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience to join me in stopping these drones before they kill more innocent people, spy on us and recruit more so-called “terrorists.”
By our silence we condone these senseless killings. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. Nonviolent protest at the proposed drone command center near Horsham, Pennsylvania, is one way to witness to God’s love while upholding the U.S. Constitution, the Nuremberg Principles and international law.
H. A. Penner is a Pennsylvania resident who invites responses by email at