(Photo: Reuters/Hamid Khatib)
The National Association of Evangelicals conducted a poll of its member pastors and found that 62.5 percent oppose U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war.
"Should Congress authorize direct U.S. military intervention in Syria?" the survey asked. Only 37.5 percent answered "yes," NAE President Leith Anderson announced in a statement to Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service.
The National Association of Evangelicals represents 40 evangelical Christian denominations and over 45,000 local churches. Not all evangelical denominations are NAE members, though.
The largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, is not a member. So, the views of Southern Baptist pastors would not be included in the results. (Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, does not support a military strike against Syria.)
Anderson does not take a definite position himself on the issue in his statement. Rather, he outlines several reasons that the issue is difficult and that evangelical pastors are in disagreement.
On the one hand, he points out, there has been an international consensus against the use of chemical weapons, and not taking action now could encourage further use of those weapons in the future. On the other hand, whether a military strike against Syria would help or hurt the situation is unknown. It could make the situation worse by leading to a broader regional conflict.
Anderson also expressed concerns about the Christians in the region. Persecution of Christians living in the Middle East has increased in recent years, he pointed out.
"Christians in Syria have been victims during the past two years of civil war. We don't want to make their lives worse."
Anderson ended by encouraging Christians to pray for political leaders in both the United States and Syria.
"The Bible teaches us to pray for our leaders," he wrote. "This is a week for extra prayers as our Congress and President decide what to do about Syria. And, let's add Syrian leaders to our prayer list. Our request is that God will give wisdom to make choices for a lasting peace in the region."
The Christian Post recently asked three Christian thinkers to address whether the proposed military action in Syria would be a "Just War." You can read their responses here.