Haven’t many nations and intellectuals said and are even now saying that the Iraq war was the ‘plank’ in the eyes of George Bush and Tony Blair?

When the line that divides the state and religion gets blurred there is a danger of religion overpowering state. In such a situation, all human aspirations and rationality will get crushed. Then secular freedom will also be at stake. At the same time, if the state remains divorced from religion, it is bound to act in a manner that is aggressive, and with an attitude that is supercilious.

It is pertinent, therefore, to ask certain inconvenient questions. What is the state’s relationship to religion, if any? Can the state claim to be related when it touches on the fringes of religion by merely sending greetings to people on important occasions? Will a 'Merry Christmas' or a 'Happy Diwali' or an 'Id Mubarak' suffice? Or should it delve into the deep waters of religion and take the words of prophets seriously when faced with a crisis?

The state that decides to greet people can as well decide to adopt a particular teaching to deal with a particular issue. Syria is an issue now. The US and France want to attack the country which they believe used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,400 civilians. Russia, UK, and China – all members of the UN Security Council – do not favour an attack.

Expressing scepticism, Rev. Drew Christiansen, a Jesuit priest, told Religion News Service that “there are good reasons to think you might make things worse by a military attack.” He also asked why this kind of chemical attack mattered “so mightily when 100,000 civilians have been killed in Syria already”. According to him, the the first attack on civilians should have been the reason for intervention.

Another theologian, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Chair of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Task Force on Nuclear Weapons, questioned the right of the US to attack Syria. He said, “The United States is not the sword of God.”

Meanwhile, the Pope on Sunday said: “My heart is deeply wounded by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments.”

“War brings on war! Violence brings on violence," Pope Francis said, calling upon faithfuls to join him on September 7 to observe fast and pray for peace in Syria. According to latest reports (as of writing this post), the Pope, in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has asked G-20 leaders to find ways to "overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution" to Syrian crisis.

So the theological stand is clear. What is the state -- in this case, the United States -- going to do? Will it listen to them or act as if the saner voice of religion does not exist? Will it listen to the voice of earthly ignorance which calls for vengeance or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where he says: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Haven’t many nations and intellectuals said and are even now saying that the Iraq war was the ‘plank’ in the eyes of George Bush and Tony Blair?