A Review Of Christian Terrorism In The Modern World
By David Metcalfe
January 17, 2020
In the media, we often hear about “Islamic terrorism”- connected to things like the 9/11 attacks, ISIS, suicide bombings, and so forth. This causes some to believe that Islam is an innately terrorist religion that should be feared and discriminated against. This is despite the fact that every major Muslim group has consistently condemned terrorism.
Since Christians are especially prone to making condescending and sometimes hateful remarks towards all Muslims based on the actions of a very select few, my purpose in this article is to briefly consider so called “Christian terrorists”, in order to to show that people professing to be Christian also commit terrorist attacks, and we need to consider the role that should play in how we define terrorism for both Christianity and Islam in a way that is consistent.
Not Your Average Bible Study
On November 27, 1998, a group of men got together in a small town in Northern Ireland for a Bible study. They read scripture, prayed together, and chatted about the Bible’s teachings, just like any regular Bible study- except, there were a few notable differences: they had masks, guns, and were talking about killing people (Irish News, 1998).
These were the infamous “Orange Volunteers” that carried out more than 30 terrorist attacks- primarily against Catholics- including shootings, bombings, and severe beatings. They claimed to be Protestant Christians who were justly upholding and defending their nation and their faith. Their leader was an ordained Pentecostal Pastor named Clifford Peeples. Although the police did not successfully charge him for his role in the attacks, he served 3 years of a 10 year prison sentence for having two hand grenades and a pipe bomb in his car, and now pastors a church in Belfast.
A Doctor Tries To Go To Church
On May 31, 2009, Dr. George Tiller, a 67 year old medical doctor, was volunteering as an usher, handing out pamphlets and greeting people as they walked in the door of a Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. One of the men who walked in shot Dr. Tiller in the head, killing him. That man was Scott Roeder, a self-professed Christian involved with the “Army of God” militant Christian group. He had been planning the murder for a long time, and knew that he would be able to find Dr. Tiller at his home church on Sunday morning. Roeder believed he needed to murder Dr. Tiller because the doctor had performed abortions during his career (Pilkington, 2009).
In addition to the murder of Dr. Tiller, dozens of other doctors who had performed abortions during their careers were targeted by the terrorist group- kidnappings, bombings, beatings, shootings, and lots of threats and angry screaming (Altum, 2003). A spokesperson for the “Army of God” said that since abortions were legal, it “made it inevitable to see a crescendo of violence. In the life and death struggle to stop this unjustified slaughter, Christian men are looking down the barrel of a rifle.” Wiley Drake, a baptist radio host, said that he was “glad Tiller is dead”, and obviously, supports murdering doctors who perform abortions.
“Jesus Was The First Klansmen”
The beginnings of the Klu Klux Klan were in the late 1860s, forming from a group of Confederate soldiers discontent with the results of the civil war, who decided to enact violence against freed slaves and former Union soldiers. That group faded in the 1870s. But then, in 1915, the Klan was revived by Protestant Christians who believed that the white race was superior, and that violence against black people, Jews, Catholics, and people who were considered to live “immoral” lifestyles was justified and condoned by God. They even claimed that “Jesus was the first Klansman” (McWhirter, 2011). The Klan read the Bible and sang hymns, and believed they were doing “the Lord’s work” (Wade, 1987). David Duke, the modern day Klu Klux Klan leader and racist conspiracy theorist, claims to be a “born again Christian”.
Kony: Kidnapper and Killer
On October 10, 1996, in Aboke, Uganda, an all girls Catholic school hid in terror as members of the “Lord’s Resistance Army” killed the school guards and roamed the premises, searching for them. Over the course of the night, members of the LRA captured 139 girls. The nuns followed the kidnappers and were able to negotiate the release of 109 of the girls. Of the 30 girls who remained, 5 were beaten or starved to death, and the other 25 forced into sex slavery. 10 years later, all but two eventually escaped (Ssebuyirah, 2009).
This story is just one of many, many stories of horrible crimes committed by the LRA; a group claiming to be a Christian nationalist organization led by Joseph Kony that seeks to establish the Ten Commandments as the rule of law in Eastern Africa. They’ve murdered, raped, and kidnapped thousands of people. They’ve forced countless children to become child soldiers, and a variety of other horrendous war crimes (torture, mutilation, etc.) (Al Jazeera, 2014).
For Christians, I want you to imagine that the media posted these stories all over the place and said “Christians are committing terrorist attacks!”, and then people began to discriminate against you as a result- deny you a job, accuse you of being a terrorist, etc. Do you think that is fair?
Obviously, you would say, “do not judge all Christians by the acts of an insane few!” and “read what Jesus actually said and the modern scholars’ interpretation of the Biblical text!” and “Christianity is about peace and love; hatred and violence is a distorted form of Christianity!”.
This is what many, many Muslims face right now. The vast majority are good, kind Muslims who see in scripture a God who is peaceful and loving, and they are tolerant of all different people. All of the major schools of Islam universally and unequivocally condemn the actions of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, and instead promote peace.
Just as it would be very wrong for people to say that all Christians are racist just because of the Klu Klux Klan, it is equally wrong to say that all Muslims are terrorists because of ISIS. There may be large, systemic problems in certain Islamic cultures (as in all cultures), and perhaps the religion itself, but terrorism is a very minor one, and not at all indicative of the religion or culture as a whole. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:2, that, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” So, before making accusations against Muslims, try to empathize with them and consider how you would want to be treated, if you were in their situation.