The Rise of Christian Terrorism: Fear Based Religion

I admit that can be hard on the church from time to time, but this is in part because I believe that we have such a grave responsibility to bear peace and reconciliation to the world.  In this way I tend to enjoy people like Stanley Hauerwas, John Howard Yoder, Brian McLaren or Tony Campolo, all of which tend to present their particular messages towards the church in order to help “straighten it out.”

This may be very presumptuous of these people to think they have enough clarity to speak to the church, but if so I can accept that.  This post is directed at one part of the church that in all fairness makes it hard for me personally to even call “the church” at all.

Over the past few months I’ve seen enough stuff on the news, and read enough blogs about people who are reportedly Christians talking about faith that is fueled and formed by fear, scare tactics, violene and a merciless God.  I have found an eye-opening and thoughtful critique on the subject, albeit somewhat angry and difficult to hear.  The point is the world is listening to these flagrant Christians who seem more likely to get media attention than its more peaceful counterparts.  I suppose their sensationalism does make it more interesting for the Television.  I am writing to say, we the rest of the church, are aware and don’t approve of these groups at all.

Some of these Christians are now being referred to as “Christian Terrorists” and I wonder whether this is an accurate description of what’s going on.

A common understanding of terrorism is found over at the wikipedia article on the subject, which says,

“Terrorism refers to a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence targeted against non-combatants to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, and personal demands.[1] The targets of terrorist attacks typically are not the individuals who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather the societies to which these individuals belong.”

The type of terrorism stated above covers terrorist groups that have attacked the United States, Israel, Lebanon, and England in recent history but may not include some “Christian terrorists.”  I think we have to push further on this definition and state that any religion that is based on the rhetoric of fear, and utilizes scare tactics, hate messages, racism, along with using violence to spread their message forcibly on others are acting in a terrorist-type way.

From Wikipedia on Christian Terrorism,

In the United States, arson, firebombing and vandalism of abortion clinics, along with harassment of clinic employees and patrons have been cited as examples of terror tactics employed by anti-abortion extremists. Occasionally the perpetrators have been self-proclaimed Christians.

Eric Rudolph, for example, engaged in terrorist activities closely associated with Christian terrorism, such as the targeting of abortion clinics and the bombing of a gay nightclub; also, Rudolph had been suspected to be associated with the Christian Identity organization. However, Rudolph has himself denied such associations, writing that he “prefers Nietzsche to the Bible” and espouses an Atheistic philosophy.

Many abortion opponents blame these acts of violence on individuals who have little regard for human life and groups which are quite separate from the pro-life movement or any Christian church.

One of the main causes for this post was when I saw this video a while back about a fundamentalist group of people (who call themselves Christians) who send hate messages to its gay communities on their church’s website (known as the  Westboro Baptist Church). And Nik, a friend of mine over at Scary Little Monkey, turned my attention to the fact that these so-called Christians were protesting soldiers funerals (see the video above). They attend soldiers funerals carrying signs about God killing soliders because of abortion and homosexuality in America.  This group epitomizes terrorist rhetoric, but they are not the only group doing these kinds of hate-filled things.

Not only is what they’re doing hate-filled and insensitive, it drive blantantly against anything the Gospels have to do with.  Don’t be fooled by these people, there is nothing Christ-like about this behaviour, and so to lump them into a critique against the whole church is short-sighted and unfair.  Especially when their behavior goes as far as to bring emotional and physical violence upon others in the name of God.

Whether they are rightly called Christian terrorists may be debatable, but to an even more pressing question is whether the rest of the church should protest the fact that they’re calling themselves Christian at all.