Brett Younger: Religious Terrorism


I belong to a religious group that has been responsible for horrible acts of terrorism.  The majority of us do not believe these terrorists are being true to our faith, but others insist on painting us all with the same brush.  Religions that include terrorists are having a hard time, but I hope those with different religious heritages will treat us fairly.

Do not judge our holy book by a few stories.  Lots of people condemn sacred texts without having read the book, but the Bible's violent stories do not characterize the whole text.  Yes, when some boys call one of God's prophets "Baldy," Elisha curses them in the name of the Lord, and calls two bears to maul 42 children.  God commands the Israelites to destroy all the women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, and donkeys among the Amalekites.  The prophet Hosea promises that God will take revenge against Samaria and "their little ones shall be dashed to pieces and their pregnant women ripped open."  Some argue that a sacred text with such terrible stories leads its followers to be violent, but do not judge the Bible by a few passages.

Do not condemn Christianity for our most embarrassing moments.  Some evaluate entire religions by the worst events in their history.  This is unfortunate because Christianity has a history of terrorism.  The Crusades were a series of military campaigns sanctioned by various Popes in the Middle Ages.  We want to think Christians are getting better, but the evidence is shaky.  In 2012, Wade Michael Page killed six people in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, because he believed he was preserving Christian society.  The Army of God, a loose network of Christians, has a history of terrorist attacks on abortion providers.  Last summer church attender Dylann Roof murdered nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  The stewardess who refuses to give a Christian an unopened soda can for fear he will use it as a weapon may be genuinely afraid, but we hope you do not give in to this kind of bigotry.  Christian terrorism makes it easy to dismiss us as violent people, but it is not fair.

Do not judge Christianity by those who give us a bad name.  Disparaging a religion because of its worst adherents is wrong, but many point out that Hitler grew up Catholic and talked about "divine providence."  Pat Robertson called for the destruction of Islam and all its followers.  The President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., encouraged students to buy guns to "end those Muslims" who might threaten them.  Jim Jones, Fred Phelps, and David Koresh are not who most Christians are, so do not judge Christianity by its most terrible members.

Do not attack Christianity for political gain.  Some politician in some country may pander for votes by calling for a ban on Christian immigration, but do not give in to narrow-mindedness.  Many Christian refugees are running for their lives.  Do not listen to any one who says an immigration policy that includes Christians is "importing terrorism."

Do not judge us by our clothing.  Many Christians wear what are called "Christian T-shirts" that proclaim messages like:

Salvation makes everything better. Just like bacon.

I lost faith in humanity before it was cool.

White Straight Conservative Christian:  How Else May I Offend You Today?

Those who are not Christians see this kind of clothing-not to mention WWJD bracelets-as a refusal to fit in:  "Why can't they dress like everyone else?"  The outfits may seem odd and offensive, but treat people in Christian clothing with the same respect you would give someone in a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim hijab.

As it says in the Koran, "Had God willed, he would have made you a single community, but he wanted to test you regarding what has come to you.  So compete with each other in doing good.  Every one of you will return to God and he will inform you regarding the things about which you differed" (Surat al-Ma'ida, 48).

From Brett's blog, Peculiar Preacher