This post was written and published on the Atheist Revolution blog in March 2009, 2 1/2 months before the appaling murder of Dr. Tiller a couple of days ago. I’ve got noyhing to add – the article says it all.
I was motivated, at least in part, to start Atheist Revolution because I was becoming increasingly frustrated to see politicians and media in the U.S. obsess over Islamic extremism in the Middle East while ignoring Christian extremism at home. In the couple of years since I have been blogging, little has changed. There is still a tendency in the U.S. to see religious extremism as problematic only as long as one’s own religion is exempt from similar examination. Yes, there have been some encouraging signs that people are beginning to wake up, but our work continues.
There is little doubt that Islamic extremism currently poses a serious threat in the world today. Driven by the desire to see a Muslim caliphate and immunized against reason by an ancient religion that offers certainty and opposes critical analysis, Muslim extremists deserve the fearful attention they are receiving around the world.
At the same time, the problem must be recognized as being one of religious extremism which is not necessarily limited to Islam. Right here in the U.S., for example, we endured 8 years under a regime, headed by a Christian extremist, which committed countless human rights abuses, including but not limited to torture. Our civil liberties were rolled back as we were shamelessly manipulated by fear and lies. Science and medicine were damaged, as was our international standing. Our economy continues to reel as the costs of trickle-down economics and lax regulation is felt by a large enough portion of the population that it can no longer escape notice.
Would these abuses have occurred without the influence of Christian extremism? We do not know. What we do know is that they were committed by someone who claimed to receive his marching orders from the Christian god.
The subject of Christian terrorism is not one we hear much about. We know that acts of Christian terrorism occur, but we tend to see them as fairly isolated acts perpetrated by especially deranged individuals and regard them as far less dangerous than their more highly organized, militaristic, and highly funded Islamic counterparts.
To be sure, the lone Christian terrorist deserves our attention. However, there is a different sort of Christian terrorism that is far better organized, far more militaristic, and better funded than even the Islamic versions which we so love to despise. When acts of international terrorism are paid for by U.S. taxpayers, supported by U.S. politicians, and justified by Christian leaders within and without our government, it is difficult not to regard them as acts of Christian terrorism.
Consider the following contenders for the label of Christian terrorism:
- The Republican war on science
- Attacks on clinics that provide abortion and other health services to women
- Attempted church bombings
- Unjustly invading another country and torturing prisoners while Christian leaders justify it all right along with many Americans
It is not necessary to claim that religion causes terrorism; it is enough to see how much more dangerous religious motivation makes potential terrorists. Christian terrorism should not be ignored.