August 3, 2013

AlterNet Reminds Us That Christian Terrorism is Real

Scott Roeder
Alex Henderson's post on AlterNet, 10 worst examples of Christian or far-right terrorism, has been receiving quite a bit of attention around the Internet. I mention it here because I think it provides the sort of reminder many need to see. It is an example of how to counter the frequently heard claim from conservatives and Christian extremists that terrorism is the purview of Muslims and is not something Christians would do.

The issue is not that Muslims do not commit acts of terrorism - we know some do. The issue is that many Christians refuse to acknowledge that there is such a thing as Christian terrorism. Even the mainstream news media rarely uses the label when it is justified.
From Fox News to the Weekly Standard, neoconservatives have tried to paint terrorism as a largely or exclusively Islamic phenomenon. Their message of Islamophobia has been repeated many times since the George W. Bush era: Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist. But the facts don’t bear that out.
What makes articles like this so effective is that they provide several specific counterexamples to the claims about how there are no Christian terrorists. Clearly, there are Christian terrorists. They cannot be ignored, or at least, we ignore them at our peril.

Having said that, my perspective is that there are far too many Christian terrorists AND far too many Muslim terrorists. I see much of the criticism of Islam as perfectly valid, just as I find much of the criticism of Christianity to be valid. We do not need to defend Islam in order to highlight Christian terrorism. We can acknowledge that both are problematic.

What we really should try to avoid is focusing so much on acts of terrorism committed by Muslims that we forget what Christian terrorists are capable of. This is precisely why articles like this are helpful.
Far-right white male radicals and extreme Christianists are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice.
No disagreement here.