Posted by: Jim | June 1, 2009

Christian Terrorism

As I’ve predicted on this blog before, Christian terrorism has reared its ugly head again. I won’t regurgitate the news you’ve all probably heard, but a well-known abortionist was shot down in his church yesterday. 

When a “radical” Muslim kills in the name of their religion, there is usually a chorus of disapproval from the moderate Muslims.  Many experts have pointed out that these moderate Muslims create a context wherein the radicals may operate.  Those of us at a distance are able to rub our chins and wonder … “perhaps it is not just the radicals, but all of Muslims that are to blame.” 

As if on queue after this shooting, many Christian leaders have come out against this type of thing, and in so doing, offer us a profound comparison between Christianity and Islam. They really aren’t much different. Any time a person becomes disciplined in disengaging their rational mind in order to adhere to a principle, profoundly illogical leaps like this become more common. I believe that the cause of this type of violence is the outcome of years of cognitive dissonance. A person becomes practiced in switching between the logical world and illogical faith until their mind becomes almost totally bifurcated. Eventually, they can lose touch with reality altogether. When that happens, a person might kill a Doctor, or wage war on a country thinking they are the embodiment of Biblical prophecy.

The root of the problem is not insanity—it is irrational faith. The murderer  believed that what he was doing was justifiable homicide. I can speak from experience when I say that there are many Christians who will outwardly say this is a terrible way to deal with the situation—but inwardly they quietly approve. They do believe this is justifiable homicide. That tacit agreement from moderates allows the radical movements to thrive—and the terrorism will continue.

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Responses

  1. Great piece. Watch out for funky responses. I already got one on mine this morning.

  2. I for one, think that this is horrible, both inwardly and outwardly. Just because I think abortion is wrong doesn’t give me or anyone else the right to murder an abortionist. I think this way, regardless of if abortion is legal or illegal. In the case of illegal murder, let the justice system handle it anyway, not a vigilante mentality.

    If murder is the way that we go around trying to solve problems, then the world will be a very bloody place indeed.

    As much as I can represent, in the name of Christianity, I give my sincere apology to him, his family, and the world.

  3. I just got a link in my inbox of an article that has these words:

    “Derrick Jones of the National Right to Life Committee responds to news of the Sunday morning attack. “It goes without saying that National Right to Life — as the entire pro-life movement does — unequivocally condemns this act of violence and any such acts of violence regardless of whatever motivation is responsible for it,” he states.

    Already organizations such as the National Organization for Women are blaming the tragedy on the pro-life movement. NOW has labeled the murder as an act of “politically-motivated domestic terrorism” and has called on the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to put their full resources behind the effort to “root out and prosecute…the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades.”

    Jones views that reaction as unfounded. “The pro-life movement has always in our 36-year history worked to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life and its unborn children through peaceful, legal means,” he says. “Ultimately the use of violence is directly contrary to our goals.”

    Do you really think it is an organized act of politically domestic-terrorism?

    They are investigating. I read somewhere that the killer has had bouts of mental illness also. Not sure if it’s relevant or not yet.

  4. ironic that someone kills in the name of life

  5. Ted, in answer to your question, I do not think its organized (at all) but it’s political, it’s domestic, and it’s terrorism. However, groups like Randall Terry’s have literally tracked the movements of this victim for years. They purposefully were trying to intimidate him. That was organized–but also far from murder.

  6. What a terrible situation. We humans can be so violent.

  7. CRL – it’s a moral calculus – kill X and save Y (Y being a quantity of unknown fetuses…)

    Of course, if you say, “But Y will be aborted by another doctor…” then the nudge nudge is that, “If we keep this up long enough, there won’t be any other doctors…”

    I wish that these people were as pro-life when it comes to preventing America waging war, congressmen etc might think a little harder before authorising military adventures.

  8. Not that I advocate their methods, but their radicalism could have a better focus.

    This triumph of the unborn. Maybe we could have a “Tomb of the Unknown Foetus” to go alongside that of the Unknown Soldier…

    For anybody who would like the satirical smackdown par excellence of this whole unborn schtick, try and look at Philip Roth’s Our Gang, a broadside aimed at Nixon, that opens with his fiendish plan to extend voting rights to the unborn.

  9. It’s all of a piece with “Jesus Saves…” – just don’t get in the way of what he’s Saving…

    Bush saved Iraq by killing.

    Now this guy saves by killing.

    Aren’t the two motivated finally by the belief that one is guided by God, that one is right, that one is infallible, or, at the very least, will be called to account by God, in a court that renders the judgment of men an irrelevance…

    Isn’t this what the morality founded upon judgment in the next life for the actions undertaken in this life often leads to? The atheism that Jim refers to on his site is not an absence of morality, (something that Ted will never grasp), but a different form.

    For example, does Jim not kill people he disagrees with because “it is illegal” or because “he considers murder to be wrong”. The notion of atheism as coincident with an absence of personal morality is something that is not shot down often enough.

    To me, it is more moral to place all of one’s emphasis on this earthly existence and to explore matters of conscience in a personal way, seeking help when appropriate, rather that to seek some immunisation from ‘doing wrong’ by following a prescribed path. As society becomes more complex and less monotheistic, it is not surprising that there are some who want the church to function as a bubble that keeps things neat and tidy. In some respects, it is a return of Puritanism, with its disdain for what is worldly.

    What living outside of an organised religion permits is the removal of the opportunity of never really testing one’s beliefs in the marketplace of ideas, and the destruction of this cosy outlet that permits / encourages adherents to fixate and become ideologically rigid in accordance with biblical mandates or the doctrine of a particular church.

    Proof of this, to me, is that if I speak to Jim, I feel that he is open to reason, to the opinions of others (opinion in its literal Latin sense, to see from another’s viewpoint), that if you can convince him of the merits of your argument, he is capable of reordering his views in a considered way and growing from that. Doesn’t the thinking of God-fearing Christians show just the opposite, that in fact their faith can never be shaken by any evidence at all? This is why evolution is such a hot topic, finally, because it is the proving ground for how deep a denial of evidence that contravenes the Bible the Christian fraternity can produce.

    It is also highly disingenous, because each time a “weak point”, supposedly, in evolutionary theory is found, Christians seize on this “as evidence” (damning evidence) of the falsity of evolution as a theory. Hmm, so there is a type of evidence that Christians WILL accept, namely, the sort of evidence that FITS with what they believe. Ted was, of course, guilty of this on the other comment thread.

    For my own part, I have found the dissonance caused by Ted’s lack of a capacity to reason from anything but his own perspective a source of frustration, something that makes me lose my own self-control, unaccustomed as I am to dealing with this type of inflexible ideologue. I think the lesson, such as it is, for me, is simply to have the knowledge that there are Teds out there, and to try and ensure that I am never obliged to live in proximity to such individuals. Thankfully, most of them are congregated in such places as MS, AL, TN and AK etc, where I’ve already passed my days and escaped from.

    That does bring up a final point, that this ideological rigidity of a Ted, for example, is not necessarily peculiarly Christian, but perhaps peculiar to US Christians. In Guatemala, there is a large percentage of Catholics and other Christian denominations, but they don’t particularly interfere in politics, and when you encounter people as individuals, they have a latitude to their behaviour that suggests feeling comfortable in themselves and not ultra-defensive and in denial about reality. Perhaps some of this is that US Christianity is still at times a homogenous slab of White Folks and these people feel that “their America” is slowly being taken from them, one late-term abortion and Hispanic Supreme Court nominee at a time…

    Sorry for going on too long. If you read down to this, congratulations. I just wanted to reassert my own capacity for considered commenting, having been too blown off course swatting away at the various idiocies posted here in the comments section.

  10. “The atheism that Jim refers to on his site is not an absence of morality, (something that Ted will never grasp), but a different form.”

    You constantly don’t get the points. I agree, his atheism is not an absence of morality. It is a homogeneous, personal, moral code. Does that make it bad? No. It is his own moral code and cannot be called bad or good by any exact definition because there is no collective definition for bad or good without God. There can be an agreed upon moral code and laws can be made to uphold the decisions, and that is as good as it gets.

    Ultimately people may have their own relative moral code that conflicts with Jim’s or mine or yours and unless it is breaking the collective law, it would have to be considered as moral also. Even if it is in direct conflict with your own. So you can have polar opposites being moral. That is moral relativism.

    I totally understand that if you take God out of the picture, this is what we are left with. I”m not judging it, I’m just thinking about it logically. Do you have a different way of seeing this?

    When you were comparing the US Christians and the Guatemalan Christians, I think that if you met me in “real life” that you might have a different opinion.

    My faith is a personal faith and a way of life for me. It’s not something that I parade around and throw in other people’s face. I enjoy the differences in people and learn from them all the time.

    Because I don’t get into these deep conversations in my normal life, it is fun to discuss this on this blog. I like intellectual stimulation and philosophical discussion, but not all the time! Life is full of so much happiness and joy, and ups and downs and “stuff” that there is only so much time to devote to each thing.

    You have constantly name called. You’ve been argumentative, condescending and abrasive. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live in your proximity if this is your true personality. It is much easier for you to right off human life and label them as the “Teds” of the world. Pack them away in your mental loony bin and move on.

    Ideological rigidity. That is interesting. Can’t you allow others to believe differently than you? Why must you have the desire to change others? You don’t want to live next to those who are different than you or who are ideologically rigid because then you can’t influence them to your way of thinking?

    Someone who is in an African tribe and who has a different world view than I do is just as valuable, just as important and deserves respect and love and courtesy just as much as anyone else. I do not have the need to argue with them and call their beliefs fairy tales and cut them down personally because they don’t “see the wisdom and logic of my superior existence”.

    Instead, try embracing them (those that have their own ideologies) as fellow human beings. You might even make a friend. It can be lots of fun having friends who are different than yourself. I don’t share the same views as all my friends. Most of my very best friends are not Christian, they are Jewish and/or atheist.

    My own siblings are atheist or agnostic and I love them to death!

    I think if you and I were physically in the same room, we probably would have a conversation, but it would not go on so long. We would find common ground with other things like food or music or comedy or tv shows.

    Once we knew each other better and felt safer we might share more of our ideas and differences but with respect as one does with a friend.

    The nature of a blog, kind of throws people together at a rapid pace and can start dialogue at a hyper heightened level.

  11. “I totally understand that if you take God out of the picture, this is what we are left with.”

    Why do you consider moral relativism to be so bad when it is, in fact, the norm, throughout all epochs of human history. Different populations in different places have always produced different results in the moral sphere.

    Aren’t you reassured that they all had morals?

    Secondly, your Christian God has undergone quite a transformation in His own values, from hurling thunderbolts to showering us all in love (while also sending the bad folks to hell). When coupled with the transformations of the Christian church, the notion of a secure foundation for moral action arising from something so fragmented and conflicted as The Bible, for example, are close to zero. Or is the beneficent influence of this God being derived in some other way? Or does the fiction/truth of God not matter, finally, (a utilitarian argument) and that so long as people behave as if God exists, and observe a clear moral code that is shared in and upheld by their community, then that is sufficient… (a view that, in the UK, seems to be held by quite a few Anglicans, who have publicly doubted the Resurrection, for example, while never doubting the beneficial effects of faith)

    Answers to these, please.

    *

    Re: ideological rigidity, and that is that I did not leave the South because I could not tolerate others, but because a fair few of the locals could not keep their traps shut about how much they hated niggers and queers, while simultaneously being pious church-going folk, and finding fault with me for not sharing their faith (I didn’t share the racism and homophobia, either) or enthusiastically endorsing their views.

    I have many friends, thanks, I just would not want a friend with views such as yours. I’m not looking to add a religious apologist to the gang right now, but I’ll let you know if I space in my brazen bull come the next pagan bacchanal!

  12. Before finding this blog, the only time I head the term “moral relativism” was by an atheist accusing the Unitarian CHURCH of moral relativism.

    There have been differences over humanity’s history, but I’d have a hard time finding a society that considered murder and the like moral.

  13. Moral relativism is good if it benefits you, but bad if you are on the receiving end of someone else’s morals.

    Like I said, if God is not there, then of course this is what we have and we’ll make the best of it. People will lobby for what they feel is good, and try to get others to rally around that.

    In answer to your questions, I think that God is consistent and that people are not. He says what is beneficial and good and right, and we mess it up, either with human tradition, flawed interpretations, or some other way.

    I believe that God gives us his word and ultimately gave us his son as a prime example for us to follow. We were resorting to our own ways and morals and God came down in the flesh and walked among us to give us an example and give us a way to save us from our own sins.

    I do think he speaks to all of our hearts in a private and humble way. I believe he speaks to us through other believers and through other people and through nature and creation.

    Your notion of acting as if God exists even if he doesn’t would theoretically work if what they were following was Christ’s example. I don’t believe that there is any magical, mystical or miraculous power in following Christ. I simply believe that following Christ is what I was created to do. I do it the best I can. Mess up, try again.

    I find that when I do this, It works for me. I find that when I do this, I’m generally happier and feel more at peace. Can someone follow this but not believe in Christ and still be filled with peace, etc?

    I’m not sure, but I think that there definitely are consequences for all actions. So if the actions of following Christ are wise regardless of origin, then my answer would have to be yes, the consequences would still be love, peace, joy.

    There may be a disconnect between living it out in your mind and living it out in your mind and your heart and soul.

    Some can follow Jesus in their words only, but not really with their whole heart, you know what I mean?

    Wow, I’m really sorry to hear about your bad experiences with racism and sexism and just plain meanness in the south. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere, where someone was constantly telling me their point of view on anything either, especially on things that I perceive to be morally wrong.

    I can see where this personal experience would make you particularly jaded against anyone else who you perceived to be like them.

    I’m not like that. I don’t think that I am particularly pious and I know that I’m a screw up. I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I talk to all people from all walks of life, from different cultures and backgrounds, sexual orientation, economic status and education level.

    I see all of us as God’s children and I truly think to myself, God loves this person so much that Jesus died for him/her. I would have no business judging, hating on, or in any way discouraging them as fellow brothers and sisters.

    That doesn’t mean that I agree with everyone’s choices. But who am I to stop them? I could tell them my point of view, but I don’t offer any type of advice and I don’t put on any missionary hat and try to save them (some others in my faith say that maybe I should).

    I like to be invited to speak my mind and share my opinions. I don’t ever want to preach at someone.

    In you saying you wouldn’t want a friend with views such as mine is fine with me. Truthfully I think you stereotype me just as much as some of those southern friends of your stereotyped others.

    I think I represent something to you, rather than just being another person on the planet with views and that’s too bad.

    I have a New Yorker who I work with who constantly talks about the Yankees and it is extremely annoying.

  14. “There have been differences over humanity’s history, but I’d have a hard time finding a society that considered murder and the like moral.”

    Hmm, modern warfare? It is “right” to engage in military action.

    Societies that practice other forms of human sacrifice.

    Sacrifice of the first born in many early societies as tribute to god.

    Martyrdom? Suicide (sometimes known as self-murder) and not always seen as dishonorable, Imperial Japan, etc, saw it as a profoundly moral act.

    Surely cannibalism is even further in terms of what we modern people regard as acceptable, and yet it has been a feature of many societies and was used in a moral way, to end blood feuds etc. In this situation, a blood relation of the dead person was often required to eat the first mouthful, as this act symbolised the ending of the feud.

    Just a few examples.

  15. “I think I represent something to you, rather than just being another person on the planet with views and that’s too bad.”

    It’s the ‘other minds’ problem of philosophy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other_minds_problem

    I see all of us as God’s children and I truly think to myself, God loves this person so much that Jesus died for him/her.

    You should prefix your use of God with the word “Christian” as I don’t think any other faith, while believing in a God, a Creator, believes that their God sent Jesus Christ.

    By not doing this, you are constantly muddying the waters of what you are referring to.

  16. Good point. I was excluding our wonderful era.

  17. dear ted,
    kingfelix does indeed have many friends, was staying with me in Devon, and now is in Dublin visting another close friend. what Kingfelix was getting at was as Burroughs termed it “The Ugly American”, a general basic level of stupidity, and to the notion of gods or goddesses they are just figments, they exist to those who are devout, and to those who deny, but they are just are playthings, raggedy dolls.

  18. The religious are insane. If they would just rape, torture, and murder each other, I doubt that normal people would care. The problem is these cultists drag their intellectual and moral superiors down with them

    Christianic terrorism is far, far worse than that from their Islamic colleagues but only because the Christian terrorist cult has nuclear weapons.


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