[ by Charles Cameron — it’s a good and bad speckled universe ]
Both words, Christian and terrorist, need examining, but they’re not the wrong words, nor the right ones. Also, note (in big print) that this is the view from a Progressive, Secular, Humanist perspective — those three words are also worth pondering.
Context, context, context, as the realtors would say if they were selling attention-space..
To give you some context, then, let’s consider these terrorist killings with religious targets:
The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015 The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018 The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
and these religions with affiliated terrorists:
You can be hated on account of your religion You can hate on account of your religion Your co-religionists may have reason to feel you are outsiders The proportions of violent to other believers varies between times, religions Religions & groups may differ on where injustice requires redress Listening, which involves humility, is a necessary feature of compassion.
There’s plenty of room for nuance here — as fractal theorists would say, the world is self-similar at different scales — or at the poet GM Hopkins puts it, “dappled”.
Let’s peer a little closer:
Half the equation? Presumably terrorist would be the other half?
Uh-oh: piano-playing and nursing…
That’s not at all what I was expecting..
Prog Sec Hum, Christian Terrorist John Earnest Issued Manifesto GetReligion, Yes, John Earnest put ‘Christian’ label into play Daily Beast, Synagogue Shooting Suspect, a Piano-Playing Nursing Student
To repeat the point that it’s not just one religion that’s involved either in violence or as a target, let’s switch religions — these things are simultaneous rather than separate:
A US army vet turned ISIS-supporter attacking neo-Nazis? That’s just one more curious instance of how these hard-to-imagine cookies crumble..
To return to our Christian:
Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.
Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. “It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching,” said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews.
That’s WaPo‘s opinion, and we don’t know how strong WaPo‘s theological understanding is.
This pastor, however seems to me to get it right:
“When there’s an act of ‘radical Islamic terror’ — somebody claiming they’re motivated by their Islamic faith — if we’re going to call upon moderates in Muslim communities to condemn those things, we should do the same. I wholeheartedly, full stop, condemn white nationalism,” said Chad Woolf, an evangelical pastor in Fort Myers, Fla., who was one of the first to join in heated debate online about how the attack reflects on evangelicalism. “We should recognize that somebody could grow up in an evangelical church, whose father was a leader, and could somehow conflate the teachings of Christianity and white nationalism. We should be very concerned about that.”
Okay, I have now read the complete manifesto, and if WaPo‘s headline writers think it contains theology, WaPo is paying less than ideal attention. The manifesto quotes scriptures — Matthew 27:24-25, John 8:37-45, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9 and one other verse of which he says “I forget where in the Bible this verse comes from, but it’s definitely in there” — but quoting (cherry-picking) scripture isn’t theology, it’s quoting scripture. And there’s one paragraph that might serve as an intro paragraph in some moderately bright student paper on Protestantism:
To my brothers in Christ of all races. Be strong. Although the Jew who is inspired by demons and Satan will attempt to corrupt your soul with the sin and perversion he spews—remember that you are secure in Christ. Turn away from your sin. Not because it is required for your salvation—for nobody save Christ can merit heaven based on his own works—but rather out of gratitude for the gift of salvation that your God has given you. Always remember that it is God that is keeping you alive and in faith. All sin stems from the arrogant belief that one does not need God. Satan was so prideful that he actually truly believed (that he, a created being) could overthrow the Ancient of Days—the Creator of all in existence. Satan inspired this rebellion among humanity. Christ alone is the only source of life. Know that you are saved in Christ and nothing—not death, nor torture, nor sin—can steal your soul away from God.
All else is ugliness, and I won’t quote.
What’s more lovely? By all accounts, the shooter’s father ..