“Darkness cannot drive out
darkness; only light can do
that. Hate cannot drive out
hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King
After 400 years of terror, isn’t it time for all Christians to speak out against ‘Radical Christian Extremism?’
Slavery was terrorism: Plantations were concentration camps. The Native American genocide was terrorism: The Trail of Tears was a death march. Hangings by slave patrols and the Ku Klux Klan were terrorism: These murders—often perpetrated or approved by white ‘Christians’—were intended to grieve, horrify and intimidate blacks.
Virtually all who committed these acts of terrorism claimed they were Christians.
This radical Christian extremism persists. Militant Christians still verbally and physically attack gays and blacks, Muslims and immigrants. They justify their hate by appealing to Jesus and the Bible.
Actually, the word ‘Christian’ may not apply to any who perpetrate these horrors. Should terrorists be called radical ‘Christian’ extremists? Their claims of following the tenets of Christianity are wholly false. More than a billion Christians should not be smeared by those committing acts of terrorism. Their crimes are perversions of Christianity.
The same is true of radical ‘Muslim’ extremists. Their claims of following the tenets of Islam are wholly false. More than a billion Muslims should not be smeared by those committing such acts. Their crimes are perversions of Islam.
Many Republican leaders, especially Donald Trump, disagree—along with many voters in the base of the Republican party. Why? Must all Muslims bear responsibility for those claiming acts of terrorism are a legitimate expression of Islam?
This political blame is based on fear and hatred. These are not Christian motives. As stated in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear.” Also, Jesus insisted Christians must love, not hate, their enemies. He modeled this love throughout his life and even during his crucifixion.
We must contend with our fears: our fears of blacks; our fears of gays; our fears of Muslims; our fears of immigrants. Unchallenged fears result in misplaced rage and scapegoating of ‘the other.’ This leads to verbal attacks and violence against hated groups.
Racism and homophobia are repulsive. Islamophobia and xenophobia are abhorrent.
Insisting all Americans oppose Muslim immigration or be castigated as purveyors of politically correctness is obscene. Yes, we must seek to be correct—politically and morally—but we can only do so, as the Apostle Paul states, by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
What is the truth? Muslims are our neighbors. Muslims are soldiers serving our country. Muslims are patriotic citizens. And Muslims are no more deserving of prejudice than Christians.
What does love require? We must treat the vast majority of Muslims as neighbors, not enemies. We must respond with compassion to the extraordinary hardships of refugees, including Muslims. We must see Muslims as human beings—people who have far more in common with us than differences.
Love also requires those of us judging others must first judge ourselves. Jesus was explicit: Before taking the speck out of our neighbor’s eye, we must remove the log from our own eye.
Those using a broad brush to paint all Muslims with the taint of terrorism imagine falsehoods. Let’s reject our biases and diligently seek truth.
Moreover, let’s ask to what degree our Christian community is responsible for historic acts of terrorism which executed and enslaved millions. Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris and even 9-11 are horrific singular acts of terror. Contrast these with the multitudes of ‘Christian’ atrocities spanning centuries.
Does evil and apathy prevail among American Christians? Could it be that we Christians really do need to account for the log in our eye?
We can choose to scapegoat those having nothing to do with perpetrating terror attacks. Or we can conscientiously oppose such evil massacres, come together, foster unity, and overcome our fears and hatred by speaking the truth in love.