How Christian Behavior Online Might Fuel A New Kind of Terrorism

How Christian Behavior Online Might Fuel A New Kind of Terrorism May 19, 2015

TerrorismDid you know that your Facebook behavior might be fueling a new kind of terrorism?

For all of our talk of terrorism, we rarely talk about what actually causes terrorism other than canned one-liners that aren’t always accurate. I think most often the root causes are fear, misunderstanding, or responding to injustice unjustly– but I think that if you could distill it down to the most basic form, you’d find something that was rooted in fear.

When fear takes our brains over one goes into fight or flight mode, which is a natural reaction that all animals- from humans to to a wild gazelle- experience when fear or a perceived threat is looming. When this happens our primal instincts take over and some parts of the brain literally shut down so that we can more acutely focus on the source of our fear (which can lead to both rational and irrational choices). In a larger, more collective sense, I think this is similar to what fuels terrorism: one is fed a message of fear long enough that fear takes over, and that fear finds ways to justify destroying what we think is the source of our fear. This fear, I believe, is the mustard seed of terrorism- one that must be weeded, not watered.

 There is an unchallenged fear in the Christian community, one that is being watered instead of weeded: the fear of Muslims. Sadly, we are not beyond becoming terrorists ourselves, and after many years of heavy consumption of anti-Muslim fear, I think we’re seeing that happening.

Just this week a news story broke that isn’t getting much attention: the arrest of a Christian terrorist here in the United States. Dr. Robert Doggart was arrested for plotting terrorism against American Muslims in Islamberg, New York, and as the Daily Beast points out, this guy isn’t a fringe nut-job; he is an ordained minister, holds a PhD, is a Navy veteran, and even ran for congress once. Yet, his fear of Muslims obviously became so over-powering that he planned a horrific terrorist attack. He took to Facebook to recruit others, writing that: “20 expert gunners can do a lot of damage, both physically and psychologically.” Both online and in recorded calls, Doggart articulated a ghastly plan: attack the town from multiple angles, burn down the buildings– and to even cut the Muslims “to shreds” with machetes if they had to. In his own words:

“[T]he people we seek will know who we are. We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings.”

His motivation? Well, God of course. In a Facebook post he wrote:

“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God. We shall be warriors who inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our nation and world peace.”

The question begs to be asked: how does a Christian- one who supposedly follows the “Prince of Peace” become a terrorist? The answer is simple: fear.

In America we like to feast on a diet of fear against Muslims, and it’s something that hits us from all sides. Imagine how this story would have played out in the media had a Muslim Imam planned to attack a town in New York called “Christianville” with military weapons, firebombs and machetes? Everyone would be talking about it. Yet, when it’s a Christian minister who plots to do this to a town named Islamberg, the story doesn’t get nearly the attention it would if the roles were reversed.

Further, Christian social media- such as Facebook- never seems to miss a story that paints Muslims as a threat. Not a week goes by where I don’t have things pop into my own newsfeed, posted by Christians, which play into this anti-Muslim fear based narrative that many seem to just gobble up.

In fact, in previous weeks I’ve been getting a lot of Facebook advertisements inviting me to “like” Franklin Graham. On the advertisement it reads: “Praying that our president will wake up to the true threat of Islam.”

Instead of “fear not” as scripture commands, we’ve become gluttons for anything that plays into the Christian fear of Muslims. Like sex, “it sells.”

But here’s the danger of playing into the narrative by never missing an opportunity to water the seed of anti-Islamic fear: it is feeding a type of fear that is causing Christians to become terrorists.

Robert Doggart was probably once upon a time a decent guy- he’s probably nice to his kids, and kind to his dog. But, he clearly fed on the fear narrative too long, and this led someone from the tribe of Jesus to actually plan a violent attack on fellow Americans who were no threat to him- or anyone else.

I fear the oxymoron of a “Christian terrorist” is one that we may potentially hear more and more often, as we combine our diet of fear against Muslims with the American love of blowing crap up.

However, this is a tragedy in waiting that can be mitigated to some degree: it will simply require more and more of us to stand up and lovingly rebuke those within the Christian tribe who water the seed of terrorism.


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  • Slurpasaurus

    Who knows, maybe its possible to criticize Islam and express concern for Islamic extremism WITHOUT resorting to violence. Plenty of people do it every day.

  • I doubt that my facebook behavior will cause problems.

    That’s because I have never joined facebook. But maybe my lack of any facebook behavior could cause problems.

  • Jason

    I think we can do with less criticism of Islam (we are saturated with it) and MORE criticism of Christian extremism like this post is doing.

  • ActiveChristianMedia

    The problem is that this isn’t Christian extremism he’s referring to. He’s referring to someone who is clearly as “Christian” as the Westboro Baptist Church is. Real Christians are nothing like this, and he knows this, and is just using this insane person’s actions to vilify anyone who says they are a Christian.

  • And your logical fallacy is the “no true Scotsman” fallacy: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/no-true-scotsman

  • Terry Firma

    Ah, the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Of course!

    Christians are quick to kick people out of their tribe, to say fundamentalists are not “true Christians,” instead of admitting that some members of their group behave criminally. You just redefine the group so it excludes the undesirables. So lame.

    The irony is that you (and I) don’t buy it, or remain suspicious, if the shoe is on the other foot. In other words, when Muslims say of terrorist atrocities that the terrorists aren’t “real Muslims,” we know that that’s not true. The killers most definitely are followers of Allah; they’re just of a different stripe than the peaceful ones.

    The Reverend Doggart is a Christian. No different from Catholic child diddlers, and faith-healing parents who let their children die rather than get them medical attention, and other immoral criminals who cloak themselves in Christiness.

    Kudos to Ben for not going easy on the double standard that Christians love to trot out in cases like these.

    Asswipes like Doggart — and there are multitudes of such pious murderers, rapists, thieves, and so on —are part and parcel of your tribe. Deal with it. Own it.

    See also http://moralcompassblog.com/category/christianity/

  • Janathan Grace

    I appreciate two important points in the article: We have prejudicial treatment of Muslims (Christian terrorists don’t make the headlines) and fear generates violence. On the other hand, the huge jump from facebook Muslim trolling to terrorist activity is an unrealistic warning (and perhaps, for the sake of clicks, encourages the fear it is trying to allay). A far more realistic connection is the Muslim fear-mongering resulting in our pushing for U.S. military action against Muslims.

  • Terry Firma

    I have an incomplete list of Muslim terrorist deeds here, just something I compiled off the top of my head:

    http://moralcompassblog.com/2013/04/20/are-muslims-being-treated-with-suspicion-probably-unfairly-so-probably-not/

    I’ll acknowledge Christian terrorism, of course — Breivik, McVeigh, Rudolph. But there’s no way that you can find sizeable support among Christians for these men’s acts (or even for the odious non-violence of the Westboro Baptist Church).

    The volume of Islamic terrorism is many orders of magnitude larger than anything that Christians have inflicted on the world in the past 50 years, and so is the level of support for terrorism and death among the world’s Muslims, as we learned from various polls, most revealingly those by Pew.

    The reality is that Islam, a faith built on the travails of a medieval warlord and known child rapist, gives us reason to oppose it — or at least reject it — on principle; but the sympathies of hundreds of millions of Muslims, who have a provable hard-on for violence, makes this rejection imperative. Islam needs a reformation from within, just as the Enlightenment forced violent Christianity to stand down and reform. There’s no point in pretending that huge swaths of Muslims are not dedicated to spreading their religion and/or their morality by hook or by crook. Opposing them is neither Islamophobic nor evidence of “fear.”

    P.S. None of this excuses in the least the words and intended deeds of the Right Reverend Robert Doggart, a certified sh*thead if there ever was one.

  • Jason

    Ah, beat me to it.
    “Christiness”!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Yes!

  • natsera

    I think a more accurate term would be PERCEIVED fear. Because, as you rightly point out, fear does motivate terrorism, but the fear isn’t justified by the facts.

    Then there is the issue of PERCEIVED injustice. Right now there is a big fooforaw in the UK, because Muslims want separate seating for men and women at university-sponsored speeches, citing their right to freedom of religion, but English women feel that it would be state-sponsored discrimination, or apartheid. And both sides are passionate about it, and both think they’re right.

    So what I’m getting at is that we need to be able to see both sides of any story, and look at the facts and make our decisions accordingly. To determine whose rights shall prevail over others. Not all perceptions are really true, and we need, as a society, to have the ability to correct false perception.

  • otrotierra

    Thank you Benjamin. Groups like ISIS have much to learn from one of the most successful terrorists, evangelical George W. Bush and his “Shock & Awe” terrorist strategy over Bagdad in March 2003.

    For Franklin Graham and his war-mongering followers, more war is always the answer. War always solves the problem. That’s why today there’s no more war. Oh, wait…

  • Pew research shows Muslim opposition to violence increasing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_attitudes_towards_terrorism#Polls

    Also, have you looked at the polls on Christian support of violence toward other countries and religions, lately?

  • wkdkween

    I don’t condone what this person wanted to do, but the right wing lists Muslim terrorist training camps in the US. One of them is supposedly near Hancock, NY.Not sure if this is true, but many conservative news sources report it.

  • Ben Alexander

    Just want to point out something out: the Christian National Church doesn’t appear to really have much of a real existence, and the first thing that shows up when you try to find more about it is an ad for becoming an ordained minister online.

    It doesn’t really change the point of this article or the messed up reality, but this guy isn’t really an ordained minister, and having run for Congress in the past in no way disqualifies someone from being a fringe nutjob.

  • Terry Firma

    Nothing at that link suggests that “Muslim opposition to violence is increasing.” It is precisely that 2013 Pew poll that reveals that hundreds of millions of Muslims sign off on unconscionable violence, from the death penalty for gay people and apostates to support for terrorism. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-preface/

  • Slurpasaurus

    George Bush was a terrorist? Um…no. Here’s the thing, what defines terrorists is that they deliberately (key word) use violence against non-military targets to achieve an ideological/political goal.
    You want to call George Bush a warmonger, incompetent, bloodthirsty? Fair enough. But calling him a terrorist is just ridiculous.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Your last line doesn’t really hold water. The thing is, when the US military has been pushed into action against Muslims over the past decade or so, its been fighting muslims while allied with other muslims. Don’t forget, the US government has an alliance (albeit a sometimes tenuous one) with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Kuwait.

  • Slurpasaurus

    If you don’t think there’s enough criticism of Christianity out there, you and I must be reading VERY different news sources.

    But anyway, I don’t think there’s a need to overcomplicate the issue. Why don’t we criticize both Christian AND Islamic extremism and be done with it?

  • Don Lowery

    When I lived in Twin Falls, ID several years ago (which has a sizable Muslim presence from the Serbian-Bosnian War in the 90’s when groups were relocated there)…it was a Muslim family who showed me Matthew 25:31-46 where “when did we see you in need” put into action. Can’t count the times I was welcomed into their homes for a meal or help them with their computers. Even bought a used car from them I still own.

    On the other hand…I’ve dealt with “christians” who were more than willing to take my last penny and throw me out into the cold. For instance…a youth minister who worked at his families car lot who tried to steal hundreds of dollars from me. Personally…any business who claims to be “christian” means to me to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction. Not all believers are like that…but when I’ve met too many “christians” who are…while every Muslim I have met isn’t…which do you think I want to deal with and go out of my way to point others to?

  • Don Lowery

    You are right about calling George Bush a warmonger, incompetent, bloodthirsty? On the other hand…if you clarified the terrorist statement to say this: probably the biggest enabler of terrorism by being a warmonger, incompetent, bloodthirsty…that would be more correct.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    natsera, hi. this is way waaaaay off topic (& inane!) but when i first saw your name my dyslexic brain rearranged the letters. for me it read it NASTeria. Imagine she was morticia’s sister of the addam’s family…(•=

  • Timothy Weston

    It is ironic that the most Christ-like people are emulating Him without following Him.

  • I met a lovely Muslim man who was a porter in a hospital in London, UK. The reason I mention this is because I was especially touched when he recognised the faith of my wife and myself, in that he said, with considerable emotion, ‘God….God is with you!’ Yes! Yes, He is….but my point being that not all Muslims are anti-Christian; they can of course recognise and respect our faith in the same way that we recognise and respect theirs. I feel dreadful even using the words ‘they’ and ‘ours’; we are all humans and should be part of the same team! But that event touched my heart at a deep level; I will never forget it.

  • Except that the percentage of Muslims who said it was never justified is higher in 2013 than 2007, and the percentage who said it is sometimes justified is lower? Look again.

    By contrast, the link you posted has no statistics in it whatsoever, and the link it contains to the 2012 has no statistics in it about violence or gay people or anything like that, but it -does- show an increase in the acceptance of Shia by the Sunni.

    If you want to establish that Christians are meaningfully less violent than Muslims, I probably wouldn’t adopt “treatment of gay people” as the index if I were you.

  • gimpi1

    Expressing concern for extremism – right with you. However, extremism is a condition that often feeds on mistrust and fear. By criticizing Islam (rather than extremist manifestations of it) you strengthen that mistrust and fear. Also, if you are interested in criticizing Islam as a religion, are you willing to listen to criticism of Christianity? How do you respond when someone criticizes your views as a Christian on controversial issues?

  • gimpi1

    One of the privileges of majority is being judged as an individual as opposed to lumped into a group and being tarred with the actions of the least savory members of the group. In general, you won’t see people assuming conservative Christians are dangerous potential terrorists because of the actions of a very few conservative Christians. It’s important to remember that we all are individuals, and not to judge each other – conservative Christians, black men, observant Jews, members of Islam – as individuals, accountable for our own actions, but not responsible for people we happen to look like or share a few points in common with.

    I want to be judged as an individual. Therefore, logically, I must judge others as individuals. Anything else is both hypocritical and stupid.

  • gimpi1

    Do you have any reputable sites that report this? I’m only seeing it on sites that also claimed things like the President was born in Kenya or that the U.S. military is about to invade Texas.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Not quite. Al Qaeda has been around since long before the Bush Administration, and when Bush was leaving office Iraq had been more or less pacified.

  • gimpi1

    OK, I went and looked. Here’s how local law-enforcement responds to those rumors spread by conservative news sources:

    “It’s kind of perplexing to us,” local Police Chief Craig Dumont said on New York’s AM 970. “All this recent media attention in regard to potential terrorist training camps and things that are going on there. We don’t see it. We just don’t find any of that to be valid … There are no active threats that we are aware of at this time.”

    I personally would: A) Seriously question the validity of the “news” sources that are reporting this, and: B) Take these reports as just the kind of deceitful tear-mongering that Ben is warning about.
    (Edited for code on link.)

  • Matthew

    I tend to agree with you on this one Terry Firma. That said, whenever I have tried to wrap my head around what Muslims really believe — or how to understand what true Islam is, I find myself running in circles. Religion of peace? Extreme adherents only motivated by fear rather than a conservative religious interpretation and a lust for power? I´ll have to do more research I guess.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Trust me, as someone who has been through a very liberal high school, a very liberal university, and who has several Democrats in his family, I’ve listened to plenty of criticism of Christianity. lol
    But anyway, personally I’m always up for hearing criticism of Christianity. I like a good debate. If someone wants to pick a dialectical fight, cool. But I intend to fight back.

  • Slurpasaurus

    All “training camp” rumors aside, you are aware that not one month ago two pro-ISIS Islamic terrorists tried to shoot up Pamella Gellar’s art show in Texas right?

    I’m not saying we need to panic and start seeing terrorists under ever rock. But its obvious that there ARE terrorists here on US soil, and the threat ought to be taken seriously.

  • gimpi1

    Fair enough.

    (Although, you do that being liberal and being Christian aren’t mutually exclusive, don’t you?)

  • Trilemma

    The fear mongering going on now feels similar to the fear mongering that went on in the early 90’s with the gay agenda, except now it’s the Muslim agenda. Much of the conflict with the Muslim world seems to be more about political power than religion. For example, Osama Bin Ladin was fighting American imperialism rather than Christianity. If Christians keep trying to make it a religious war, they might yet just get a religious war.

  • RandyBarge

    I think you were correct the first time. The administration knew that thousands of innocent civilians would be killed as a result of the war. And because the war was initiated under false pretenses even the military targets were unjustified. The object of the war was to terrify and intimidate all those nations in the region that might defy our will. It was terrorism pure and simple.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Yeah, I don’t think being liberal automatically disqualifies you from being Christian. However, Democrats, and said liberal Christians, would tend to oppose conservative Christians. That’s what I was implying.

  • Slurpasaurus

    “The administration knew that thousands of innocent civilians would be killed as a result of the war.”

    No. Collateral damage is going to inevitably happen in war, but that doesn’t mean Bush deliberately set out to kill civilians. If fact, the US military did just about everything in its power to limit civilian casualties. Unless, you have some juicy, top secret proof that Bush deliberately targeted them.

    “And because the war was initiated under false pretenses even the military targets were unjustified”

    This is also wrong. US forces found mustard gas shells in Iraq. So in fact, there were WMDs in Iraq. (I’ve never understood why this would be so shocking to anyone, Saddam Hussein had been documented using WMDs before to massacre Kurdish villages). And besides, is there something wrong with deposing a brutal dictator, or going after Al Queda-in-Iraq?

    “The object of the war was to terrify and intimidate all those nations in the region that might defy our will”

    No. The US was already allied with most of the nations in the region. The only nations (other than Iraq itself) that were our enemies were Iran and Syria.

    “It was terrorism pure and simple.”
    I’ve already shown this to be fallacious. However, I do find it rather curious that you seem to be more concerned about George Bush’s supposed evil ways than about Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda’s evil. I think your moral compass needs a tune-up.

  • gimpi1

    Yes, I was aware of that. And,yes, it should be taken seriously, wherever it exists. Unfounded rumors like the one the poster cited make that harder, diverting resources from real threats and they also jinn up the fear-factor, potentially creating threats where they did not previously exist. The terrorist wanna-be Ben discussed in this post may be an example of that.

  • Slurpasaurus

    “For example, Osama Bin Ladin was fighting American imperialism”

    America is an empire now? Dang, I missed the memo. Tell me, what new colonies do we have?

  • Slurpasaurus

    Agreed, unfounded rumors do divert resources from combating the real thing.
    However, I don’t think those by themselves are going to cause Christian terrorism. People as wacked out as Doggart are going to do what they’re going to do, since they’re not rational to begin with.

  • Trilemma

    The definition of imperialism from

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imperialism

    : a policy or practice by which a country increases its power by gaining control over other areas of the world

    : the effect that a powerful country or group of countries has in
    changing or influencing the way people live in other, poorer countries

    Colonization is so old fashioned.

  • RandyBarge

    “The volume of Islamic terrorism is many orders of magnitude larger than anything that Christians have inflicted on the world in the past 50 years…”

    That is because we have so circumscribed the definition of terrorism as to render it synonymous with the actions of the relatively weak. Terrorism is simply the employment of violence or the threat of violence to intimidate and terrify others. When the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, who identifies himself as a Christian, engages in a policy of “shock and awe” that results in tens of thousands of deaths, it is terrorism.

  • Slurpasaurus

    America does not have direct control over any other nation. America does have a lot of influence on the world stage to be sure, but that hardly makes it “imperial”.

    Furthermore, lets say for the sake of argument that America does engage in imperialism by influencing other countries. Why are we assuming that is an inherently bad thing? Maybe certain things should be influenced.

  • gimpi1

    Yeah, it’s hard to tell, though I think the sort of mindless demonization of a group drives some of this. It ramps up fear – which feeds the fire, and it gives people who are already a bubble off plumb both validation of their paranoia and a target for it. Neither are helpful.

    I saw it in the 1990’s, with the Militia movement.

  • Slurpasaurus

    “That is because we have so circumscribed the definition of terrorism as to render it synonymous with the actions of the relatively weak”

    No we haven’t. I’ll say it again, the definition of terrorism (used by the US DOD for what its worth) is: deliberate use of violence against non-military targets to achieve an ideological or political goal. It has nothing to do with whether or not the person doing the action is weak, its about the tactics used.

  • Trilemma

    Groups like ISIS view the government of Iraq as a puppet under the direct control of America. When influence includes military invasion and occupation, I think it becomes a bad thing.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Not quite. ISIS did not start taking over in Iraq (or Syria) until after US forces left the country. ISIS has been slaughtering everything in their path that opposes them: Christians, Yazidis, and other Iraqi muslims. They’re hellbent on setting up a Caliphate, America or no America.
    “When influence includes military invasion and occupation, I think it becomes a bad thing.”
    Maybe or maybe not. That would all depend on the reasons for, and results of said occupation.

  • RandyBarge

    No, it is not fallacious. You have simply employed a definition of terrorism to justify one form of violence over another, namely, the violence that we commit.

    There were no WMDs found in Iraq. The UN inspectors had noted that. It was simply a pretense and a means to induce fear in the mind of the American public for the justification of violence. That’s why the pretense changed from WMD to fostering democracy.

    The war was simply an attempt to remake the middle east by pacifying Iraq and intimidating Iran through the employment of the methods of “shock and awe”: Terrorism.

  • Trilemma

    Of course ISIS would wait until US forces left to start taking over Iraq. ISIS is killing Iraqi Muslims because ISIS views these Muslims as being part of the puppet government that US forces left behind. Besides political power, they also want to promote their version of Islam, so it’s not a single issue conflict. ISIS is a direct result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

  • Martha Deacon

    The pop ups adds make this article impossible to read. Webmasters should take note.

  • RandyBarge

    My point is that the DOD’s definition of terrorism is one that is self serving. It conveniently excludes those forms of violence and terror that we are most likely to engage in. Militarily strong nations use violence (terror) or the threat of violence all the time particularly against weaker people who lack military parity. Those weaker people often respond not by going after hardened military targets. They can’t. But by going after more vulnerable targets.

  • J. Inglis

    But they are home grown terrorists and not tied to or controlled by Isis. They are merely sympathizers. Further prosecution of the wars in the mid-east ironically only make the problem of homegrown terrorists worse.

  • kirtking

    Accepted to Harvard at 16, PhD from University of Michigan, professor at Cal Berkeley. Ted Kaczynski. Doggart’s credentials are irrelevant, he is a fringe nutjob and you are ginning up fear of “Christian terrorists.” Hey, if it is is good for Americans to call for moderate Muslims to denounce their alleged fringe nutjobs, it is fine for them and you to call for moderate Christians to do the same to theirs.

  • kirtking

    A declining one, but let’s try Puerto Rico as one. They are “Americans” by fiat, but are clearly never going to be a state.

  • kirtking

    So if I adhere to a particular ideology (say “Nazism” as the old favorite), it is illogical to make a judgment of that individual based on their adherence? Religion is merely another ideology.

  • kirtking

    Is your point that Muslims are somehow morally superior to Christians, based on your experience? I have had Muslim men accost my daughter in the apartment complex pool because their one piece swimsuit was immodest and that they should get out until their sons finish their swim. Others have been jailed for DV and the same sets of crimes that non-Arab, non-Muslims commit. I have also had Muslim neighbors that I played baseball with daily and whose parents were some of the nicest people I have met. My point is Muslim or Christian or Jew, there are good and bad. I am glad your experience with Muslims has been universally good.

  • kirtking

    How did the UK dispute work out? It seems apparent that in the US, when there is a “tie” in competing rights, the most minority of the two will win. How else do you explain canceling The Vagina Monologues for its offense to “women who do not have vaginas?”

  • kirtking

    You are as guilty as “us” in defining terrorism to fit your agenda. But the classic definition of terrorism includes that it IS the strategy of the relatively weak against a stronger opponent, because they cannot win a traditional “military only” campaign. They use terrorism to de-legitimize the existing governmental structures, so that people lose confidence and stop supporting them. The terrorists can then step into the void of leadership.

  • kirtking

    Just like we still call Public School employees who diddle children “teachers,” same as the ones who inspire kids to become engineers and doctors.

  • gimpi1

    Well, do you really mean to compare Islam, in all its many denominations and manifestations with Nazism? That’s my point, actually. There are many different kinds of Moslems. There are many different kinds of Christians. You wouldn’t assume that, because you don’t care for Independent Fundamentalist Baptists that Roman Catholics or Methodists are the same, would you? Be

  • mamadillo

    “I’ll acknowledge Christian terrorism, of course — Breivik, McVeigh,
    Rudolph. But there’s no way that you can find sizeable support among
    Christians for these men’s acts (or even for the odious non-violence of
    the Westboro Baptist Church).”

    As well as Griffin, Hill, Salvi, Kopp, Roeder, and Zevallos, all of whom were convicted of murder in the late 90’s or early 00’s.

  • Pennybird

    “many conservative news sources report it.”

    Certainly you’d want some independent verification for such an incendiary assertion. This goes for liberal news sites as well. If the allegation is mentioned no where else, take it with a grain of salt. Always.

  • RandyBarge

    The classic definition of terrorism is just as I stated it above. It is the employment of violence or the threat of violence to intimidate and terrify others. That’s the dictionary definition. That definition includes the stratagems of the relatively weak who employ violence against soft and vulnerable targets to achieve their objectives. It also includes the stratagems of the powerful who use violence and the threat of violence to achieve their political aims.

  • Jeffrey

    Well, technically ISIS is the direct result of Saudi-funded Wahabbist theology that’s been championed and exported throughout the region for decades.
    It was given the perfect scenario to implement it’s brutal fundamentalism by the the US invasion and occupation (and its aftermath), but the kind of apocalyptic Islam that ISIS embraces has been a cultural bomb waiting to explode since the siege of the Kaaba in Mecca in the late 70’s.
    Invasion or no invasion, they’d still be out there causing havoc and destruction; they can simply cause a lot more of it now thanks to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.

  • Trilemma

    My comment is based on this news story which says that ISIS was born in the US run prison camp Bucca in Iraq.

    http://www.ibtimes.co.in/isis-was-formed-us-prison-camp-iraq-says-leader-cia-letter-reveals-iraq-war-was-based-faulty-616925

  • Slurpasaurus

    No, I’m using the accepted DOD terrorism definition that this country has always used. Words mean things. Your statement seems to imply that the US and Al-Qaeda are morally equivalent, but if you look at the difference in how the two operate its obvious that that’s complete nonsense.

    “There were no WMDs found in Iraq. The UN inspectors had noted that.”

    Note, the UN inspected Iraq before the invasion.

    Check it out:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jan/11/Iraq

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/17/international/middleeast/17CND-SARI.html

    And for a brief history lesson showing Saddam was more than capable of using chemical weapons:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack#Trials_of_Saddam_and_.27Chemical_Ali.27

  • Slurpasaurus

    “My point is that the DOD’s definition of terrorism is one that is self serving. It conveniently excludes those forms of violence and terror that we are most likely to engage in.”

    In other words, it excludes violence against military targets, which is what we go after.

    “Those weaker people often respond not by going after hardened military targets. They can’t”

    You are wrong. Al-Qaeda and friends engaged the US military all the time. I’ve got some Iraq War veteran friends that will attest to as much.

    Look, you can try to the make a moral equivalence between the US and Al-Qaeda, but as I’ve shown it just doesn’t work. The two operate completely differently. The only way your posts make any sense, logically speaking, is if you believe that all violence period is wrong. Which, if you do believe that, fair enough, at least you would be consistent. But you should be more forthright about your views

  • Slurpasaurus

    “They are ‘Americans’ by fiat.”

    They are Americans because the island was seized from Spain during the Spanish-American War, and they were granted US citizenship by Congress in 1917.

    Will they ever be a state? Don’t know. Puerto Rico has voted against statehood 3 times, and then finally supported it in just 2012. Its too soon to tell.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/10/economist-explains-15

  • We only go after military targets? Baloney. We practice something called “double tap” which is where we drop a bomb, wait for the first responders to pull up, and then drop a second to kill them all. You also should also check the stats on the number of civilians killed per terrorist in every drone strike.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Actually, the group has been around since 1999, before the war even started. They were led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who merged his group with Al-Qaeda in 2004, when the group became “Al Qaeda in Iraq”. The named finally changed to ISIS in 2006.

    And like I said, ISIS did not start taking over until the US withdrawal. Iraq had been mostly pacified when Bush left office. It wasn’t until after that Iraq started falling apart.

  • Trilemma

    I think the birth of ISIS happened when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi merged his group with Al-Qaeda in 2004. But that’s based on the assumption that the ideology of ISIS is a mixture of ideologies from both groups.

  • Agni Ashwin

    “they also jinn up the fear-factor”.

    Perhaps “jinn” is not the word you want to use here — for a couple of reasons.

  • Brandon Roberts

    this guy lost his mind and yes christians can become terrorists but so can anybody else that’s too devoted to their cause and has lost their minds

  • gimpi1

    Ooh, well-spotted. Oops.

  • RandyBarge

    You have shown nothing except an adeptness to spin around in self serving definitions of terrorism. The fact is that human beings use violence and terror in an attempt to further their political and economic objectives. Powerful nations do it and people who are relatively weak do the same. It is not about moral equivalency. It is about looking deep inside of ourselves and seeing in ourselves the same propensities that we ascribe to our enemies. I think the way that Jesus put it was to take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s. To define terrorism in such a way so that it only relates to the stratagems of the weak is not only self serving, it is arrogant and pharisaic.

    For the record, I don’t believe that all violence is wrong. I simply don’t believe that every time the most powerful nation in the world employs violence that it is always right despite whatever high minded justifications are used. We often use our immense military might to threaten, cajole and invade other countries to achieve our political aims. In other words, we engage in terrorism.

  • But, but Christians can do what Ann VosKamp did and visit Iraq, take some amazing pictures of women and children, and challenge the rest of us to defy ISIS by donating money to help the children go back to school and help the moms start businesses. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/05/how-you-all-crushed-it-waged-love-defied-isis-and-livestream-from-iraq/

  • I like that last sentence: “it will simply require more and more of us to stand up and lovingly rebuke those within the Christian tribe who water the seed of terrorism.”

    But I wonder about that word “rebuke.” The members of “the Christian tribe” are emotional beings and respond to stimuli, just like anyone else. Rebuking them for such responses seems a bit odd.

    Have we done enough work related to who and what is making Christians (and everyone else) afraid? To take but one of many examples, do you ever ask yourself why mainstream media in the West give so much attention to ISIS atrocities? And why they give no attention whatsoever to the fact that ISIS would not exist today without the material support of US allies and the logistical and technical back-up of the USA?

    The New Testament can help us. When I read Paul, I see a consistent (though careful) debunking of the empire’s peace-and-security propaganda. Let’s do the same. It will help a lot more than rebuking people for feeling afraid.

  • Slurpasaurus

    This “double tap” strategy you mention makes perfect sense. Anyone (including supposed civilians) mixing with and aiding said military targets become fair game as well.

    Yeah, I’ve seen those stats you mentioned. The thing is, collateral damage is going to happen inevitably. The logical course of action, steering between indiscriminate killing and letting terrorists run rampant, is pinpointing the legitimate targets as accurately as possible to minimize said collateral damage as much as we can.

    Unfortunately, that’s the worst part about fighting terrorist organizations. They don’t have any qualms about hiding among civilian populations and using them as shields.

  • spiritubrianus

    I have long said that when and if marriage equality is legalized in all 50 states, there may be some extreme fundamentalist Christians who will seek to commit terrorist incidents against gay people. Many of these individuals have such a rigid and self righteous world view that they could become unhinged and violent. Their position has already been severely undermined because of its total lack of rationality and even common sense. And the advent of this new marriage paradigm has happened so rapidly that I think there may be many who cannot deal with it.

  • Slurpasaurus

    To be fair, I could turn that “spinning” accusation against you. What makes my definition self-serving to my cause, and yours not to your cause?

    Think about this, you implied that you think violence and war are justified in certain circumstances. That means, you think that there is such a thing as legitimate military action that is NOT terrorism.

    “I simply don’t believe that every time the most powerful nation in the world employs violence that it is always right despite whatever high minded justifications are used”

    I agree, it would not always be automatically right. It would depend on the reasons for said employment of violence.

    “We often use our immense military might to threaten, cajole and invade other countries to achieve our political aims. In other words, we engage in terrorism.”

    Interesting. What I’m starting to gather from your posts, is that you think of “terrorism” as simply being unjustified use of force/military action. Well, if you oppose the Iraq War, that’s all good and well. But should be more careful with the definitions and labels you use while arguing so, because muddling them doesn’t help anything.

  • Slurpasaurus

    Maybe. But to be fair there have been incidents of violence against traditional marriage supports by SSM extremists. Extremism goes both ways.

  • RandyBarge

    “What makes my definition self serving to my cause, and yours not to your cause?”

    My definition is the standard definition of terror. You said earlier that words matter. Indeed they do. Whenever I have a question about meaning, I don’t consult the handbook of a bureaucratic agency, I consult a dictionary. This is Webster’s definition: n. Systematic use of violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve an end. In other words, terrorism is the employment of terror, regardless of who employs it. Perhaps you will accuse Webster too of moral equivalency for offering no exclusion for “military targets.”

    “…you think there is such a thing as legitimate military action that is NOT terrorism.”

    Nope, I think that all violence and military action entails a measure of terror. Perhaps there are times when it may be justified. But I suspect that in many instances, probably most instances, it is not. The Iraq war is a case in point.

    “…you think of “terrorism” as simply being unjustified use of force/military action.”

    Nope, see above.

  • Widge Widge

    They are morally equivalent they both kill. There is more death and destruction there now Saddam is gone all thanks to Bush and Blair war criminals

  • ocrttol

    Marriage equality has been attained in 37 states and the District of Columbia. No outbreak of violence yet. See http://www.religioustolerance.org/dates-same-sex-marriages-became-available.htm

    There has been resistance in Alabama but this has not turned violent. If the U.S. Supreme Court adds 13 states and 5 territories to the list, there will be lots of screaming but I don’t think that there will be terrorist attacks. There will probably be an increase of gay bashing for a while, but that should settle down over time

  • RonnyTX

    Benjamin:
    There is an unchallenged fear in the Christian community, one that is being watered instead of weeded: the fear of Muslims. Sadly, we are not beyond becoming terrorists ourselves, and after many years of heavy consumption of anti-Muslim fear, I think we’re seeing that happening.

    Ronny:
    My question would be to fearful Christians,why are you fearful,when God is in control of all things?!

  • RonnyTX

    Benjamin:
    Instead of “fear not” as scripture commands, we’ve become gluttons for anything that plays into the Christian fear of Muslims. Like sex, “it sells.”

    Ronny:
    I remember one time online in a Christian group,where someone got upset at me and told me I should fear God. I wrote back to them and said,how and or why should I fear God,
    when God has proven to me,just how greatly God/Jesus Christ loves me? Never got a reply to that. And God loves the person who just so happens to be a Muslim and God/Jesus Christ loves those folks,just as much as God loves me. So I would ask again, how is it I am to hate folks,who God loved and who Jesus Christ went to the cross for?

  • Slurpasaurus

    Interesting, that you imply all violence is wrong by calling Bush and Blair war criminals. And yet…”There is more death and destruction there now Saddam is gone” yet you imply that it is ok to use the threat of violence to keep others in check.

  • Slurpasaurus

    I’m not sure what makes Websters more of an authority on terrorism than the DOD, but for the sake of argument lets go ahead and use that definition.

    If you think that all war making includes the use of violence, terror and intimidation, and is therefore terrorism, then that kind of makes our whole debate here pointless. Your logic goes like this: violence and intimidation are terrorism. The US uses violence and intimidation, therefore, the US employs terrorism. However, you also said that you don’t think all violence is necessarily wrong. Therefore, you don’t necessarily believe that all terrorism would be wrong, depending on the circumstances.

    So like I said, the real debate to he had would be whether or not the use of violence in the specific case of the Iraq War was justified.

  • Horseman Bree

    The Rest of the World sees the US as an Imperial force. You don’t see it because you live in a territory as large as Europe that you took by force from supposedly-less-than-human locals, including Puerto Rico.

    After all, the US is prepared to use military force to make things the way they think it should be, even if there is no valid reason (Allende in Chile, civil wars in Central America, “war on drugs” even when this doesn’t work, largest military force in the world, spending more money than everyone else combined, looking for enemies anywhere…). On top of that you have the Christians who want to make the US into a theocratic superstate/Imperial force to match the Romans, with blind support of Israel as a top-dressing (Guess which side Jesus is on in that case!). It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t wrong so often.

    But the rest of the world also sees that the power of the US is slipping. Every anti-science action by Congress or state governments, every racist explosion like Ferguson or Baltimore, every Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin having a shot at being President, every attack on a validly-elected President…all these lead to the impression that the US is becoming unstable and incapable of having the authority to act unilaterally against the rest of us. Without talking about the fact that the Chinese hold so much of your debt.

    Empires die, usually after 200-250 years or so. Yours is about 230 now, assuming 1784 as a starting date, so the final collapse is close.

  • Ben, I’ve posted a more substantive response as a blog entry (“Hyping Fear”) at bible-and-empire dot net.

  • Slurpasaurus

    “The Rest of the World sees the US as an Imperial force. You don’t see it because you live in a territory as large as Europe that you took by force….”

    Oh, and I’m sure you live in a country where nothing bad or violent has ever happened and there have never been any wars or conquests, ever, right?…..Get off your high horse.

    “On top of that you have the Christians who want to make the US into a theocratic superstate”

    Nonsense. Conservative Christians merely don’t think every mention of the word God needs to be shoved out of the public sphere. I challenge you to provide evidence that there’s a serious movement to create a “theocratic superstate”, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

    “with blind support of Israel as a top-dressing (Guess which side Jesus is on in that case!)”

    Are you going to tell me with a straight face that Jesus wouldn’t support Israel because they’re evil, but would totally support Palestinian suicide bombers and Hamas launching rockets into cities? You might want to rethink that one.

    ” every racist explosion like Ferguson or Baltimore”

    You mean every explosion of rioting and civil unrest? Well, actually I agree that’s not a good sign.

    “….every attack on a validly-elected President”

    Is there a reason that Obama should be immune from criticism or dissent? Hardly. He’s a president, not a king (despite what he wants everyone to think).

    “date, so the final collapse is close.”

    Its kind of hard for our “empire” to collapse, since we don’t have one. You are right though that our influence/power has taken a hit over the past 7 years. You can thank the Obama administrations feckless and incompetent leadership for that.

  • Victoria Cole

    Goodness gracious. Your attempt to portray a lone wolf and a nut as someone representing the emgergance of Christian terrorism. Is facile and silly. This guy is no more different than Craig Stephen Hicks, Justin Bourque or Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley. All angry deranged men who have a willingness to take their misery and anger out on others.

  • Hugh Vincelette

    I have no doubt that they are few and far between.On the other hand, the potential for violence and bloodshed against LGBT citizens is endemic.Beliefs have consequences , and one of the major consequences of the rhetoric of religious conservatives is the creation and maintenance of a negative and hate driven mindset.Christians I’ve encountered in life practice political Chjristianity , which is the 2000 year endeavor to circumvent the divine instruction to love your neighbor as yourself. From a personal perspective ; I do not believe for an instant that opposition to SSM has anything to do with nuptials. It’s simply a somewhat more palatable expression of bigotry.

  • And besides, is there something wrong with deposing a brutal dictator, or going after Al Queda-in-Iraq?

    I see this comment was made a month ago. If the comment was made a year ago, I guess that would kind of make sense. But one month ago, asking the question “What’s so bad about destroying the power structure that was keeping even worse extremists in check, leaving a vacuum to be filled by IS?” is the height of hubris. Unless you’re happy about the idea of US troops staying in Iraq literally forever to tell the people how to live.

  • I’ll admit…I was a little bit worried that a civil war was going to break out when Obama was elected for a second time. There was so much talk about how he wasn’t a legitimate president, how he was an extreme socialist, how he was ruining everything, how this was the last chance for America and Real, True Patriots needed to stand up and protect it…I wasn’t completely sure if the extremists were going to let it go.

  • $2452817