By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation
“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
So, incredibly, claimed presidential wannabe U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, advocating Nov. 15 in South Carolina that only Syrian refugees who are Christian should be admitted to the U.S. — not Muslims.
Fellow contender Jeb Bush likewise told CNN on Sunday: “We should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees on the Christians that are being slaughtered.”
President Obama in his press conference from Turkey yesterday laudably called such a “religious test” for refugees “shameful.” Obama added what I hope most of us believe: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.” (Nor, notably, do we allow religious tests for public office, but try telling that to the Religious Right.)
How short Cruz’s memory is. He conveniently forgets Christian homegrown terrorist Timothy McVeigh (raised and confirmed Catholic, requesting a Catholic chaplain at his execution), who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1995, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more in America’s worst act of domestic terrorism. How could Cruz or anyone cognizant then ever forget the photos of the limp bodies of the babies who died in the building’s day care that day?
Cruz conveniently forgets Eric Robert Rudolph, a self-proclaimed leader of the “Army of God,” who bombed Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996, killing one and injuring 111, and also wounding five in a bombing of a lesbian bar.
Rudolph set off a nail-filled bomb in 1998, killing an off-duty police officer and grievously wounding Emily Lyons, a nurse at a women’s health clinic in Birmingham, Ala. Lyons, who accepted an award from FFRF in 2001, presciently warned us that nobody is safe from terrorism anymore.
Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011, trumpeted his Christian faith and fears of “Islamization” in various forums, but most explicitly in a manifesto he posted on the Internet. “At the age of 15 I chose to be baptized and confirmed in the Norwegian State Church,” Breivik wrote. “I consider myself to be 100 percent Christian.”
“That’s impossible,” said Fox host Bill O’Reilly. “Breivik is not a Christian. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the Net, but he is certainly not of that faith.” O’Reilly conveniently forgets this message of Jesus: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Never mind the historic Torquemadas, Savonarolas, Calvins, witch-hunting popes and pastors, inquisitors, crusaders and other terrorists in the name of Christianity. More recently, the Irish isle was riven by its “Troubles” between Catholics and Protestants.
Obama is right: The suggestion that we would only permit Christians to enter our secular nation is distastefully, hatefully un-American. But Obama has his blind spots, too. In February, after the first attacks directed at Charlie Hebdo magazine, Obama claimed that the religious terrorists have “perverted Islam.”
“No religion is responsible for terrorism; people are responsible for violence and terrorism,” he said, almost comically echoing the National Rifle Association’s famous denial line.
In the wake of Breivik’s massacre, Catholic blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote that “it is obvious that Christians can commit murder, assault, etc. They do so every day. Because, as Christian orthodoxy tells us, we are all sinners. To say that no Christian can ever commit murder is a sophist’s piffle. . . . Do the countless criminals who have gone to church or believe in Jesus immediately not count as Christians the minute they commit the crime? Of course not.”
In truth, religion instigates or excuses most terrorism and much of the world’s violence. Only when reason overcomes faith’s blind certainty will it lessen.
FFRF is a national nonprofit dedicated to keeping state and church separate and educating about nontheism. For more information and a copy of our paper, Freethought Today, please click here.