It’s a strange thing. When Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others referred to those killed by terrorist bombs in Sri Lanka as “Easter worshipers,” some people became more concerned with the words “Easter worshipers” than they are with the attack itself. They have shown themselves to be more interested in making a political attack against Obama and Clinton than showing sympathy to those who were killed. They act like the term “Easter worshiper” is not only strange, but intended as an insult, as a way to cross out the word Christian and to make people forget Christians are being attacked.
The thing is, the words were intended to reference that the attack was not just an ordinary attack but one done on Easter, affecting Christians at their Easter services (not all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day, and so not all Christians were having Easter worship services this week). In reality the word choice is appropriate, pointing out the attack was not just on Christians, but on the faith itself by trying to hijack the greatest Christian celebration and turn it into a day of tragedy and mourning.
This should be obvious. Why it isn’t is that some ideologues desperately want to cause undo division, to add sin upon sin, so that people cannot come together and work together for the common good. They not only try to read the worst out of the words of their ideological opponents, but they try to force that reading upon others for the sake of calumny. How rotten one must be that they must take a great tragedy and try to turn words of comfort and solace and use them to spread further seeds of hate.
The thing is, the phrase “Easter worshipers” is not new; it has a longstanding tradition, where people write about those who are going to church services on Easter. For example, in Leaves of Healing Volume 6 (1900), John Alexander Dowie wrote: “In hundreds and in thousands the Easter worshipers thronged the broad floors and high-terraced galleries of Central Zion Tabernacle, the second largest auditorium in the city of Chicago.” Likewise, Life Volume 67 number 1745 (1916), in its Easter Catechism, also uses the term “Easter worshiper,” saying that they are like eggs, “The Easter Worshiper, who like the Egg, is quite likely to be impure within, while smooth and beautiful without.” Sometimes, the term is used, like Christmas worshipers, to indicate those who come to church on that particular day but not many others, such as we find in the sermons of the Lutheran Susan Nagle, wherein she was talking about a new woman, Megan, and her family, saying “However, she had a sister who was about to move near her. Her sister was a Christmas and Easter worshiper. And she has purple hair, and multiple piercings and tattoos. I told the congregation ahead of time that she was coming to church, and that they were to welcome her, and not look askance.”
Though we might not be used to the term, it is one which has a long-standing use in the English language to reference those who go to church service on Easter. Often, it is used to indicate those who go only on Easter (and a few other days of the years), but even those who go regularly could be said to be an “Easter worshiper” on Easter Sunday if their focus and thought is on Easter and the joy of the resurrection. It can be used in a derogatory manner, when it is used solely for those who go irregularly to church services, but it does not have to be seen as such when it is used to emphasize worship which is being done on Easter itself. It is not said to erase the name of Christian (though, lest we forget, the name Christian itself was originally derogatory in nature; cf. Acts 11:26). It is not a “politically correct term” but rather, it is a term used to emphasize the nature of Easter itself.
Let us, then, come together, with those of good will, who seek to overcome the violence in the world. Let us give comfort to the victims and not use them as tools for culture wars. If we do that, we just revictimize them again.
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