I recently made the controversial claim that I could have been a suicide bomber.
I claimed that my faith was so devout, and my ability for critical thought so crippled, that if someone had shown me an interpretation of Scripture that made it seem like God’s will, I would have killed for the faith. And I was depressed enough to kill myself, because fundamentalism doesn’t offer any real answers.
Of course, Christians will deny a Biblical basis for such actions is possible. But Islamic scholars claim such a reading of the Koran is equally unsustainable, yet suicide bombers exist, and only preposterously politically-correct liberal commentators deny that faith is a motivating factor. So today I’ll show that, in principle, there’s no reason why a Christian suicide bomber couldn’t arise. Here’s what their propaganda leaflets might look like:
Jesus has called us to bring the world to Him. But today, we have let the godless throw Him out. God is blasphemed on television every day. A holocaust of God’s children sees millions of babies murdered in abortion clinics across the world. Muslims, the followers of the devil, immigrate to our country every day and open Mosques in rejection of the One True Lord. They are accorded respect, while Christianity is marginalised and prayer to God in council meetings is banned. Homosexuals are accorded respect by the established church, when God told us they would not inherit his kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9). We see our God mocked and yet we stand by and do nothing. It is time to take action. Jesus told us this would be necessary:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 10:34-39, see also Luke 12:51-53
We have ignored God’s Word and become unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), allowing Godless men to run our country. We have become friends of the world, and God has removed His hand of protection.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
The results of this are plain to see. Our country has been hit by terrorist attacks and an economic recession as the blessing of God is taken from us. It is time to attack, just as God commanded His children to destroy the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amonites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:
And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.
We must not fail in this mission. God commands us to put to death blasphemers, those who ignore the Sabbath, homosexuals, psychics, and children who refuse to obey the LORD’s commands through their parents. Today, we let disobedient children run riot, when Jesus Himself told us disobedient children must die. And the LORD Jesus specifically told us we must keep the commands of the Law.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus tells the church at Thyatira that he has “a few things against” the church, because they it tolerates fornication. Let us not be like them, for Jesus tells us He will give us according to our works. We must fulfil the words of God’s prophetic book, and kill the fornicating children of Jezebel.
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
So brothers, let us unleash the promised vengeance of the LORD, knowing the glory of eternal life we will receive as God’s reward.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
What I Am Not Saying
I am not saying that this is a coherent reading of the Bible, or that this is what Christians believe. I am not pretending that a competent theologian (or just someone who’s read the Bible) could not thoroughly rebutt this argument.
What I Am Saying
1) Christians who cherry pick violent verses from the Koran as an attack on Muslims are being hypocritical.
2) If you claim, as fundamentalists do, that the Bible is 100% consistent, equally and in all parts the Word of God, and intended to be taken literally, there is no logical way around this argument.
3) Fundamentalism offers no bulwark against this kind of thing happening, because it disables the one weapon we have against it: logical reasoning.
4) Because fundamentalism teaches that all Scripture is equal, without error, and without contradiction, a credulous fundamentalist could fall for this. Someone making the argument above would have to explain away a few well-known verses about love (etc.), but this could be done by saying that those who have repeatedly rejected God do not deserve this love.
Is This Likely?
It’s not as unlikely as apologists want to think. Alice Miller has argued very strongly that authoritarian parenting and strict corporal punishment helped to form Adolf Hitler’s character. Professor David Berliner further argues that this parenting style is remarkably similar to that advocated by Christian fundamentalists in their books on child-rearing.
There is already evidence in America that fundamentalists see themselves as a persecuted minority. I often discuss with Adam Laats, who takes a much more generous attitude to the Christian Right than me, the way fundamentalist America views itself as marginalised. If they also suffer in an economic depression and view atheists or other religions as receiving preferential treatment (regardless of the accuracy of that perception), a fundamentalist Christian terrorist is not beyond the realms of imagination.
Arguably, instances of Christian terrorism are already occuring. The Army of God explicitly uses the Bible to support bombing abortion clinics and murdering abortionists at their website (warning: contains shocking images). Of course, evangelicals will distance themselves from this, saying these people “aren’t true Christians.” But that defence doesn’t work. If you insist that all Scripture is equally the Word of God, and that the Bible is 100% consistent, then you cannot logically denounce any argument supported by Bible verses. Furthermore, the reading of Scripture I’ve used above does not contradict any of the core tenets of conservative Christian faith.
As I already said, I was a devout, Bible-believing, conservative, fundamentalist Christian and I’m sure that, aged 14, if a charismatic youth leader had tried to persuade me of this, I could have gone for it. And it would have been the belief itself that motivated me primarily.
I am using this extreme example to make a more important point: If you truly believe something, you will act on it. Faith can make good people do evil things. This is why fundamentalism must be fought.
UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, this received a lot of counter-arguments. I respond to the main ones here.