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In the 20th and 21st century, pretty much everyone has adopted terrorism at some point.
Some conservatives say it doesn't exist
Therefore I'm not surprised that Sen. Ted Cruz recently brushed aside the existence of Christian terrorism by asserting that "there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror." This is his explanation for why his proposal to let in Christian refugees from Syria but no Muslims isn't bigoted but a sensible national security decision. His claim, however, is a big pile of cow manure.
I don't mean that Christians are more terrorist than anybody else. In the 20th and 21st century, pretty much everyone has employed terrorism at some point. Muslims, Christians, Jews, black militants, Puerto Rican separatists, white supremacists, radical leftists, eco-extremists, radical conservatives. It's been used by Cubans, Irish, Germans, Italians, Japanese and Americans. Terrorism is the go-to solution for people who can't see any other way to get what they want and refuse to live with not getting it.
Finding Christian terrorists
To find Christian terrorists, you don't have to look any further than Eric Rudolph, whose 1996 Olympics bombing killed one person and injured 100. He also bombed a gay nightclub and a women's health clinic, intentionally killing one guard at the latter (Rudolph admitted he detonated the bomb by remote control as the guard stood over it).
Or how about Stephen Jordi, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to plans to bomb an abortion clinic. A Christian who was "overzealous about the Lord," according to one family member, Jordi also (according to the feds) planned to bomb gay nightclubs as well as churches that weren't sufficiently anti-abortion.
Three Christians in Burleson, TX, also tried blowing up a church, believing Christianity had too many sects and denominations.
Christian anti-abortion murderers Scott Roeder and Paul Hill both killed abortion doctors, claiming God's will as justification.
Clayton Waagner, captured in 2002, mailed letters supposedly containing anthrax to hundreds of abortion clinics and abortion-rights groups. He said his only regret was that he hadn't actually killed an abortionist.
That's nowhere near all the terror acts coming from Christians. Nevertheless a lot of conservatives, like Cruz, prefer to deny this stuff exists. Whenever I've written a column on Christian or right-wing terrorism, I get outraged squeals that I'm cherry-picking isolated incidents; Christian terrorism just isn't a real threat, not like terrorism committed by the eeevil Muslims. The squeals aren't just directed at me, either: when Homeland Security brought up the dangers of right-wing terrorism a few years ago, they were hit with screams of horror at "right wing" and "terrorism" appearing in the same sentence.
I've occasionally been told that killing doctors who provide abortion is justifiable homicide, not terrorism. But even if I agreed that abortion was murder or that this justified killing doctors or guards, that still can't excuse the Olympic bombing or attacks on churches and gays. Yet despite all the evidence that Christian terrorism is indeed a thing, Fox News host Eric Bolling asserted earlier this year that the amount of religious violence attributable to Christianity is "zero."
Cruz asserted in his speech that "if there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation." But in addition to lone wolves, we've had several terrorist and terrorism-advocating Christian groups in the United States, including some incarnations of the KKK, the anti-abortion Army of God and the Phineas Priesthood. Apparently that doesn't change Cruz' assessment of national security after all.
The cynic in me suggests that the right-wingers who protest that Christian and conservative terrorism isn't real or at least not important, are covering their butts. Many 21st century conservatives have been enthusiastic supporters of having government spy on Americans, lock people up without trial and use torture to get information, all in the name of fighting terrorism. That stance works great if all the terrorists are Muslim, not so much if the feds start thinking "hmm, maybe along with spying on mosques we should spy on some churches too."
Then again, Christian-terrorism deniers may also be quite sincere. If you start from the presumptions that we're a "Christian nation" and that Muslims are the greatest threat America has ever faced -- even though both points are wrong -- then Christian terrorism presumably does look like a trivial matter. And under some extreme interpretations of Christianity, being a Christian nation means anyone who isn't Christian or the right sort of Christian is acting against our nation. Killing or threatening them for their unholy views is just maintaining public morality.
None of that excuse Cruz though. Denying Christianity's dark side to justify discrimination against Muslims does nobody any good. Well, except maybe the senator, when time comes to pick up some right-wing votes.
Fraser Sherman, : Having graduated college with a degree in biology, no interest in grad school, and no interest in a science career, Fraser Sherman decided he’d try writing. It turned out he liked it. And he was even reasonably good at it. Over the next couple of decades, he sold articles to Newsweek, The Writer, Dragon Magazine (yes he played D&D. Want to make something out of it?), Air & Space and more specialized markets such as Painting and Wallcovering and Gulf Coast Condo Owner. Because he wanted... (more...)