Part 2: Examples of religiously-motivated hatred,
conflict & violence by followers of Abrahamic religions
Verbal expressions of intolerance in Christianity:
While religiously motivated terrorist actions by Christians are relatively rare in the
West, verbal expressions of intolerance are far more widespread. Consider the
following pronouncements by American and Northern Irish church leaders,
politicians, and para-church organizations:
In 1980, Bailey Smith, then president of the largest Protestant
denomination in the U.S., the Southern Baptist Convention, made
national news by announcing that "God does not hear the prayers of a Jew."
At the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention,
Jerry Vines (pastor of a 25,000 member church in Jacksonville, Florida)
denounced Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile." He also
condemned religious diversity as a major problem in America.
|Even stronger statements have been made by the Reverend Dr. Ian Richard
Kyle Paisley, founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of
Ulster, leader of the Ulster Democratic Unionist party, and
Member of the British and European parliaments. Paisley has viewed Christianity
as being under siege by demonic forces embodied in Irish Catholics and
apostate Protestants. Using the anti-Catholic writings of such Protestant
figures as John Calvin, George Whitefield, and John Wesley,
1 Paisley has branded
Catholics as bearers of "satanic deception." He has been quoted as
denying that Roman Catholics were Christians, and stating that
they were subhuman. In addition to being a virulent anti-Catholic, Paisley
also campaigns against homosexuals.
Among the quotes attributed to him, are:
"I denounce you, Anti-Christ. I refuse you as Christ’s enemy and
Antichrist with all your false doctrines." This was addressed to
Pope John Paul II.
In 1958, Paisley denounced Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother
for "committing spiritual fornication and adultery with the
Antichrist." This followed their visit to Pope John XXIII.
Paisley called the Popes "black-coated bachelors from
Paisley, referring to Pope John XXIII in 1963 after the pope's
death, said: "This Romish man of sin is now in Hell."
Addressing Fr. Murphy in his magazine Revivalist, Paisley
said: "We know your [Catholic] church to be the mother of harlots and
the abomination on earth." Paisley has called the Catholic Church
the ‘Harlot of Babylon’.
In 1999, Representative Bob Barr attacked the religious
freedom of Wiccans on American army bases.
Wicca is a nature-based Neopagan religion.|
Also in 1999, a group of Fundamentalist Christian para-church groups
organized a boycott of army recruitment. Their
goal was to force the Army to terminate the religious
rights of Wiccan soldiers. It quickly fizzled out.
|A longing by a Fundamentalist TV teleminister to return to olden times when we
stoned religious minorities to death. The statement was followed with
prolonged applause by his congregation.
|A call by a Baptist minister in Texas for the U.S. army to exterminate
all Wiccans with napalm. |
Violent attacks by Christians:
Although most expressions of intolerance by Christians have been verbal,
there have been some instances of violence, including:
||The 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, by
Timothy McVeigh killed 168, including 19 children.
||One lynching, one attempted mass murder by stoning, and numerous
fire bombings, shootings, and assaults victimized Wiccans and other Neopagans
in the U.S. during the late 20th century. To our knowledge, all were
perpetrated by Fundamentalist Christians. Because of the increasing public awareness
of, and knowledge about, Wicca, the frequency of
these attacks has been reduced to near zero over the past 25 years.
||Fundamentalist Christians have attacked Jewish centers, attempted to poison municipal water supplies, bombed abortion clinics, and assassinated abortion provided in the U.S.
During 2011. Anders Behring Breivik, 32 -- a.k.a. Andrew Berwick -- conducted two related terrorist attacks in Norway that together resulted in 77 deaths, mostly of teenagers at a campgrounds.
Although described as a fundamentalist Christian by many commentators, he regarded himself as a generic Christian who hated Muslims, The motivation for the mass murders was retaliation against the governments of Norway and of other European countries that he felt were encouraging multiculturalism and the immigration of Muslims. More details
The members of the Christian organizations perpetrating these crimes seem to
be convinced that the forces of truth wage a perennial, cosmic battle with the
forces of falsehood, and that they face the challenge of protecting Christian
truth by any methods available. That they are allowing Jesus’ cross to become
Mithra's sword does not occur to them. There are far fewer attacks by Christian hate groups than by Muslim terrorists
apparently because the former organizations are less numerous, their individual agendas differ,
there is a lack of cooperation and coordination of their activities, etc.
North American Christian groups engaged in violent action often adopt the theology of at least two major fundamentalist organizations:
2 and the Christian Identity
The Recontructionist movement asserts that the coming reign of Jesus will
abolish democracy, the separation of church and state, abortion, religious
freedom, federal welfare
programs, tolerance of homosexuality, and many other features of modern society.|
|Christian Identity is based on racial supremacy and biblical law. It has provided the ideological support for many extremist American movements,
and for some America’s militias. Its ideas were
most likely part of the thinking of Timothy McVeigh. 3 The most distinctive
doctrine associated with Christian Identity is the belief in the Satanic origin
of the Jews. They interpret the serpent in the Garden of Eden story in Genesis
as the devil himself or one of his underlings. They believe that he had
intercourse with Eve. This generated a line of descent from the devil,
through Cain, the Edomites, and the Khazars, to contemporary Jews. Identity has
fused belief in a world-wide Jewish conspiracy with that of a cosmic satanic
conspiracy. 2 Jews are viewed
as sub-human demonic creatures who carry the
devil’s capacity to work evil. 1|
Christian Identity has been derived from a wayward nineteenth-century form of
biblical exegesis known as British Israelism. In the last decades of the
twentieth century the ideology of Christian Identity groups such as The
Covenant, Sword, Arm of the Lord, The Church of Israel, Aryan Nations,
Children of Yahweh, The Christian Defense League, and The Kingdom Identity
Ministries, blended into their distinctive amalgam of biblical,
historical, anti-Semitic, racist, and conspiratorial theories. The
ingredients of these theories were taken from survivalist movements, the Patriots' movement,
variants of white supremacism. 5 Two examples should be enough to provide a
taste of such thinking:
A brochure published by Aryan Nations included this statement in their creed
of faith: "We BELIEVE there is a battle being fought this day between the
children of darkness (today known as Jews) and the children of Light (God), the
Aryan race, the true Israel of the Bible." 1
One of the United States most notorious right wing terrorist groups of the
post-war era, the Order (otherwise known as the Silent Brotherhood, or Holy
Order of Aryan Warriors) brought together militant racists from Christian
Identity, a racist faction of the Odinists, and people of conventional neo-Nazi
Author Vladimir Tomek has written:
"A special chapter could be written about terrorism in Ulster: Between 1968 and
1998, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed an estimated 728 civilians (most of them Protestants – not
counted are military personnel and police)), compared with estimated 864
civilians (mostly Catholics) killed by loyalist paramilitaries. However,
the conflict between the IRA, which wants to unify
Ulster with the Republic of Ireland, and the three main Protestant
paramilitaries that want to stay loyal to the British Crown [the Ulster Defence
Association (UDA); the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF); and the Ulster Freedom
Fighters (UFF)], appears to be inspired more by political ideology than by
religious beliefs. Many Catholics feel like second-class citizens in Ulster, and
there is violence, harassment, intimidation, and abuse (not to mention revenge
killings), but, with the possible exception of Rev. Paisley, there seem to be
little religion in all of it. Nowadays, the terror groups are involved in
The IRA has since abandoned its terrorist activities.
||There are many additional examples of terrorism committed by religious people all over
||The assassination of Sri Lanka’s prime minister, S.W.R.D.
Bandranaike by a Buddhist monk.
||The bomb destroying an Air India Boeing 747
over the Atlantic, killing all 329 people abroad, for which both Sikh and
Kashmiri terrorists were blamed.
These attacks were probably motivated by political reasons and not by religion.
Bruce Hoffman, writing in a 1993 RAND paper, said:
"There are striking parallels between the white supremacists and the
religiously motivated Islamic Shi’a fanatics in the Middle East. Both groups
transform abstract political ideologies and objectives into a religious
imperative. Violence is not only sanctioned, it is divinely decreed. Hence, the
killing of persons described as 'infidels' by the Shi’a or as 'children of
Satan' by white supremacists becomes a sacramental act."
- Mark Juergensmeyer, "Terror in the Mind of God," University of California Press,
Anson Shupe, "The Reconstructionist Movement on the New Christian Right,"
Christian Century, 1989-OCT-04. Online at: http://www.religion-online.org/
Karen Armstrong, "The Battle for God," HarperCollins, (2001).
Michael Barkun, "Religion and the Racist Right," University of North Carolina
Brenda E. Brasher, Ed., "Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism," Routledge,
Bruce Hoffman, "Holy Terror: The Implications of Terrorism Motivated by
a Religious Imperative," RAND Paper P-7834, (1993).
Copyright © 2006
by Vladimir Tomek
Original publishing date: 2006-SEP-21
Latest update on: 2012-JAN-27
Author. Vladimir Tomek & B.A. Robinson