December 7, 2015

The myth of Christian terrorism

Now that we're going to be talking a lot about Islamic terrorism, you're going to hear the inevitable double-talk about how "We condemn all forms of terrorism -- be they Islamic, Mormon, Buddhist, or Amish."

I looked up the internet know-it-all's guide to talking points, Wikipedia, to know what to be prepared for when I hear about Christian terrorism. I expected to find a small list of bad acts, just to be aware of them and not be caught off-guard when they're brought up, while pointing out how much longer the list of Islamic terrorist atrocities is.

Shockingly -- or not -- I couldn't find a single incident of terrorism committed by Christians. It turns out that all of their examples are either not terrorism, or not committed by Christians. I don't mean that I'm disqualifying the perpetrators of being Christians ex post facto -- they committed this attack, so they could not have been true Christians -- I mean they showed no proof of being believing and practicing Christians beforehand.

We must bear in mind some key traits of terrorism. It is meant to harm people or things whom the attackers themselves believe to be innocent, but are in some way standing as representatives of something larger that the attackers hate. This is what gives terrorism its indiscriminate and mass-killing character, rather than focusing on a small number of guilty individuals. And it is meant to send a message, via public spectacle, to other members of that group, putting them in a state of fear for their safety, way of life, and so on.

For example, killing random workers at the World Trade Center on 9/11 -- none of the jihadists knew who they were at the individual level, let alone had beef with them specifically. They were just interchangeable "Americans" whose foreign policy Al-Qaeda wanted to change. The concert-goers in the Paris attacks were not chosen for having committed specific bad acts, but simply for belonging to a group whose way of life the terrorists wanted to change ("decadent Westerners," French imperialist foreign policy, etc.).

We must also bear in mind that being a Christian means you have certain key beliefs about the New Testament and Jesus Christ. Ranting about the Ten Commandments or Sodom and Gomorrah doesn't distinguish you as a Christian, although it would be compatible with being Christian. And it means you follow certain practices and attend religious services in a Christian way. Practice and ritual are as important, or perhaps more so, than mere beliefs when it comes to determining who belongs to a religious group. So, someone who reads the book of Revelation every night but never goes to church, doesn't confess their sins, doesn't repent, doesn't try to "go and sin no more," etc., is not a Christian.

With that in mind, let's run through Wikipedia's list of examples, none of which hold up.

The Gunpowder Plot. Not terrorism because it was part of factional violence leading up to open civil war in England. It did not target innocents or civilians, but the King and members of Parliament who were on the other side of a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

Pogroms. Not religiously motivated, but an ethnic clash between Jews as an ethnic group and Slavs. The motivation given was to free our ethnic group from a parasitic ethnic group, not to avenge a central figure from our religion who was killed or maligned by members of their religion.

Ku Klux Klan. Similar to pogroms. Not religiously motivated, rather an ethnic clash between founding-stock whites vs. blacks and some new immigrant groups. They used Christian symbolism (burning crosses), but did not hold Christian beliefs or follow Christian practices according to any mainstream or even not-so-mainstream tradition. Believing Jesus was the first Klansman, for instance. They were cosplay Christians.

Various conflicts in Africa and India. Sounds more like more local ethnic conflicts where one group decides to identify its side by appropriating Christian symbols and rhetoric, without being believing and practicing Christians. Or having the goal of ethnic cleansing, rather than creating a state of terror or panic in order to enact certain policy or lifestyle changes. Or being parties to civil war (see below).

Maronite Christians in the Lebanese Civil War. Politically motivated violence between two factions of a civil war. Terrorism assumes a certain level of central government control, and the terrorists are either sending a message to The Powers That Be, or they are telling other non-state groups that the central authorities cannot protect them as well as they had believed. That feeling of insecurity, fear, etc., is a break from normalcy.

In a civil war, though, no such central authority and security of groups and individuals is assumed. One side targets innocent civilians on the other -- of course, that's how it's always been in warfare. The experience is certainly terrifying, but it is not terrorism, which is a marked disruption of everyday order and stability -- not one of an endless number of everyday acts of indiscriminate violence during the anarchy of civil war.

Anti-abortion violence. Far and away the main focus of denunciations of Christian terrorism, especially in America. The many examples in this category can be ruled out due to the acts not being terrorist, and in a large fraction of the examples, the actors not being Christians.

First, killing an abortion-providing doctor is not indiscriminate and does not harm people and places whom the attackers believe to be innocent. Since in the attackers' mind, abortion is a form of murder, the motive is straightforward revenge for past murders, and prevention of future murders. You're free to disagree with where they set the beginning of life, that abortion is not murder, etc., but you can't say that their motive is anything other than punishment of past crimes and prevention of future crimes, as they see abortion as a crime.

And by going after the doctors themselves, they show a concern with reciprocity at the individual level -- provide abortion, become a target -- rather than going after "doctors" in general, most of whom have not performed an abortion, just to send a message to the profession about its participation in abortion. Someone shooting up a conference of the American Medical Association, say. But that assignment of collective guilt and indiscriminate targeting of individuals never happens with the anti-abortion attacks. Hell, they don't even try to attack proponents or propagandists for abortion rights -- only the doctors who perform them, and any collateral damage from that.

Their property destruction is likewise focused and based on reciprocity. They don't target hospitals in general, clinics in general, offices belonging to medical professional organizations, or the press organs of abortion rights groups -- or even general press outlets that wrote pro-choice editorials. It's only those specific sites where abortions are being performed. If they were true terrorists, they might even blow up something completely unrelated to abortion, like a subway or a marathon, in order to grab the attention of people who might not otherwise be thinking about abortion politics, or to suggest that any target is legitimate in the service of a just cause.

Furthermore, most of the attackers in these non-terrorist attacks are not Christian. Some follow the familiar pattern of appropriating Christian symbols or rhetoric, but are not believing and practicing Christians. Just ask what church they go to, and how often. Or what parts of the Bible motivate them -- probably something as simple as "Thou shalt not kill," which is part of the Old Testament and not distinctly Christian. Quoting Jesus or Paul would be more convincing of a Christian motivation.

A handful are actual Christians, usually it seems from the Catholic Church.

Aside from the cosplay Christians, though, the other major sub-group is the paranoid anarcho-libertarian type, linked more to an anti-government militia than to a Christian church, or indeed to any religious body. Being paranoid about just about any form of government, and thriving more Out West, it's clear that they're libertarian rather than conservative.

Their focus only on abortion rather than also on pornography, sodomy laws, gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc., also belies their libertarian moral foundation, which like its liberal cousin, is based on preventing harm and administering justice. Matters of purity, taboo, sanctity, and so on, do not play much of a role in their anger. They see abortion as the state-sanctioned harming of innocent people, not as a perversion, corruption, or abomination.

And of course the two main groups show some overlap, with paranoid anarcho-libertarian militia-men LARP-ing as Christian warriors (without actually having any beliefs about Christ, performing Christian rituals, or attending Christian services).

I'm not surprised that "Christian terrorism" turns out to be just another liberal urban legend, but I thought at least there would be a kernel of truth to it that was being hysterically exaggerated. Nope, just like there's no Buddhist terrorism, Mormon terrorism, Voodoo terrorism, or indeed anything other than Islamic terrorism. And perhaps Jewish terrorism -- most terrorism from Jews is part of an ethnic conflict and often committed by secular or atheist Jews, but there are incidents like the Ultra-Orthodox Israeli man who has gone on two separate stabbing sprees during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

In fact, think of how absent Christian terrorist boogey-men have been at gay pride parades in the West. Targeting abortion clinics is so Nineties. These days, it would be a pride parade. And yet where are the explosions? There is no anti-homo terrorism, let alone from a believing and practicing Christian group.

Christians did not spread their religion by violent conquest, but by persuasive evangelism. Early Christians were in no position to conquer the Roman Empire, who had already crucified their Messiah. Likewise Christian efforts to defeat the scourge of abortion, sodomite marriage, etc., take the form of changing hearts and minds.

The initial spread of Islam was by violent military conquest, so it shouldn't be surprising to find that their ideological battles will have a distinctly violent component to them.

28 comments:

  1. "The initial spread of Islam was by violent military conquest, so it shouldn't be surprising to find that their ideological battles will have a distinctly violent component to them."

    I always thought the same thing, and Samuel Huntington pointed out back in 1993 that "Islam has bloody borders", accurately predicting the War on Terror 10 years before it happened.(no mistake that his article, "Clash of Civilizations", was published during a crime wave, when social science is more accurate and realistic).
    Still, though, I'm sure that most modern Muslims are more peacefully inclined, and decent people.

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  2. I can't think of any acts of terrorism committed by Christians, outside of apostate cults. (Timothy McVeigh was raised Roman Catholic, but became agnostic around the time of his bombing. Anders Brevik never identified as Christian and has declared himself an Odinist.) Apart from fanatical leftists like the Sandinistas, and Muslims, the only other religious group I can think of which engaged in terrorist activity were Satanists (burning down Churches in Norway, etc.)

    And yet the leftists in this country firmly want to believe that there's a Red State Redneck with an AR-15 standing around every corner. It's like the White Guy version of The Eternal Jew - a bogeyman leftists can blame for everything that goes wrong.

    It's a pity. I really enjoyed the WNUF Halloween special (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104078/ ) as a nice shot of 80's nostalgia, and then they had to go and ruin it at the end by (spoilers!) having the people responsible for the "haunting" of the house be murderous Christian terrorists. In real life, there's far too much money to be made by pushing kooky conspiracy-theory Christian books and videos (in the "Truth About Rock" vein) for some godbotherer to risk it all by engaging in terrorist acts (and thus, scaring any potential marks away.)

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  3. though I remember now that Huntington bungled his understanding of the boundaries of Slavic culture, I think the other point, that the West would have conflicts with Islam, was accurate - and probably couldn't be published in today's cocooning zeitgest.

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  4. By your definition, much Muslim terrorism doesn't meet the bar. For example, the Pentagon was a primary target. Sure the randoms on the plane die, but random people die when we drone strike a village going after some al queda. Collateral Damage. Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Charlie Hesbo, all primary targets.

    So I think you are unfairly narrowing the scope of terrorism. It is the use of violence, outside the battlefield, to invoke fear with the purpose of achieving political ends.

    The attempt to separate primary vs. random is unpersuasive. For example, a doctor that does not rip fetuses out of women will now be less inclined to do so. And as everybody at a gay pride parade is a primary actor, it wouldn't be terrorism to bomb one.

    Gays however are targeted by Muslims, and not just over there where they throw them off buildings. In the US a Muslim burned down a gay bar in Seattle last year on New Years, and a Muslim serial killer was using grindr to pick up his murder victims.

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  5. You're confusing primary vs. secondary targets, with guilty vs. innocent individuals. The two ideas are related, but are not the same.

    The question is, are the attackers assigning collective guilt and harming any individual members of that group? Or are they going after particular individuals who they believe have done wrong in the past / will do wrong in the future?

    The anti-abortion attackers have never engaged in a judgment based on collective guilt. The Islamic attackers almost always do.

    Shooting up a military base comes from collective guilt -- for all we know, the victims have never been deployed, let alone to Iraq or Afghanistan, and have no authority to direct larger actions against those countries.

    Is it the same as bombing Pearl Harbor? No: that had military strategic ends, purely utilitarian. Going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, the terrorist knows will not in itself cripple or shut down our occupation or bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan (or wherever else). Its goal is not utilitarian but ideological -- meant to send a message through public spectacle, unlike Pearl Harbor and other utilitarian attacks on primary targets.

    And remember that Al-Qaeda didn't just attack the Pentagon, they hijacked a plane full of innocent passengers. The plane hijacking itself is terrorism, whether or not they accomplished any further destruction -- ditto the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania without reaching whatever its intended target was.

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  6. "For example, a doctor that does not rip fetuses out of women will now be less inclined to do so."

    Then punishing criminals is also terrorism -- designed to instill fear in would-be criminals, who might think twice about trying to commit a crime. At least you've committed yourself to believing that vigilante justice is terrorism, which it is not.

    Anti-abortion attacks all fit the profile of vigilante justice, not terrorism.

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  7. "And as everybody at a gay pride parade is a primary actor, it wouldn't be terrorism to bomb one."

    Sure it would. The bomber does not know what the specific victims have done or will do. If I recall correctly, some of the victims whom the Ultra-Orthodox Jew stabber targeted were not gay but gay allies / gay enablers. Not to mention that the victims in the audience for a pride parade would be mostly gay-enabling, while the actual gays are in the parade itself.

    But it might not be terrorist -- it depends on what the motivation was. For that Jewish stabber, perhaps it wasn't an act of sodomy that he was punishing, but the desecration of his holy city caused by a gay pride parade rolling through. Anyone aiding such a desecration is guilty in his mind and are fit for punishment (vigilante justice, for offending norms of purity).

    Until there actually is a mass attack on a gay pride parade, we can't say whether it is or is not terrorist (let alone Christian rather than some non-religious person who's offended by faggotry).

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  8. Christian terrorism is often overstated (as when McVeigh is included), but you've stretched too far. Terrorism can certainly take place during a civil war, and religious terrorism (including when carried out by Muslims) is often tied together with ethnic & religious terrorism. The term "terrorism" even comes from the French revolutionary government which intended to instill terror in its opponents, and the attack to cause fear is really all that's necessary.

    With the Klan I would say that the second (and most popular) iteration was conceived as a Protestant movement opposed to predominately immigrant-derived Catholicism, but that iteration was not a terrorist group. The first incarnation was, but of a regional & racial rather than religious orientation. Later iterations were more varied.

    Your arguments about anti-abortion terrorism amount to no-true-Scotsman. Christians take seriously the Old Testament, one is not a "LARPer" for citing its edicts as motivation. And there has been antigay terrorism, as with Eric Rudolph (though it's less frequent than anti-abortion), who in accordance with your criteria violently objected to tolerance of public homosexuality rather than private acts (which he regards as the product of a disease).

    So Christians seem far less prone to terrorism than Muslims, but it's not a myth.

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  9. "In real life, there's far too much money to be made by pushing kooky conspiracy-theory Christian books and videos (in the "Truth About Rock" vein) for some godbotherer to risk it all by engaging in terrorist acts (and thus, scaring any potential marks away.)"

    Dude, you've got to understand the context of the social concerns that the Religious Right became known for in the 80's and beyond (though late Gen X-ers and Millennials have killed off social conservatism among the young for the most part, so we don't hear much about the RR anymore).

    By the 80's, it was abundantly clear that we could no longer afford to be naive or glib about the "experimentation" and "freedom" of the 70's that led to alarming levels of child neglect, drug/alcohol abuse, violence, and sheer disorder/dysfunction in people's lives.

    Many Boomers and early Gen X-ers vowed to clean up their act and set a better example. Part of this was reviving respect for tradition and authority (which includes Christianity, and not the hippie approved version of it).

    The Boomers who indulged, got blitzed at the 70's rock concert bacchanal, were now insisting on giving stiff sentences to drug dealers and drunk drivers. And threatening to throw away metal and even Prince LPs (this was the decade where MTV limited the amount of black videos played with the exception of a few non threatening artists like Lionel Richie and Billy Ocean, knowing that white middle Americans did not want aggressive black artists on their TV sets. Yup, if you can believe it, 80's American whites had enough confidence and pride that they did not pretend to be black. Not when your friends might call you a sell-out to your tribe.

    The 80's was a period of dread, in terms of threats lurking around. AIDS, Russia or Reagan triggering nukes, serial killers becoming house hold names, needles and bums becoming a common sight, etc.

    Yet Americans strove to be their best, to be as agreeable as was possible under the conditions, and to forge a bond with their friends, family, and neighbors. People needed to watch out for each other, and besides, you (or the whole country) could be dead any minute. Why not be magnanimous and convivial? And promote stuff that kept people out of trouble, like religious devotion and respect for natural and common sense boundaries (like, being a homo is gross).

    Why did we turn on each other (and turn on tradition and non-materialism) increasingly after 1991? People in the 80's didn't let things get to them, didn't use any excuse to be alienated and sullen. Nobody had tattoos (unless you were a mil. veteran or criminal) in the 80's. Nobody had non ear piercings (other than a few weirdos in California).

    The post 1991 snarking on religion, on heartfelt instincts (rather than cerebral programming), on communal duties, on vigilant enforcement of morality and behavior, is just a sign of how clueless we are. Everybody wants to go to East, South, or (even worse) West to get a "good job" (have fun with the craven strivers and homos among you)

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  10. Tim McVeigh is a prime example of 90's alienation. In pre 1992 pictures, he looks reasonably well adjusted. As the 90's went on, he (and many others) just didn't keep up, psychologically. Rates of mental illness have exploded since the early 90's, is that any shock when people become so isolated from each other?

    McVeigh got more and more alienated and bitter, as did so many other Gen X-ers in the good fer nuthin' 90's. And became friends with extremist libertarian gun nut Boomers (not a good influence, to say the least). McVeigh was poisoned and fueled by paranoia largely concocted by cynical Boomers, who will always blame institutions, unions, governments, corporations, etc., for everything Going Wrong. He bought the hype about Big Liberal Government being so out of control that "patriots" like him needed to send a message. Are the Rush Limbaughs of the Me Gen proud of taking a machete to the social fabric?

    The combination of (heavily Gen X) alienation and (heavily Boomer) cynicism really corrupted people. And now everybody feels these things to some degree.

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  11. The classic example of Christians who did commit terror for political reasons were the IRA (and their Protestant counter-parts.) But as you say, these were examples of political terror and their Christian beliefs were not used as justification for their acts.

    Likewise, the Hindu Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka (who were really pioneers in the practice of terror inventing the use of suicide belts and using women for the first time) were fighting for independence for their ethnic group and as far as I know never used their religion to justify their terror against the majority Buddhist Sinhalese people.

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  12. You are attempting to thread a needle. Your definition of primary targets is illogical.

    Every member of the armed forces swears an oath to uphold the wishes of the US military industrial complex. They are all primary targets. As with everybody at a gay pride parade, they are actively affirming their belief in the homosexual agenda. The enablers are worse than a homosexual that wishes to stay discrete while he struggles with his own homosexuality.

    Also your definition of vigilante is so wide that it includes Muslim terrorist, because their code allows them to kill infidels. A vigilante's code has to be mostly consistent with the community. Murdering abortionist is too far outside the community standard. Now if they were to kill a doctor that performed an abortion at say 28 weeks, that would classify as vigilantism because that is defined as murder most if not everywhere.

    There is a lot of useful motivation behind various attacks. flying a plane into the Pentagon lets the military know they aren't safe on this side of the ocean. Attacking enlisted guys in bases in the US tells them they are in danger even when they aren't in forward bases. In truth the general citizenry doesn't think about what happens to the troops with any regularity. For most people the fact that the pentagon got hit was an after thought. Everybody focuses on what happened in NYC. So attacking those bases doesn't create the terror in the general population that randomly shooting up a state government holiday party or a bunch of people in a theater does.

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  13. "Your arguments about anti-abortion terrorism amount to no-true-Scotsman."

    Don't use philosophical jargon that you don't understand. I already said that I'm not disqualifying the attackers from being Christian after the fact of them shooting an abortion doctor. I'm stating the fact that they were not part of a body of believing and practicing Christians before the attack.

    Again, just tell me where they went to church every Sunday, how often they repented of their sins and sought atonement, etc.

    With the Islamic terrorists, it's the opposite -- they pray throughout the day, follow halal diet rules, grow their beard, make their wives wear a hijab, etc. -- and, regularly go to a mosque. In fact, we usually know which particular building they attend weekly / daily services at.

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  14. "Terrorism can certainly take place during a civil war"

    I don't think so. When there's a power vacuum like Lebanon's protracted civil war, one group launching an indiscriminate attack on another group is probably not staging the performance of a public spectacle to spread fear -- they're probably simply trying to kill their enemies, take their land, blow up their infrastructure, and take whatever infrastructure is left.

    The Wikipedia article on "Christian terrorism" lists the Karantina, Tel al-Zaatar, and Sabra and Shatila massacres during the Lebanese Civil War. But those were not performances meant to instill fear -- just to demolish the other side and take their place.

    Also, the Muslim side was usually Palestinian, as they were in all of those massacres -- Palestinian refugees who had poured into Lebanon in massive numbers after being displaced by the founding of Israel in 1948 and Israel's huge victory in the '67 war. So these massacres were an ethnic or national conflict between Lebanese and Palestinians, rather than Christians and Muslims.

    In short, the so-called Maronite Christian terrorism was just Lebanese nationalist militias trying to evict the Palestinian refugees and neuter the influence of the PLO in Lebanese national politics. No terrorism, nothing to do with religion.

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  15. "Your definition of primary targets is illogical."

    OK Mr. Spock, I already explained that terrorism doesn't hinge on primary vs. secondary targets anyway, but on the indiscriminate attacks on innocents vs. retributive attacks on the guilty, or ideological spectacle attacks vs. utilitarian strategic attacks.

    "A vigilante's code has to be mostly consistent with the community."

    Killing abortion doctors IS consistent with the community values where they come from, albeit using methods that the community might not approve of.

    They don't target abortion clinics in liberal / blue-state areas, where nobody sees anything wrong with abortion. They do so in Texas, Colorado, Pensacola (in the redneck part of Florida, not Miami), and so on.

    Good old Google's dictionary definition of a vigilante group:

    "a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate."

    The Supreme Court and lower government bodies are allowing "murder" to take place, so we'll just take the law into our own hands and punish those doctors who have performed abortions.

    100% vigilante justice.

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  16. The general tendency with Islamic terrorists is that as they get radicalized they stop going to mosque, withdrawing from the community and into more tight-knit cells. This does not make them un-islamic.

    An attack can have multiple functions, both killing a rival group and spreading terror. I would also not include the refugee camp massacre as terrorism though.

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  17. Don't nitpick over how continuously a jihadist has to be attending mosque -- often one with a very radical preacher -- in order for them to qualify as "still Muslim". Obviously preparing to carry out a terrorist attack is going to draw some of their time and focus away from attending mosque.

    They're still living a highly Muslim life in their daily lives, and believing even more fanatically.

    "I would also not include the refugee camp massacre as terrorism though."

    OK, so there's no documented instance of Christian terrorism.

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  18. I don't think it's that obvious that withdrawing from the community is that essential for engaging with terrorism. The generalization I referred to is largely taken from western countries (where we're going to have more data). In Pakistan I wouldn't be that surprised if someone stayed an active participant in Lal Masjid (in the period before it was raided) while also planning terror attacks against Ahmadis & Shia.

    "OK, so there's no documented instance of Christian terrorism."
    I just specifically referenced Eric Rudolph.

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  19. You didn't bother reading Eric Rudolph's Wikipedia bio.

    "[Born-again Christians] have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible."

    --"Christian" terrorist Eric Rudolph

    Here's his rambling written statement from prison:

    http://www.armyofgod.com/EricRudolphStatement.html

    Not worth quoting, just standard paranoid anti-government militia talk, calling abortion state-sanctioned murder of innocents. One reference to the Old Testament (Psalm 144:1, doesn't bear on abortion, but calling upon God to strengthen the speaker's resolve before a righteous fight). One quotation from Jesus (Matthew 23:28, in Rudolph's context calling out law-abiding Christians for being hypocrites for not willing to break the law in service of anti-abortion goals. Can't get much dumber than that.)

    He had no Christian beliefs or practice leading up to, during, and after his crimes. His only encounter with religion was with his mother's church, The Church of Israel, during his teen years.

    Don't let the name fool you -- it's not Christian but Latter Day Saint, an off-shoot of the Missouri branch of the LDS movement, though, not part of the larger and dominant Mormon branch Out West.

    Moving backwards from the place he attended:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Israel

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Christ_%28Temple_Lot%29

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latter_Day_Saint_movement

    The church he attended was part of the nutjob "Christian Identity" movement -- the people who think that the Welsh, French, etc., are descended from the lost tribes of Israel. I've actually met one of these nuts in real life -- the most boring talk you've ever heard, tiresomely explaining which tribes went where in Europe, telling some Gentile they have "Levite eyes," etc. Pure bullshit.

    Their beliefs are contrary to Paul's call not to be Judaizers (i.e., Gentiles seeking to imitate and become Jews in order to become followers of Jesus), hence they are not Christian by anyone's standards.

    They also obsess over the Old Testament only (stemming from their view of themselves as descended from the ancient nation of Israel), and probably haven't read any of the New Testament, don't talk about Jesus, don't quote Paul, and don't follow any of the ancient or even somewhat newer rituals and traditions of Christianity.

    His church was big into survivalism, he spent 5 years as a fugitive in the Appalachian wilderness, and he got kicked out of the Army for smoking pot. Taken with his statement from prison and love of Nietzsche, he's obviously a typical paranoid anarcho-libertarian survivalist -- not a Christian.

    He claims to identify as a Catholic now -- but was not a Catholic before, during, or just after his crimes. His *mother* used to be a Catholic, and a nun at that, before leaving and starting a family.

    Obviously they were not Catholics while Eric was growing up, since already by his teen years they were going to that Church of Israel place. He's just trying to claim Catholicism by genetic inheritance from his Irish Catholic mother, despite not being one himself.

    His sister-in-law doesn't mention any of the family attending Catholic services or following a Catholic life, in her recollection of what the family was like.

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  20. Rudolph has stated that the only reason he had anything to do with a Christian Identity church during those six months was his involvement with the daughter of the pastor and that he never believed in their Identity doctrines rather than Catholicism, but even if it were not the case he'd still qualify as a Christian terrorist, just of an extremely marginal sect of Christianity. Being a paranoid libertarian pot-smoking survivalist does not mean one is not a Christian. Stating that one does not believe in or accept Christ is what matters. Do you strain over which suras or hadiths an Islamist terrorist needs to quote in order to qualify as Muslim?

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  21. "just of an extremely marginal sect of Christianity."

    LDS is not Christian. They have their own "latter-day" prophet, Joseph Smith, and their own primary sacred religious text, the Book of Mormon, which was written in the 19th century, creates a mythological genesis narrative set in the New World. Both core traits separate them from all of Christianity, ancient or current.

    Why didn't you know that the LDS movement isn't Christian, but feel confident proclaiming who does and does not qualify as Christian?

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  22. "he never believed in their Identity doctrines rather than Catholicism"

    Find any reference to him being a Catholic before winding up in jail. His mother was a Catholic, and a nun. She left the Church in order to start a family. Eric was therefore not brought up Catholic. Indeed, the only church his ex-Catholic mother exposed him to was an LDS sect.

    Wishing that Christians were among terrorists won't make it come true. But please keep up this sad desperate search...

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  23. This has nothing to do with "wishing" Christians are among terrorists. I was raised Christian and have no hard feelings toward any of the churches I and my family attended. There are billions of Christians and the existence of a very small number involved in terrorism would mean little in the grand scheme of things. It's just incorrect to say there are zero. Everyone else accepts Rudolph at his word that his acts were motivated by his Christian beliefs, including the Army of God. You are the only one straining to avoid that conclusion.

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  24. "Everyone" LOL, you make it sound like it's some kind of widespread consensus, akin to "global warming is real (or fake)". In reality, no one has an opinion on the matter, except for a handful of retards looking for non-existent Christian terrorism.

    How come "everyone" cannot show that he was a practicing Christian before winding up in jail? If he's a Catholic, that's the easiest thing in the world to prove -- name the parish he belonged to, which church he went to, how regularly the priest remembers seeing him, how radicalized the priest thought he was, how other parishioners were worried that he might fly off the rails, etc. Or comments from his fellow Catholic church-goers that they had no idea he could've committed such crimes, he always seems so well-behaved in church.

    Back on planet Earth, nobody can show this, for one simple reason -- he was not a practicing or believing Christian leading up to, during, and just after his crimes.

    His former sister-in-law, Deborah Rudolph, has talked extensively about what she knew about him and his family, and never once mentioned church -- other than to say that his mother was an ex-Catholic nun who left before starting her family.

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  25. "It's just incorrect to say there are zero."

    And don't nitpick about this either.

    There are ZERO documented cases, and no reason to suspect there are undiscovered cases -- terrorist acts are public spectacles that never pass without notice. If they were linked to a Christian ideology, they would be paraded out forever and ever, to rub it in Christians' faces.

    Conclusion: ZERO cases of Christian terrorism, ever.

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  26. Eric Randolph was also promiscuous; when they arrested him he made an off-color joke about "the bears starting to look good".
    In his manifesto, he ranted against multi-national corporations and didn't mention anything about religion, except some random apocalpytic reference about destroying one's enemies etc.

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  27. First time poster here, first day on this blog. Love what you are doing and it's amazing for someone to talk about these issues.

    However I think you have made 2 mistakes in your assessments. Basically a "No true Scotsman" on both what qualifies on terrorism and Christianity. I certainly agree that Christian terrorism is not a huge problem but it does exist.

    TGGP is right

    "How come "everyone" cannot show that he was a practicing Christian before winding up in jail? If he's a Catholic, that's the easiest thing in the world to prove -- name the parish he belonged to, which church he went to, how regularly the priest remembers seeing him, how radicalized the priest thought he was, how other parishioners were worried that he might fly off the rails, etc. Or comments from his fellow Catholic church-goers that they had no idea he could've committed such crimes, he always seems so well-behaved in church."

    You don't have to go to church to be a Catholic OR a Christian. You are restricting what it means to be a Christian to make a point which I get. But Rudolph was AND IS a Christian who acted out based on his CHRISTIAN beliefs.

    To your point though, I do agree some of the other attacks were not really religiously motivated. We also probably agree that the ratio to Christian motivated attacks to Islam related attacks is laughable and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence.

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  28. You do have to go to church to be a Christian -- no different from a Muslim who doesn't ever go to mosque, doesn't pray during the day, doesn't follow halal diet rules, etc.

    Ritual and practice are necessary parts of any religion -- it is not just airy-fairy beliefs that are never proven through behavior. You don't worship God by thinking nice thoughts about him.

    We don't need to debate the fine points in the case of Rudolph and other non-Christians -- they don't follow *any* set of rituals and practices that are Christian. It's bad enough they never attend church, they don't attend any regular religious services, or follow religious rules in their everyday lives.

    So far, no examples of Christian terrorism.

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