Ever heard of the Army of God? Or Concerned Christians? As far as Salon and other leftist media outlets are concerned, they’re just as lethal as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda – and the only reason why you haven’t heard of them but have heard of the Islamic terror groups is because of the mainstream media’s deeply ingrained “Islamophobia.”
If this sounds absurd, it’s only because it is. The mainstream media, especially organs like Salon that are even more leftist than the others, are always avid to exonerate Islam and establish the claim that Christianity is just as likely to incite its adherents to violence as Islam is. To try to do this, they have to resort to increasingly desperate stratagems, in an effort to convince you that these nefarious Christian terrorists are all over the place, and you would know that, except for the evil right-wing media’s constant Islamophobic ranting. So it is with Alex Henderson’s “6 modern-day Christian terrorist groups our media conveniently ignores,” which Salon reprinted from Alertnet on last Tuesday.
It’s all about the vile Right, you see: “In the minds of far-right Republicans,” Henderson writes,
Obama committed the ultimate sin by daring to mention that Christianity has a dark side and citing the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as two examples from the distant past. Obama wasn’t attacking Christianity on the whole but rather, was making the point that just as not all Christians can be held responsible for the horrors of the Inquisition, not all Muslims can be blamed for the violent extremism of ISIS (the Islamic State, Iraq and Syria), the Taliban, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. But Obama certainly didn’t need to look 800 or 900 years in the past to find examples of extreme Christianists committing atrocities. Violent Christianists are a reality in different parts of the world—including the United States—and the fact that the mainstream media don’t give them as much coverage as ISIS or Boko Haram doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
No group has a monopoly on evil, and certainly Christians have in history committed terrible atrocities in the name of their religion. The difference is that the Christian perpetrators of these atrocities did not and could not justify them by pointing to exhortations to such violence in Christian texts and teachings, while Islamic jihadis can and do justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims by pointing to Islamic texts and teachings exhorting the believers to be violent.
Salon, nonetheless, is determined to obscure that fact and prop up some “Christian terrorist groups” that Americans ought to be as wary of as they are of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Yet none of these groups enjoy anything like the broad support among Christians that the Islamic State or al-Qaeda have among Muslims — have 25,000 Christians traveled from all over the world to join the Army of God? Nor does any sect of Christianity teach that Christians have a duty to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers.
What’s more, almost all of the violence listed in Salon as having been committed by these Christian groups took place many years ago, suggesting that these groups are more or less moribund today — which, unfortunately, cannot be said of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. And even if all these violent acts had actually been committed recently by Bible-quoting Christians with the full approval of numerous Christian clerics and churches (which is not even close to being true), they still don’t add up to anything remotely comparable to the 25,000+ acts of jihad violence that Muslims have committed since 9/11.
Henderson’s first Christian terrorist group is the “Army of God,” which he describes as “a network of violent Christianists that has been active since the early 1980s.” According to Henderson, “the Army of God openly promotes killing abortion providers.” He then lists a handful of these killings and other acts of violence by the Army of God, mostly in the 1990s and none more recent than 2009. Then he adds:
Although primarily an anti-abortion organization, the Army of God also has a history of promoting violence against gays.
No Christian sect teaches that it is right to kill abortionists or gays. And as the Army of God has apparently not killed any since 2009, it seems to have been effectively neutralized.
Henderson’s next Christian terrorist group is “Eastern Lightning, a.k.a. the Church of the Almighty God,” which was “founded in Henan Province, China in 1990.” Henderson informs us that “Eastern Lightning believes that the world is coming to an end, and in the meantime, its duty is to slay as many demons as possible. While most Christianists have an extremely patriarchal viewpoint (much like their Islamist counterparts) and consider women inferior to men, Eastern Lightning believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in the form of a Chinese woman.” Despite this oddly feminine emphasis, however,
they are quite capable of violence against women: in May 2014, for example, members of the cult beat a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan to death in a McDonalds in Zhaoyuan, China when she refused to give them her phone number.
I never heard of this group before, and it sounds very strange: with its Jesus-is-coming-back-as-a-Chinese-woman thing, it is hardly anything close to mainstream Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Also, Jesus never says anything in the Gospels about beating women to death if they refuse to hand over their phone numbers.
Does Salon really seriously think that this gang of psychopathic thugs is equivalent to an organized international network of dedicated jihadis such as al-Qaeda?
Henderson follows this odd group with the inevitable reference to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the most commonly referenced group by those who try to claim that Christianity is just as likely to incite its adherents to violence as Islam. “The LRA, according to Human Rights Watch,” says Henderson,
has committed thousands of killings and kidnappings—and along the way, its terrorism spread from Uganda to parts of the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. The word “jihadist” is seldom used in connection with the LRA, but in fact, the LRA’s tactics are not unlike those of ISIS or Boko Haram. And the governments Kony hopes to establish in Sub-Saharan Africa would implement a Christianist equivalent of Islamic Sharia law.
In reality, the Lord’s Resistance Army is funded by Sudanese jihadis, and reflects a Christian theology that is held by no Christian sect anywhere — in stark contrast to the undeniable fact that all the mainstream sects of Islam and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers.
Henderson then introduces us to the “National Liberation Front of Tripura,” which, he says, is “a paramilitary Christianist movement that hopes to secede from India and establish a Christian fundamentalist government in Tripura.” He says this group perpetrates violence against Hindus, but offers no examples more recent than 2003.
Another neutralized group.
Then comes the Phineas Priesthood, which is, if Henderson’s description is accurate, a white supremacist group. Yet no sect of Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, teaches the supremacy of any race.
In fact, Christianity teaches that all people are made in God’s image and are equal in dignity before God. Islam does not.
Salon’s last group of Christian terrorists is the Concerned Christians. “In 1999,” says Henderson, “Israeli officials arrested 14 members of the Concerned Christians in Jerusalem and deported them from Israel because they suspected them of plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims.” After that there was apparently nothing until 2014, “when Adam Everett Livix, a Christianist from Texas, was arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.” Harming his own case, Henderson adds that
in 2008, Denver’s KUSA-TV (an NBC affiliate) reported that members of the Concerned Citizens had gone into hiding and that Miller [the group’s founder] hadn’t been seen in ten years.
Here again, Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians should blow up the holy places of other religions. It doesn’t teach “slay the non-Christians wherever you find them” (cf. Qur’an 9:5) or fight them “until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29) It doesn’t teach that non-Christians are “the most vile of created beings” (Qur’an 98:6).
All of the groups Henderson describes are eccentric, marginal sects, with nothing remotely comparable to the following that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have among Muslims. Accordingly, there is no real equivalence between them and jihad groups. Probably even Salon knows that. But it continues to do all it can to try to ensure that you don’t.
image illustration via shutterstock / Adam Vilimek