News & Politics

Hillary, Obama Refuse to Say 'Christian' or 'Terrorism' in Condemning Sri Lanka Attacks

Hillary, Obama Refuse to Say 'Christian' or 'Terrorism' in Condemning Sri Lanka Attacks
Former President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Rex Features via AP Images)

On Easter Sunday, at least 290 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in bombings at churches in Sri Lanka that authorities quickly connected to terrorism. World leaders expressed their condolences. Former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with many other Democrats, used the unwieldy phrase “Easter worshippers,” rather than the word “Christians.” They also avoided the term “terrorism.”

Yet, when the horrific mosque attacks in New Zealand took place last month, both Clinton and Obama rushed to express solidarity with Muslims, condemning terrorism and “hate.” Clinton explicitly identified the ideology behind that terrorist attack, but remained vague on the Sri Lanka attacks. Furthermore, the many liberals using the clunky phrase “Easter worshippers” suggested coordination.

“On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka,” Clinton tweeted.

Last month, however, the former secretary of State proved far more specific. “My heart breaks for New Zealand & the global Muslim community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms,” she tweeted. “White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.”

On Easter, Obama tweeted, “The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”

Yet last month, Obama explicitly condemned “hatred” and expressed grief in solidarity with “the Muslim community.”

“Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms,” he tweeted.

Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer in Britain, noted these key messaging differences from Clinton and Obama, and also Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Strange difference in tone between condemnations of a terrorist attacks on Muslims after New Zealand & against Christians after Sri Lanka,” Nawaz tweeted. “Note the absence of words ‘terrorism’ & ‘Christianity’. This Muslim stands with persecuted Christians globally & all minorities everywhere.”

Black Christian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha shared a screenshot revealing just how widespread the “Easter worshippers” messaging was.

Rod Dreher, a Christian and author of the bestselling book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, said he was not angered by the use of the term “Easter worshippers,” but he did say that “it is bizarre that these prominent Democrats came up with a weird locution when the word ‘Christian’ is the obvious choice. Why? It’s like someone in the Messaging Dept told them ‘don’t say ‘Christian.””

Yet the very same people who call Christians “Easter worshippers” attack anyone who disagrees with transgender identity. When President Donald Trump moved to restore the meaning of biological sex (over transgender identity) in federal law, liberals declared that transgender people “won’t be erased.”

“Easter worshipers.’ My ‘identity’ has been ‘erased.’ See how we can use that language, too?” Andrew Walker, senior fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Center, tweeted. “But let’s not because ‘identity’ is a term progressives use to justify whatever inclination they want celebrated.”

Whether or not the “Easter worshippers” phrase is offensive to Christians, the decision not to use the word “terrorism” is arguably more significant. Even though officials almost immediately identified terror as the cause behind the attacks, and radical Islamic terror groups as the likely culprit, Clinton and Obama avoided the terms “terror,” “terrorism,” and “hate” — words they rushed to pronounce after the New Zealand attacks.

More Christians died in Sri Lanka than in the New Zealand mosque attacks, and security experts said the Sri Lanka attacks carry the hallmarks of Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda terrorism. Radical Islamic terrorism and hatred toward Christians very likely inspired these attacks, just as white supremacy and hatred toward Muslims inspired the New Zealand shooter.

Muslim reformer M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), immediately condemned the Sri Lanka bombings and the radical Islamic terrorism behind them. “Another act of radical Islamist jihadist terror-worst since 9/11-has struck against religious freedom, diversity, and harmony,” Jasser tweeted. “We grieve for all who suffer and give our prayers and resolve again to defeat all Islamists and their global jihad.”

George Yancey, a black sociology professor and co-author of the book So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States?, has documented animus against Christians — Christianophobia — in the United States. This animus is just as real as Islamophobia, yet Democrats did not denounce the hatred against Christians, even while they clearly denounced hatred against Muslims.

Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz was right to call out Clinton, Obama, and May for avoiding the words “terrorism” and “Christianity.” It seems the horrific New Zealand shooting fit their identity politics narrative far better than the Sri Lanka terror attacks, but both events happened and terrorism inspired both. Christians are a persecuted minority in many parts of the world, and radical Islamic terrorism is a true threat, just as real as white supremacist terrorism.

Nawaz and Jasser put these Democrats to shame. Muslim champions of democracy and religious freedom are not afraid to condemn radical Islamic terrorism, and neither should Democrats.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.