Just a couple of weeks ago, this story zoomed to the front of every world newspaper, every television and radio news broadcast:
“At least one gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 40 during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques in the country’s worst ever mass shooting, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned as terrorism. A gunman broadcast live stream footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, mirroring the carnage played out in video games, after publishing a ‘manifesto’ in which he denounced immigrants, calling them ‘invaders.’
New Zealand was placed on its highest security threat level, Ardern said, adding that ‘this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.'”
The Christchurch attack in which a radical Australian stormed an Islamic mosque to commit the tragic murders of 50 New Zealanders was horrific. Any murder of any human at any time is tragic. Religious murders are the most egregious, for the simple fact that hatred drives someone to take another’s life in the name of religion.
In this world in which “Islamaphobia” has become an everyday word in politics, anytime there is a killing of Muslims that act immediately jumps to the front page of every newspaper, every news story, and the attack and attacker(s) is immediately damned for the atrocity. But does the World rush to judgment in the same fashion with the same vigor when the lives of Christians are taken at the hands of Muslims? “That seldom happens,” you may say. “Muslim murders of Christians hardly ever happens. That’s why we don’t hear much about that.” If you feel that way, you are dead wrong.
Would you be shocked to know that in just the first 3 months of 2019, there were 437 Islamic attacks in 35 countries, in which 2428 people were killed and 2307 injured? These were Christians killed by Muslims!
Don’t believe me? At the end of today’s story, I’ll give you a source to which you can turn 365 days of the year and see the details of every killing of Christians on Earth at the hands of Muslims: location, number killed, number injured, and the cause of each murder. The number is updated daily and goes all the way back to 9/11/2001.
It’s staggering. But it’s nothing new. As long as time has existed, there have been religious killings. No religion is exempt. Each has responsibilities for its atrocities. And each has stories of murderous atrocities that have been exacted upon its own members and members of other religions. Christians are by far NOT exempt from perpetrating killings in the name of Christianity. And, of course, millions of Christians through centuries have been killed. It’s time we all take a moment and pause in considering religious killings.
“Popular” Religious Killings
Muslims being killed, on the other hand, may strike many as newsworthy precisely because it is so rare. A second motive for the media silence around the massacre of Christians in Nigeria may be geopolitical and racial. New Zealand is a first-world country where such things are not supposed to happen, whereas many people still consider Africa to be a backward place where brutal killings are par for the course.
The slaughter of black Christians in Africa may not spark outrage among westerners the way that the murder of white and brown Muslims in New Zealand would. But obviously the story simply does not play to the political agenda that many mainstream media would like to advance. How much mileage can be gained from Muslims murdering Christians, when Christians in America are often seen as an obstacle to the “progress” desired by liberals? The left sees Christians in the United States as part of the problem and seeks to undermine their credibility and influence at every turn rather than emboldening them.
Shortly after news broke of the horrific Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, radical Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the mass shooting as an opportunity to push an anti-gun agenda in America. Anti-Christian bias has been rightly called “the last acceptable prejudice,” one that few bother condemning.
“No one much cares about offending Christians,” wrote a coalition of African-American pastors. “In fact, mocking, belittling, and blaspheming Christianity is becoming a bit of a trend in our culture. Anti-Christian bigotry truly is the last acceptable prejudice.” “The hypocrisy on display is astounding,” the pastors continued. “Christianity is the dominant religion of our country Nigeria. It is the foundation of our government and morality. And yet, Christians are treated as fair game for mockery and insult.”
Christians are by far the most persecuted religious group in the world, but the mainstream media routinely ignore this fact as if it were unimportant or uninteresting. As a result, many people do not even realize how widespread the persecution is or that 75 percent of the victims of religious persecution around the world are Christians. Whatever the reason — or reasons — for the media silence surrounding the most recent massacres of Christians in Nigeria as well as numerous other such events, it should give right-thinking people pause. By all means, the lethal shootings of dozens of Muslims in New Zealand is a massive story and merits extensive coverage. But it only stands to reason that similar coverage should be devoted to the slaughter of Christians. For the moment, it serves as a poignant reminder that a double standard is at work when it comes to news coverage and that it is Christians who inevitably draw the short straw.
Christianity Gets No Free-Pass
How many movies have been filmed, books written, heroes and heroine created in and around the Crusades? But many do not even know that the Crusades were a religious invasion of the Middle East and slaughter of innumerable numbers of Muslims at the hands of Christians from what is now the United Kingdom and from other European nations. It’s amazing that we Christians are no different from any other religious group when it comes to justification for our wrongdoing. Every Christian knows that Christ came as a love gift from God to the entire world. That includes people from every country, every religion, every race, no matter who is flawed by anyone’s definition.
How do we get this one thing so messed up: “God Is Love?” And then there’s John 3:16: “For God so loved the World that He gave His only Son that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have life eternal.” There is NO religious or denominational qualifier in either, is there?
For Christians, violence in the name of God has forced us to re-examine our religious convictions and to self-criticise. Ultimately this will be needed in the Muslim world too. Any effort to force this from the outside will fail.
Islam vs. Christianity
Any comparison between the two religions is full of objective difficulty. However, the Bible has distinct advantages over the Koran when it comes to re-interpreting it in a way that critiques its violence rather than normalizes it for Christians today.
“Mohammad stressed that he did not work miracles like Moses,” says one theologian. “He seemed to emphasise that miracles only harden the heart. He didn’t appeal to anything beyond his own experience. So the ultimate proof that God was on his side was victory in battle.”
The Bible, on the other hand, starts and ends with ‘shalom’, and the violence in between is less than ideal. Furthermore, while there are warrior-figures like Elijah and Moses, the example of Christ is the loudest and final voice. Muslims have Mohammad, and that’s a very different final voice.
Are there lessons from history for Islamic State? Yes. Puritans were continually looking at the world and seeing confirmation that God was on their side. Above all, their proof was victory in battle. Only after the Cromwellian regime falls apart do they re-interpret Providence: ‘We only lost because of our sin.’
Many believe that in Africa and the Middle East, if sheer pragmatism doesn’t force them to compromise, terrorist regimes will continue until these groups disintegrate or until they suffer a catastrophic defeat, like the Puritans.
But in the here and now, those same folks are anxious to emphasise the need for self-criticism: our faith has led Christians to commit violence in the past, and a polarization between people of different faiths today can have the same effect.
We need to be careful about the demonization of Muslims. Our foreign policy begins around the dinner table, with the stories we tell our friends and families about Muslims. Most of us, after all, will never encounter Muslims in the East – but we’re very likely to encounter them walking down the street.
So, does religion cause violence? The answer is that it can, and it does – but it’s up to believers to make sure that it doesn’t.
Make no mistake about this: there are dramatic differences between Christian and Muslim theology. Through the last several decades, I’ve heard plenty of attempts to explain that Muslims and Christians worship the same God: He just has a different name in Islam. However, Christians should not fall for that explanation. The God of Christianity has one Son: Jesus Christ. And the Bible makes it abundantly clear in many passages in both the Old and New Testaments, God has many names, one of which is NOT “Allah.” And God is a jealous God who abhors murder, (“Thou shalt not kill” is one of Ten Commandments) and teaches us to each “love others as we love ourselves.” He also instructed us to “Do unto others as we want them to do unto us.” I doubt that any of us want to be murdered!
In understanding in some small way why there have been so many killings of innocents around the world at the hands of Muslims, the only explanation I can reasonably settle on his “hatred.” No, I cannot see or read the hearts of any other people. But human nature dictates that all of us at some point in our life will act out what we deeply feel inside. Psychiatrists teach that holding feelings in will always result in some “boiling over” of those withheld emotions at some point, often with desperate results.
Hatred for others has had horrific results throughout history. We cal all point to the evidence of cultural as well as political hatred through centuries that have resulted in the senseless slaughter of millions of people — some even by Christians.
The one common objective of all who hope to end the religious killings of every kind from our planet is simply this: love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It’s a dramatic and maybe impossible hope that somehow we can rid the world of hatred. “We” cannot do that. But one thing I DO know is certain: the God of Christianity encourages love for all people by all of His followers. He abhors the abuse of individuals by anyone and especially taking the life of another.
That same God gave all mankind a spiritual choice. No, speaking about that is NOT politically correct today. But it certainly is appropriate in the wake of the most recent murders that occurred in New Zealand and in Nigeria in the name of God and also of Allah. But just because someone tries to relegate something so personal and non-political nothing more than a political talking point is ludicrous. My God REALLY cares for every person whose life was snuffed by another. Taking of those lives was more than just tragic. Taking those lives changed human history.
It’s time for Christians in America to realize human nature as it is played out on Earth is seldom OK. It’s almost always driven by personal desires, emotions, hatred, or love and an understanding of others’ differences or their rejection. That’s what Jesus came to Earth to end: the penalty for the acts we allow our human nature to guide us into that oppose God’s plan for every human.
It’s a choice. 3000 Americans died at the hands of a handful of Muslims on 9/11. Innumerable Muslims were slaughtered in the name of Christianity at the direction of a Pople during the Crusades. Both were driven by human nature and its hatred. Both were wrong.
Can we ever get around that human nature? Of course my hope is that we can and that we will. To do so will require a massive undertaking of self-accountability. Will we take such necessary steps? Sadly, we never have. It’s too easy to simply point fingers and place blame. Unless we can en masse turn away from that, I doubt we will ever turn that page in human history.
But we need to try — and try again.
Here is the link to get the day-by-day official tally of deaths at the hands of Muslims going all the way back to September 11, 2001: