Isn't it funny how some Christians can get all high and mighty about terrorism committed by Muslims, but forget about how many people that Christians have killed over the years through genocide, wars and terrorism.
Since World War II, the United States alone has killed up to 30 million people(1). Supposedly a Christian nation trusting in God, it has either waged war directly or sponsored war or the overthrow of governments across the globe(2). Of course the USA isn't going to say it is waging these wars in the name of Christ, it comes up with something a little more subtle, like 'bringing democracy' or 'fighting terror'. The War on Drugs gave America the excuse to invade, overthrow and train despots throughout the world, particularly in South America. The War on Terror gave America the excuse to wage an endless, undefined war any where in the world for any reason(3). After all, what is a terrorist? Someone who opposes the American Empire?
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Since World War II, the West has embarked on a litany of state-sponsored terrorism that has killed millions, injured millions, displaced millions.
It was no secret that the USA, Great Britain and even Australia sponsored the brutal overthrow of socialist President Sukarno in Indonesia by President Suharto who then committed genocide of communists and others opposed to the government. But the western nations were happy with this as long as a socialist wasn't in power ... and we all know how anti-Christian Socialists are. Don't we?
There was the US sponsoring of the Shah of Iran who brutally murdered thousands and was ultimately overthrown in a revolution that was as much about removing a despot as it was about sending a signal to America.
The USA armed Saddam Hussein in the 1980s so he could wage war against Iran and his own people. The subsequent invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies in 1991 and the ongoing bombing of Iraq during the 1990s killed thousands, let alone the hundreds of thousands of people who were impacted by cancers caused by the USA using depleted uranium warheads (4). Then there were the sanctions, which over the years directly caused the deaths of more than 500,000 children. Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, was confronted with this on 60 Minutes. Her reply? 'We think the price is worth it' (5).
The second war in Iraq in 2003 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, more than Saddam Hussein ever killed, as well as resulted directly in the rise of ISIS and over a thousand extremist groups in Syria and Iraq as the Western funded and trained extremist groups against the Assad regime. It's not just the US funding and arming these groups. Other western nations, including France, Britain and Germany have all contributed to extremist groups in Syria and Iraq(6)
During the 1980s, the United States, in the so-called Cold War against the Soviets, used Islamist missionary agency, Tablighi Jamaat, to recruit young, impressionable Muslims from across the globe in what the US marketed as a jihad against the Communist 'enemies of God' who had invaded the sovereign Muslim nation of Afghanistan. The US funding, recruiting, arming, training and radicalising of Mujahadeen and other jihadists during this time resulted in the deaths of thousands as well as directly led to the creation of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. (7)
The invasion of Korea and Vietnam led to wars in those countries that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The overthrow of the socialist President Allende in Chile by the murderous General Pinochet, resulted in years of disappearances, torture and murders by government forces. But the USA was happy with this, as long as a socialist wasn't in power.
It is easy to say that none of this was done in the name of Christ.
It is easy to say that Muslims kill in the name of their own God while the USA kills in the name of democracy, not Christ.
Of course, there is the sponsoring, funding and prayerful support of Israel as it commits genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the name of God and the holy scriptures.
While some Islamic terrorists will kill in the name of the religion, many others are fighting for political reasons and either just happen to be Muslim or are gaining strength from their religion when they fight against the theft of their land and killing of their people.
Palestinians are a great example of this. They are not killing in the name of their God, they are killing or fighting in the defence of their land that has been illegally stolen in the name of God by a Zionist Israel backed by a Christian America. It is a myth that Israel is defending itself. It is the aggressor in a land that it stole(8). If anyone is killing in the name of God, it is Israel and the Christians who believe in Zionism: that the bible says modern Israel is a fulfilment of prophecy. Israel has become an extension of American empire and Zionism is key to maintaining the support of America as a 'Christian' nation(9). Even worse, it is being used to dehumanise Palestinians and delegitimise their claims to the land with the lie that Israel was founded on a 'land without a people for a people without a land'. Palestine was inhabited for thousands of years and the Zionist Jews who stole it already had their own land: Europe. It is Israel that is the invention, not Palestine(10).
The theft and occupation of Palestine and the ongoing abuse and subjugation of the people is the common issue that feeds violent retribution from Palestinians and the actions of many Islamic terrorists. Then there is violent occupations of Muslim lands by the USA and its allies that also gives impetus to much of Islamic terrorism.
The thousands of deaths from Islamic terrorism are much less than the millions of deaths by Christians.
'Why do they hate us so much?', asked many Americans after 9/11. Perhaps take a long hard look at American interventions across the globe and the deaths that they have caused, as well as the loss of land and livelihood.
The vast majority of American leaders have been Christian. And the vast majority of right-wing Christians have not only supported them and voted for them, but have prayed for them and their actions in these wars and interventions.
To separate Christianity from the actions of Christians is to say that those Christians are not Christian 24/7. That it is ok to turn their back on difficult scriptures such as:
'Turn the other cheek'.
'Love your enemy'.
'Bless those who curse you'.
'Love your neighbour as yourself'.
The bible describes how Christ was tempted for forty days and nights by Satan. During this period, Satan promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth if he would bow down and worship him. While Jesus declined the offer, the leaders of the American empire have clearly taken it up.
Christians who support the hegemony of American empire while condemning those who oppose the death and destruction it brings, would do well to keep in mind the admonition by Christ in Matthew 7:5 - 'Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye'.
For many non-Muslims it is easy to blame Islam whenever there is a terrorist attack. However, this fails to take responsibility for the consequences of the West's actions, particularly the United States under the leadership of Christians, in the death and maiming of millions of people across the globe, many of them Muslim. This lack of accountability, this inability to understand the consequences of their actions, seems to be a common trait of many conservatives who've supported American war-mongering and war-profiteering in the destruction of innocent people.
There is a quaint little scripture in the bible that says, 'Get thee behind me Satan'. It seems that Christians who wage or condone war, other acts of violence and ethnic cleansing have ignored their own God and turned that scripture into:
'Get thee behind me, Christ'.
1. Signs of the Times, James A. Lucas, Study: U.S. regime has killed 20-30 million people since World War Two, 24 April 2007, http://www.sott.net/article/273517-Study-US-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-World-War-Two. Accessed 31 October 2015
2. William Blum, Killing Hope - US Military and CIA interventions since World War II, Common Courage Press, 2004.
3. John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002.
4. John Pilger, 'Paying the Price - Killing the Children of Iraq', 2000, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OLPWlMmV7s
5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 'Punishing Saddam', 12 May 1996.
6. The Guardian, Martin Chulov, 'France funding rebels in new push to oust Assad', 8 December 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/07/france-funding-syrian-rebels. Accessed 30 October 2015.
7. John Cooley, Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (Third Edition), Pluto Press, 2002.
8. Miko Peled, 'The General's Son - Journey of an Israeli in Palestine', Just World Books, 2012.
9. Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin (editors), Challenging Christian Zionism - Theology, Politics and the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Melisende, 2005.
10. Shlomo Sand, 'The Invention of the land of Israel - From Holy Land to Homeland', Verso, 2012.
Other articles in the 'Remove the Plank' series:
- Bacon and dregs - Pork wars and Christianity
- Truth and lies - Taqiyya in Islam and Christianity
- Was Muhammad a pedophile?
- The Light of love and a bushel of bigotry
- Religion of Peace & Love?