Sunday, August 7, 2011
Christian violence and terrorism
In Letter to a Christian Nation, the critic of religion writes that "--- faith inspires in at least two ways. First, people often kill other humans because they believe that their creator of the universe wants them to to do it. --- Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation.
The Inquisition, Crusades, Wars of Religion, witch burning, the invasion of the Americas, attacks on gays and atheists and antisemitism are among the most notorious examples of Christian violence.
However, the word "violence" can be defined to extend far beyond pain and shedding blood. It carries the meaning of physical force, violent language, fury and, more importantly, forcible interference.
Terence Fretheim writes:
"For many people, ... only physical violence truly qualifies as violence. But, certainly, violence is more than killing people, unless one includes all those words and actions that kill people slowly. The effect of limitation to a “killing fields” perspective is the widespread neglect of many other forms of violence. We must insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. In view of these considerations, violence may be defined as follows: any action, verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, physical or psychical, active or passive, public or private, individual or institutional/societal, human or divine, in whatever degree of intensity, that abuses, violates, injures, or kills. Some of the most pervasive and most dangerous forms of violence are those that are often hidden from view (against women and children, especially); just beneath the surface in many of our homes, churches, and communities is abuse enough to freeze the blood. Moreover, many forms of systemic violence often slip past our attention because they are so much a part of the infrastructure of life (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism. "
A religious war is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences. It can involve one state with an established religion against another state with a different religion or a different sect within the same religion, or a religiously motivated group attempting to spread its faith by violence, or to suppress another group because of its religious beliefs or practices. The Muslim conquests, the French Wars of Religion, the Crusades, and the Reconquista are frequently cited historical examples, especially in History Books.
French Wars of Religion
In 16th Century France there was a succession of wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants (Hugenots primarily). These series of wars were known as the Wars of Religion.
Thirty Years War
In the first half of the 17th century, the German states, Scandinavia (Sweden, primarily) and Poland were beset by religious warfare. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism figured in the opposing sides of this conflict, though Catholic France did take the side of the Protestants but purely for political reasons.
In 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II declared that some wars could be deemed as not only a bellum iustum ("just war"), but could, in certain cases, rise to the level of a bellum sacrum(holy war). Jill Claster characterizes this as a "remarkable transformation in the ideology of war", shifting the justification of war from being not only "just" but "spiritually beneficial. Thomas Murphy examined the Christian concept of Holy War, asking "how a culture formally dedicated to fulfilling the injunction to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' could move to a point where it sanctioned the use of violence against the alien both outside and inside society". The religious sanctioning of the concept of "holy war" was a turning point in Christian attitudes towards violence; "Pope Gregory VII made the Holy War possible by drastically altering the attitude of the church towards war... Hitherto a knight could obtain remission of sins only by giving up arms, but Urban invited him to gain forgiveness 'in and through the exercise of his martial skills'". A Holy War was defined by the Roman Catholic Church as "war that is not only just, but justifying; that is, a war that confers positive spiritual merit on those who fight in it".
In the 12th century, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: "'The knight of Christ may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently; for he serves Christ when he strikes, and saves himself when he falls.... When he inflicts death, it is to Christ's profit, and when he suffers death, it is his own gain."
According to Daniel Chirot, the Biblical account of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho was used to justify the genocide of Catholics during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.:3 Chirot also interprets 1 Samuel 15:1-3 as "the sentiment, so clearly expressed, that because a historical wrong was committed, justice demands genocidal retribution."This was also the basis for much of Hitler's attacks on the Jewish population. He felt he was carrying out gods will to exterminate the Jewish people.
The early modern period in Britain saw religious conflict resulting from the Reformation and the introduction of Protestant state churches. The Gunpowder Plot was a failed attempt to blow up the Palace of Westminster, the English seat of government. Peter Steinfels characterizes this plot as a notable case of religious terrorism.
The Irish Republican Army regarded bombing English targets as militarily and symbolic. They were responsible for attacks in England over decades, starting in 1939, and then a new campaign commenced after Bloody Sunday in 1972.
In Assam, the Manmasi National Christian Army (MNCA), an extremist group from the Hmar tribe, were charged with forcing Hindus to convert at gunpoint. Seven or more Hmar youths were charged with visiting Bhuvan Pahar, a Hindu village, armed with guns, and pressuring residents to convert to Christianity. They also desecrated temples by painting crosses on the walls with their blood. The Sonai police, along with the 5th Assam Rifles, arrested 13 members of the MNCA, including their commander-in-chief. Guns and ammunition were seized.
See also: Religious violence in Orissa.
In 2007 a tribal spiritual Hindu monk, Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, accused Radhakant Nayak, chief of a local chapter of World Vision, and a former Rajya Sabha member from Orissa in the Indian National Congress party, of plotting to assassinate him. The Swami also said that World Vision was covertly pumping money into India for religious conversion during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and criticized the activities of Christian missionaries as going against tribal beliefs. In 2008, he was gunned down along with four disciples on the Hindu festive day of Krishna Janmashtami by a group of 30–40 armed men. Later, Maoist terrorist leader Sabyasachi Panda admitted responsibility for the assassination, saying that the Maoists had intervened in the religious dispute on behalf of Christians and Dalits. The non-governmental organization Justice on Trial disputed that there had been Maoist involvement, and quoted the Swami as claiming that Christian missionaries had earlier attacked him eight times.
Orthodox Christian movements in Romania, such as the Iron Guard and Lăncieri, which have been characterized by Yad Vashem and Stanley G. Payne as anti-semitic and fascist, respectively, were responsible for involvement in the Bucharest pogrom, and political murders during the 1930s.(p37)
The Lord's Resistance Army, a cult guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, has been accused of using child soldiers and committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, porters, and sex slaves. A quasi-religious movement that mixes some aspects of Christian and Islamic beliefs with its own brand of spiritualism, it is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the "Holy Spirit" which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations.[page needed] LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.[dead link]
Beginning after the Civil War, members of the Protestant-led, Ku Klux Klan organization began engaging in arson, beatings, cross burning, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, and whipping against African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and other social or ethnic minorities.
They were explicitly Christian terrorist in ideology, basing their beliefs on a "religious foundation" in Christianity.  The goals of the KKK included, from an early time on, an intent to, "reestablish Protestant Christian values in America by any means possible," and believe that "Jesus was the first Klansman." Their cross-burnings were conducted not only to intimidate targets, but to demonstrate their respect and reverence for Jesus Christ, and the lighting ritual was steeped in Christian symbolism, including the saying of prayers and singing of Christian hymns.  Many modern Klan organizations, such as the Knights Party, USA, continue to focus on the Christian supremacist message, asserting that there is a "war" on to destroy "western Christian civilization." 
During the twentieth century, members of extremist groups such as the Army of God began executing attacks against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States. A number of terrorist attacks were attributed to individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements, including the Lambs of Christ. A group called Concerned Christians were deported from Israel on suspicion of planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999, believing that their deaths would "lead them to heaven." The motive for anti-abortionist Scott Roeder murdering Wichita doctor George Tiller on May 31, 2009 was a belief that abortion is criminal and immoral, and that this belief went "hand in hand" with his religious beliefs.
Hutaree was a Christian militia group based in Adrian, Michigan. In 2010, after an FBI agent infiltrated the group, nine of its members were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy to use of improvised explosive devices, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. Terrorism scholar Aref M. Al-Khattar has listed The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, Defensive Action, The Freemen Community, and what Al-Khattar called "the Christian militia that supported Timothy McVeigh", as groups that "can be placed under the category of far-right-wing terrorism" that "has a religious (Christian) component".[
Posted by jwdixon at 8:48 AM