Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Violent Extremism: It's not Just for Muslims

In all candor, I'm not much of a Christian. "Do unto others" and "love thy neighbor" is about all I can absorb, much less live up to. Maybe that explains why I don't understand people like this Eric Randolph character who just got life in prison for blowing up an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Randolph also faces charges for bombing an abortion clinic in Atlanta, Georgia.

Described as "unrepentant," Randolph stated, "Abortion is murder and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."

I don't know whether abortion is murder, or if certain kinds of abortion constitute murder and other kinds don't. God hasn't clued me in on that yet. I am reasonably certain that God hasn't put me in charge of making those sorts of judgments for others, and I'm sure as hell that He hasn't authorized me to use deadly force on abortion clinics.

Curiously, Randolph also faces charges for bombing the Olympics and a gay bar in Atlanta. I wonder how he justified deadly force to stop the Olympics and homosexuality.

God didn't put me in charge of judging Randolph either. The reason I bring him up is to illustrate that the underlying causes of religious based extremism, violence, terrorism, or whatever we're calling it today are not exclusive to the Muslim faith.

I overheard an interesting conversation the other day.

Two guys are sitting at this bar, and they're talking about the war in Iraq. "More bombings in Baghdad today," the first guy says.

"Looks like we might have to kill all of them," the other guy says.


"That's one word for it," the other guy says, and finishes off his beer and orders another one. "If it comes to that, as a good Christian, I'm certain God will approve."

True story.

I'm not relating this incident to make any sort of blanket condemnation of Christianity (like I said, I am one, sort of), or of any other religion, for that matter. I just find it disheartening that all the history of religious violence we have to learn from, people of so many cultures are still so willing to justify doing horrible things in God's name.

Hope this didn't sound too preachy or anything.


  1. Just goes to show the dangers posed by religious extremism of any kind. It allows people to pretend to have complete moral justification for absolutely any act, no matter how vile.

  2. Robert DeNiro's character in Angel Heart (Louis Cyphre -- Lucifer -- get it? get it? nudge nudge): "They say there's enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love."

  3. Seems the so-called Christian wingnuts have forgotten Jesus' admonition regarding judgements, etc. (Matthew 7:1, KJV)

    But then Hypocrites was what Jesus was talking about in that part of the Sermon on the Mount.

    Suffice it to say that these are CINOs and wouldn't know Jesus if they bumped into Him on the road to salvation.

  4. Thanks for stopping by and posting, guys. I've been thinking of writing on this topic, but frankly don't care for doing anything that sounds like I'm criticizing others' beliefs.

    I recently saw--but can't find now--some figures that show even today, the majority of "terrorist acts" are not commited by Muslims.

    If anyone knows of a source on this, I'd love to hear about it.


  5. Maybe you read the same book review I did last week in the NY Times: Robert Pape, a U of Chicago political science professor who wrote "Dying to Win," did an extensive study of suicide bombers and found that since 1980, most suicide bombers have been members of the Tamil Tigers from Sri Lanka, a secular Marxist group. He says that suicide bombers, even those who are motivated by religion, are mostly motivated by specific political goals. I read a review of his book in the NY Times a week ago or so ago and he was on NPR's "Odyssey" today with Mia Bloom who wrote "Dying to Kill." (yeah, kind of funny that their books have such similar titles!)

    The thing that scares me the most about religious fundamentalists is that they have "unquestioning certitude" in their beliefs. How do you reason with "faith"? They're intractable, regardless of which "faith" they prescribe to.

    Eric Rudolph is a fanatical murderer, a terrorist like any other motivated by religion. His religion might be Christianity instead of Islam, but that's where the differences end. He's a nutcase. I'm glad he's going to jail.

    Snag pointed to your blog. I enjoy it!

    Take care --

  6. That's what it was, Kate. Thanks for the reminder.

    And thanks for stopping by.

    (For some reason, you link won't open from this page. I'll try catching up with your blog through salon.)


  7. And don't forget those ever-lovin' IRA Catholics, exporting terrorism around the world, though they haven't done too much bombing themselves in recent years - and of course those wacky Irish Protestants terrorizing in response.....

  8. Catholics and Protestants--Christians who can't agree to disagree.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting.