As expected, no sooner had blood been spilled at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado than accusations of “Christian terrorism” began to fly across the Internet, despite the fact that: 1) no motive had been announced; 2) there was no hint of a connection between the murderer and any pro-life organization; and 3) pro-life leaders immediately denounced the killings as soon as the news was released.
In the words of Jason Benham, posting on Twitter, “True pro-lifers care about all life, including employees and clients of #PlannedParenthood. Praying for those in #ColoradoSpringsShooting.”
Or as stated by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, “While the investigation into the shooting at the Planned Parenthood center continues, regardless of what the motive is determined to be, we strongly condemn this violence. … Only through peaceful means—not violence—can we truly become a nation that once again values all human life, born and unborn.”
In contrast, Bette Midler was quick to point a finger, also using Twitter: “Thanks to overheated screeds spewing from the mouths of the GOP, and in Congress, innocent people have died in CO, including a policeman.” And “We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.”
Others began to ask me on Facebook when I was going to denounce “Christian terrorism,” just as I regularly denounce Islamic terrorism, with one man asking me about “apparent Christian terrorist Robert Lewis Dear.” (Dear was the shooter, who ultimately surrendered to police.)
A blogger on the Patheos website went as far as stating that “Christian terrorism is a bigger threat to U.S. freedom than Islamic extremism.”
He concluded his article with these startling and plainly ridiculous words: “Today’s attack is an act of religious terrorism, there should be no other words to describe it. Just as many demand we label terrorism carried out in the name of Islam as Islamic terrorism, we must do the same to Christianity and realize the Christian religion is just as dangerous and prone to incite violence as its younger brother, Islam.”
How do we respond to irresponsible and irrational rhetoric like this?
The respected Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald even tweeted, “The time has come to hold @daviddaleiden accountable for violence spawned by his lying ‘baby body parts’ video. Indict him 4 manslaughter.”
Like many other leaders, as soon as I heard the news about the horrific shooting, I tweeted out, “In light of today’s news about a shooter at a Planned Parenthood, we state again that this is NOT the way of Jesus or the way of pro-life.”
Then, as I began to see the mounting charges of “Christian terrorism” or “Christian extremism,” I tweeted, “In light of some crazy rhetoric here re: pro-lifers wanting to kill abortion doctors, if that was the case, 1,000’s would be killed by now.”
The fact is that the pro-life movement is an overwhelmingly peaceful movement, despite our profound and deep objection to abortion on demand and despite the deplorable practices of Planned Parenthood. As blogger Matt Walsh noted, “Interesting fact: Planned Parenthood kills 100 times more people in a day than alleged ‘anti abortion extremists’ have killed in 40 years.”
As for those “anti-abortion extremists,” their actions have been condemned by all major pro-life groups as well as by all major Christian leaders involved in the pro-life movement, since, by murdering another human being, they violate the very spirit of being “pro-life.”
More importantly, there is not a single word in the teaching of Jesus or the New Testament that supports murdering an abortion doctor (or worker), nor is there anything in ancient Christian tradition or example that would support this.
That’s why it was no surprise to learn that the alleged shooter in last week’s tragic attack was completely unknown to the pro-life movement and that, according to one report, after a divorce in 2000, “he appears to have posted apocalyptic rants online and sought sadomasochistic sex and pot-smoking companions.” This is hardly Christian!
That’s why Christian leaders in Belgium are scratching their heads upon hearing the report that “a menacing letter from the group called ‘Christian state’ has been sent to the major Belgian mosque Attadamoune. It threatens all Muslims will be killed, and their businesses destroyed.”
They too have no idea who this alleged “Christian” group could be—if the letter is even genuinely from such a group—since there is no connection between Christian teaching, in any recognized denomination or tradition, and threats like this.
And in stark contrast with radical Islamic groups, pro-life leaders in the church and government have called for the defunding of our ideological opponents at Planned Parenthood whereas radical Islamists call for the beheading of their ideological opponents.
So I have a challenge for everyone who wants to brand the tragic Planned Parenthood shooting an act of Christian terrorism: Find one verse in the New Testament, in context, or one example from the early church, or one statement from a recognized pro-life organization that supports these murderous acts.
Radical Muslims can find plenty of support for their violent actions in the Quran, the life of Muhammad, early Islamic history, later Islamic history, and from the lips and pens of respected contemporary leaders, which is why I refer to it as radical Islam.
Radical Christianity, in stark contrast, stands for the giving of life and the preservation of life, not the taking of life. And while the term “Islamic terrorism” is hardly an oxymoron, the term “Christian terrorism” is absolutely oxymoronic and fundamentally self-contradictory.