Monday, June 15, 2009

Are You Worried About Christian Extremists?

Here is the "Quote of the Day" from the Sojourners email newsletter.

"I am more concerned with the threat from the Christian-identity groups than the homegrown Islamic terrorists. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that this guy did what he did may be symptomatic of things to come."
- Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on yesterday's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. (Source: The Washington Times)

Well, isn't that just precious? She is more worried about Christian terrorism than about Islamist terrorism. Now that makes sense! What an opportunistic misuse of a headline grabbing event to slam Christianity. What a warped view of the world. She is quick to identify a nutcase as representative, not of some radical, fringe group, but as "Christian," a member of a "Christian-identity group." I'm a Baptist; I believe that would be a Christian-identity group. (The apostle Paul was into the same sort of thing - going around claiming that his citizenship was in heaven.)

Ironically, she would probably object strongly to calling the suicide bomber a representative of Islam. This is the kind of rhetorical double standard one would expect from an anti-Christian propogandist.

Some people just hate Christianity and take every opportunity to taint Christianity with all the evil in the world (eg. Christopher Hitchens). She could have condemned the hateful actions of this spiteful old man without condemning Christianity as such. She just chose not to. And Sojourners thought it was so profound and insightful that it chose to display it proudly at the top of its newsletter. That tells you a lot about how far Sojourners has fallen from its original Christian roots.


Halden said...

"Christian-identity groups" is actually a technical term for "churches" that have a highly racialized white supremacist ideology.

I wouldn't read Haberfeld's comments as applying to all people who self-identify as Christians. Rather she's talking about this particular movement, and a rather horrifying movement at that.

Craig Carter said...

How many people would know that technical term? And why does the term say "Christian-identity" instead of "White Supremacist-identity" or "British Israelism-identity" if race, not religion, is the basis for such groups' ideology?

Halden said...

It's a very well known term. Google it.

Sure, we may not like the term, and question its semantic accuracy much as we would for, say "Christian Science." But the fact remains that its just the common term for these movements. That's what she was referring to, not "Christianity as such."

Peter Dunn said...

Craig, I'd never heard that "Christian Identity" was a technical term either. Nor apparently Ben Connery of the Washington Times article who misspelled the term: "Christian-identity group" instead of "Christian Identity group". The small case "i" makes it less clear that it is a technical term. Finally, this may be an academic term that lumps a bunch of churches and disparate groups together. I did find one website where a group used the term "Identity" of itself.

Duane said...

I see there have been a few other comments, but as the person who compiles the daily news headlines at Sojourners and chooses a quote, I thought I’d also answer this. Your outrage completely misses the mark. It may not be true in Canada, but here in the States “Christian-identity groups” is a term used to describe white-supremacist, neo-Nazi type organizations; it does indeed mean a "radical, fringe group.” It is not slamming Christianity, does not apply to folks who identify as Christian, it does not apply to churches. It has nothing to do with hating or condemning Christianity. Just Google it and see.

I chose the quote because I think she is correct. There have been a number of news reports documenting that those type of extremist organizations are growing and do represent an internal threat. Our society has become so fixated on Islamic terrorism and has forgotten about the Oklahoma City bombing, that these groups are too often ignored.

Doing a bit of research before attacking us might be helpful.

Duane Shank

Peter Dunn said...

Just want to connect the dots on the Oklahoma City bomber. There may have been a connection with Al Qaeda. What those connections were remains elusive and obviously impossible to prove or disprove. Yet the most stunning evidence of a connection is the disappearance of John Doe #2 from the FBI case and his remarkable resemblance to Jose Padilla. See e.g.,

Craig Carter said...

I accept your explanation that you did not intend to attack Christians in general with that quote, but only right wing fringe groups that are not Christian at all (eg. the Aryan Nation). So I withdraw my accusation that you intended to lump in conservative Christians with such organizations.

I still do not agree, however, that such groups constitute a bigger threat than Islamist terrorists. That is not to say that they do not constitute a threat; it is just to keep things in perspective. For one thing, a successful attack by such a group would not have the potential to set off a world-wide clash of civilizations as an Islamist attack could potentially have.

While I accept that "Christian-identity" is a term used to describe groups that do not actually have a Christian identity (!), I myself would avoid it and use other terms like "white supremacist organizations" because the terms we choose to use are themselves politically charged and can shape our thinking. There is no need to risk having Christianity be blamed for pagan, neo-Nazi hate.

Peter Dunn said...

Excellent points Craig.

I read today the following article at the American Thinker that reports that the FBI considers the eco-terrorists called the Earth Liberation Front are the number one domestic threat in America: "The FBI says the group is responsible for more than 1200 acts of terrorism in the US, causing more than $US100 million ($A125 million) damage. The acts have included fire-bombing housing developments, torching car yards and attacking forestry research centres."

But I've not seen the panic about eco-terrorists that there is about pro-Life groups or "Christian Identity" groups. But of course, these are left-wing fanatics.