The Pope gave liberals an early Christmas Present this week, on a flight back from Turkey…by drawing a parallel between Christian Fundamentalists and Islamic terror groups such as ISIS.
When a journalist attempted to draw the Pope into yet another condemnation of the world’s 2 billion Muslims on the basis of the actions of a few thousand – the pontiff dropped a logic bomb.
“You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups,” Pope Francis said.
With this succinct, unapologetic statement – Pope Francis has said what many of us, religious and not, have been quietly thinking for some time: Christian and Muslim fundamentalists have far more in common with each other than the rest of us.
Was it US Muslims or Christians that lobbied against legislation outlawing spousal rape? Answer: Christians.
Virginia Republican Richard Black argued against such legislation in January 2014, stating that a woman could not be raped by her husband because she had already given consent through marriage.
Was it Muslims or Christians that used the state’s legal system to allow corporations to remove female workers’ control over their own reproductive health? Answer: Christians.
The US Supreme Court, dominated by Christian Conservatives, upheld the rights of corporations to bar women accessing birth control through their health insurance plans.
Was it a Christian or Muslim legislator who argued a woman could only get pregnant through consensual sex? Answer: The US Republican Party.
In 2012, Missouri Republican Todd Akin drew ire around the world for this comment:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Was it a Christian or Muslim fundamentalist news channel that put women on air to advise other women not to vote? Answer: Christian.
Fox News does this regularly, as in this October 2013 discussion of how married women tend to vote Republican and single women tend to vote Democratic:
“It’s the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea. They don’t get it! They’re not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare. They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.”
Ok, so maybe there’s a parallel with women…but then there’s the violence. Christian fundamentalists aren’t terrorists are they? Answer: Yes they are.
Contrary to popular opinion, most of the terrorist activity in the U.S. in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from radical Christians, white supremacists, and far-right militia groups. Our friends at Alternet prepared an astonishing list of the 10 worst US terror attacks by Christian Fundamentalists which included:
- Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug 2012. white supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people during an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
- The Dr. George Tiller Murder, May 2009. In 1986, his clinic was firebombed. In ’93, he was shot five times by female Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon (now serving time in a federal prison) but survived – but in May 2009 Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009. He was a victim of Christian Right terrorism, not al-Qaeda.
- Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 2008. On July 27, 2008, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson walked into the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s play and began shooting people at random. Two were killed, while seven others were injured but survived. Adkisson said he was motivated by a hatred of liberals, Democrats and gays.
- The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 1996. Eric Rudolph is is best known for carrying out the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics—a blast that killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others. His long list of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Christianity includes his bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998 caused the death of Robert Sanderson (a Birmingham police officer and part-time security guard) and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.
So a big hat-tip to the Pope for making a comparison that many ardent liberals have been to afraid to make, through fear of the repercussions, or accusations of hyperbole. Religious extremism is dangerous, but it is not the preserve of any faith. There is no ‘worst’ form of religious extremism. To be frank, the assumption there is often finds its roots in racism. So maybe the next time Bill Maher wants to call comparisons of Christian and Muslim fundamentalists ‘liberal bullshit’, he should have a little chat with the Pope…or, you know, open a history book.