|The neutrality of this article is disputed. (January 2015)|
Christian terrorism comprises terrorist acts by groups or individuals who cite motivations or goals that they interpret to be Christian, or within a more basic context of sectarian violence and/or prejudices such as religious intolerance. As with other forms of religious terrorism, they have cited interpretations of tenets of their faith to justify the terrorism.
- 1 Global ideologies
- 2 Historical
- 3 Contemporary
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 Further reading
Christian Identity was a loosely affiliated global group of churches and individuals devoted to a racialized theology which asserts that North European whites are the direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people. It has been associated with groups such as the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Army of God, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. It has been cited as an influence on a number of terrorist attacks around the world, including the 2002 Soweto bombings.
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)
Ku Klux Klan
After the American Civil War of 1861–1865, members of the Protestant-led Ku Klux Klan (KKK) organization began engaging in arson, beatings, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, whipping and intimidation via such means as cross burning. They targeted African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and other social or ethnic minorities.
Klan members had an explicitly Christian terrorist ideology, basing their beliefs in part on a "religious foundation" in Christianity. The goals of the KKK included, from an early time onward, an intent to "reestablish Protestant Christian values in America by any means possible", and they believed that "Jesus was the first Klansman." From 1915 onward, Klansmen conducted cross-burnings not only to intimidate targets, but also to demonstrate their respect and reverence for Jesus Christ, and the ritual of lighting crosses was steeped in Christian symbolism, including making prayer and singing Christian hymns. Within Christianity the Klan directed hostilities against Catholics. Modern Klan organizations, such as the Knights Party, USA, continue to focus on the Christian supremacist message, detecting a "war" which allegedly aims to destroy "western Christian civilization."
Anti-Hindu violence in India
The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), is a rebel group that seeks the secession of Tripura, North-East India, and is a proscribed terrorist organization in India. Group activities have been described as Christian terrorists engaging in terrorist violence motivated by their Christian beliefs. The NLFT includes in its aims the forced conversion of all tribespeople in Tripura to Christianity. The NLFT says that it is fighting not only for the removal of Bengali immigrants from the tribal areas, "but also for the tribal areas of the state to become overtly Christian", and "has warned members of the tribal community that they may be attacked if they do not accept its Christian agenda". The NLFT is listed as a terrorist organization in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. The state government contends that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. Reports from the state government and Indian media describe activities such as the acquisition by the NLFT of explosives through the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, and threats of killing Hindus celebrating religious festivals. Over 20 Hindus in Tripura were reported to have been killed by the NLFT from 1999 to 2001 for resisting forced conversion to Christianity. According to Hindus in the area, there have also been forced conversions of tribal villagers to Christianity by armed NLFT militants. These forcible conversions, sometimes including the use of "rape as a means of intimidation", have also been noted by academics outside of India.
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 Odisha 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, the 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.
Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon
Maronite Christian militias perpetrated the Karantina and Tel al-Zaatar massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese Muslims during Lebanon's 1975–1990 civil war. The 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, which targeted unarmed Palestinian refugees for rape and murder, was considered to be genocide by the United Nations General Assembly. A British photographer present during the incident said that "People who committed the acts of murder that I saw that day were wearing [crucifixes] and were calling themselves Christians." After the end of the civil war, Christian militias refused to disband, concentrating in the Israeli-occupied south of the country, where they terrorized Muslim and Druze villages and forcefully recruited men and boys from those communities into their groups.
Northern Ireland paramilitaries
The Troubles in Northern Ireland are widely seen as an ethno-nationalist conflict that was not religious in nature. Some experts who subscribe to this view argue that religion was also a motivating factor, with Philip Purpura calling it an "overlap" between religious terrorism and ethnic/nationalist terrorism, a characterization that is at odds with multiple other analysts.
The aims of republican paramilitary organisations such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were political: to force British troops out of Northern Ireland and bring about a United Ireland. Sociology professor Steve Bruce has said that, with the exception of three small splinter groups, loyalist terrorist organisations were not motivated by Protestant evangelical teaching.
Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda
The Lord's Resistance Army, a cult and guerrilla army, was engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government in 2005. It has been accused of using child soldiers and of committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, and using forced child labourers as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves. A quasi-religious movement that mixes some aspects of Christian 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. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.
After 1981, members of groups such as the Army of God began attacking abortion clinics and doctors across the United States. A number of terrorist attacks were attributed by Bruce Hoffman to individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements, including the Lambs of Christ. A group called Concerned Christians was deported from Israel on suspicion of planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999; they believed that their deaths would "lead them to heaven".
The motive for anti-abortionist Scott Roeder murdering Wichita doctor George Tiller on 31 May 2009 was the belief that abortion is not only immoral, but also a form of murder under "God's law", irrespective of "man's law" in any country, and that this belief went "hand in hand" with his religious beliefs. The group supporting Roeder proclaimed that any force is "legitimate to protect the life of an unborn child", and called on all Christians to "rise up" and "take action" against threats to Christianity and to unborn life. Eric Robert Rudolph carried out the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996, as well as subsequent attacks on an abortion clinic and a lesbian nightclub. Michael Barkun, a professor at Syracuse University, considers Rudolph to likely fit the definition of a Christian terrorist. James A. Aho, a professor at Idaho State University, argues that religious considerations inspired Rudolph only in part.
Terrorism scholar Aref M. Al-Khattar has listed The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), Defensive Action, the Montana Freemen, and some "Christian militia" as groups that "can be placed under the category of far-right-wing terrorism" that "has a religious (Christian) component".
In 1996 three men—Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Jay Merelle—were charged with two bank robberies and bombings at the banks, a Spokane newspaper, and a Planned Parenthood office in Washington state. The men were anti-Semetic Christian Identity theorists who believed that God wanted them to carry out violent attacks and that such attacks will hasten the ascendancy of Aryan race.
In 2011, analyst Daryl Johnson of the United States Department of Homeland Security said that the Hutaree Christian militia movement possessed more weapons than the combined weapons holdings of all Islamic terror defendants charged in the US since the September 11 attacks.
- Christianity and violence
- Hate groups
- Islamic terrorism
- Jewish religious terrorism
- Religious war
- Sikh extremism
- Zionist political violence
- B. Hoffman, "Inside Terrorism", Columbia University Press, 1999, pp. 105–120. ISBN 978-0231126991
- Mark S. Hamm (2001). In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground. Northeastern. ISBN 1-55553-492-9.
- James Alfred Aho (1995). The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism. University of Washington Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-295-97494-X.
- Alan Cooperman (2 June 2003). "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?". Washington Post.
- Martin Schönteich and Henri Boshoff (2003). <span />'Volk' Faith and Fatherland: The Security Threat Posed by the White Right. Pretoria, South Africa, Institute for Security Studies. ISBN 1-919913-30-0.
- Paul Tinichigiu (January 2004). "Sami Fiul (interview)". The Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Radu Ioanid (2004). "The Sacralised Politics of the Romanian Iron Guard". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 5 (3): 419–453(35). doi:10.1080/1469076042000312203.
- Leon Volovici. Nationalist Ideology and Antisemitism. p. 98. ISBN 0-08-041024-3.
citing N. Cainic, Ortodoxie şi etnocraţie, pp. 162–4
- "Roots of Romanian Antisemitism: The League of National Christian Defense and Iron Guard Antisemitism" (PDF). Background and precursors to the Holocaust (Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority).
- Payne, Stanley G. (1995). A History of Fascism 1914–1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press (pp. 277–289) ISBN 0-299-14874-2
- Al-Khattar, Aref M. (2003). Religion and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Westport, CT: Praeger. pp. 21, 30.
- Al-Khattar, Aref M. (2003). Religion and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Westport, CT: Praeger. pp. 21, 30, 55, 91.
- Michael, Robert, and Philip Rosen. Dictionary of antisemitism from the earliest times to the present. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press, 1997 p. 267.
- Wade, Wyn Craig (1998). The fiery cross: the Ku Klux Klan in America. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 185. ISBN 9780195123579. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
- Adam, de Cordier, Titeca, and Vlassenroot (2007). "In the Name of the Father? Christian Militantism in Tripura, Northern Uganda, and Ambon". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 30 (11): 963. doi:10.1080/10576100701611288.
- Kumar, B.B. (2007). Problems of Ethnicity in North-East India. New Delhi, India: Concept Publishing Company. p. 23. ISBN 818069464X. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- "Hindu preacher killed by Tripura rebels". BBC News. August 28, 2000. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Analysis: Tripura's tribal strife". BBC News. 21 May 2000. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- "The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002". Republic of India. South Asia Terrorism Portal. 2002. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
- "Constitution of National Liberation Front Of Tripura". South Asia Terrorism Portal.
- "National Liberation Front of Tripura, India". South Asia Terrorism Portal.
- Bhaumik, Subhir (18 April 2000). "'Church backing Tripura rebels'". BBC News. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
- "Separatist group bans Hindu festivities". BBC News. 2 October 2000.
- rediff.com: Tribals unite against conversions in Tripura
- Adam, de Cordier, Titeca, and Vlassenroot (2007). "In the Name of the Father? Christian Militantism in Tripura, Northern Uganda, and Ambon". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 30 (11): 965, 966, 967. doi:10.1080/10576100701611288.
- "RSS wing blames Cong MP for triggering communal tension in Kandhamal". The Pioneer Archive. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
- "Attack on Laxmanananda by Christian mob in Orissa-I". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Net closes in on Cong MP for Orissa swami’s murder - Indian Express
- Why Swami Laxmanananda was killed
- "Advani, Singhal, Togadia natural targets of Maoists". The Times Of India. 5 October 2008.
- Swami Laxmanananda feared for his life: NGO : Latest Headlines: News India Today
- [dead link]
- United Nations (December 16, 1982). "General Assembly Resolution 37/123". Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- BBC News (June 17, 2001). "Panorama: "The Accused"". Retrieved January 17, 2011. The transcription actually says "crucifixions" instead of "crucifixes".
- Coakley, John. "ETHNIC CONFLICT AND THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION: THE IRISH EXPERIENCE OF PARTITION". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
...these attitudes are not rooted particularly in religious belief, but rather in underlying ethnonational identity patterns.
- Interview with Bruce Hoffman; "A Conversation with Bruce Hoffman and Jeffrey Goldberg" in Religion, Culture and International Conflict: A Conversation, edited by Michael Cromartie. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. p.30. Quote: "I define terrorism as 'religious' when some liturgy, scripture, or clerical authority is involved in sanctioning the violent act. Now there are all sorts of groups around the world that use force and can be identified using religious terms but are not 'religious' in the sense that I am using the term. In Northern Ireland, for instance, Protestants and Catholics fight using terrorist (or as they say locally, 'paramilitary') tactics, but theological justifications play little or no role."
- Jenkins, Richard (1997). Rethinking Ethnicity: Arguments and Explorations. SAGE Publications. p. 120.
It should, I think, be apparent that the Northern Irish conflict is not a religious conflict... Although religion has a place—and indeed an important one—in the repertoire of conflict in Northern Ireland, the majority of participants see the situation as primarily concerned with matters of politics and nationalism, not religion. And there is no reason to disagree with them.
- Griffin, Emily (2012). "12: In Violence and in Peace – the role of religion and human security in Northern Ireland". Religion and Human Security: A Global Perspective. Oxford University Press. p. 214.
Many scholars like Richardson believe that the religious nature of the dispute has been overemphasized. Richard Jenkins et al (1986) believe that although religion has a place in the "repertoire of conflict" in Northern Ireland, it is apparent that the situation was primarily concerned with matters of politics and nationalism, not religious issues. Edna Longley has argued that it is better described as a culture war in which both sides have been merely defined by their religious denominations. In an editorial column in the National Catholic Reporter, Eoin McKiernan told readers that the "religious conflict in Northern Ireland is a misnomer for political strife". In 2007, William Cardinal Conway, former archbishop of Armagh, referred to the issues as "basically political, social and economic" in nature. Hayes and McAllister suggest that the terms ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ play no greater role in shaping the conflict beyond providing convenient identifying labels for the protagonists.
- Mitchell, Claire (2013). Religion, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland. Ashgate Publishing. p. 5.
The most popular school of thought on religion is encapsulated in McGarry and O'Leary's Explaining Northern Ireland (1995), and is echoed by Coulter (1999) and Clayton (1998). The central argument is that religion is an ethnic marker, but that it is not generally politically relevant in and of itself. Instead, ethnonationalism lies at the root of the conflict. Hayes and McAllister (1999a) point out that this represents something of an academic consensus.
- Tannam, Etain (2014). International Intervention in Ethnic Conflict. Palgrave Macmillan.
In 1983 the European Parliament's Political Affairs Committee commissioned a report, chaired by the Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nils Haagerup, on resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. […] The Haagerup Report […] aimed to explain the situation of conflict in Northern Ireland to non-British and non-Irish MEPs […] The report defined the conflict as being one of ‘conflicting national identities’, not a religious conflict between the two communities…
- Moore, Margaret (2001). "3:Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and Minority Nationalism". Minority Nationalism and the Changing International Order. Oxford University Press. p. 50.
In Northern Ireland, where there are two distinct and mutually antagonistic national communities on the same territory, the conflict between the two groups is not about some objective cultural difference. Despite a common misconception, it is not religious in nature. The groups are not arguing over the details of doctrinal interpretation. Religious leaders – priests, nuns, ministers – are not targets for violence…
- Murray, Dominic (1995). "Families in Conflict: Pervasive Violence in Northern Ireland". War: A Cruel Necessity?. I.B.Tauris. p. 68.
At the outset, it is essential to state that the conflict in the province is not principally a religious one. It is true that it has been presented as such throughout the world but this is both misleading and not very productive.
- Reuter, Tina (2010). "17: Ethnic Conflict". 21st Century Political Science: A Reference Handbook. SAGE Publications. p. 144.
The conflicts in Northern Ireland or Israel/Palestine, for example, are not religious conflicts, but political conflicts, because the goals at stake are political, not religious in nature.
- Patterson, Eric (2013). "Religion, war and peace: leavening the levels of analysis". The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Security. Routledge. p. 120.
Northern Ireland has a long history of difference and discrimination, but no one there was fighting over the number of books in the Bible, about theology, about the nature of communion, about the infallibility of the pope, or any of the things about which Catholics and Protestants differ theologically and ecclesiastically... The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its political wing Sinn Féin are not religious – although supposedly they were defenders of the Catholics. The IRA judged the institutional Catholic Church as taking a quietistic role, with its head in the sand and consequently supportive of the status quo. In contrast, the IRA and Sinn Féin's intellectual roots are in left of-center, secularist, twentieth-century nationalism rather than in the ideology of a Catholic-inspired insurgency.
- Kearney, Richard (1988). Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture. Manchester University Press. p. 237.
In the face of such 'outside' opinion, many Irish citizens would respond: 'but you foreigners don't really understand us; you don't appreciate that the conflict in Northern Ireland, for instance, is not in fact a religious war at all - the IRA or the UDA don't care about the theological doctrines of their religious traditions – the violence is really about opposed tribal fidelities'.
- McGarry, John; Brendan O'Leary (15 June 1995). Explaining Northern Ireland. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-631-18349-5.
- Northern Ireland hears an echo of itself in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Aljazeera.com. 31 July 2014. Quote: "Ed Moloney, a journalist and scholar of Irish history, says that while the conflict in Northern Ireland and the one between Israelis and Palestinians share many deep similarities, there are differences that make the latter much harder to resolve."The Northern Irish conflict is not a religious conflict," Moloney said."
- BBC History – The Troubles. Quote: "This was a territorial conflict, not a religious one. At its heart lay two mutually exclusive visions of national identity and national belonging."
- Purpura, Philip (2007). Terrorism and Homeland Security: An Introduction with Applications. Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier. p. 17. ISBN 9780750678438. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
this conflict overlaps religious terrorism because of the violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
- Richard Jenkins (2008-01-18). Rethinking Ethnicity: Arguments and Explorations. pp. 111–127. ISBN 9781849204934. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
"A strong version of the thesis that the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland are, indeed, a conflict of religion has been defended vigorously by John Fulton (1991); more moderate versions have been put forward by John Hickey (1984), Maurice Irvine (1991) and Claire Mitchell (2006)." (page 112)
"And that the 'troubles' have not been about religion cannot be taken to mean that religious differences are insignificant." (page 127)
"As I suggested in Chapter 8, although essentially political, the Northern Irish conflict is symbolized and reinforced by an important religious dimension." (page 157)
Politics in the North is not politics exploiting religion. That is far too simple an explanation: it is one which trips readily off the tongue of commentators who are used to a cultural style in which the politically pragmatic is the normal way of conducting affairs and all other considerations are put to its use. In the case of Northern Ireland the relationship is much more complex. It is more a question of religion inspiring politics than of politics making use of religion. It is a situation more akin to the first half of seventeenth‑century England than to the last quarter of twentieth century Britain.John Hickey (1984). Religion and the Northern Ireland Problem. Gill and Macmillan. p. 67. ISBN 978-0717111152.
- Goodspeed, Michael (2002). When Reason Fails: Portraits of Armies at War : America, Britain, Israel, and the Future. Greenwood Publishing. p. 78.
The war waged by the IRA was not a religious war, nonetheless it was a war that divided society along religious lines. The loyalist cause in Ireland is exclusively a Protestant cause and the Republican cause is almost entirely Catholic.
- Moghadam, Assaf (2009). The Roots of Terrorism. Infobase Publishing. p. 106.
Finally, religious terrorists differ from secular terrorists in the scale of their goals. The goals of secular groups such as the IRA are limited. Were the IRA, for instance, to succeed in their goals of removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland, then presumably the IRA would no longer have any reason to continue using violence. For religious terrorists, however, the struggle against the "infidels" is almost limitless.
- Armstrong, Karen. "The label of Catholic terror was never used about the IRA". The Guardian. 11 July 2005. "We rarely, if ever, called the IRA bombings 'Catholic' terrorism because we knew enough to realise that this was not essentially a religious campaign."
- State Department, Office of the Coordinator for Conterterrorism. Country Reports on Terrorism 2004. Government Printing Office. p. 119. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- Tonge, Jonathan (2013). Northern Ireland: Conflict and Change. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 1317875184. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- Bruce, Steve (2014). "Religion and violence: The case of Paisley and Ulster evangelicals". The Irish Association. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- Xan Rice (20 October 2007). "Background: the Lord's Resistance Army". London: The Guardian.
- Marc Lacey (4 August 2002). "Uganda's Terror Crackdown Multiplies the Suffering". New York Times.
-  The scars of death: children abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda By Human Rights Watch/Africa 1997 page 72
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- "Ugandan rebels raid Sudanese villages". BBC News. 8 April 2002. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- K. Ward (2001). "The Armies of the Lord: Christianity, Rebels and the State in Northern Uganda, 1986–1999". Journal of Religion in Africa 31 (2): 187. doi:10.1163/157006601X00121.
- "In pictures: Ugandan rebels come home". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
One of the differences on the LRA pips is a white bible inside a heart
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- "'Army Of God' Anthrax Threats". CBS News. 9 November 2001.
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- Cooperman, Alan (2 June 2003). "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect? Religion May Have Motivated Bombing: Suspect". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
'Based on what we know of Rudolph so far, and admittedly it's fragmentary, there seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist,' said Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who has been a consultant to the FBI on Christian extremist groups.
- Al-Khattar, Aref M. (2003). Religion and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Westport, CT: Praeger. pp. 21, 30. ISBN 9780275969233.
- Martin, Gus (2003). Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-0761926153.
- Shane, Scott (July 24, 2011). "Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S." (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
- Mason, Carol. 2002. Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Zeskind, Leonard. 1987. The ‘Christian Identity’ Movement, [booklet]. Atlanta, Georgia: Center for Democratic Renewal/Division of Church and Society, National Council of Churches.
- Al-Khattar, Aref M. Religion and terrorism: an interfaith perspective. Greenwood. January 2003. ISBN 978-0-275-96923-3