Christianist Terror, Ctd.

A reader writes:

If you can't see the difference in the Mangum murder and Islamist terror, then perhaps it’s time to question why anyone (me included) would read your blog. I therefore assume it is a rhetorical question.


a)  Mangum thought he was Elijah. As far as I know, no Muslim committing murder in the name of Allah thought he was Mohammad or any other Islamic figure (including Elijah). Magnum’s actions appear to be the result of a mental problem. He is presumably insane. It is therefore not fair to attribute his actions to Christianity.

b)  Mangum didn’t blow himself up.

c)  Mangum was not taught his belief at church.  He appears to have been acting alone.

d)  Mangum's actions were not met with dancing in the street in his hometown.

e)  Mangum’s family was not paid $20,000 in honor of his death by the leader of a sovereign nation or taken care of in honor of his "holy act" by his local congregation.

f)  Mangum did not get his weapon of choice from Iran.

g)  Mangum didn’t claim he was promised 70 virgins in Paradise for his murder

h)  Mangum's actions or not based on any scripture (nor did he claim them to be) so far as the killing was concerned.

i)  Most importantly: all but a microscopic portion of Christianity loudly condemn his act as that of murder, even those denominations (like mine) that teach homosexuality is a sin. I only say a microscopic portion of Christianity because I assume there is some denomination like the one you linked to some time ago that might actually claim the act was one of God. I don't know of a single one myself. Go to Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. to see the contrasting reaction from the Muslim world when a homicide bomber takes out a non-believer.

Let me respond to each in turn. a) The quote in question reads to me as if he believed he was like Elijah, not literally Elijah: ""I believe I'm Elijah, called by God to be a prophet." This kind of association with holy figures in the past is a rote feature of many religions, including Islam. Is he nuts? I don't know. Is Bin Laden nuts? You tell me. b) No, he didn't blow himself up. He can lay no rancid claim to martyrdom, but his victim, it is fair to say, found the distinction irrelevant. c) Of course, he was taught his hatred of gay people at church. Where else? 

He invokes his Christianity explicitly as the core motive for his murder. d) and e) No, there was no dancing in the streets, no reward for despatching an infidel. But I did not claim that he represents some broader movement as dangerous as Islamism. I merely wrote that the act was indistinguishable from Islamist barbarism. f) No, Mangum was not armed by Iran. Neither were the 9/11 murderers. g) No, Mangum wasn't expecting vigins, but he was expecting divine favor. h) Leviticus explicitly calls for the execution of homosexuals. Those who teach and believe in the literal inerrancy of the Bible cannot deny that gay men are explicitly called to be put to death by Scripture. Why would an extreme Christianist not take that seriously? i) same response as to d) and e).

Recommended Reading

The danger for all of us is believing that just because we are who we are, we cannot be vulnerable to the same temptations and the same evil as those of another faith or culture. We can be. Christianism is nowhere near as dangerous a force in the world as Islamism - nowhere near. But Christianity, history teaches us, is not immune to the totalist logic, political extremism, murderous violence and fundamentalist certainty that fuels the Islamist enemy. Vigilance is the key. There is no inherent virtue in either being a Christian or an American. We are all human and subject to the same pathologies. When we see them emerge here, we should not balk at pointing them out, and highlighting the dangers of complacency.