Dan K. Thomasson: It always seemed to me that there was a whole lot more to being a Christian than just believing in Jesus, that too many call themselves that without really knowing what it means and, in far too many cases, to justify behavior that is the antitheses of true Christianity.
It always seemed to me that there was a whole lot more to being a Christian than just believing in Jesus, that too many call themselves that without really knowing what it means and, in far too many cases, to justify behavior that is the antitheses of true Christianity.
The same obviously can be said about some in any religion, particularly the Muslim variety of fanatic. In the modern world they have fostered more violence from radical distortion of basic faith than most of their religious contemporaries, seducing young people into ending their lives and those of other innocents in mindless attacks on any civilization they view as subversive to their own beliefs.
That twisting of the official text of conduct, whether the Bible or Koran, to overcome bans on inhuman activity is at the bottom of the so-called hate movements that constantly threaten to disrupt peaceful society.
The latest example of this aberration is the arrest the other day of a Michigan couple and their followers who were described by the U.S. Justice Department as part of a group of apocalyptic Christian militants plotting to kill law enforcement officers in hopes of inciting an anti-government uprising. In other words, they were planning to undermine government authority in the name of a religion they clearly did not understand.
Whatever they are, it would be a huge stretch to describe them as Christian simply because they may have gone to church regularly or professed to be steeped in biblical philosophy. Unless one believes that Christianity sanctions the murder of innocents and the disruption of civil authority. That it endorses running around the countryside in silly uniforms waving semi-automatic weapons and taking steps that can only be called seditious.
But the federal law enforcement officials didn't think they were at all funny, citing evidence that the final phase to carry out their hare-brained scheme was about to take place. They stepped into stop what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called "an insidious plot." The couple and their band using the name Hutaree were charged with sedition and weapons violations. They were so crazy that other groups reportedly wanted nothing to do with them.
The court filing in this case said the group planned to kill an unnamed police officer and when the funeral took place, bomb the procession using improvised explosive devices like those employed by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The deadly IEDs could be expected to kill a large number of law officers who attend the funeral when one of their own is killed.
One might believe these were prepubescent children playing in someone's backyard or woods after watching too much television. But that isn't the case at all. They are the product of a mutated religious philosophy that has nothing to do with the teaching of Christ and his disciples. It would be more than a little disingenuous to ignore the fact that historic barbarisms have been committed in the name of Christianity. They have certainly. But this is the 21st century where enlightenment about the true meaning of our faith includes an understanding that its basis lies in its dedication to peace and kindness and the Ten Commandments.
Well, at least that is the way I was taught by a mother and father who, while they never carried their religion on their sleeves, were committed to the ideals of love and tolerance and giving on a daily basis. What they understood as the guiding principles of Christianity had no relationship to those apparently followed by the Michiganders who regarded it as their Christian duty to train for Armageddon between innocence and evil without knowing the difference and, thus, coming down on the side of the latter.
The problem is that these people aren't alone. Disaffected, ignorant followers of the philosophy of violence are popping up everywhere, posing a continuing threat to the law abiding. They're being helped both by the Internet that pulls them together and the easy access to weapons. The high rate of unemployment in states like Michigan has left otherwise normal citizens disaffected and vulnerable to the likes of those who hide behind religious masks and crazy schemes. Be careful. They aren't Christians.
E-mail Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at firstname.lastname@example.org.