I was watching God’s Warriors on CNN, Christiana Amanpur’s six–hour special on religious fanaticism. I missed the Jewish segment and caught only those dealing with Islam and Christianity so this isn’t a detailed critique, only a quick observation.
During the Muslim show the emphasis was on killers and people who justified killing in the name of Allah. We did meet some Muslims who rejected violence or were the victims of Muslim violence, but the focus of the show was on terrorists and their supporters and apologists. There was nothing new in this, nor should anyone be offended by it. This was, after all, a special on God’s Warriors.
What troubled me was that we never saw anyone remotely violent in the Christian segment. True, we were reminded that there were Christians who killed doctors who performed abortions, and bombed clinics where abortions were performed, but we never met anyone who supported this behavior or excused it. On the contrary, all I saw were clean cut, middle class white folk whose only weapon was the ballot box.
Where were the Christian terrorists like the Army of God, the Christian Identity Movement, Tim McVeigh, the KKK, Rev. Fred Phelps, or the Christian Reconstructionist movement that would create a true American theocracy?
Sure, I don’t want the Christian Right to run the Supreme Court (too late), the schools, or the government, but there is a huge difference between violence and votes. And I understand that Hitler was elected to power in Germany, and that Hamas was elected to power in Palestine, and that something similar can happen here, but this is not illegal or immoral. Getting out the vote for your cause is not terrorism. And if the Christian Right wins at the ballot box then the rest of us simply get what we deserve for not fighting harder for our cause.
What troubles me is that by placing law abiding Christians with strong conservative values, views, and politics side by side with fanatics who sanction murder in God’s name “God’s Warriors” blurs the line between the ballot and the bomb.
While not one to cry “War on Christianity” every time someone stands up for free speech and the separation of church and state, I do think thoughtful Christians and others should be outraged that CNN seems to have lumped Jerry Falwell in with Osama bin Laden.