It is frustrating to many, regardless of faith tradition, that Muslims across the world are required to condemn acts of terrorism committed by extremists in the name of Islam each time such an act occurs. By now it should be clear to anyone paying attention (and we can be sure FOX News is purposely not paying attention for their own reasons) that most Islamic leaders condemn terrorism. Many Islamic scholars have even recently taken ISIL to task point-by-point in a long theological letter that undermines any so-called legitimate claims to the use of violence in most insistences.
Still, we demand public acts of condemnation that other religions are allowed to escape. The reality is that both Christianity and Judaism, just two examples, have long histories of violence that sadly continue to play out on the world stage today (see the Central African Republic where Christian militias are hunting Muslims and Palestine where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing politics with religion in a way that is undermining the peace process).
What if Christians were held accountable for their words and acts in the United States? What if every time Pat Robertson uttered another nonsensical comment about gays causing hurricanes the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals and the U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops were forced to parade in front of the cameras and issue apologetic statements because a Christian pastor had once again dehumanized children of God, who are still victims of hate crimes in this nation?
We are also a nation of gun violence. Young Americans will soon be more likely to die from a gun related injury then in a car accident. That's a fact (though I recognize we live in an age where facts are less important than "feelings" and "individual rights.").
Holly Fisher is a Christian Twitter activist with over 56,000 followers. She is a provocative voice who doesn't like liberals, college graduates, President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and certainly not Islam which she states is more evil and violent then fascism and Hitler's holocaust. And she posts provocative images on Twitter. One, as Boston.com noted this summer, caused some trouble:
On July 4, she posted a picture of herself holding a bible and a gun, standing before an American flag, because of course, nothing screams America more than guns and religion (duh)... As Slate points out, the photo bears some resemblance to an image of Muslim suicide bomber Reem Riyashi. Riyashi was also a mother, but a mom who killed four people and then herself by setting off a suicide bomb on the Gaza Strip during 2004. For the record, Fisher is not a suicide bomber, but the comparison is just one example of the outrage prompted by her photo.
The photo promoted outrage from liberals and praise from conservatives. It made the rounds of Twitter again this week as Fisher tweeted out that France could have used her help in the last week as they suffered a tragic episode of terrorism.
This all embarrassed me as a Christian and I tweeted out what I felt:
My Twitter following isn't very large. I hoped Ms. Fisher might read the tweet and reflect on how and why Christians respond to issues of terrorism and gun violence (generally the rule is that we try to play the role of peacemakers), but she called in her posse for reinforcements by re-tweeting this to her 56,000 followers. They had a lot to say in response:
-- DemoRats DemoCraps (@DEMAGOGSSUCK) January 10, 2015
Jesus preached non-violence. We are to love our enemies. That gets complicated in times of war. Still, mocking people of other faith traditions is not Christian. Neither is it Christian to worship the gun culture in America that has done so much damage to our society.
It is said in the Boston.com article that Ms. Fisher has received threats for her comments. Such threats should not be tolerated in a free society. She has a right to her views, as seemingly bigoted and hateful as they might be.
Still, I stand by my apology. I don't want anyone to ever believe that just because this individual has access to a Twitter account it means that she is a spokesperson for the Christian faith. We have enough institutional spokespeople using faith to divide us along religious lines already. I'm sorry about that and hope that we can do more to bring people together. We clearly have more work to do.