Christian terrorism

Christian terrorism is religious terrorism by those whose motivations are rooted in their interpretations of Christianity. From the viewpoint of the terrorist, Christian scripture and theology provide justification for violent political activities.

Christian terrorist organizations

Anti-abortion terrorists

Abortion clinics have been frequent targets of violence. Christian anti-abortion terrorists and terrorist organizations include the Army of God, The Lambs of Christ, Clayton Waagner, Mike Bray, James Kopp, Paul Jennings Hill and Eric Robert Rudolph.

Transnational groups

Christian Identity

Christian Identity is a loosely affiliated global group of churches and individuals devoted to a racialized theology that asserts North European whites are the direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people. Christian Identity includes such Christian terrorist groups as The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), Phineas Priesthood and the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia, also known as the Universal Church of God. Christian Identity is also related to other groups such as Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army (ARA) and the Patriots Council.

Christian Identity has been associated with terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph, who carried out a series of bombings across the southern United States, which killed three people and injured at least 150 others, because he violently opposed abortion and homosexuality as contrary to Christian doctrine. His mother spent time with Nord Davis, a Christian Identity ideologue who wrote propaganda claiming that the world was controlled by Jews, and which advocated killing gays and those who engaged in mixed-race relationships. Rudolph's sister-in-law claimed that he was a member of the sect, but Rudolph himself claims to have only been a member of a Christian Identity church for six months because he was dating the daughter of Identity Pastor Dan Gayman, and wrote "I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one." Idaho State University sociology professor James A. Aho said, "I would prefer to say that Rudolph is a religiously inspired terrorist, because most mainstream Christians consider Christian Identity to be a heresy."

Christian Identity has been associated with Peter Kevin McGregor Langan and Richard "Wild Bill" Guthrie, founders of the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a paramilitary gang which has been connected to hate fueled terrorist attacks involving train derailments, assassinations, bombings and a string of professionally executed armed bank robberies planned to finance an overthrow of the US Federal government. Similar social, cultural, and personal motivations have linked the ARA to a loose network of extreme radical right paramilitary cells including the White Supremacy movement and Christian Identity.

South African branches of Christian Identity have been accused of involvement in terrorist activity, including the 2002 Soweto bombings.

Identity doctrine

Identity Christianity asserts that disease, addiction, cancer, and sexual venereal disease (herpes and AIDS) are spread by human "rodents" via contact with "unclean" persons, such as through "race-mixing". The first book of Enoch is used to justify these social theories; the fallen angels of Heaven sexually desired Earth maidens and took them as wives, resulting in the birth of abominations, which God ordered Michael the Archangel to destroy, thus beginning a cosmic war between Light and Darkness. The mixing of separate things (e.g. people of different races) defiles both, and is against God's will.

Identity preachers proclaim that, according to the King James Bible, "the penaltys for race-mixing, homo-sexuality, and usury are death." The justification for killing homosexuals is provided by "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." , and Deuteronomy explicitly condemn usury. states "He who hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him." and is quoted as justification for killing Jews, since Jews have traditionally had a large presence in the usury business.

Identity doctrine asserts that Eve was seduced by Satan (the Hebrew word "nasha" can mean deceive or seduce), and she then seduced Adam. Cain was evil because he was the spawn of Satan, which explains why he killed Abel. He was cast down to the Land of Nod, where he married a pre-Adamic woman, creating a spawn of Satan bloodline which would eventually become the Jews. This is reinforced with the message "What God created was good. Therefore Jews could not be God's creation." Thus the Biblical concepts of Lucifer, his fellow angels, and their witchwomen mates have now been turned into "Jews", representing the modern world's evil conspirators. According to doctrine, when Constantine I legalised Christianity in 313 A.D., the Jews sought to destroy it from within by introducing "Babylonian" practices (priestcraft, pontifical authority, and vestal virgins), resulting in the gigantic Christian "fraud" known today as Roman Catholicism.

Identity doctrine asserts that the "root of all evil" is paper money (in particular Federal Reserve Notes), and that usury and banking systems are controlled by Jews. The creation of the Federal Reserve Corporation in 1913 shifted control of money from Congress to private institutions and violated the Constitution. The money system encourages the Federal Reserve to take out loans, creating trillions of dollars of government debt and allowing international bankers to control America. Credit/debit cards and computerised tills are seen as the fulfillment of the Biblical scripture warning against "the beast" (i.e. banking) as quoted in . Identity preacher Sheldon Emry claims "Most of the owners of the largest banks in America are of Eastern European (Jewish) ancestry and connected with the (Jewish) Rothschild European banks", thus, in Identity doctrine, the global banking conspiracy is led and controlled by Jewish interests.

Identity doctrine disputes the traditional interpretation of the word "Israel". The Biblical quote "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel; for He hath... redeemed His people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David." is used to support the assertion that "the Saxons are Israel", and that Identity followers can't be anti-semitic, since the true Semites "today are the great White Christian nations of the western world", with modern Jews in fact being descendants of the Canaanites.

"Israel" was the name given to Jacob after battling the angel at Peniel in . "Israel" then had twelve sons, which began the twelve tribes of Israel. In 975 B.C. the ten northern tribes revolted, seceded from the south, and became the Kingdom of Israel. After being subsequently conquered by Assyria, the ten tribes disappear from Biblical record, becoming the Lost Tribes of Israel.

According to Identity doctrine, then records the history of the nation of Israel journeying over the Caucasus mountains, along the Black Sea, to the Ar Sereth tributory of the Danube in Romania. The tribes prospered, and eventually colonised other European countries. Israel's leading tribe, the Tribe of Dan, is attributed with settling and naming many areas which are today distinguised by place names derived from its name - written ancient Hebrew contains no vowels, and hence "Dan" would be written as DN, but would be pronounced with an intermediate vowel dependent on the local dialect, meaning that Dan, Den, Din, Don, and Dun all have the same meaning. Various modern place names are said to derive from the name of this tribe:

The Identity genealogy of the Davidic line can be traced from its beginnings right down to the Royal rulers of Britain and Queen Elizabeth herself. Thus Anglo-Saxons are the true Israelites, God's chosen people who were given the divine right to rule the world until the Second Coming of Christ.

Groups in the United States

Army of God

The Army of God is an anti-abortion terrorist organization which holds that their activity is lawful and theologically justified: using deadly force to end abortion in the United States. Their ultimate goal is to establish a Christian theocracy through violence, and the group claims that the murder of abortion doctors is \"justifiable homicide,” exemplifying the group’s evolving philosophy from violence against property to violence against individuals. The group utilize leaderless resistance, a tactic of irregular warfare used against the American government by some members of the radical right - the group \"is not so much an organization” but more of “a shared set of ideas and enemies.” The Army of God dates back more than 20 years and is linked to an underground movement whose members are trained to evade surveillance and to use violence as a method of protest including opposition to abortion. Army of God members have records associated with numerous acts of violence including bombings, shootings, and killings. The Army of God is considered a violent offshoot of Christian Identity, a white supremacist religion considered anti-gay, anti- Semitic and anti-foreigner.

In 1985 Rev. Mike Bray, the "chaplain" of the Army of God, was convicted of destroying seven abortion facilities in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, causing damages of over $1 million. Rev. Paul Hill, an associate of the Army of God, shot and killed Dr. John Britton in Pensacola, Florida in 1994. James Kopp, a member of the Army of God, shot and killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998.

In 1998, letters were sent to news organizations and law enforcement claiming the Army of God carried out several of the attacks attributed to Eric Rudolph.

In 2001, at the height of the United States anthrax attacks, more than 170 abortion clinics and doctors offices in 14 states received letters containing white powder and the message "You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you. Army of God, Virginia DARE Chapter. In December 2003 Clayton Waagner was convicted for these attacks. Waagner had entered the home of antiabortion militant Neal Horsley, tied him up and held him at gunpoint, and then made a taped confession. Ann Glazier, director of clinic security at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that during the trial Waagner had "repeatedly bragged that he had been the most wanted man in America and that he was a terrorist. It was unbelievable." Salon magazine reported that whilst the press had generally called Waagner a terrorist, they "studiously avoid use of the word 'Christian'". Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, said "If Waagner had been a self-identified Muslim terrorist instead of a Christian terrorist, he'd have been lynched by now...But if it's fair to say if we can see the religious motivations in the Taliban, we ought to be able to see them in Waagner or Eric Rudolph." An Army of God manual found buried in the yard of Rochelle "Shelly" Shannon, an Oregon activist convicted of shooting Wichita doctor George Tiller, provides detailed and explicit instructions for home-brewing plastic explosives, fashioning detonators, deactivating alarm systems, cutting phone, gas, and water lines, and includes the statement: "Annihilating abortuaries is our purest form of worship." However, according to records compiled over a period of twelve years by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and besieged clinics which included 123 cases of arson, 37 bombings in 33 states, and more than 1,500 cases of stalking, assault, sabotage and burglary, a large portion of staff time was devoted to routine women's reproductive health care - pap smears, teaching and supplying birth control methods, and treating sexually transmitted diseases – not to abortions. Some of the clinics targeted did not provide abortion services but were subjected to violence nonetheless.

Aryan Nations

Aryan Nations is a white supremacist group founded by Richard Girnt Butler as an arm of the Christian Identity group Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, with headquarters listed as a Lexington, S.C. post office box. Aryan Nations followers admire Adolf Hitler and claim that minority group members are "mud people" and spawns of Satan. Aryan Nations doctrine follows that of Christian Identity which claims that Europeans are the lost tribe of Israel, Jews are satanic, blacks are subhuman, and the Federal Government is illegal.

In August 1999 Buford O. Furrow, Jr., a Christian identity activist and member of Aryan Nations, carried out the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting, injuring three little boys and two female workers. Authorities quoted Furrow as saying he wanted his act to be "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews." Less than an hour after the attack, Furrow gunned down Joseph Ileto, a Filipino-American employee of the United States Postal Service. Furrow told investigators that he considered killing the mail carrier a "good opportunity" because Ileto was non-white and worked for the federal government. Furrow received two life sentences plus 110 years in prison for the attack. Furrow had once told police that he often fantasized about suicide, while neighbors, associates, and court records stated that Furrow had a long history of mental illness and had interests in white supremacist religion and paramilitary. Furrow, who was an officer of the internal security force of the Aryan Nations, reportedly stockpiled weapons and ammunition, abused his wife, and once daydreamed about shooting people at random in a shopping mall near Seattle.

Furrow was reportedly second husband to Debbie Mathews, the widow of Robert J. Mathews, domestic terrorist who died in a shootout with Federal authorities in 1994 and the founder of a U.S. neo-Nazi group called the Order which was involved in a campaign of assassinations, bombings and robberies. The Order was supposedly broken apart by arrests, internal dissent and killings; however, some members vowed to strike at targets in small groups or alone, committing violent acts against Jews, blacks, homosexuals or abortion providers thereby earning membership in a loose-knit fraternity of racists who call themselves priests, the Phineas Priesthood. Richard Kelly Hoskins, author of many books about race and banking, one of which was found in Furrow's van, wrote, "As the kamikaze is to the Japanese, as the Shiite is to Islam, as the Zionist is to the Jew, so the Phineas Priest is to Christiandom." Interviewed from his home in Lynchburg, Va., Mr. Hoskins said the book found in Furrow's possession, "War Cycles/Peace Cycles," was about "the history of usury," including what he called "the traditional Jewish presence in banking," and wrote on his Web page that the book explains "the necessity for assassination of national leaders.

In 2007, a 36-year-old man, Jason Hamilton, who had ties to the Aryan Nations, fatally shot himself in a Presbyterian church after killing his wife, a police officer, a church sexton, and wounding three men.

Christian Patriots

The anti-federalist, extremist tax-resistance movements, seditious beliefs, religious and racial hatred of the American militia movement and other contemporary white supremacist organizations in association with the broader Christian Patriot movement actively incorporate Christian scripture and biblical liturgy to justify and support violent activities. Timothy McVeigh who, along with his accomplice Terry Nichols, carried out the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, has admitted to a belief in Christian Patriotism and involvement in Patriot activities.

Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan are proponents of a fundamentalist Christian theology strongly influenced by Christian Reconstructionism, hoping to "reconstruct" the United States along biblical (primarily Old Testament) lines and establish a white-dominated theocracy. They have often used terrorism, violence, and acts of intimidation, such as cross burning and lynching, to oppress African Americans and other social or ethnic groups. Hundreds of indictments for crimes of violence and terrorism have been issued against them, and many Klan members have been prosecuted.

The Ku Klux Klan consists of many subgroups who have individually carried out terrorist acts. One example is the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who in 1998 were found guilty of burning a 100-year-old black Baptist church to the ground.

The noose and burning cross

The noose and cross burning of the Christian cross are two well known symbols of terror primarily associated with the Ku Klux Klan, made infamous during lynching in the period of the late nineteenth century and still in use today. “A noose is a symbol of America’s oldest form of domestic terrorism.” "The noose is replacing the burning cross in the mind of much of the public as the leading symbol of the Klan.

Cross burnings, while not that common compared to overall crime, still take place in the US today and have a huge impact on the victim and the entire community. Cross burnings are generally covert acts performed in rural areas where there are scarce witnesses and bonds between conspirators, especially if part of an organized hate group, are strong. "They are a poisonous kind of hatred and can increase racial tension that may already exist in the area.

Louisiana resident, Jeremiah Munsen, 18, faces federal hate-crime and civil rights conspiracy charges for taunting civil rights marchers who had been protesting alleged injustice in relation to an incident in Jena, LA in which authorities brought no criminal charges against three white students for hanging nooses after black students sat in a traditionally whites only area, but six black students were prosecuted for beating a white student after the hanging of the nooses. An unnamed juvenile conspirator who claimed to be in the Ku Klux Klan also told police that on September 20 he tied the nooses to the back of the pickup truck. Munsen and the conspirator then repeatedly drove slowly past the group of marchers specifically to threaten and intimidate, authorities said. The indictment issued by a grand jury in Shreveport, Louisiana, was announced by U.S. Attorney Donald Washington and Grace Chung Becker, acting head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

A rash of noose incidents reported in the months after the initial Jena, Louisiana events reintroduced the frightening and offensive symbol of segregation-era lynchings to the US. Some of the publicized incidents include nooses left in a black Coast Guard cadet's bag, on the office floor of a white officer who had conducted race-relations training in response to the incident, in the locker room at a Long Island police station which recently touted its efforts to recruit minorities, in a tree near a building on a Maryland college campus housing several black campus groups, and on the office door of a black professor at Columbia University in New York.

Lambs of Christ

The Lambs of Christ is an anti-abortion terrorist organization which holds that their activity is lawful and theologically justified: using deadly force to end abortion in the United States. James Kopp, who shot and killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998, was a Lambs of Christ activist and a member of the Army of God.

Groups in Indonesia

On July 26, 2007, 17 Christians from Poso, Indonesia, were convicted of religion-inspired terrorism under Indonesian law. Fourteen year sentences were given to two of the seventeen for their main roles in the killings, while ten were sentenced to twelve year terms. Five were convicted in separate hearings and received eight year sentences for their part in the "acts of terrorism by the use of violence." A Christian mob attacked, murdered, and beheaded two Muslim fishermen in September 2006, reportedly as retaliation for the execution in 2006 of three Christian farmers, who were convicted of leading a militant group which killed hundreds of Muslims in Poso in 2000, an execution that attracted a plea for clemency from the pope, and accusations from Amnesty International that the trial was unfair.

The convictions come in the context of seven years of violence between Christian and Muslim groups in the province, including the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls on the way to school and the deaths of hundreds of Muslims and Christians, and campaigns of religious cleansing on both sides.

Groups in India

National Liberation Front of Tripura

The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is a rebel group operating in Tripura, North-East India. The NLFT were declared a terrorist organization under the Indian Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2002. The NLFT manifesto says that they want to expand what they describe as the kingdom of God and Christ in Tripura. They are accused of forcing indigenous tribes to give up Hinduism and become Christian in areas under their control. In 2000 the Indian government of Tripura announced that it had hard evidence that the Baptist Church of Tripura was backing the NLFT. Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, was arrested and found to be in possession of a large quantity of explosives. Halam confessed to buying and supplying explosives to the NLFT for the past two years. The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism classified the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) as one of the ten most active terrorist groups in the world in 2003. They wrote:

The NLFT, like the ATTF, focuses its activities in the Indian state of Tripura. However, the impetus driving the NLFT’s armed struggle is the creation of an independent state in Tripura that is governed by Christian principles. With many of the group’s members motivated by Christianity, the NLFT manifesto seeks to end "Indian colonialism" and "neo-imperialism." The organization, operating from Bangladesh, uses its numerous bases to execute subversive terrorist activities in India... Typical NLFT targets include Indian government employees and officials, as well as civilians. Members of the rival Communist Party of India and their family members are also victims of NLFT attacks. Bombings and kidnappings are the tactical measures used most often by the NFLT... the group ranks as one of the most active terrorist groups in terms of both incidents and fatalities... the organization reportedly receives financial assistance from Christian supporters in India, enabling the organization to implement its operations... The NLFT has managed to maintain contacts with various terrorist organizations, such as the National Liberation Front of Bodoland, an organization active in Assam; the Nagaland-based National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM); and the Manipur-based Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL). The NLFT has, likewise, cultivated transborder linkages in Myanmar and Bhutan, which are also rather accessible, and has formed strategic networks with intelligence organizations in Pakistan.

The stated goals of the NLFT include the overthrow imperialism, capitalism and neo-colonialism by way of armed struggle so they can form a distinct and independent Borok civilization in Twipra. They state that they have been completely marginalized by the immigration of nonnative peoples, been oppressed socio-politically, and economically exploited. They believe they are facing an identity crisis due to chauvinism and imperialism from what they call the so-called Aryan descendants of Hindustan(India).

Nagaland Rebels

The Nagaland Rebels is a coalition of rebel groups operating in Nagaland, North-East India. The largest of these is the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), which is fighting for the establishment of a "Nagaland for Christ". The NSCN-IM have carried out numerous acts of terrorism against the Indian Army, other ethnic groups, and opponents within their own ethnic group. The insurgency has been waged since the 1947 Indian declaration of independence, and has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

Baruah writes that "Christianity is an essential part of Naga identity"; the NSCN-IM estimate that 95% of Nagas are Christian. According to Gordon Means "the religious issue cannot be overlooked... A great number of Nagas are Christians... the Naga Federal Government (NFG) could play upon the fear of many Nagas that within the Indian Union the religious freedom of a small Christian minority would be compromised. An independence movement that can cloak itself in the garb of both nationalism and religious righteousness has an initial advantage. And there can be no doubt that the rebel Nagas are a sincerely pious lot. By all accounts, hymn singing and prayers constitute an important part of their daily routine in their jungle hide-outs. The vice-president of the NFG, Mr. Mhiasiu, was a preacher before joining the underground. Serving as chaplains for the Home Guards are many Baptist ministers.

Groups in Lebanon

Guardians of the Cedars

The Guardians of the Cedars is the paramilitary wing of the banned Lebanese Renewal Party, and one of several Christian militias active in the Lebanese Civil War. From 1973 their slogans have included "No Palestinian will remain on Lebanese soil" and "A good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian". It should be noted that, the Palestinian people, like the Lebanese people, may be either Christian or Muslim. Neither Lebanese nor Palestinians are exclusively Christian or exclusively Muslim.

According to Judith Tucker, "the Guardians of the Cedars played an important role in terrorist strategy throughout the wars in Lebanon... They are best known today for the numberous attacks and cold-blooded murders of Palestinian civilians in the Sidon region." In an interview carried out by the Jerusalem Post, leader Abu Arz said that Palestinians should be ethnically cleansed from Lebanon "We shall drive them to the borders of 'brotherly' Syria and tell them to keep walking. Anyone who looks back, stops or returns will be shot on the spot. When I suggest that such harsh procedures might put the Christian world against them, he simply says: 'We are the Christian world.'

Lebanese Forces

The Lebanese Forces (also known as the Christian Phalangist Militia) was a right wing secular group, who had support from the Maronite community, during a civil war based not on religious beliefs, but on the control of political and economic power. The Lebanese Forces were one of several Christian militias active during the Lebanese Civil War; it carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which an estimated 700-3500 Palestinian refugees were massacred. The attack on the camps occurred within a few days of the assassination of the Maronite Christan president of Lebanon. The Lebanese Forces attacked the camps after being let in to them by Israeli soldiers who sealed off the two camps for three days. Attacks against Israel by Palestinian guerrillas, led Israel to invade and occupy southern Lebanon in 1982.

In 2000, Asaad Shaftari, who was second in command of the Lebanese Forces during the civil war, made a public apology to his victims, admitting that the LF had carried out acts of terror, such as calling in hoax bomb threats to movie theaters and then attacking the fleeing civilians with heavy artillery, and the kidnapping and execution of random civilians, and that "he had signed many orders for captives to be executed and how, when he felt pangs of conscience, he was unburdened of them by a priest who granted him absolution to kill hundreds more.". In his apology he stated "I apologize for the horror of war and what I did in this civil war in the name of `Lebanon' or `the cause' or `Christianity... I apologize because while defending what I thought was Christianity I was not practising any kind of true Christianity which is the love of others free from violence.

Groups in Northern Ireland

Religion as a factor

Several people have stated that religion was a contributing factor to terrorism in Northern Ireland:

Mark Juergensmeyer wrote "Like residents of Belfast and London, Americans were beginning to learn to live with acts of religious terrorism: shocking, disturbing incidents of violence laced with the passion of religion - in these cases, Christianity" and "The violence in Northern Ireland is justified by still other theological positions, Catholic and Protestant." and "The ferocity of religious violence was brought home to me in 1998 when I received the news that a car bomb had exploded in a Belfast neighborhood I had visited the day before.

Martin Dillon interviewed paramilitaries on both sides of the conflict, questioning how they could reconcile murder with their Christian convictions. His interviewees included Kenny McClinton, a convicted murderer who once advocated beheading Roman Catholics and impaling their heads on railings, and who is now Pastor of the Ulster/American Christian Fellowship Ministry, and Billy Wright, a Born again Christian preacher who became one of the most feared paramilitary figures in Northern Ireland, and who accepts that, although his faith calls for him to defend his people, his own actions in this defense could lead to damnation (see Notable individuals).

First Minister of Northern Ireland The Revd. and Rt. Hon. Ian Paisley often cast the conflict in religious terms. He preached that the Roman Catholic Church, which he termed the "Popery", had deviated from the Bible, and therefore from true Christianity, giving rise to "revolting superstitions and idolatrous abuses". Paisley once said "The Provisional IRA is the military wing of the Roman Catholic Church and has claimed several times that the Pope is the Antichrist, most famously at the European Parliament, where he interrupted a speech by Pope John Paul II, shouting "I denounce you as the Antichrist!" and holding up a red poster reading "POPE JOHN PAUL II ANTICHRIST".

Pastor Alan Campbell has also identified the Papacy as the Antichrist, and has described the IRA as "Roman Catholic terrorists". Campbell preaches a Christian Identity theology; he is strongly against race-mixing, and supports the British Israel hypothesis, claiming that the Celto-Anglo-Saxon people of Ulster are the true "Israel of God".

Steve Bruce, a sociologist, wrote "The Northern Ireland conflict is a religious conflict. Economic and social considerations are also crucial, but it was the fact that the competing populations in Ireland adhered and still adhere to competing religious traditions which has given the conflict its enduring and intractable quality". Reviewers agreed "Of course the Northern Ireland conflict is at heart religious".

John Hickey wrote "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".

Padraic Pearse was a devoted believer of the Christian faith, a writer, and one of the leaders of the Easter Rising. In his writings he often identified Ireland with Jesus Christ to emphasise the suffering of the nation, and called for his readers to resurrect and redeem the nation, through self-sacrifice which would turn them into martyrs. Browne states that Pearse’s "ideas of sacrifice and atonement, of the blood of martyrs that makes fruitful the seed of faith, are to be found all through [his] writings; nay, they have here even more than their religious significance, and become vitalizing factors in the struggle for Irish nationality".

William Edward Hartpole Lecky, an Irish historian, wrote "If the characteristic mark of a healthy Christianity be to unite its members by a bond of fraternity and love, then there is no country where Christianity has more completely failed than Ireland".

Sweeney argued that self-immolation, in the form of hunger strikes by Irish republicans, was religiously motivated and perceived. He wrote "The Rising catapulted the cult of self-sacrifice to centre stage of twentieth century Irish militant politics in a strange marriage of Catholicism and republicanism. A religious and a sacrificial motif can be detected in the writings of those who participated in the 'bloody protest'. Brian O'Higgins, who helped in the rebel capture of Dublin's GPO in O'Connell Street, recalls how all the republications took turn reciting the Rosary every half hour during the rebellion. He writes that there 'was hardly a man in the volunteer ranks who did not prepare for death on Easter Saturday [sic] and there were many who felt as they knelt at the altar rails on Easter Sunday morning that they were doing no more than fulfilling their Easter duty - that they were renouncing the world and all the world held for them by making themselves worthy to appear before the Judgement Seat of God... The executions reinforced the sacrificial motif as Mass followed Mass for the dead leaders, linking them with the sacrifice of Christ, the ancient martyrs and heroes, and the honoured dead from previous revolts... These and other deaths by hungerstrike transformed not only the perceived sacrificial victims but, in the eyes of many ordinary Irish people, the cause for which they died. The martyrs and their cause became sacred." Sweeney goes on to note that the culture of hunger strikes continued to be used by the Provisional IRA to great effect in the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in a revamped Sinn Fein, and mobilising huge sections of the Catholic community behind the republican cause.

The Guardian newspaper attributed the murder of Martin O'Hagan, a former inmate of the Maze prison and a fearless reporter on crime and the paramilitaries, to the revival of religious fundamentalism.


Organized paramilitary crime, including drugs and racketeering, have threatened civil society in Ireland as gangs with both Catholic and Protestant ties have engaged in activities such as "drug dealing, counterfeiting and forgery, money-laundering, benefits fraud, car theft, arms trading, extortion and cross-border smuggling" and influencing employment.

Although often advocating nationalist policies, these groups consisted of and were supported by distinct religious groups in a religiously partitioned society. Groups on both sides advocated what they saw as armed defence of their own religious group.

Notable Catholic groups include:

Notable Protestant groups include:

Groups in Russia

Many Russian political and paramilitary groups combine racism, nationalism, and Russian Orthodox beliefs. "In Russia, on the other hand, even extreme nationalism was always coloured by Orthodoxy, and, consequently, was to be considered traditionalist".

At the murder trial of Russian National Unity leader Igor Semenov, Vladimir Gusev, a Russian Orthodox priest, testified that "Judaism does not have any positive conception in the Christian sense", and he identified Hasidic and Ashkenazic Jews as members of totalitarian sects that "kill children, gather their blood, and use it to make matzah" (the Blood libel against Jews). He added that "The Jews should not celebrate Chanukah because it can insult the religious feelings of the Christians.

Russian National Unity

Russian National Unity is an outlawed far right party responsible for several terrorist attacks, including murders on religious grounds, and the bombing of the US Consulate in Ekaterinburg. In their manifesto "Bases of social conception of RNU" they advocate an increased role for the Russian Orthodox Church in all areas of life.

Russian National Socialists

The Russian National Socialist Party bases itself on four principles: Orthodox Christianity, a strong state, aggressive Russian nationalism and non-Marxist socialism. Party leader A. Barkashov has advocated "a Hitlerite racial biology, and proclaims the need for creating an armed resistance movement against the supposed Jewish dictatorship in Russia." In August 2007, a 23 year old member of the group was arrested for distributing a video on the Internet that showed two Muslims apparently being beheaded and shot by a militant wing of the RNSP.

Groups in the former Yugoslavia

Michael Sells asserts that religious mythology played a crucial role in Bosnian genocide. He wrote about the religious ideology of Christoslavism:

"In the nineteenth century, the three myths - conversion to Islam based only upon cowardice and greed, stable ethnoreligious groups down through the centuries, and complete depravity of Ottoman rule - became the foundation for a new religious ideology, Christoslavism, the belief that Slavs are Christian by nature and that any conversion from Christianity is a betrayal of the Slavic race.

Sells asserts that the genocide in Bosnia:

was religiously motived and religiously justified. Religious symbols, mythologies, myths of origin (pure Serb race), symbol of passion (Lazar's death), and eschatological longings (the resurrection of Lazar) were used by religious nationalists to create a re-duplicating Miloš Obilić, avenging himself on the Christ killer, the race traitor, the alien, and, ironically, the falsely accused 'fundamentalist' next door. The ideology operated not only in speeches and manifestos, but in specific rituals of atrocity. Survivors of concentration camps report that during torture sessions or when they begged for water they were made to sing Serbian religious nationalist songs reworded to reflect the contemporary conflict.

Sells asserts that these acts were seen as ethnoreligious purification:

Christoslavism - the premise that Slavs are by essence Christian and that conversion to another religious is a betrayal of the people or race - was critical to the genocidal ideology being developed in 1989. Christoslavism places Slavic Muslims and any Christian who would tolerate them in the position of the Judas figure of Kosovo, Vuk Branković. It sets the Slavic Muslims outside the boundaries of nation, race, and people. As portrayed in The Mountain Wreath, it demonstrates what can be done to those defined as nonpeople and what is, under certain circumstances, a religious duty and a sacred, cleansing act. It transfers the generalized curse of Kosovo onto Slavic Muslims in particular, a curse against the natal milk that will allow them to progenerate. In their acts of genocide from 1992 through 1995, Radovan Karadžić and his followers integrated the Kosovo tradition, as it was handed down through Vuk Karadžić and transformed by Njegoš and Andrić, into the daily rituals of ethnoreligious purification.

Norman Cigar asserts that, according to the world's respected fact-gathering organizations, the Christian Serbs committed over 90% of the war crimes and 100% of the genocide in Bosnia. Together, Christian Croats and Bosnian Muslims committed under 10% of the atrocities.

Tsar Lazar Guard

The Tsar Lazar Guard is the paramilitary wing of the Movement of Veterans of Serbia. Its president Željko Vasiljević called it the "first uniformed Christian militia squad, comprised of war veterans from all over Serbia". The group was officially formed at a swearing in ceremony at the Lazarica Church in Kruševac on 5 May 2007. The group is said to have 5,000 troops. The United Nations and NATO have classed Tsar Lazar's Guard as a terrorist group. Tsar Lazar's Guard threatened to attack United Nations and NATO troops if Kosovo declared independence, and have stated their desire to detonate a nuclear bomb in Kosovo.

White Eagles

The White Eagles were a Serbian paramilitary group which carried out a number of atrocities, massacres, and acts of terror over the non-Serb population both before and during the Yugoslav wars. Mirko Jović, leader of the White Eagles, called for a "Christian, Orthodox Serbia with no Muslims and no unbelievers".

Clarence Augustus Martin, in the book "Understanding Terrorism", classified the White Eagles as terrorists and accussed them of practicing "gender-selective terrorism against men" for their deliberate targetting of Muslim civilian males. Due to the widespread collusion between the Christian Serb regular forces and paramilitaries, local leaders classified acts of violence as "state terror. The Bosnian Muslims were being killed without any compunction. Those so-called Christian paramilitaries were all over, but in reality, they were an arm of the state... local Christian Serbs believed Bosnian Muslims were terrorists, while Bosnian Muslims felt terrorized by ethnic Christian Serb paramilitaries".

Stipe Mesić, the last president of the former Yugoslav Federation, described the violence carried out by the White Eagles as "terrorist actions" in his political memoirs. The White Eagles were also described as terrorists by Elvedina Omerovic of the Helsinki Commitee for Human Rights in Sandzak.

The White Eagles were strongly anti-Semitic, stating in an official document titled The Jewish Vampire Ball that Jews are "the sons and servants of the devil... There are not enough words to describe all their deceit, deviancy, and crimes against the holy Church of Christ, that is, the Orthodox Church and its believers... [they are] killers, thieves, tricksters, wanderers and vermin". The document went on to accuse Jews of inventing AIDS "in their monstrous laboratories".

Other national groups

God's Army, Burma

God's Army is a Christian revolutionary group in armed rebellion against the military government of Burma. God's Army consists of around 100-200 veteran fighters, and is led by two twin brothers, who are believed by their followers to be immune to bullets.

Sons of Freedom, Canada

Sons of Freedom are a sect of religious anarchists who believe man owes allegiance only to God, part of a Russian nonconformist movement called the Doukhobors (literally "spirit wrestlers") who came to Canada in 1899. Until 1962, the capital of the Sons of Freedom was a village in British Columbia, Krestova (which in Russian means "City of the Cross", to which, in 1966, the Sons of Freedom returned. The Sons of Freedom have used violence, terrorism, arson and explosives in their defiance of all "worldly" authority including the Canadian government, rebelling against laws requiring their children to attend school, government efforts to force relinquishment of their squatters' rights, and Canadian taxes. In 1961, the Freedomites' violence peaked as they bombed towns from Nelson to New Denver, blaming the government for the 1924 murder of Peter Lordly. As signs of protest the Sons of Freedom have marched nude, blown up power pylons, railroad bridges, and set fire to homes, often targeting their own property.

The Lord's Resistance Army, Uganda

The Lord's Resistance Army is a guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, and is accused of many acts of mutilation, torture, rape, abduction, the use of child soldiers and a number of massacres. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Christian Holy Spirit which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations. The group aim to establish a Christian state by replacing the Ugandan constitution with the Bible's Ten Commandments. The LRA has been known by a number of different names, including the "Lord's Army" (1987 to 1988) and the "Uganda Peoples Democratic Christian Army" (1988 to 1992).

The LRA insurgency has displaced nearly two million people and more than 10,000 have been killed in massacres, while twice that number of children have been abducted by the LRA and forced to work as soldiers, porters and sex slaves. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle, but some Islam is mixed into their beliefs as well. The LRA uniform pips contain a white bible inside a heart. Joseph Kony has justified murdering his own Acholi people with biblical references and has named one of his children from one of his 88 wives, "George Bush".

The LRA have been noted for cutting off the hands, lips, breasts and noses of their victims. Leader Joseph Kony has claimed this is justified by the Bible, "If you pick up an arrow against us and we ended up cutting off the hand you used, who is to blame? You report us with your mouth, and we cut off your lips. Who is to blame? It is you! The Bible says that if your hand, eye or mouth is at fault, it should be cut off. (referring to , , and )

Historical cases of Christian terrorism

Albigensian Crusade, 1208

Jonathan Barker cited the Albigensian Crusade, launched by Pope Innocent III against followers of Catharism, as an example of Christian state terrorism. The 20 year military campaign led to an estimated 1 million casualties. The Cathar teachings rejected the principles of material wealth and power as being in direct conflict with the principle of love. They worshipped in private houses rather than churches, without the sacraments or the cross, which they rejected as material items, but in other respects they followed conventional teachings, reciting the Lord's prayer and reading from Biblical scriptures. According to Barker, the Albigenses had developed a culture that "fostered tolerance of Jews and Muslims, respect for women and women priests, the appreciation of poetry, music and beauty, [had it] been allowed to survive and thrive, it is possible the Europe might have been spared its wars of religion, its witch-hunts and its holocausts of victims sacrificed in later centuries to religious and ideological bigotry". When asked by his followers how to differentiate between heretics and the ordinary public, Abbe Arnaud Amalric, head of the Cistercian monastic order, simply said "Kill them all, God will recognize his own!".

St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, 1572

Gilmour has cited the historical case of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre as an instance of Christian terrorism on par with modern day Islamic terrorism, and goes on to write, "That massacre, said Pope Gregory XIII, gave him more pleasure than fifty Battles of Lepanto, and he commissioned Vasari to paint frescoes of it in the Vatican". It is estimated that ten thousand to possibly one-hundred thousand Huguenots (French Protestants) were killed by Catholic mobs, and it has been called "the worst of the century's religious massacres". The massacre led to the start of the fourth war of the French Wars of Religion.

Gunpowder Plot, 1605

Peter Steinfels has cited the historical case of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes and other Catholic revolutionaries attempted to overthrow the Protestant aristocracy of England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament, as a notable case of Christian terrorism.

Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, 1649-53

Lutz and Lutz cited the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland as terrorism; "The draconian laws applied by Oliver Cromwell in Ireland were an early version of ethnic cleansing. The Catholic Irish were to be expelled to the northwestern areas of the island. Relocation rather than extermination was the goal. Daniel Chirot has argued that genocide was originally the goal, inspired by the Biblical account of Joshua and the genocide following the Battle of Jericho:

Massacres of whole populations are an ancient phenomenon. The word genocide was first coined only in 1944, but the concept and the act are much older. We all remember the story of how Joshua's men blew their trumpets and down came the walls of Jericho, the first of the Canaanite cities to fall to the invading people of Israel. Children who are told Biblical stories in Sunday schools are not usually told what happened next. 'Then ' the story continues in Joshua 5, 'Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword.' Only the family of the harlot who had protected Joshua's spies and betrayed her people was saved. Finally, and I quote again, 'they burned the city with fire, and all within it.' Lest you think this is just an ancient story, remember that it inspired Oliver Cromwell in the mid-17th century, whose army invaded Ireland explicitly using the Book of Joshua as an example in what began as a campaign to exterminate Catholicism from that land. He failed, and in the end the English were more practical and only subdued Ireland without wiping out the Catholics, but at the start of the campaign, the intent was there. Historians estimate that close to 20% of Ireland's population at that time died from war and the diseases and famine that always traveled with invading armies in those days.

Southern United States, 1865-1910

In the late nineteenth century southern United States evangelical Protestants used a wide range of terror activities, including lynching, murder, attempted murder, rape, beating, tar-and-feathering, whipping, and destruction of property, to suppress competition from black Christians (who saw Christ as the saviour of the black oppressed), Mormons, Jews and Catholics.

Iron Guard and Lăncieri, 1927-1945

The Iron Guard, also known as the Legion of the Archangel Michael, was an Orthodox Christian anti-Semitic fascist movement in Romania. It splintered from the National-Christian Defense League, and was, unlike similar European fascist movements of the time, overtly religious. According to Ioanid, the Legion "willingly inserted strong elements of Orthodox Christianity into its political doctrine to the point of becoming one of the rare modern European political movements with a religious ideological structure. The Iron Guard justified their actions through claims that "Rabbinical aggression against the Christian world" was undermining society. According to Tinichigiu, the Iron Guard was a terror organization, which carried out terrorist activities and political murders. The Iron Guard were active participants in the Romanian Holocaust and carried out the Bucharest pogrom.

Nichifor Crainic, Professor at the Faculty of Theology, University of Bucharest, developed various theological justifications arguing "that the Old Testament was not Jewish, that Jesus had not been Jewish, and that the Talmud, which he saw as the incarnation of modern Jewry, was, first and foremost, a weapon to combat the Christian Gospel and to destroy Christians." Crainic played a critical role in the formation of the National Christian Party from the National-Christian Defense League, and became its general secretary. Between 1935 and 1937 the paramilitary division of the National Christian Party, the Lăncieri, were responsible for numerous acts of brutality against Jews.

The Romanian Orthodox Church had strong antisemitic leanings, both in its senior hierarchy and among local clergy. Conflict was encouraged by its leaders; Patriarch Miron Cristea said "One has to be sorry for the poor Romanian people, whose very marrow is sucked out by the Jews. Not to react against the Jews means that we go open-eyed to our destruction... To defend ourselves is a national and patriotic duty" and "The duty of a Christian is to love himself first and to see that his needs are satisfied. Only then can he help his neighbor... Why should we not get rid of these parasites [Jews] who suck Rumanian Christian blood? It is logical and holy to react against them.

Rexists, 1940-1945

Rexism was a Belgian movement which combined Christianity and fascism during the Second World War with the aim of abolishing democracy and replacing it with a corporatist society based on the teachings of the Church. It was the proscribed ideology of the Rexist Party, which was officially known as Christus Rex (literally Christ King). Rexist followers supported the occupying Nazi forces, admired Adolf Hitler, and had similar anti-semitic leanings. The Rexist Party originally split from the ruling Catholic Party, but Rexist bishops increasingly cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church, developing financial links with, and incorporating moral support, for Nazi Germany into their teachings.

Paris theatre attack, 1988

In 1988 the film The Last Temptation of Christ was released. The film controversially portrayed Jesus fantasising about sexual intercourse with Mary Magdalene, and was roundly condemned by Christians. Following its release, the Saint Michel theater in Paris was burnt to the ground whilst showing the film, leaving 13 people hospitalised, 1 in a serious condition. Following the attack, a representative of the film's distributor, Universal International Pictures, said "The opponents of the film have largely won. They have massacred the film's success, and they have scared the public". Jack Lang, France's Minister of Culture, went to the St.-Michel theater after the fire, and said, "Freedom of speech is threatened, and we must not be intimidated by such acts". The Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, said "One doesn't have the right to shock the sensibilities of millions of people for whom Jesus is more important than their father or mother." However, after the fire he condemned the attack, saying "You don't behave as Christians but as enemies of Christ. From the Christian point of view, one doesn't defend Christ with arms. Christ himself forbade it." The leader of Christian Solidarity, a Roman Catholic group that had promised to stop the film from being shown, said, "We will not hesitate to go to prison if it is necessary".

The attack was subsequently blamed on a Catholic fundamentalist group linked to Bernard Antony, a representative of the far-right National Front to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunited from the Roman Catholic Church for his fundamentalist beliefs. Similar attacks against theatres included graffiti, setting off tear-gas canisters and stink bombs, and assaulting filmgoers. At least nine people believed to be members of the Catholic fundamentalist group were arrested. Rene Remond, a historian, said of the Catholic far-right "It is the toughest component of the National Front and it is motivated more by religion than by politics. It has a coherent political philosophy that has not changed for 200 years: it is the rejection of the revolution, of the republic and of modernism."

Concerned Christians, 1999

The Concerned Christians were a group of "Apocalyptic Christians" that "planned to carry out violent and extreme acts in the streets of Jerusalem at the end of 1999" and believed that being killed by police would "lead them to heaven. The group were planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem; some fundamentalist Christians believe that the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest shrines in Jerusalem, must be destroyed and the Temple in Jerusalem restored in its place, before Jesus can return to Earth. The group were deported from Israel and are said to currently reside in Greece.

Radical Christian Activists, 2007

In 2007 three teenagers from Burleson, Texas were charged with attempting to destroy a church with an explosive device. Police Commander Chris Haven said that the group believes that society has become too focused on self improvement and self gratification and has lost focus on the glorification of God. On July 4, police in Burleson, TX received reports of suspicious activity at a church and of a fire in a nearby field. Three men were subsequently arrested and charged with arson at a place of worship, a first-degree felony. A fourth suspect, a juvenile, who reportedly was not involved in the attempted arson, was not charged. Two of the suspects admitted to being involved in at least one other fire in a recycling bin at a different church during 2007 according to a police report. One of the three men also faced a charge of tampering/fabricating physical evidence. The three self-described radical Christian activists, part of a religious group that opposes organized religion and government, have pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm categorized as a destructive device in the attempted bombings at the Burleson, TX church. Police found the bomb, a glass bottle containing a mixture of gasoline and chlorine with a cloth wick, propped against the church door after the men twice attempted to detonate the device. Michael Philip Plaisted and Jered Michael Ragon pleaded guilty December 4, 2007 and Dayton Lee Calaway pleaded guilty February 5, 2008. Punishment faced is a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Notable individuals

George Habash

TIME magazine identified George Habash as "Terrorism's Christian Godfather" and a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Habash was a Greek Orthodox Christian by birth. A 1998 interview with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs identified Habash as Christian. In 2007 Global Politician identified Habash as being a Christian. Habash died in 2008 and was buried at a Greek Orthodox Church in Amman, Jordan. At the time of his death, he was identified as a Christian by the New York Sun and Agence France Press, and Jerusalem Newswire (quoting the BBC) described him as "a Christian, an Arab nationalist and a Marxist". He was a professional physician, who joined the anti-Israeli movement after Israeli forces massacred 250 people in his hometown of Lydda on the same night that his sister died from typhoid; he blamed the Israeli attack for preventing her from receiving medical attention. On being evicted by soldiers from his home, he said, "I remember asking one of the soldiers where we were supposed to go." Habash rejected Christianity then: "I was all the time imagining myself as a good Christian, serving the poor. When my land was occupied, I had no time to think about religion." In regard to the moral justification for his use of violence, he said, "All the time I was believing from the bottom of my heart and brain that I am fighting for a righteous cause." He said all Arab revolutionaries "must be Marxist, because Marxism is the expression of the aspirations of the working class.

Mark David Uhl

Mark David Uhl, a student at Liberty University, planned to bomb and kill members of the Westboro Baptist Church at the funeral of Jerry Falwell. Max Blumenthal called Uhl a "Christian terrorist", "a devout evangelical Christian who advocated religious violence in the name of American nationalism". On Uhl's MySpace page he called on Christians to die on the battlefield for "Uncle Sam." He quoted Biblical passages to justify his call to arms, and wrote "Christians, we have been given life after death and we should help others receive it and not sit here in our big buildings and sing to ourselves so we can go home and feel good about ourselves... Christians, fear of death, fear of death. The fear of death shows you don't believe. God needs soldiers to fight so his children may live free. Are you afraid??? I'm not. SEND ME!!!"

August Kreis

The Aryan Nation’s anti-Semitic and racist ideology, inspired by the tenets of Nazi Germany, has been linked to other criminal acts involving bank robberies, shootouts with authorities, the murders of blacks, and others. August Kreis, an aspiring revolutionary with ties to the Aryan Nations, Posse Comitatus, and the Ku Klux Klan, has reportedly attempted to forge an alliance between white supremacists and al Qaeda, hoping to exploit their shared hatred of American government and Jews. Kreis has stated, "You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they have for their father, who they call Allah." A collaboration between white supremacists and radical Islamists is not a new concept, and enemies who run things together for a shared cause is a common tactic of warfare. During World War II, Adolf Hitler entertained Jerusalem’s Muslim leader, the Grand Mufti, and after the war, places like Egypt and Syria became refuges for some Nazis. Ahmed Huber, an Islamic convert, devotee of Adolf Hitler, and admirer of Islamic revolutionist Ayatollah Khomeini, served on the board of directors of a Swiss bank and holding company that President Bush accused of helping fund al Qaeda. Huber reportedly wanted to forge a fresh alliance between Islamic radicals and neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States. Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated there was no indication of large-scale alliance although some U.S. extremists have praised the September 11 attacks.

Clifford Peeples

In 1999 Clifford Peeples, Pastor of the Bethel Pentecostal Church, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment after being found in possession of hand grenades and a pipe bomb. In 2005 he was reinstalled as head of the Bethel congregation following a dispute over his distribution of anti-Catholic literature within the church. Peeples had been distributing "Rome Watch written by his associate Pastor Alan Campbell. Peeples was accompanied in his takeover of the church by Pastor John Somerville, who had previously received a life sentence for his part in the Miami Showband massacre. Displaced minister John Hull criticised him, saying "There seems to be this innate hatred of Catholics but the gospel is for everybody - Protestant and Catholic." Peeples rejected these charges of bigotry, but did say "I despise and dislike the Roman system. I do not hide that, I have never hid that, nor would I ever wish to hide that but individual Catholics I like and I love". RUC chief constable, Ronnie Flanagan dubbed Peeples and his associates "the demon pastors" - specialising in recounting lurid stories of Catholic savagery towards Protestants, and in finding biblical justifications for Protestant retaliation.

Billy Wright

Billy Wright was one of the most feared paramilitary figures in Northern Ireland, known for terrorist attacks, cold-blooded murders, and running a lucrative drugs business and protection racket. In 1977 he was jailed for terrorist activities, and in 1983 he became a Born again Christian preacher of old-style Protestant fundamentalism. At that time he disavowed violence, but in 1986 was drawn back into paramilitary activity.

Wright's religious faith had contradictory influences on his life. On the one hand, he argued that his faith drove him to defend the 'Protestant people of Ulster', while at the same time, he conceded that the way in which he had taken that fight to the enemy would ensure his damnation. He said of this dilemma:

You can't glorify God and seek to glorify Ulster because the challenges which are needed are paramilitary. That's a contradiction to the life God would want you to lead. If you were to get yourself involved in paramilitary activity in its present form, or the form in which it manifested itself during the Troubles, then I don't think you could walk with God...

...There's always the hope that in some way, someday - and there are precedents within scripture - your hope would be that God would draw you back to him. All those who have the knowledge of Christ would seek to walk with him again. People would say, 'Billy Wright, that's impossible,' but nothing's impossible if you have faith in God. I would hope that he would allow me to come back. I'm not walking with God.... Without getting into doctrine, without getting too deep, it is possible to have walked with God and to fall away and still belong to God.

Wright was assassinated inside the Maze prison on December 27, 1997. Wright is considered a hero and martyr figure by hardline loyalists; gunmen at a paramilitary display in Portadown in 2000 told journalists "He did what he had to do to ensure that our faith and culture were kept intact."

Eric Robert Rudolph

Eric Robert Rudolph is a convicted terrorist whose series of violent acts across the southern United States included attacks on reproductive health clinics. Rudolph was involved in the 1996 bombing at Olympic Centennial Olympic Park which injured more than one hundred people and killed Olympic spectator Alice Hawthorne; the 1997 bombings of a Georgia family planning clinic and a Midtown Atlanta nightclub; and the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham family planning clinic that killed Police Officer Robert Sanderson and critically injured nurse Emily Lyons. On April 13, 2005, 38 year old Rudolph of Murphy, N.C. waived all appeals and pleaded guilty to the Birmingham bombing attack and the three Atlanta attacks. Pursuant to his agreements, Rudolph provided information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and others to find the locations of more than 250 pounds of dynamite buried in several locations in the Western North Carolina area. His plea agreements provided for multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.

From the early 1980s Rudolph had contact with loosely organized and strongly anti-Semitic Christian Identity groups and Aryan Nations, influential in the militant movement. Racial genocide is a major theme within the Christian Identity movement and Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University and consultant to the FBI on Christian extremist groups speculates that the Olympic terrorism "may have symbolized for Rudolph the mixing of races and cultures," or may have triggered "pervasive fear of a global tyranny run from the United Nations and destroying American independence and so on. Whatever the motive, however, "bad guys know with the whole world watching, the Olympics provide a perfect stage from which to send a message." On Saturday, July 27, 1996 shortly after 1 a.m. as the seventh day of competition came to close Jack Mack and the Heart Attack was on stage at the Centennial Olympic Park when an unattended bag exploded hitting victims as far as a football field away killing an innocent woman.

Rudolph’s letters might provide insight to his beliefs and relative to the 19th century German existentialist philosopher, Nietzsche, who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality, Rudolph, in a letter to his mother, wrote: "...I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible." In another letter regarding the Russian novelist Dostoevsky, Rudolph wrote: "I've read his Crime and Punishment years ago, which I can honestly say was the best novel I have read to date.” However, in an 11 page manifesto released by attorneys after Rudolph entered his guilty pleas is a statement conflicting with his preference for existentialism: "I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one," wrote the former explosives expert for the United States Army.

Notable incidents

Pat Robertson

In August 2005, U.S. television evangelist Pat Robertson was branded a terrorist by Venezuelan officials after calling for the assassination of President Hugo Chávez. In response to Robertson's statements, Chávez said, "To call for the assassination of a head of state is an act of terrorism," and suggested that Venezuela would request the extradition of Robertson from the United States. Vice President José Vicente Rangel said, "This is a huge hypocrisy to maintain an antiterrorist line and at the same time have such terrorist statements as these made by Christian preacher Pat Robertson coming from the same country." The Bush administration distanced itself from Robertson's remarks, Rev. Jesse Jackson said that the remarks were illegal and urged U.S. authorities to take action, Rev. Rob Schenck said Robertson should "immediately apologize, retract his statement and clarify what the Bible and Christianity teaches about the permissibility of taking human life outside of law," and Rev. Richard Cizik said, "most evangelical leaders" would disassociate themselves from such "unfortunate and particularly irresponsible" comments. Robertson issued an apology, but in January 2006 again called for Chávez's assassination, "Not now, but one day.

Evangelical Alliance

In November 2006 the Evangelical Alliance, which represents 1.2 million Christians in the United Kingdom, released a report which stated that violent revolution should be regarded as a viable response if British legislation encroaches further on Christian rights: "If, as most Christians accept, they should be politically involved in democratic processes, many believe this may, where necessary, take the form of active resistance to the state. This may encompass disobedience to law, civil disobedience, involving selective, non-violent resistance or, ultimately, violent revolution.". Very Rev. Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, said such actions would send out a confused message, as "the fundamental themes of the gospel are love and reconciliation, not violent revolution."

Becky Fischer

In the 2006 documentary Jesus Camp, Becky Fischer, a pastor, called on American Christians to become more radicalised. The Guardian wrote, "Pastor Fischer equates the preparation she is giving children with the training of terrorists in the Middle East. I want to see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam, she tells the camera. I want to see them radically laying down their lives for the gospel, as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine." David Byrne described the camp as "the Christian version of the Madrasas... both sides are pretty much equally sick."

See also



  • Hedges, Chris. 2007. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Free Press.
  • Lea, Henry Charles. 1961. The Inquisition of the Middle Ages. Abridged. New York: Macmillan.
  • Mason, Carol. 2002. Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Tyerman, Christopher. 2006. God's War: A New History of the Crusades. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Belknap.
  • Zeskind, Leonard. 1987. The ‘Christian Identity’ Movement, [booklet]. Atlanta, Georgia: Center for Democratic Renewal/Division of Church and Society, National Council of Churches.

Search another word or see homo-sexualityon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature