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Belief Beat

Irony Alert: Should Christians Apologize for Terry Jones, Westboro Baptists, Abortion Clinic Bombers, Etc.?

Here’s some food for thought: Should all Christians, or at least evangelical Protestants, apologize on behalf of the actions taken by Florida’s reportedly unrepetant, enthusiastically Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones which prompted violent protests in Afghanistan over the weekend — or the hatemongering Westboro Baptist Church (now planning to picket Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral!), or abortion clinic-bombers and doctor-killers, or gay-bashers, etc.?


No? Then why do people insist that random Muslims should apologize for the actions of their extremists? (For what it’s worth, the big American Muslim organizations now routinely issue press releases denouncing terrorism, but this still seems to be ignored by the folks determined to paint them all with the same brush.) Does being a Muslim mean always having to say you’re sorry?

Please share your thoughts — keep it civil and on-topic — in the Comments section below.

P.S. I think the AP had an interesting graphic on the tiny (news to Glenn Beck!) percentage of the world’s 1.5 billion-plus Muslims who commit terrorism, versus the tiny percentage of the world’s 2 billion-plus Christians who do likewise. Check back for updates as I try to track it down. Or, if you have a link, post it in the Comments section below. 

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posted April 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Yes, we need to at least bring out the point that Extremist Christians are wrong and do a disservice to our religion. The Muslims need to do the same. Anyone who is extreme needs to be called on it.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The post said that Muslim organizations “now routinely issue press releases denouncing terrorism”. So they ARE doing it.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

People need not apologize for the stupid and evil things that other people have done. If collective guilt is wrong, so is collective apology. What rational Christians need to do is not apologize for the likes of Terry Jones and Fred Phelps, but to issue the strongest possible denunciations of fanaticism in all its forms. They need to make it clear that fanaticism is not a fervent form of faith but a maniacal obsession that does no honor to God. They need to establish that fanaticism is a cancer that will surely destroy its own environment as well as everything it touches.

As for Muslims denouncing terrorism, sorry, that is not even nearly enough. They need to denounce — by name — the fanatical clerics who preach hatred in the mosques and religious schools. Violence is simply the inevitable end-product of hate-mongering. It is all too easy to denounce violence. But the real disease, in Islam as well as in Christianity, is the fanaticism that spreads hatred and spawns violence.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

They are indeed and inword a sorry bunch of people. But I cannot apologize for them because they in no way represent the faith I propose and represent. There is no love in their words or actions, simply rudeness, arrogance, and pride (the very reverse of love according to Paul in 1 Corinthinas 13).

What is sorry is that they – by default – become the smudged and soiled “face” of Christianity. And De Fault is ours, for allowing them to have the podium and take center stage. We need to assert, convince, and preach that God’s love trumps human conceit.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I don’t think Christians should , because I don’t consider the people who acted that way to be Christians…
I don’t even place them on the scale of being human.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

HfC uses fanaticism as his description, I use extremism as my description. Same thing. Many extremist christians think they are doing God’s work, when jestrfyl and I, being Christians, think their interpretation of doing God’s work is off the track. It’s when extremism causes hate, families breaking up, suicides, and deaths happening in the news that Christians say I’d never do that, but they sit in their churches and never disagree about, lets say GLBT, with their Ministers. Some do of course, but having done that it didn’t help in any way.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Jyl do you consider the “Muslim terrorists” Muslim? What if Muslims don’t?

H4C why do you advocate Muslims call out their fanatics by name but not Christians? It seems to me the principal is the same for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

I think they all need to be willing to call out those who claim to be of the religion they claim to be who foment hatred.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Sorry, my mistake in wording. I absolutely agree that Jones and Phelps and all other Christian hate-mongers should be denounced by name by rational Christians.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

at least show that extremist Christians DO exist and that they have a lot of potential to cause harm to others. Of course, they’ll justify it but extremist Christians have killed in the U.S. and I personally believe will do it increasingly more, justifying it in the end.

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posted April 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

Terry Jones should repent for his sins. He needs to ‘get right with God’ before it is too late. More than one of my friends has asked the question, is Terry Jones a deciple of Christ or the Anti-Christ, it is a toss-up in my mind.

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Grumpy Old Person

posted April 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The death toll is now 24 lives. That’s 24 human beings that Terry Jones is responsible for.

This goes beyond fanaticism or extremism or radical. This is irresponsible mititant Christianism at its worst. And the saddest part is that it’s infecting more and more Americans too.

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posted April 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I don’t think the Jones and Phelps of the movement can be properly understood as isolated aberrations. They are simply at the far end of a spectrum that is very representative of much of “mainstream” Christianity these days.

Their tactics may be extreme, but their sentiments are broadly shared and espoused by Catholic bishops and the conservative wing of that faith, Mormons, or at least church leaders, a very large percentage of evangelicals etc. They phrase their hatred in more nuanced terms and try to spin it as love, but they’re all pulling on the same end of the rope.

The hate based policies and politicians in this country are not created by the Jones’ and the Phelps of this country, with their few dozen core supporters. They’re funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from the “mainstream” churches who want us to believe “we’re nothing like those loons who misrepresent us.”

Jones and Phelps are broadly representative of the spirit, if not the tactics, of either a very large minority of Christians in this country or an outright slim majority.

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posted April 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

That is an accurate assessment, and I thank you for saying it clearly and plainly. Phelps and Jones may be near the edge of the box but they are not outside the box.

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posted April 6, 2011 at 5:25 am

hate that causes people to kill other people for ideological reasons is a result of education, which is in the hands of the leaders, who are chosen (in one way or another) by their constituents.
as an israeli (with israeli roots that go many generations back and who served as an infantry medic for 4 not 3 years) i feel disgusted and ashamed of right-wing zealots (most of whom are new immigrants living out their dreams of being john wayne) who distort the zionist dream of social justice by attaching it to an antiquated religious credo.
i am on the edge of my seat to see if arabs will finally stop blaming the world for their ills, take responsibility and create a society where hate and terror will no longer be needed to shelter corruption.
and yes, if you present abortion as murder, then abortionists become murderers and it is the god-give right of the believer to kill them.
terry jones is responsible for the death of many people. he should be apprehended as a murderer, tried and hung. but he is a product of that same educational milieu that has given us mel gibson, pedophelia and more. it is long past time that milieu be challenged in ways not less drastic than kadafi and his ilk, for they have caused just as much damage and suffering, and words of apology are meaningless.

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Steve Simmons

posted April 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Apologize? No. But repudiate? Yes. When someone claims to be acting for a group I am part of and then commits such actions, I repudiate him immediately.

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posted April 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I’m not a Christian, but I agree with Heretic_for_Christ that people apologizing for the actions of other people smacks of collective guilt.

Yes Terry Jones was a jerk for burning a book, but his actions don’t compare to yelling fire in a crowded theater. There was no mortal threat that stampeded the herd, so everyone has plenty of time to think about their next action. So the protesters who riot and kill are responsible for their own actions, not the man who burns a book.

I think it is also wrong to draw a moral equivalence between the actions of a book burner or name caller and someone who blows up innocent people.

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Robert C

posted April 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

Thank you for that one sage, level headed comment MH.

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posted April 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

This seems to be a good spot to put this observation this morning. Senator Harry Reid just spoke to the press, and said the only thing holding up an agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans is Womens Health, it’s their ideology he said. IMO it’s the far-right religious beliefs that is probably going to hold up our Veterans pay checks that support themselves and their families, cause hardship to 800 or more govenment workers, make the poorest of America suffer more, close our Natl. Parks, keep people from their Passports, stop the checks that are needed from the IRS for people who really need them. Keep medical tied up with new medicine that won’t be able to be used, etc. This is wacky and very taliban-like to have such extremists attacking America in this way. This is Religion gone nuts!

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Robert C

posted April 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

If we default on our obligations there will not be any social programs.

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