By John F. Di Leo -
On Easter Sunday, 2012, a series of car bombs exploded, killing at least 38 and wounding hundreds, as stained glass shattered and brick and mortar rained down upon the congregants – in and around the All Nations Christian Assembly Church and the ECWA Good News Church, in Kaduna, Nigeria.
On Christmas Day, 2011, a similar bombing killed 44 (and injured hundreds more) at a Catholic church in Madalla, Nigeria. North of the Sahara, far too many bombings to count have rocked the churches of North Africa, particularly those of the ten million plus terrified Coptic Christians in Egypt, since the islamist-led rebellions of 2011 that the American Left has euphemistically dubbed “the Arab Spring” (and what an outrageous act of disrespect that is to the anti-Communists of Prague, years ago).
The islamofascists attack when services are in progress, when hundreds of Christians are in their churches, families together in prayer, defenseless… sitting ducks for the demonic enemy outside.
There is a reason why Christians are such easy targets. Christians don’t view the church building quite the same way that muslims do.
Civilization and the Transformation of Sacrifice
The Judeo-Christian heritage has a history that dates back to the days of Abraham, founder of our family of religions. In one of the more painful texts to read in the Bible, the Lord commanded Abraham to prepare a human sacrifice, then stayed his hand and explained that human sacrifice was not in fact the proper use for an altar at all. In that passage, we learn that God abhors human sacrifice, that the murder of innocents is not pleasing to the one true God after all, and – by extension – the reader understands that one who does call for human sacrifice cannot in fact be in the service of the true God at all.
Even more so, the Christian understanding of the Messiah and His service on earth is that He made the ultimate sacrifice – allowing mankind to kill His earthly body (His “human nature,” to use the theological term) – to absorb the sin of this world so that traditional sacrifice, the destruction of a living thing on an altar, would never be needed again.
Not to get too heavy into theology here (this is a political blog, not a religious one, and I’m a political writer, not a theologian anyway), let’s think about the altar throughout history. Before Abraham, and throughout the pagan world since as well, the altar was traditionally used to kill a person or animal as a gift to “the gods.” But Abraham was told No, go ahead and kill animals on the altar for the time being, since your cultural expectation is that God would appreciate it, but never again a human. And then with the Messiah’s crucifixion, the new branch of Judaism – Christianity – determined that all such sacrifice is now over. Instead of ending a life, the altar is now used to create new life, in a way, as bread and wine are transformed into the real presence of Christ through the transubstantiation of the Eucharist. To the orthodox this action is actual, and to many protestants the process is symbolic (no need to argue whether Catholics or Congregationalists are right on this point; either position supports my thesis here); either way, contrary to the use of the altar in prior religions, the altar in Christianity is therefore a celebration of life. The idea of murder in a Christian church is therefore particularly horrific.
From the earliest days of Christianity, the altar – central focal point of a church or synagogue – has been viewed as a place of sanctuary. Going back to the fourth century A.D., Western Civilization has provided special protections associated with the altar, or even the larger Church or its environs. In some places, holding onto the altar, or to a ring or handle on the church door, or just making it to the staircase leading to the altar, or through the church doors to the altar level, have guaranteed safety to people being pursued by soldiers, by government agents, by police.
For a thousand years, for example, the British government gave criminals as much as thirty or forty days’ protection from capture or prosecution if they made it to the altar or the church door, even in the midst of hot pursuit. Some governments would even go so far as to allow a criminal safe passage to the border so he could flee prosecution entirely – all because the government believed that the claim of sanctuary from the altar of God must be honored.
"Treat Others As You Would Want Them To Treat You"
Jews and Christians tend to offer the same protection to those of other religions, because it’s natural to them. Remember when Moqtada al-Sadr and virtually his entire army were holed up in a mosque in Iraq, during the darkest days of the Iraq occupation? They were an armed force, their identification beyond question. We could have attacked, and wiped out this enemy in one fell stroke. But westerners don’t attack a church or a temple, and we extend that respect to mosques as well. We let al-Sadr and his troops alone, to fight another day… and so they have. How many innocents – how many Iraqi civilians, how many soldiers, how many contractors – have been injured or killed because al-Sadr and his army weren’t snuffed out with a single artillery barrage? We believe in doing what we believe is the right thing, so we wouldn’t allow that to be a consideration. We would not knowingly fire on a “place of worship,” no matter what.
What a culture clash this is. We respect the place of worship; they view it as a handy target. How wonderful for the islamist bomber, that we Christians and Jews go unarmed into a church or synagogue. We go to pray, without posting a guard or building defenses. We build them with huge glass windows, not with thick unblemished walls like the islamists do… they build theirs to be defensible; we build ours to be vulnerable. We put our faith in God; they take advantage of every such opportunity.
The culture clash reaches into every level of society. Think of how the muslim is taught to think of land: all land is either currently muslim-held, not yet muslim-held, or formerly muslim-held. Land that once was muslim-held must be retaken, until eventually ALL land on earth is muslim-held.
Contrast that with our western view of property rights. Once we’ve sold a piece of land, it’s the buyers’ from then on; we bear no perpetual right to it. I sometimes drive past the little Evanston house where I lived until I was eleven; I look wistfully at it for a moment, and drive on. I would never dream that I have some permanent right to demand entry, just because I lived there forty years ago.
That’s all the west wants, really, of our holy sites in the Middle East: the ability to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other shrines, safely and openly. We don’t expect to be able to take it all back. Today’s islamist, however – as a believer in their traditionalist concept that all land is for the caliphate, and once muslim-held, forever muslim-held – will restrict our rights to visit our former churches, wells, tombs and shrines. And if they choose to bomb a church, killing all within, they have “clerics” who will defend the practice, since it contributes to their goal of adding more land to that subset which is “muslim-held.”
They see their job as the conversion of the world and the islamization of all peoples – if willingly, fine… and if unwillingly… that’s fine with them too.
No, this is not to say that all muslims have these beliefs, but the attitude is rampant in the religion, and is the reason why it is so often, so difficult, for non-muslims to survive safely once a country becomes majority-muslim… even once they have attained a significant minority.
Reacting to a new majority-muslim reality
It’s easy to say that we should just learn our lesson and leave. Easy to come to the simple conclusion: once the islamists attain a certain critical mass, all others should leave if they value life and safety.
But can such surrender be justified? Egypt was home of Coptic Christians before ever a muslim set foot there… Malaysia was home of Buddhists, India the home of Hindus, long before the Koran was opened in their midst. Indonesia was a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist, for a thousand years before islam arrived.
Why should ten million Coptic Christians give up in Egypt? They can’t afford to move anyway, and where would they go if they did?
No. The necessary solution is clear: the police powers of all these nations need to protect their peaceful citizens in their peaceful worship, even if they are a minority religion in a given country. The government doesn’t have to give tax deductions to your input in the collection basket, or fund the church itself, or make it property tax exempt… but all governments can be reasonably expected to protect law-abiding citizens from religion-motivated violence. Isn’t that what we have governments for, after all – to protect the innocent from violence?
For decades, the Democratic Party has pretended to be the great champions of Human Rights in the world. Failed ex-president Jimmy Carter has practically tattooed the words on his forehead, to ensure that he is identified with the concept of Human Rights, and by extension, the modern American left as well.
Why then is that party’s president so clearly allied with the anti-Christian and anti-Jewish governments of today’s world? Throughout his presidency and especially throughout the so-called Arab Spring, Barack Obama has identified with the rebels across the middle east. For the most part, these countries have two factions – nearly identical in every way except that one group is in power and the other group wants to topple them. From Libya to Egypt to Syria, both sides favor authoritarian governments, both side favor islam as the state religion. The only significant difference is that the incumbent governments – the best example being Egypt – provided at least some protection to minority religions in their country, while the rebels delight in abusing those minorities as soon as they’re given license to do so.
Under Hosni Mubarek, the society was prejudiced against the Coptic Christians, but they could generally attend church in safety. Under the Muslim Brotherhood, ten million Coptic Christians must live in fear.
Barack Obama claims the right to preach about “fairness” – in tax policy, in healthcare, in the workplace, at the food stamp counter. And yet he gives foreign policy cover, military assistance, and the confiscated tax dollars of Judeo-Christian Americans, to the very organizations and governments that tolerate or even encourage church bombings in country, after country, after country.
Nowhere is the fraud of Barack Obama more in evidence than in his handling of foreign affairs. He joins with the Afghan “clerics” in fury at a concocted story about the destruction of a confiscated Koran full of messages… but he cannot seem to amass a tenth such fury at the government-sponsored attackers who bomb a church on Easter Sunday. For decades, the "civil rights" crusaders of the Democratic Party screamed (rightly so) about the church burnings of their youth; how do they lose that righteous anger so quickly, as soon as the cross into international waters? Barack Obama claims to be a Christian; he claims to have spent twenty years at a UCC congregation in Chicago… but he can amass no compassion for similar congregants on the other side of the world.
As Americans, what should be our policy in the future, as anti-Jewish and anti-Christian violence explodes across a world at war? We cannot protect every church in the world, or capture and prosecute every bomber. We have no authority beyond our borders.
But we can declare that tolerance of such violence is a deal-breaker in the worlds of diplomacy and foreign aid. Just as George W. Bush declared that any government that tolerates terrorists is our enemy by definition, we should declare today that any government that tolerates church bombings is our enemy as well.
We should refuse diplomatic recognition, refuse foreign aid, restrict trade – until Egypt, Syria, Nigeria, etc. commit to stop the targeting of religious people and their meetings, at home or at church, at work or in the public square. We don’t need to go to war to accomplish this. We just need to take a stand.
The United States has the power and influence to be a force for good in the world; but we need a president and a foreign policy apparatus that want to be.
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade lecturer. Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the byline and IR URL are included. Follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook!