Tag Archives: Boston Marathon bombing

So What if the Boston Bombers were Muslim Extremists?

                The current investigation of the bombing at the Boston Marathon is muddied considerably by an effort in government and media to avoid the reality that the bombers at the Boston Marathon were Muslim. People who want to be called reporters and news analysts tie themselves in knots to project an image of Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev as anything but agents of Islamic extremism. They might have actually been found much sooner if neighbors who recognized their photos as young men had not been hamstrung by willful political correctness. People who knew those men refused to tell anyone what they knew, because they were afraid it would cause the investigators to think the bombing had something to do with Islamic extremism.

                Almost certainly, the people who knew these men included Christians. Christians claim to be committed to Truth, as in Christ’s statement, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” but they did not speak up. In fact, the chaos of comments online, on television and on radio, can be safely assumed to include Christians who chose not to tell investigators truth when they knew it. The reason is that like many other people in contemporary US culture, their natural instinct to speak truth when they see it was suppressed, because they have been led to believe that to name something is to attack it. They were afraid that something they said might lead investigators to go looking for Muslim extremists.

                What difference would it have made if the investigators had found the two men earlier and under much different circumstances? What difference would it make if the investigators had been able to apprehend these two men alive and well? A great deal. Half the truth behind this event died with the older brother. A lot of important information was lost because people feared they would be accused of being insensitive and bigoted. Christians are constantly accused of being bigots, and many Christians worry more about what someone might think than they worry about the truth.

                It is important to say all these things, because this situation is part of a larger picture that betrays how American citizens are allowing themselves to be deceived into thinking that they, not the Muslim extremists, are the wicked ones. Please don’t assume that when I use the term “Muslim extremist” I am referring to every Muslim. When I say “Christian” I am not including aberrant behavior such as the Ku Klux Klan, either. When I say “Muslim extremist” I mean it in the way this term is used internationally. It is important to know about this term, because country after country around the world is being driven to violent chaos and terrible instability. Around the world, Muslim extremists are pursuing the objective of making countries 100% Islamic, pure and unpolluted by any other religious belief. In the USA, people do not want to believe that anybody who claims to be Muslim could possibly behave this way. It is not politically correct to believe that there are Muslims in the USA who want this country to be 100% Muslim.

                There are a lot of Muslims in this country who have no interest in destroying anything. There are a lot of Muslims in Kenya and Indonesia who don’t want to destroy anything, either. To speak of Muslim extremism is not to speak of them. To speak of Muslim extremism is to talk about a force that all people must feat. Many countries have suffered because of the work of Muslim extremists.

                Here is some representative news from a few countries under assault by Muslim extremism:

IRAN

                Most people already know that Iran is an Islamic republic. Few know that Christianity has been active in Iran since Persian converts on the Day of Pentecost returned home to share the good news of Christ. In the early 1970’s, Iran was targeted by Muslim extremists who wanted Iran to be a pure Islamic state. After the revolution in 1979, historic Christian churches were tolerated, but they had to be registered with the government. With the solidification of power under the leadership of the ayatollahs, who are the power behind Iranian Muslim extremists, registered churches are being forced to close, one or two at a time. Before the revolution that established the current regime, Iran was a model of liberty and prosperity among nations in the Middle East, most of which struggled economically. Today, it is one of many Islamic republics led by an extreme ideology that demands the nation be 100% Muslim. In fact, the current president is not shy about his preference that the whole world be 100% Muslim.

PAKISTAN

                In Pakistan, Islam is the state religion, and all law must be compliant with sharia. According to the Constitution, every person is free to believe any religion. There has always been a cultural preference for Islam, but in recent years, activism by Muslim extremists has resulted in numerous arrests of Christians for the “crime” of blasphemy. More than one victim has been exonerated when it was discovered that the accusation was fraudulent. Nevertheless, during the current month, Muslim mobs have torched two predominantly Christian communities and assaulted individuals fleeing the fires. Witnesses say that the police ignore the reports or stand by and watch it happen. The constitution may establish religious liberty, but the government does not enforce that right.

SOMALIA

                Islam is the state religion in Somalia. Sharia is the law of the country. The constitution specifically says that “No other religion than Islam can be propagated in the country.” Muslim extremism has escalated over recent years. The rise of extremism has been propelled by Al Shabaab militants who move freely and attack people with impunity. Beheadings of Christians common. Police, the agency of government tasked with keeping peace and good order in society, ignore reports of violence against Christians or other non-Muslim residents.

INDONESIA

                This country is 87% Muslim, the most populous Islamic republic in the world. It is interesting to compare the work of Muslim extremism in Indonesa with the work of Muslim extremism in Kenya, where the population is more than 80% Christian. Indonesia’s constitution guarantees the right of citizens to choose their own religion, but during recent years, Muslim extremism has taken up the cause of purging the population of non-Muslims. In theory, police should protect any citizen from violent assault, but when Muslim extremists complain to local officials about the presence of Christians, local officials lock the church buildings and send heavy equipment to tear the buildings down. The local officials fear pressure from radical Islamic groups, and the national government has not seen fit to intervene.

KENYA

                In 2010, in response to Muslim activism, a new constitution was enacted in Kenya. There had been considerable religious freedom in the era immediately after independence, and even today, the population is 80% Christian. Muslims make up about 10%. Yet in 2010, Muslim activism, sometimes quite extreme, resulted in a new constitution, which provides special treatment in special sharia courts for Muslims. The violence associated with Muslim activism has escalated since passage of the constitution, and today non-Muslim businesses, non-Muslim individuals, security agents, and especially Christian pastors are targeted. Shootings in churches, street violence, and personal assaults on non-Muslims are increasing. All non-Muslims are under threat and many are fleeing the country. This country is only 10% Muslim, yet Muslim extremists have succeeded in terrorizing 90% of the population so thoroughly that all non-Muslims feel threatened.

Think about the pattern in these countries. There was a time in each of these countries when populations made up of many religions lived and worked peaceably together. At some point, Muslims became politically active and Muslim extremists began to apply violent pressure in the culture. In some cases the campaign to create an Islamic republic has succeeded. In others the campaign is ongoing. When Americans contemplate the work of the bombers in Boston, the story should motivate all citizens to look at what is actually happening in the culture of the USA. The violence that shows up in a monstrous act like the bombing at the Boston Marathon is only one feature in a landscape that most citizens don’t examine deeply. There are people in Iran who remember that it used to be a free and prosperous society. There are people in Kenya who remember that it used to be a free and prosperous society. There are people in Egypt who remember that it used to be a jewel of the Mediterranean nations. What happened? Muslim extremism.

American citizens all should care whether the Boston bombers are connected with Muslim extremism. American Christians should be especially attentive to detail in this investigation. Everywhere Muslim extremism grows strong, religious liberty suffers, and Christians usually head the list of religions suppressed by Muslim extremism. There is no reason to make up facts or warp our interpretation of the facts. We simply need to be wise and careful. Do the work it takes to find all the facts about this bombing. Kenya is a cautionary tale of what can happen to a predominantly Christian country that does not guard its religious liberty.

What Do We Pray For?

When Christians are confronted with sociopathic evil that is inevitably commingled with political agendas, self-serving ego trips, and true spiritual confusion, how are they to sort through the tangled web of issues and pray with integrity before God?

This is the situation as the nation contemplates the unspeakable wickedness of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. The initial responses to this event have been full of stories we can all admire. A man with both legs destroyed by the bombs was nevertheless able to summon the strength to be a witness and send investigators down the right path to find the perpetrators. The scene of devastation became a stage for heroism and gallantry that every human being could admire and emulate. As tips poured in, investigators worked night and day to find the men responsible. One is dead, and the other is in custody. The fears that locked down a city and held a nation hostage to each new announcement are beginning to subside – for the moment.

But what comes next? What do we want to come next?

This is the tough part. Those who are responsible to bring criminals and terrorists to justice will do their jobs, but the very fact that this comment must include both words – criminals and terrorists – grows out of one of the challenges of achieving justice in this case. There is already a considerable debate, and plenty of rancor on both sides, whether to call this event a crime or an act of terror. The little known of the background of the two men hardly clarifies things at this point, so it will be a while before the terminology is sorted out. It is highly likely that the process of collecting and analyzing the necessary information will be thoroughly colored by the political agendas of officials at all levels and by the same vicious political rhetoric that stirs every issue in the country these days. Everyone will agree that justice must be done, but there will be no agreement whatsoever as to what constitutes justice in this case.

The fact that the two young men were Muslim does not help things. That word by itself raises hackles on all sides of the current social trauma over profiling and the meaning of terrorism.

The fact that comments from family and friends do not paint a coherent picture of the two men makes it difficult even to know where to start thinking about the right thing to do in response to this issue. One of the marathon runners has already publicly stated that she does not believe she can ever run another one, even though she herself was not injured. Marathon organizers for events scheduled in the near future feel compelled to address the very natural security concerns of participants. And people everywhere look over their shoulders at any large group of people, wondering if the two Boston bombers were acting in isolation, or if they were simply the first wave.

How is a Christian to pray about this horrifying and thoroughly confusing event? There is a perfect model for us, and we can trust this model, because it was given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

We must always turn to God before we start jumping to conclusions about any confusing or terrifying situation. Turning our thoughts to him first puts all our earthly concerns in proper perspective.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

We run to God. We want to cry out what we want. When we are hurting, we want relief from the pain and suffering, and when some other person is responsible for hurting us, we want that person punished. We run to God thinking of ourselves, but Jesus shows us that there is plenty of time to talk about our pain and our suffering after we give God the glory due to him. Before we tell him what we wish the outcome to be, we first enter into his plan for the outcome. We stop and look at the situation from God’s viewpoint. We ask for God’s holy purposes to redeem the situation.

When we think of God’s purposes, we remember that God loves all people, that Christ died for all people. Whatever wicked people may do, God still loves them and wants to forgive and heal them, just as he has forgiven and healed each Christian. This thought will change our understanding of justice in this situation.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Now it is time for us to tell God our needs. We are needy creatures. In this terrible time of mourning for the dead and wounded, grieving with families and friends, fearing for the future, we can tell God everything that is on our minds. We are more at peace about it all, because we have reminded ourselves that God is still sovereign and still loving and merciful. We can go to him in our broken neediness, and he will hear us out.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

This is a very difficult phrase to pray with integrity. Can we really forgive two men who knowingly wrought such murder and mayhem on people who never did them any wrong? Jesus says that we can do this, and Jesus showed us how, as he himself was being nailed to the cross. We forgive. Our forgiveness does not excuse wicked men, but it does pull the poison of vengeful thoughts out of our hearts. True justice can never be accomplished as long as those who have been wronged are unable to forgive the wrong-doer.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

This prayer is the capstone of our ability to forgive. We forgive, and we let go of our need to exact revenge. We say we want justice, but Satan is always in the wings agitating and instigating our need for vindication, payback, and compensation for the damage we have sustained. Jesus says that we must ask God to protect us from Satan’s assaults in order that we allow real justice to be rendered while letting go of our need to pay back wickedness with even greater vindictiveness. We ask God to protect us from Satan’s constant whining that no amount of payback will ever be enough.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

With this statement we come back to the Lord’s agenda. We state our faith in God’s plan and purpose in all things. We remind ourselves that evil may appear to triumph for a time, but God never permits evil to defeat his purposes. God can and God does redeem the times. We can trust him. We serve him as citizens of his kingdom, we confidently trust that he is omnipotent, that evil cannot win, and that God will reign in glory forever. This statement closes the envelope we opened by saying “Hallowed be your name.”

Amen

How shall a Christian pray in response to something as horrible as the Boston bombing? Jesus has shown us the way.

For news about the persecuted church and the cultural wars in the USA read Living on Tilt the newspaper.