Christian terrorism: Wikis


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Christian terrorism is religious terrorism by groups or individuals, the motivation for which is typically rooted in an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible and other Christian tenets of faith. Christian terrorists draw upon Christian scripture and theology to justify violent political activities.[1]


British journalist and politician Ian Gilmour has cited the historical case of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre as an instance of Christian terrorism on par with modern day 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".[2] It is estimated that two thousand to possibly twenty-five 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, which was marked by many other massacres and assassinations by both sides. Peter Steinfels has cited the historical case of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes and other Catholic revolutionaries attempted to overthrow the Protestant establishment of England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament, as a notable case of Christian terrorism.[3]

Organizations and acts by country


The Sons of Freedom, a sect of Doukhobor anarchists, have protested nude, blown up power pylons, railroad bridges, and set fire to homes, often targeting their own property.[4]


The National Liberation Front of Tripura, a rebel group operating in Tripura, North-East India classified by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism as one of the ten most active terrorist groups in the world, has been accused of forcefully converting people to Christianity.[5][6][7]

The Nagaland Rebels of Nagaland, North-East India is a coalition of rebel groups including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah, has been involved in an ethnic conflict that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths since the Indian Declaration of Independence.[8]

Northern Ireland

Martin Dillon interviewed paramilitaries on both sides of the conflict, questioning how they could reconcile murder with their Christian convictions.[9]

Steve Bruce, sociology professor at the University of Aberdeen, 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".[10]:249

Reviewing the book, David Harkness of the The English Historical Review agreed "Of course the Northern Ireland conflict is at heart religious".[11]

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".[12]

Padraic Pearse was a devoted believer of the Christian faith, a writer, and one of the leaders of the Easter Rising.[13] 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.[13] 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".[13]

Brian O'Higgins, who helped in the rebel capture of Dublin's General Post Office in O'Connell Street, recalled how all the republicans took turn reciting the Rosary every half hour during the rebellion. He wrote that there

"was hardly a man in the volunteer ranks who did not prepare for death on Easter Saturday [sic][14] 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."[15]

Sweeney went 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.[15]:13

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.[16]

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.[17]:134-135

The Orange Volunteers are a group infamous for carrying out simultaneous terrorist attacks on Catholic churches.[18]


Anti-Semitic Romanian Orthodox fascist movements in Romania, such as the Iron Guard and Lăncieri, were responsible for involvement in the Holocaust, Bucharest pogrom, and political murders during the 1930s.[19][20][21][22]:24


A number of Russian political and paramilitary groups combine racism, nationalism, and Russian Orthodox beliefs.[23][24]

Russian National Unity, a far right ultra-nationalist political party and paramilitary organization, advocates an increased role for the Russian Orthodox Church according to its manifesto. It has been accused of murders, and several terrorist attacks including the bombing of the US Consulate in Ekaterinburg.[23][25]


The Lord's Resistance Army, a cult guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, has been accused of using child soldiers and committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, porters and sex slaves.[26] 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.[27][27][28][29] LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

United States

Ku Klux Klan with a burning cross
The End. Victoriously slaying Catholic influence in the U.S. Illustration by Rev. Branford Clarke from Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty 1926 by Bishop Alma White published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, white supremacist Ku Klux Klan members in the Southern United States engaged in arson, beatings, cross burning, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, and whipping against African Americans, Jews, Catholics and other social or ethnic minorities.[36]

During the twentieth century, members of extremist groups such as the Army of God began executing attacks against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States.[37][38][39] A number of terrorist attacks, including the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics, were accused of being carried out by individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements; including the Lambs of Christ.[40]:105–120 A group called Concerned Christians were deported from Israel on suspicion of planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999, believing that their deaths would "lead them to heaven."[41][42] The motive for anti-abortionist Scott Roeder murdering Wichita doctor George Tiller on May 31, 2009 was religious. [43]

In 2010, a group called Repent Amarillo has terrorized Amarillo, Texas, targeting groups they say don't match their definition of morality. When a community theater attempted to open "Bent", a play about the persecution of homosexuals during Nazi Germany, Repent members complained to fire marshals and helped shut down the play, the day before opening night. On New Years eve, they began harassing a discreet club of swingers they discovered in town, blaring Christian music at the swingers’ club building. The swingers were then videotaped at every following visit to the club. Repent also obtained the swingers’ license plates and dug through their trash, informing neighbors and coworkers of what was once private.[44] Repent Amarillo's website contains a page linked to as "Warfare Map", which highlights nearly 40 businesses around Amarillo each of which they consider a "Sexually Oriented Business, Occult Witchcraft, Idol Worship, or Compromised Church's [sic]". [45]

Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph stated that his actions were motivated in part by opposition to the "homosexual agenda".[46][47]

Motivation, ideology and theology

Christian views on abortion have been cited by Christian individuals and groups that are responsible for threats, assault, murder, and bombings against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States and Canada.

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. It has been associated with groups such as the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Army of God, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. It has been cited as an influence in a number of terrorist attacks around the world, including the 2002 Soweto bombings.[48][49][50][51]

See also


  1. ^ B. Hoffman, "Inside Terrorism", Columbia University Press, 1999, p. 105–120.
  2. ^ Ian Gilmour, Andrew Gilmour (1988). "Terrorism review". Journal of Palestine Studies (University of California Press) 17 (2): 136. doi:10.1525/jps.1988.17.3.00p0024k. 
  3. ^ Peter Steinfels (2005-11-05). "A Day to Think About a Case of Faith-Based Terrorism". New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Taming the Spirit Wrestlers". Time Magazine. 1966-02-11.,9171,842462,00.html. 
  5. ^ "The MIPT terrorism annual 2004" (PDF). National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. 2004. 
  6. ^ "Constitution of National Liberation Front Of Tripura". South Asia Terrorism Portal. 
  7. ^ "National Liberation Front of Tripura, India". South Asia Terrorism Portal. 
  8. ^ "Manifesto of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Martin Dillon (1999). God and the Gun: The Church and Irish Terrorism. Routledge. ISBN 0415923638. 
  10. ^ Steve Bruce (1986). God Save Ulster. Oxford University Press. p. 249. ISBN 0192852175. 
  11. ^ David Harkness (1989-10). "God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism by Steve Bruce (review)". The English Historical Review (Oxford University Press) 104 (413). 
  12. ^ John Hickey (1984). Religion and the Northern Ireland Problem. Gill and Macmillan. p. 67. ISBN 0717111156. 
  13. ^ a b c T. Baakman (2006). Connolly and Pearse: Rebels with Pens as Swords. University of Utrecht. 
  14. ^ It would have been Holy Saturday; Easter Saturday is a week later.
  15. ^ a b George Sweeney (1993-10). "Self-immolation in Ireland: Hungerstrikes and political confrontation". Anthropology Today 9 (5). 
  16. ^ Susan McKay (2001-11-17). "Faith, hate and murder". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ English, Richard (2003). Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Pan Books. pp. 119. ISBN 0-330-49388-4. 
  18. ^ Claire Mitchell (2006). Religion, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. p. 51. ISBN 0754641554. 
  19. ^ Paul Tinichigiu (2004-01). "Sami Fiul (interview)". The Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation. 
  20. ^ Radu Ioanid (2004). "The Sacralised Politics of the Romanian Iron Guard". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 5 (3): 419–453(35). doi:10.1080/1469076042000312203. 
  21. ^ Leon Volovici. Nationalist Ideology and Antisemitism. p. 98. "citing N. Cainic, Ortodoxie şi etnocraţie, pp. 162-4" 
  22. ^ "Roots of Romanian Antisemitism: The League of National Christian Defense and Iron Guard Antisemitism" (PDF). Background and precursors to the Holocaust (Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority). 
  23. ^ a b Alexander Verkhovsky. "Ultra-nationalists in Russia at the beginning of the year 2000". Institute of Governmental Affairs (University of California, Davis). 
  24. ^ "UCSJ Action Alert". Union of councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union. 
  25. ^ "Bases of the social conception of Russian National Unity (RNU)". Russian National Unity. 
  26. ^ Xan Rice (2007-10-20). "Background: the Lord's Resistance Army". The Guardian. 
  27. ^ a b Ruddy Doom and Koen Vlassenroot (1999). "Kony's message: A new Koine? The Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda". African Affairs (Oxford Journals / Royal African Society) 98 (390): 5–36. 
  28. ^ "Ugandan rebels raid Sudanese villages". BBC News. 2002-04-08. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  29. ^ K. Ward (2001). "The Armies of the Lord: Christianity, Rebels and the State in Northern Uganda, 1986-1999". Journal of Religion in Africa 31(2). 
  30. ^ Marc Lacey (2002-08-04). "Uganda's Terror Crackdown Multiplies the Suffering". New York Times. 
  31. ^ "In pictures: Ugandan rebels come home". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-01-02. "One of the differences on the LRA pips is a white bible inside a heart" 
  32. ^ David Blair (2005-08-03). "I killed so many I lost count, says boy, 11". The Telegraph. 
  33. ^ Matthew Green (2008-02-08). "Africa’s Most Wanted". Financial Times. 
  34. ^ Christina Lamb (2008-03-02). "The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa’s Most Wanted by Matthew Green". London: The Times. 
  35. ^ Marc Lacey (2005-04-18). "Atrocity Victims in Uganda Choose to Forgive". New York Times. 
  36. ^ Patrick Q. Mason (2005-07-06) (PDF). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Mob: Violence against Religious Outsiders in the U.S. South, 1865-1910. University of Notre Dame. 
  37. ^ Frederick Clarkson (2002-12-02). "Kopp Lays Groundwork to Justify Murdering Abortion Provider Slepian". National Organization for Women. 
  38. ^ Laurie Goodstein and Pierre Thomas (1995-01-17). "Clinic Killings Follow Years of Antiabortion Violence". Washington Post. 
  39. ^ "'Army Of God' Anthrax Threats". CBS News. 2001-11-09. 
  40. ^ Bruce Hoffman (1998). Inside Terrorism. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231114680. 
  41. ^ "Apocalyptic Christians detained in Israel for alleged violence plot". CNN. 1999-01-03. 
  42. ^ "Cult members deported from Israel". BBC News. 1999-01-09. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  43. ^ "George Tiller's killer has no regrets, doesn't ask for forgiveness". Houston Belief. 1999-02-09. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  44. ^ "Christian Hate Group ‘Repent Amarillo’ Terrorizes Texas Town, Harassing Gays, Liberals, And Other ‘Sinners’". Think Progress. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  45. ^
  46. ^ Eric Rudolph charged in Centennial Olympic Park bombing, FBI release, October 14, 1998.
  47. ^ "Eric Robert Rudolph: Loner and survivalist". CNN. 2003-12-11. Retrieved 2006-11-26. "Rudolph and his family were connected with the Christian Identity movement, a militant, racist and anti-Semitic organization that believes whites are God's chosen people." 
  48. ^ Mark S. Hamm (2001). In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground. Northeastern. ISBN 1555534929. 
  49. ^ James Alfred Aho (1995). The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism. University of Washington Press. p. 86. ISBN 029597494X. 
  50. ^ Alan Cooperman (2003-06-02). "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?". Washington Post. 
  51. ^ Martin Schönteich and Henri Boshoff (2003). 'Volk' Faith and Fatherland: The Security Threat Posed by the White Right. Pretoria, South Africa, Institute for Security Studies. ISBN 1919913300. 


  • Mason, Carol. 2002. Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Zeskind, Leonard. 1987. The ‘Christian Identity’ Movement, [booklet]. Atlanta, Georgia: Center for Democratic Renewal/Division of Church and Society, National Council of Churches.

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