RELIGION AND TERROR

Almost two years ago, I wondered if there was something about monotheism that lent itself to a fringe of its adherents pursuing the demands of godly truth to the ultimate conclusion: terror. Religion, of course, is not the sole motivator of terror. The secular religions of Marxism and Nazism did just as well. But the politicized zeal of the saved is still deeply dangerous – and not just when it is expressed non-violently and seeks merely to marginalize and disenfranchise those who do not share certain tenets of the faith. Eric Rudolph was just such a figure. He was a warped Christian fundamentalist who murdered for his cause. He bombed symbols of individual freedom, constitutional rights and minority intransigence. He is our Osama. In his refuge, he had, like other terrorists, the implicit support of a population who shared his beliefs, if not the extremism that sanctioned his killings. If we are to call John Muhammed a religiously inspired terrorist (and I think we should) then we have to call Rudolph a Christian terrorist. I propose a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam. And they have to be fought just as vigilantly.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: “Try to imagine at least once a day that you are not an American.” – Susan Sontag, in a recent commencement address.