On September 12th, Rosie O’Donnell — the new host of “The View” on ABC — claimed that “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam“. Her general point was that in America there are radical Christian forces that deviate from the core tenants of Christianity just as in the Middle East, there are radical elements of Islam that deviate from the core tenants of Islam. Essentially, in Ms O’Donnell’s mind, the two are equivalent. To use a social buzzword… “morally equivalent“.
There is a grain of truth to her comments, but not a very large one. Where she has a point is in two places… 1) historically broadly, and 2) recently very rarely.
1) Yes, hundreds of years ago, there were Christians who en-masse invaded nations to wipe out religious groups that were different from them (the Crusades), formed inquisitions and burned people at the stake. BUT… that was hundreds of years ago. Muslim terrorists are blowing stuff up today, right now, in modern day societies. If we were to tak their weapons away from them, there’d be peace. If Europe and America (arguably somewhat Christian, but the closest equivalent) suddenly got rid of all our weapons, they’d do their best to slaughter us in the streets.
2) Yes, Nazi Germany and the Ku Klux Klan did and do many of the things in the name of Christianity that Jesus would have nothing to do with. For that matter, there are mainstream everyday Christians that don’t act like Jesus. They’re everywhere. But it’s pretty obvious that these mainstream folks aren’t killing anyone or blowing anything up, and the Nazis and Klan are universally denounced, shunned and marginalized by Christians, Muslims and atheists alike. Compare this to the reality of modern-day terrorism, and I think it’s pretty hard to draw a comparison. And even if you drag in the “Christians” who blow up abortion clinics or haul up in Waco, which are legitimate concerns — obviously bad ideas and deplorable — you still have to admit that these whack-jobs are outnumbered 1000-to-1 by the Islamic fanatic ready to blow themselves up in the Jihad against the great white devil in the West.
So, I’m not sure where Rosie gets off. The crusades of 700 years ago are the same as the invasion of Iraq today? Hardly — for a hundred reasons. Christians blowing up abortion clinics once every 5 years are the same as Muslims blowing up hospitals, churches, cafes, and embassies every other day? Right.
What I really want to do is disect Rosie’s comments and define “radical” for a second. That’s where I think the interesting conversation can be found. I think she has the definition of “radical Christianity” all wrong. Here are my thoughts… please respond if you feel the need.
“Radical” Islam— This is what happens when you get a Muslim all hopped up on religious zeal… He blow stuff up. Allah has told you to, and a couple dozen virgins await. You are fighting in the battle, the great cause for Islam by ridding the world of the infidel. We see it every day.
“Radical” Christianity — This is what happens when you get a Christian all hopped up on religious zeal… He leaves his job and income behind and moves to Africa to feed the poor. Or he gives everything he has to start a hospital. Or he gives up Saturday mornings to go into the inner city to serve the poor. Or he starts an orphanage. Or maybe a school. Or, maybe if he’s really really really whacked, he goes to the mall and hands out really annoying tracts — that say that God loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Him. Or he might even stand on a box and preach about the end of the world and about how we need to be right with God, or that God judges sin, or that there is still right and wrong.
So let’s stop all the nonsense that there’s somehow an equal sign between the two “radicals”. There isn’t. Even when Christianity is at its worst, it’s 10 lifetimes ago or so rare that you can fit 10 years worth of news about Christians blowing things up in America on a single page … and half of them will be in the Klan.
Sorry, Rosie, I just don’t buy it. It’s not the same.