Planned Parenthood and those villainous Christians (COMMENTARY)

Print More
A member of the New York Police Department stands outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Manhattan borough of New York, on November 28, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GOLDBERG-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Dec. 2, 2015.

A member of the New York Police Department stands outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Manhattan borough of New York, on November 28, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Andrew Kelly *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GOLDBERG-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Dec. 2, 2015.

In the wake of the Colorado Springs shooting, I read a great deal about so-called Christian terrorism from liberals. I don’t think they’ve thought this through.

We’ve spent years hearing how associating Islam with terrorism is outrageous and bigoted. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have all made the case that Islamic terrorism has “nothing whatsoever” — Clinton’s words — to do with Islam. President Obama insists the Islamic State “is not Islamic.”

Even phrases such as “Muslim terrorism” are forbidden because they imply that Islam itself has something to do with terrorism. Better to talk about “death cults,” “violent extremism” and criminals. And if you have to mention religion, make sure you adorn the word with lots of specific adjectives such as “radical” and “extremist,” or deploy euphemisms such as “jihadist.”


READ: Anti-abortion groups condemn Planned Parenthood shooting


Whether any of that is convincing is a topic for another time. Liberals insist they believe it to be true, and at least for argument’s sake, I’m happy to take them at their word.

So where is the condemnation of the phrase “Christian terrorism” (or, for that matter, “white terrorism”)? By all means, Christian leaders should denounce violent attacks on Planned Parenthood. But shouldn’t progressive leaders condemn any effort to tie Christianity with terrorism?

Apparently not. It seems taking sides against Christianity is the progressive thing to do.

In a famous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this year, President Obama lectured Christian clergy not to get on their “high horse” about the atrocities committed by ISIL, given that Christians committed (allegedly) similar atrocities during the Crusades.


READ: Is religion responsible for the Planned Parenthood attack?


It’s difficult to catalog all the flaws with this comparison, but one problem stands above all of the rest. By laying the Crusades at the feet of Christianity, Obama was unwittingly laying ISIL’s atrocities at Islam’s feet, at least rhetorically.

Consider that modern-day Council of Nicea, ABC’s “The View.” Joy Behar recently insisted concern over Muslim refugees was overblown. After all, Oklahoma City bomber “Timothy McVeigh was a Christian,” Behar said. “Just sayin’.”

Whoopi Goldberg (no relation) concurred. “There have been a lot of monster Christians,” she said. “Hitler was a Christian.”


READ: Planned Parenthood attack kills a policeman, a mom and a veteran


Just for the record, Hitler detested Christianity, and McVeigh was an avowed agnostic who never cited Jesus as the inspiration for his crimes.

Personally, I’m opposed to all such forms of guilt by association, but it seems obvious to me that contemporary Christianity is not struggling with a Crusades problem, while Islam is certainly struggling with a jihad problem.

Psychologically, that jihad problem is the elephant in the room. It no doubt helps explain why Democratic and Republican leaders alike are eager to rhetorically separate Islam and Islamic terrorism. Obama even recently praised George W. Bush — calling that a rarity would be a grave understatement — for his effort to distinguish the majority of Muslims from the terrorist minority.

And that is what responsible leaders should do. But if you are going to pursue this rhetorical path, some consistency would be nice. Consider the question of motivations. The Obama administration often warns that insulting Islam — by burning Qurans, drawing the prophet Mohammed, etc. — can invite a terrorist backlash and help Islamists win new recruits. Question: If Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, why would insulting Islam invite more terrorism?

As Secretary of State, Clinton worked assiduously to cast the attack on our compound in Benghazi, Libya, as nothing more than the reaction to an Internet video. After the recent Paris attacks, her successor momentarily admitted that he thought the terror attacks on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo earlier this year had “legitimacy.” Kerry quickly corrected himself, saying that the attacks weren’t actually legitimate but that he could still see the “rationale” behind them.

Jonah Goldberg, American Enterprise Institute fellow and National Review contributing editor, is a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors. This column first appeared in USA Today. Photo courtesy of American Enterprise Institute

Jonah Goldberg, American Enterprise Institute fellow and National Review contributing editor, is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. This column first appeared in USA Today. Photo courtesy of American Enterprise Institute

You will be hard-pressed to find any such rush to understanding — never mind the White House — when it comes to the so-called Christian terrorism in Colorado. And that’s because progressives, from the president down, are much more comfortable talking about the threat posed by the white Christian Americans who happen to vote Republican and oppose Planned Parenthood than they are discussing the threat from people determined to kill all Americans.

(Jonah Goldberg, American Enterprise Institute fellow and National Review contributing editor, is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. This column first appeared in USA Today.)

  • Pingback: Planned Parenthood and those villainous Christians (COMMENTARY) - mosaicversemosaicverse()

  • Larry

    More apologetic bullsh1t. Another person who wants to deny an act of terror happened because the perpetrator happens to be white and Christian. (Because angry white Christian males are a key conservative demographic)

    Sorry Mr. Goldberg, you are SOL, It is not the type of person who defines terrorism, it is the act.

    Here was an act of violence designed to invoke fear and prevent people from going about their normal business. Exactly what terrorism is and does. Claiming it is something else or calling attention to similar acts by others does not change this.

    In this case it was inspired by a fairly pernicious belief going among fundamentalist christians that any acts towards abortion providers is automatically a moral one. No different from the moral quagmire of those who claim that any acts towards infidels are moral ones.

    Pointing out Islamicist terrorists neither changes nor diminishes the religious inspired terrorist acts done in Colorado last weekend.

  • Pingback: Planned Parenthood and those villainous Christians (COMMENTARY) | Christian News Agency()

  • ben in oakland

    What a load of…

    I’m a liberal, except when I’m conservative. I believe in fiscal conservatism, which republican conservatives haven’t believed in since RR was elected. I believe in small government, just not one small enough to fit into your church, vagina, or pipe.

    I absolutely denounce terrorism perpetrated by Islamists. But I am not so stupid and blinded by ideology that I denounce all Muslims. I have absolutely no issue with any faith except when it decides that whatever it does in the name of its particular, peculiar version of god is justified.

    I absolutely denounce terrorism perpetrated by Christianists. But I am not so stupid and blinded by ideology that I denounce all Christians. I have absolutely no issue with any faith except when it decides that whatever it does in the name of its particular, peculiar version of god is justified.

    God is what you use ot justify what cannot be justified by any other means.

  • Garson Abuita

    The Oklahoma City bomber y”s stated in 1996 that he believed in some kind of deity. He grew up Catholic but drifted away, although he “maintained core beliefs.” Only in June 2001, on death row a day away from his execution, did he state his agnosticism. Maybe he prayed for an acquittal or pardon and was disappointed.

  • Michael

    You’re right: Is it fair to blame all Christians for the terrorism of a self-professed Christian? No, of course not. But that’s not really what’s happening (and thus endeth your argument’s applicability). If it were, then Americans would be painting all Christians as terrorists by default, kicking them off of airlines, etc. That’s not happening. That only happens to non-Christians (and/or non-whites) in this country.

    Your argument completely ignores institutionalized power relationships in our culture — Christians are (very much) in control; Muslims are the ones being persecuted. Highlighting the “Christian” self-identification of domestic terrorists is meant to point out the wrongness of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and to highlight the fact that ideologically driven terrorism knows no religious boundaries.

    Lastly, “contemporary Christianity is not struggling with a Crusades problem”… Really? The constant deluge of violent, anti-Muslim rhetoric suggests…

  • From the Files of Ruben Bolling
  • Lively Granddad

    Until Christian pastors and Christian organizations and self-professed Christian followers stop using incendiary language of hate toward Planned Parenthood and anyone associated with the women’s health clinics; until someone professing his Christian credentials stops making videos that are blatant lies trying to tell a false narrative and influence people to hate; and only when evangelical/fundamentalist Christian churches preach that such hatred and lies are not part of the Christian life, I will assume that they agree with the tactics and the results of those tactics, and I will believe that this is an American Christian organizational failing to follow their namesake. People are tired of Christian organizations spewing hatred toward others and then when something like this happens, saying “well, it’s not our fault, we are not all like that.”

  • Neon Genesis

    Religion News Service is engaging in the enabling of these religious extremists by continuing to give them platforms and this kind kind of nonsense from them needs to stop.

  • Loren Haas

    Really?
    This is the most thoughtful piece you could find on this subject?

  • Debbo

    Ben, that was perfect. I use the word “Christianist” too, because I know many decent, kind Christian folks, who are as peaceful as Jesus was.

  • Debbo

    Ben, that was perfect. I use the word “Christianist” too, because I know many decent, kind Christian folks, who are as peaceful as Jesus was.

    Great link Ruben.