A Christian extremist is here defined as someone who commits acts of violence because of their Christian beliefs. It is the Christian counterpart to “Muslim extremist”.
The Western press is full of news of violence by “Muslim extremists” or “Islamic extremists”, but not by “Christian extremists”. The Economist website (according to Google in 2015) brings up “Islamic extremists” a hundred times more often than “Christian extremists”.
It is not because Christians all turn the other cheek, as Jesus advised. It is because Western reporters and leaders play to a largely Christian audience: violence by an out-group (Muslims) seems more threatening than that by an in-group (Christians).
Prejudiced thinking plays up the worst of an out-group and the best of an in-group. It also sees the people of an out-group as being all the same – out-group homogeneity – while those from the in-group are seen as individuals.
Muslims, therefore, are stereotyped according to the most violent among them. So the beheaders of ISIS, not the scholars of Al-Azhar University, come to represent over a billion people. Their violence is seen as a natural outgrowth of their religion. That picture of Muslims comes not from a careful reading of (cherry-picked) verses of the Koran, but from prejudiced in-group thinking.
Christians, meanwhile, are seen as individuals. Even when some are driven to violence by their religious beliefs, they are not seen as representative. They are often written off as nutcases. Christian violence is commonly not seen as “Christian”, even when it is. Homophobic hate crimes, for example, are not carried out by “Christian extremists”, but by “hateful” or “homophobic” individuals – despite the applicable Bible verses.
The incomplete list of Christian extremism (there is some overlap between these):
- Bloody Mary
- Guy Fawkes
- Oliver Cromwell
- Central African Republic
- The Anti-balaka
- Eastern Lightning
- lynching of Hypatia
- Albigensian Crusade
- French Wars of Religion
- St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
- Thirty Years’ War
- Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland
- National Liberation Front of Tripura
- Lebanese Civil War
- Karantina and Tel al-Zaatar massacres
- Sabra and Shatila massacre
- The Reconquista
- The Inquisition
- Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
- Pilgrims and Puritans (the Mystic Massacre, for example)
- Salem Witch Trials
- anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia
- violence against Mormons
- William McKinley
- The Klan – which went after Catholics and Jews, not just Blacks.
- Eric Rudolph
- Aryan Nations
- Army of God
- George Bush
- Wade Michael Page (Sikh Temple shooter)
- Robert Lewis Dear
- hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, gays.
- attacks on abortion clinics, mosques, temples, synagogues.
This list is incomplete. Russia and Ethiopia, for example, would no doubt make the list, but I do not know enough about their history.
– Abagond, 2015.
- Are Christians more violent than Muslims?
- Islamic State (ISIS)