Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hating Christians, Killing Christians: Where Do You Stand?

A Coptic Christian with a cross made from the blood of Christian victims at his church in Egypt.
AP photo Ben Curtis 

Many, but not all, who study the Holocaust say something like the following: Christians had been saying bad things about Jews for two thousand years. Saying those bad things made the Holocaust inevitable / possible / easier.

Mind: This argument focuses on critical language. It cites critical language, specifically, as necessary and sufficient precursor to genocide.

Not all say this.

The argument is flawed for several reasons:

Genocides have happened without the frequently cited "two thousand years" preparation. The Rwandan genocide is said to have been the fastest genocide in history; there had been no previous two thousand years of verbal preparation. The Cambodian auto-genocide targeted anyone who had an education, anyone who wore glasses. There had been no previous two thousand years of verbal preparation. One could go on.

Too, Christian scripture and theology do not call for a genocide of Jews – rather they are unique in their emphasis on active, selfless love regardless of tribal affiliation. Nazism did explicitly called for a genocide of Jews, and Nazism defined itself as a repudiation of Christianity.

Finally, humans, along all ethnic, religious, class and gender divides say heinous things about one another, and they do so without committing genocides. Blacks say horrible things about whites. Men say horrible things about women. Jews say horrible things about Christians. Most don't commit genocides.

In short, the argument is not perfect.

On the other hand, hate speech – not critical speech as part of a fair exchange of ideas but, rather, hate speech in a no-win environment – has proven to be an essential feature of genocide. Joseph Goebbels was a novelist. Not a soldier. Not a financier. His weapons were words. He was Hitler's right hand man. Hitler gave power and status to a wordsmith that he never gave to a tank commander. Germans' minds had to be prepped, through language, to kill Jews. Goebbels saw to that.

In Rwanda, those planning genocide used the radio. Their hateful propaganda was so important that Rwandan radio broadcasters were later prosecuted on war crimes charges. They never wielded a machete. They just used words to prep others to do so.

What about the horrible things that Americans and others now say about Christians? What about the contempt, the crude jokes, the distortions, the scapegoating, the ugliness?

Do those who say ugly things about Christians make the persecution of Christians inevitable / possible / easier?

"What persecution of Christians?" you ask. "There's no persecution of Christians. I never see anything on the news about persecution of Christians. None of my friends talk about persecution of Christians."

That's really interesting. It's really interesting that so many "educated" people are unaware of persecution of Christians. It's really interesting that the press does not cover this persecution.

It's really interesting that American opinion leaders got their panties in a twist over a nobody who said he might, and then again he might not, burn a Koran.

But, unless I missed it, no American opinion leaders cared at all when, in recent years, Muslims began crucifying Christians in Iraq and Sudan.

That's right – human beings, crucified. And all those righteous people who cared so much about singed pieces of paper … cared not at all.

The bombing of a Christian church in Egypt. An Afghan man condemned to death for converting to Christianity. A Pakistani woman condemned to death for being Christian. An Indian man jailed and tortured in Saudi Arabia for mere possession of a Bible. The list of atrocities against Christians goes on and on.

Why don't the usual, professional, public righteous ones, who rant and rave about this aggrieved group and that aggrieved group, who weep and wail and get huffy and pontificate about burned Korans, the Jon Stewarts, the Barak Obamas, the Al Sharptons, organizations like NOW and the Southern Poverty Law Center – why don't they care?

Does pervasive hate speech against Christians create, or reflect, an atmosphere where crucifying Christians in Sudan and Iraq is okay? Not worthy of news coverage?

Pervasive hate speech against Christians: it's everywhere, in the media, in facebook posts, on college campuses. In my own life, I receive anti-Christian e-mails and read anti-Christian facebook posts and hear invidious distortions of Christianity in the media and confront Christophobia on campuses on a weekly basis. I know I've lost teaching jobs because I am a Christian. Just being Christian. Not talking about it in class. Just being Christian is enough to lose a job over, and no, no there is no recourse. There's been no recourse for my students, either. Students who paid for classes out of their own earnings have had to drop because of harassment. Tenured professors can mock students, on a daily basis, for being Christian, and experience no consequences.

One of my oldest friends hates Christians. He's got a PhD. He does sophisticated white collar work. He lives in an exclusive suburb. He's very Politically Correct, New Age, Buddhist-Taoist-groovy. He's known me for half my life. I value his intelligence and humor. We share important life events. On a regular basis, he sends me uninvited e-mails mocking Christianity. The most memorable one described his fantasies of raping Catholic nuns. He thought it was funny. I've asked him to stop sending these e-mails. He doesn't. Are his e-mails, which I'm sure he finds very funny and very brave, just part of the background noise that makes persecuting Christians okay?

I'm all for reasoned critiques of Christianity. I've delivered such critiques myself, as the writings on my webpage show. I'm not talking about reasoned critiques in a fair exchange of ideas. I'm talking about hate in an atmosphere where Christians are destined to lose, either jobs or their lives. Does anti-Christian hate speech make inevitable / possible / easier the crucifixion of Christians in Iraq?

I want to ask anyone who may be reading this: please think twice before you mock Christians or Christianity in an ugly way. Please think twice before you forward a message that claims that Christians burned the witches / murdered millions in the Inquisition / tortured Galileo / inspired Hitler / began the Crusades to convert Muslims / etc. All of these Christophobic lies have been investigated by serious historians and serious historians have shown them all to be more about hate than scholarship. Read Lyndal Roper on the truth of the witch trials, Henry Kamen on the Inquisition, Robert Spencer on the Crusades, Nancy Pearcey on the relationship between Christianity and Science, etc.

Think about the consequences of verbalizing hate.

Ahlam Fawzy Saber, a Coptic Christian woman, mourns the death of her two sisters and her niece in her church in Egypt.
AP Photo Ben Curtis


  1. Islam has hated christians since 622. convert them or cut off their heads and then build a mosque on the ruins of their church. Been going on for over a thousand years.

  2. Ms. Goska, you make some excellent points in this wonderful article.

  3. This article is STILL important today for many reasons. Especially since there are still people linking Christianity to Nazism and the Holocaust.


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