Christian terrorism is religious terrorism by Christian sects or individuals, the motivation for which is typically rooted in an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible and other tenets of faith. They often draw upon Old Testament scripture to justify violent political activities.
British journalist and politician Ian Gilmour has cited the historical case of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572, a beginning of Roman Catholic mob violence directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), as an instance of religious terrorism on par with modern day terrorism, and goes on to write, "That massacre, said Pope Gregory XIII, gave him more pleasure than fifty Battles of Lepanto, and he commissioned Vasari to paint frescoes of it in the Vatican". It is estimated that 2,000 to possibly 25,000 Huguenots (French Protestants) were killed by Catholic mobs, and it has been called "the worst of the century's religious massacres". The massacre led to the start of the "fourth war" of the French Wars of Religion, which was marked by many other massacres and assassinations by both sides. Peter Steinfels has cited the historical case of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes and other Catholic revolutionaries attempted to overthrow the Protestant establishment of England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament, as a notable case of religious terrorism.
Organisations and acts by country
The National Liberation Front of Tripura, a rebel group operating in Tripura, North-East India classified by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism as one of the ten most active terrorist groups in the world, has been accused of forcefully converting people to Christianity. The state government reports that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. The Church is also reported to encourage the NLFT to murder Hindus, particularly infants. NLFT has also declared a ban against Hindus celebrating Durga Puja and other Hindu festivals.
In Assam, an extremest group named Manmasi National Christian Army (MNCA) with around 15 members from the Hmar ethnic group, have placed bloodstained crosses in Hindu temples and forced Hindus to convert at gunpoint.
In 1982, Lebanese Christian militias massacred hundreds of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, whist Israeli troops surrounded the camp. A dispute exists over the role of the Israeli unit in the massacre.
Steve Bruce, sociology professor at the University of Aberdeen, wrote:
The Northern Ireland conflict is a religious conflict. Economic and social considerations are also crucial, but it was the fact that the competing populations in Ireland adhered and still adhere to competing religious traditions which has given the conflict its enduring and intractable quality.Template:Rp
John Hickey wrote:
Politics in the North is not politics exploiting religion. That is far too simple an explanation: it is one which trips readily off the tongue of commentators who are used to a cultural style in which the politically pragmatic is the normal way of conducting affairs and all other considerations are put to its use. In the case of Northern Ireland the relationship is much more complex. It is more a question of religion inspiring politics than of politics making use of religion. It is a situation more akin to the first half of seventeenth‑century England than to the last quarter of twentieth century Britain.
Padraic Pearse was a devoted believer of the Christian faith, a writer, and one of the leaders of the Easter Rising. In his writings he often identified Ireland with Jesus Christ to emphasise the suffering of the nation, and called for his readers to resurrect and redeem the nation, through self-sacrifice which would turn them into martyrs. Browne states that Pearse’s "ideas of sacrifice and atonement, of the blood of martyrs that makes fruitful the seed of faith, are to be found all through [his] writings; nay, they have here even more than their religious significance, and become vitalizing factors in the struggle for Irish nationality".
Brian O'Higgins, who helped in the rebel capture of Dublin's General Post Office in O'Connell Street, recalled how all the republicans took turn reciting the Rosary every half hour during the rebellion. He wrote that there
was hardly a man in the volunteer ranks who did not prepare for death on Easter Saturday  and there were many who felt as they knelt at the altar rails on Easter Sunday morning that they were doing no more than fulfilling their Easter duty – that they were renouncing the world and all the world held for them by making themselves worthy to appear before the Judgement Seat of God... The executions reinforced the sacrificial motif as Mass followed Mass for the dead leaders, linking them with the sacrifice of Christ, the ancient martyrs and heroes, and the honoured dead from previous revolts... These and other deaths by hungerstrike transformed not only the perceived sacrificial victims but, in the eyes of many ordinary Irish people, the cause for which they died. The martyrs and their cause became sacred.
Sweeney went on to note that the culture of hunger strikes continued to be used by the Provisional IRA to great effect in the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in a revamped Sinn Fein, and mobilising huge sections of the Catholic community behind the republican cause.Template:Rp
The Guardian newspaper attributed the murder of Martin O'Hagan, a former inmate of the Maze prison and a fearless reporter on crime and the paramilitaries, to the revival of religious fundamentalism.
Although often advocating nationalist policies, these groups consisted of and were supported by distinct religious groups in a religiously partitioned society. Groups on both sides advocated what they saw as armed defence of their own religious group.Template:Rp
Anti-Semitic Romanian Orthodox fascist movements in Romania, such as the Iron Guard and Lăncieri, were responsible for involvement in the Bucharest pogrom, and political murders during the 1930s.
A number of Russian political and paramilitary groups combine racism, nationalism, and Russian Orthodox beliefs. Russian National Unity, a far right ultra-nationalist political party and paramilitary organization, advocates an increased role for the Russian Orthodox Church according to its manifesto. It has been accused of murders, and several terrorist attacks including the bombing of the US Consulate in Ekaterinburg.
The Lord's Resistance Army, a cult guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, has been accused of using child soldiers and committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, porters and sex slaves. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Christian Holy Spirit which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.
Beginning after the Civil War, the Protestant-led, white supremacist Ku Klux Klan members in the Southern United States engaged in arson, beatings, cross burning, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, and whipping against African Americans, Jews, Catholics and other social or ethnic minorities.
During the twentieth century, members of extremist groups such as the Army of God began executing attacks against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States. A number of terrorist attacks, were accused of being carried out by individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements; including the Lambs of Christ. A group called Concerned Christians were deported from Israel on suspicion of planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999, believing that their deaths would "lead them to heaven." The motive for anti-abortionist Scott Roeder murdering Wichita doctor George Tiller on May 31, 2009 was religious.
Hutaree was a Christian militia group based in Adrian, Michigan. In 2010, after an FBI agent infiltrated the group, nine of its members were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy to use of improvised explosive devices, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.
Motivation, ideology and theology
Christian views on abortion have been cited by Christian individuals and groups that are responsible for threats, assault, murder, and bombings against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States and Canada.
Christian Identity is a loosely affiliated global group of churches and individuals devoted to a racialized theology that asserts North European whites are the direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people. It has been associated with groups such as the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Army of God, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. It has been cited as an influence in a number of terrorist attacks around the world, including the 2002 Soweto bombings.
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