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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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“Kill them all, and let God sort them out” – Why Evangelicals’ Reaction to 9/11 Went so Wrong

20 years ago, Al Qaida killed 3,000 civilians through terror and fire. That was a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

In response, the USA started two wars that have killed 70,000 civilians in Afghanistan and 200,000 (!) in Iraq. Thousands of them were children.

That was also a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

Shane Claiborne is an activist and theologian who had wise things to say concerning the violent aftermath of 9/11. From his book The Irresistible Revolution (2nd edition, pp. 185-187):

When Kingdoms Collide

Shortly after September 11th, I traveled to speak to a large congregation in the Midwest. (And no, it wasn’t Willow Creek.) Before I got up to preach, a military color guard presented the US flagat the altar. The choir filed in one-by-one, dressed in red white, and blue, with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” playing in the background. I knew I was in big trouble. The congregation pledged allegiance to the flag, and I wished it were all a dream. It wasn’t. I got up to speak, thankful I was standing behind a large podium lest anyone try to pelt me with a pew Bible. I went forward to preach the truth in love with my knees knocking and managed to make it out okay with a bunch of hugs and a few feisty letters.

This is a dramatic (though painfully true) illustration of the messy collision of Christianity and patriotism that has rippled across our land. I thought this was an exceptional and dramatic example, but l’ve had same zingers since this. I spoke at a military academy where they had a full-on procession of military vehicles and weaponry. They fired cannons and saluted the flag, and then I got up to speak. I felt compelled to speak on the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control), the things Scripture says God is like and we should hope to be more like.

I talked about how the fruit of the Spirit take training and discipline and are not always cultivated by the culture around us. Afterward, one young soldier came up to me, nearly in tears, and told me that as he heard the list of the fruit of the Spirit, it became clear to him that these were not the things he was being trained to become. We prayed together, and I think of him often. I know that young man is not alone.

I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, “Kill them all, and let God sort them out.” A bumper sticker read, “God will judge evildoers, We just have to get them to him.” I saw a T-shirt on a sold’ that said, “US Air Force … we don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup.” Others were less dramatic-red, white, and blue billboards saying, “God bless our troops.” “God bless America” became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, “God bless America–$1 burgers.”

Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.

This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy that liberals and progressive Christians would have done much better to acknowledge. September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community–for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.

But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallied around the drums of war. Liberal Christians took to the streets … Many Christians missed the opportunity to validate both the horror of September 11th and outrage at war as a response to September 11th.

In the aftermath of September 11th, many congregations missed the chance to bear witness of God’s concern for the victims of the attack and God’s concern for the victims of the imminent war. Many of us hunkered down into familiar camps rather than finding a more creative way of standing with all who suffer. Many of the antiwar activists would do well to visit the memorial in NYC. And many of the war hawks would do well to visit the Ameriyah shelter in West Baghdad. Every life lost is reason for grief and outrage.

The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound.

A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.

Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President. His newest book is Executing Grace: Why It is Time to Put the Death Penalty to Death.

9/11 and Puerto Rico: How Presidents Treat 3,000 Dead Americans

Originally posted at PCPJ.

“How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” – James 2:1.

3,000 people died because of the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 3,000 people died because of the horrible hurricane of September 2017.

We all know President Bush’s response to the attacks on World Trade Center. War on terrorism. The Patriot Act. Fear.

The attacks were framed as a national tragedy, Muslims were portrayed as the enemy, violence and surveillance were offered as the solutions.

Skärmavbild 2018-09-18 kl. 14.21.14

The contrast to President Trump’s response to hurricane Maria couldn’t be greater. Trump recently denied on Twitter that 3,000 people died because of the hurricane. He has described the federal relief as “fantastic” even though the infrastructure on the island still is malfunctioning one year later and many children haven’t been able to return to school. (more…)

Jesus is Stronger than the Bombs of Terrorists

Face-to-Face-with-Jesus-Samaa-Habib-At-Rocking-Gods-House

I’ve been enjoying Samaa Habib’s autobiographical book Face to Face with Jesus as I did research for my upcoming book Charismactivism last month. Samaa is from a Muslim country that used to be ruled by Soviet and that has experienced some horrible civil wars, and she opened her heart to the Gospel as a Christian ministry showed the Jesus film to the war torn public. She was amazed and told her father: ”He cannot be just a prophet, he must be more than that! He is alive. Mohammad’s skeleton is still buried in Mecca. Jesus is my super hero!” Her father didn’t agree of course, but tolerated the young girl’s enthusiasm.

She eventually went to a church service and gave her life completely to the Lord together with two of her sisters. Now, her father was enraged. After she had confessed that she will not live without Jesus, he abused and tortured her, strangling her until she fainted. She later escaped her family’s house through a window and fled to the church.

As time went by, more people in Samaa’s family were saved. Her mother was healed from a heart problem and encountered Jesus in a dream. This made the father tolerate Christianity a bit more, even if he still was in severe disagreement.

One day as Samaa was worshipping in church, a bomb exploded right next to her and she died instantly. She saw Heaven and Jesus, and He said that she could either be with Him or return to earth to lead more people to Him. She chose the latter, and woke up blind and deformed as she was taken to hospital. Her brain was visible and her appearance was a mess. (more…)

Praying for Paris: Terrorism and Climate Change

In two weeks time I was supposed to go to Paris together with other climate activists. We’re awaiting instructions on whether the trip will be possible, but right now I’m mourning and praying for the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks in the French capital yesterday. In this video I share some thoughts on how torespond to such attrocities, and why attention to Paris is extremely important also when it comes to decisions on climate change, wince these can potentially save millions of lives.

There is also a great injustice in that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Lebanon or Iraq are rarely called “attacks on humanity” or spawn Facebook campaigns. The media values white life more than other people’s lives, that’s a fact. And it is wrong and sinful. 200 000 people have been killed in Syria, that’s one Paris attack every day for the last four years.

Let us pray to God for peace and justice, and also that we may be uncorrupted by the flawed logic of this world. Let us pursue holiness and righteousness, and strive for simplicity and equality as Jesus modelled for us. Let us love our enemies, pray for the repentance of ISIS and let us send missionaries to them! Let us receive the refugees that flee from them and present them the Gospel of life. Let us love our way out of the darkness in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Image by Michele Perry

Image by Michele Perry

Fighting Terrorism Like Jesus

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France has once again been subject to an attack which the president has dubbed “terrorist”. A man has been decapitated and the aggressor has been said to wave a black Islamic State flag. Meanwhile, over 40 people have been killed in bombings at a hotel in Tunisia and a mosque in Kuwait. Some believe that the attacks have been coordinated.

The threat of violent extremism shouldn’t be diminished. The Islamic State has an ideology very similar to Nazism – a belief that they’re superior and have the right to kill people who don’t look like and believe like them. Much like the 21-year old boy who went into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week and killed nine people because of the colour of their skin. He wasn’t labeled a terrorist that quickly as the guy in France was – instead we got to see childhood pictures of him and speculations about his mental state.

It is ridiculous how common this media logic is: dark-skinned aggressors are politically motivated terrorists, while light-skinned aggressors are confused lone-wolves with mental problems. Even Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is not very often described as a terrorist, although it has been stated in court that he isn’t a psychopath but had a xenophobic ideology as the basis of his crime.

Speaking of xenophobia, Europeans who lean towards those ideas will most surely use the recent attack in France as an argument for deporting more Muslims to countries like Syria and Iraq, where there is war and terror fully operating. Now, that’s a horrible solution to the problem. The attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait today are illustrative: most victims from Islamic terrorism live in the middle east. Most of the Islamic State’s victims are Muslims! “Solving” Islamic terrorism with deportations is like “Solving” the holocaust and world war two with deporting every Nazi and Jew to Germany. It only gets worse if you do that.

So what is the solution then? Let’s look at the Bible. Did you know that one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries was a terrorist? His name was Saul.

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A Christian Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

When Jesus said “Love your enemies”, He didn’t add “except terrorists”. On the contrary, it was probably them He had in mind. Charismatic activist Bob Ekblad has written an excellent piece on how Christians should respond to the horrible terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, which I quote a large portion of below. I have nothing to add except a little cartoon about Jesus’ amazing enemy love.

How might followers of Jesus respond to this escalation of hatred and violence? Jesus warned his disciples: “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end” (Matthew 24:6). Jesus expects his listeners to be aware that history is heading toward increasing tension and to resist the natural tendencies toward hard- heartedness or violence.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:12–14). Anyone listening to Jesus is told to not be fearful, but to get on with the highest priority work—announcing the Gospel of the Kingdom. What is this Gospel?

It most certainly does not include Christians identifying with or justifying swift and effective retaliation, increased surveillance, growing suspicion, incarceration, hatred against Muslims, or fear. When James and John ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who refused them entry as they traveled toward Jerusalem, Jesus rebukes them, saying: “You do not know of what spirit you are of.  For the son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55–56).

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Treat Hamas with Social Justice, not Bombs

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A bomb is exploding in Gaza

Once again, conflict is escalating between Israel and Gaza, and once again, Christians are blessing Israel and ignoring the suffering of Palestinians. My heart breaks when I look at Christians United for Israel’s Facebook page: while they pray for, bless and worry for Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks, which is great, there is no sympathy at all for Palestinian victims of Israeli bombings. There is great alarm about the rockets that Hamas fires at Israeli cities, which yet have not killed anyone in the current conflict, while the 70+ Palestinians that have died (including at least eight children) aren’t even mentioned!

Don’t get me wrong, what Hamas is doing is totally unacceptable and we need to pray and act for them to stop. But killing people is not the best way to stop them. It didn’t work in 2012, it won’t work know. When Hamas sees that Israel kills children, they won’t feel less keen to fire their rockets. Violence is a very bad way to end violence, Jesus taught us to love our enemies, do good to them and fight evil with love.

The best way to stop the conflict between Israel and Palestine is through social justice and economic equality. The relationship between Israel and Palestine is very unequal: Palestinians are poorer, live shorter, have worse health care, own less land and suffer more than Israelis. Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian crisis while Israel is enjoying Western standards. And much more Palestinians die in the conflict compared to Israelis.
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So, You Think Mandela Was a “Terrorist”?

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

As Nelson “Madiba” Mandela went home to the Lord, basically all of my activist friends have mourned his departure, and of course my South African friends as well. When I was in SA this summer many prayed for his healing, not because they thought he was immortal but because they felt that they weren’t ready to live in a South Africa without him.

He stood not only for justice and equality but also for unity and reconciliation, and even though I personally think he treated the whites a bit too kindly through letting them keep large parts of their wealth, and thus not overcoming SA’s enormous economic inequality, the fact that he wasn’t as hostile towards whites as for example Robert Mugabe created an atmosphere of much more tolerance and acceptance.

However, many South African whites are very disappointed with him and the ANC, some for racist reasons and some for facing the fact that they’re not as privileged as before, and thus there is still a hostility towards Mandela. This is appearant in that some whites still call him a “terrorist” just as the racist minority government, as well as the United States, once did. And even today some Americans join their white South African cousins in calling Mandela “terrorist”. Needless to say, this is severely problematic.

One should recognize that “terrorist” is a pejorative term. It is used by states that kill civilians to describe small armed groups that oppose their interests. Yes, states that kill civilians. I know of no state that accuse others of killing civilians that do not do it themselves. And I don’t just mean through collateral damage, but intentional killing of civilians.

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Mali: Hunger, Terrorism and Miracles

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While Mozambique, DR Congo and South Sudan also are facing enormous humanitarian crises, Mali is perhaps the African country which has most problems right now. Islamists supported by al Qaida have taken control of the northern parts of the country to practice extreme sharia laws, and to stop northern Mali from becoming a terrorist state, France is cooperating with the Mali government in a military offensive. In the midst of violent conflict are millions of civilians that already were poor, hungry and sick before. The result is disastrous. UNHCR reports:

Since the start of the conflict in northern Mali a year ago, more than 150,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while nearly 230,000 have sought safety in other areas inside Mali. […] Most are living in poor neighbourhoods with little or no access to housing or vital services such as clean water, education and health.

People fleeing the current fighting between French-backed government forces and rebels in the north of Mali tell alarming accounts of atrocities. A former resident of Gao, who left the northern town after recent air strikes, told UNHCR that food and fuel were in short supply.

“The situation in Gao is difficult. The rebels took all the medicines from Gao hospital. I saw dead bodies everywhere, in the yard of the hospital,” said Agesha, who fled the town last Sunday.

I strongly urge you to support Christian Aid’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which will bring food and humanitarian relief to the people in Mali and surrounding areas. And I also urge you to pray for this country. There are few Christians in this country, and because of the rise of extreme Islamism, they are severely persecuted. Yet, the main thing Mali needs to get rid of war, poverty, terrorism and hunger, is a mighty Holy Spirit revival. They need a miracle, and they need it now.

Conscious about this urgent need, I was so encouraged when I found this testimony  concerning a miraculous healing which occured on a Christian clinic in Mali three years ago:
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