This blog post has been a long time in coming and it is likely to be one of the few that I do not offer a quote from the Bible. Of course, any statement made about sin, lust, the human soul, or anything else does reflect a Biblical world view from my point of view. However, this blog entry is an organized form of the jumbled thoughts I have whenever terrorist attacks are reported in the news.-–J.
On Tuesday this week, Jihadist terrorists carried out an attack on Brussels. Later, ISIS would claim responsibility. Shortly after that, the Internet was flooded with Tweets and blog posts asking questions and making statements. It seems that everyone is an expert on the Qu’ran and everyone seems convinced that they know the motivations behind the terrorists.
The question that comes up the most is, “Why do they hate us?”
Yesterday, Franklin Graham repeated the same thing he has been saying for several years. He tweeted at 6:22 am “Why does Islam hate so much? It’s because the Quran reaches it’s followers to hate.”
One thing I find disturbing about this is the fact that most Americans, especially Franklin Graham are completely unaware of the 8 other terrorist attacks carried in other regions of the world. I found out from a friend living in Turkey about 2 of them, one carried out one March 13 in Ankara and the other on March 20 in Istanbul.
What I find disturbing about all the rhetoric is Franklin Graham’s insistence that hatred of Christians and Jews is the motivator and teaching of the Qu’ran behind Jihadist terrorism. When I looked at the other 8 terrorist attacks in March, I found that those committed or claimed by Jihadists were actually carried out against Muslims. When I look back over just the last 2 years of terrorist attacks carried out by Jihadists, I find that various groups have carried most of their attacks out in Muslim majority countries against Muslims and Mosques.
So, I ask several questions of anyone who thinks like Franklin Graham. What explains this? Where in the Qu’ran does it tell Muslims to kill other Muslims? If hatred is the motivator, why do Jihadists seem to hate Muslims more than they hate Jews and Christians?
Even though my questions are not entirely rhetorical, I ask them to make a point. I do not think hatred has anything to do with Jihadism. I do not think any religion or any religious text causes people to become terrorists. When I look through history from Nero and Caligula to Constantine, from Mohammed to the Crusades, from the Spanish Inquisition to the bloody French Revolution, and from Hitler’s Holocaust to Lenin and Stalin’s athiest motivated murders of millions, I find no consistent causal factor for the evil committed. Among the evil leaders from ancient times to present day were psychos, the disturbed, the politically motivated, the religious justifications, and the hatred of religion. Evil action and the murder of other humans can be found among every ethinc and religious people.
The evil comes from the human mind and soul. The evil comes from within, not from an outside source. People are attracted to Jihadism because it is already in their heart. In the same way, Christians who end up following for example mysogenistic people like Bill Gothard or Mark Driscoll did not become mysogenists from their teachings. They were already that way and followed pastors who justified their attitudes and beliefs.
So, with that, I do not think terrorists hate us at all.
Here is my line of thinking. If someone breaks into your home, when a person is murdered, when gang members shoot at each other, and any criminal commits a violent act, do you ever ask, “why do they hate so much?” The answer is no. With every criminal act, we look for the motivations and intent of the individual.
We know the motivation is not hatred, but often it is lust. It’s a lust for power and possessions. It starts with covetousness in the heart and when that is given full strength, a criminal will carry it his or her selfish desires. We can see it even in the violent acts where one gang member attacks another within his own gang because the attacker thinks he was disrespected.
I think the same is true for terrorists, especially terrorist leaders. They lust for power and significance. Their followers lust for the same. The same can be seen in the tribalism at the heart of American street gangs where leaders keep their hands clean and order their followers to deal and distribute drugs, carry out thefts and burglaries, and carry out any violent crime including murder. It may be packaged by Jihadists and ISIS as some sort of Muslim eschatology, but ultimately, if Islam as a religion did not exist, these terrorists would still exist.
So, I ask the question, “Do they really hate us?” becasue I am more convinced each day that hatred has nothing to do with their motivations. But the reason behind the question is it is easier to believe terrorists are a nameless faceless enemy that we might call “Crout,” “Charlie,” or “Hodgie.”
The danger is civilians like Franklin Graham can continue to view Jihadists and ISIS as a nameless faceless enemy without direct consequence to their own psychological health. Instead, civilians will call for troop deployment to fight the nameless and faceless enemy. It will be the Marine, Salior, Airman, and the Soldier that will carry the guilt, deal with PTSD, and the knowledge that the “Hodgies” killed are human.
In the end, I think most civilians calling for action will only offer a “thank you for your service” when the action is finished.
P.S. I realized at the closing of this post that there are many fellow Christians who may take offense at my disagreement with Franklin Graham. Please, show me some grace in this any future conversation. It is difficult for a veteran like me to listen to opinions of pastors who call for troops on the ground when they themselves never enlisted. It is even more difficult when fellow pastors say things that go against the work of our own missionaries and missions organizations overseas.
To all who have said to me and others, “Thank you for your service,” I say thank you to most of you for your willingness to carry the conversation further. Thank you for taking your “thank you” and putting it into action by helping veterans directly and being willing to help refugees as well.