by Rev. Sean Carroll

In today’s news we are met with a religious bomber who attacked fans enjoying an Ariana Grande concert, and in the US, Texas passing a “religious liberty” adoption bill. Both of them are terrorist acts. Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” Note that is the unlawful use of “violence AND intimidation.” For years the radical sects of Islam inspired by the Wahhabist movement have used these two to enforce a strict view of Holy Scripture, and to rule with intimidation in places across the Middle East. ISIS continues these attacks worldwide striking at those things which they find evil, and that hinder the fundamentalist Muslim cause. No one is afraid to call these attacks terrorism. They show the horrendous body counts day in and day out, and we are left in mourning. Additionally we see other countries that are ruled in the same vein imposing stringent laws against the rights of gays, by punishment and intimidation. Even more radical Muslim sects in Asia and Africa use the same method of mob murders of those who do not align with their interpretation of Islam, and as the majority these groups use their government powers to pass laws the diminish the lives, and rights of all who disagree. Last night was another sorrowful night, as we realize we are not safe wherever we go, whether to school, to a concert, or a mall. The hate and terror of conservative and fundamental religions follows us, and has us in their crosshairs.

Though the word is not used, there is also terrorism going on in this country daily. Last year and still this year North Carolina’s trans community has seen the use of “violence and intimidation” over their right to exist in public. They have been intimidated out of using bathrooms in public. You can hear stories of how many trans people are refusing to stay hydrated when they know they have to venture out because they are fearful of a public restroom. We have hate preachers yelling at trans women in Target, and calling for boycotts. Additionally, a failed bill introduced aimed at the trans community was a 500 day jail sentence if someone “of the opposite sex was found in the wrong bathroom.” Also there was the failed bill on overturning marriage equality. Even more, we have churches that show up to pride events with hate filled signs, attacking parents, and children with hate filled rhetoric. This is terrorism. This is violent speech, and intimidating laws, aimed at erasing a group from public because a religious group deems them “evil.” At in what Texas just passed it goes further, the right to refuse a family to a qualified adoptive parents simply because they do not align with your definition of “Christian.” This country is NOT a Christian nation. Even more, it is not a particular Christianity. The founders saw what a religious state did, the changing of religion between Catholic and Protestant in England’s monarch saw families jailed, and murdered, because of where they went on Sunday morning. They did not want that to happen in a new land. But today that is what the religious right wants, they seek to jail and murder those who are different. What “conservative churches” have denounced Donald Trump from the pulpit? Not many, when 81% voted for a man that violated the basic tenets of the Christian faith, and elected with him a Vice President that is behind electro-shock therapy applied to minors that resulted in a 51% suicide rate of minors enlisted in conversion therapy by their “Christian” parents. That too, is terrorism. It is a law passed that submitted gay children to electrocution to “cure them.” Nothing sounds more like violence and intimidation than that. Or we could go on to the words of other religious leaders, which blamed the gay community for the destruction of hurricanes and snowstorms on the East Coast. Or the other “Christians” that said President Obama was a Muslim, because of his family, and that he was here to create Sharia law, when in reality he was a regular attender of a Christian church in Chicago. Or we could bring up the words of a pastor who blamed the lifestyle of the attendees at Pulse for their own deaths, and was later arrested as a child rapist. Or the pastor in the Southwest that claimed the Pulse shooter did America a favor. These are all the words and actions of hate, and intimidation, and by extension they are terrorism aimed at the minorities of this country. There is nothing different between these words, and words of an ISIS supporting cleric. They are words of hate, which create terrorism. We could spend endless amounts of blog posts, and ink on simply talking about the religious right’s own response to racism, and the BLM movement. A response that produced Dylan Roof, who killed Christians because of their skin tone! We could show that they do not really believe “all lives matter” but only their lives which is why they spend their resources lobbying for and passing bills aimed at targeting the trans community, the gay community, and refugees, and gerrymandering districts to diminish the fact that all people have the right to equal representation.

This style of Christianity is not better than the very acts of ISIS. The end goal of both is the same, a theocratic style of government with the power to use religion to intimidate and enforce. As Americans, or even as Christians, we must call these acts for what they are. We can no longer sit idly by and say well there are a few crazy people in every government. No, those who wish to use the American political system for acts of terrorism must be resisted they must be stopped. I call on news agencies, and others to call these acts out. Any bill aimed at hindering the rights, and the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness of minorities is state sponsored terror. I will not stand for it, together we can resist this too.