“Putting the Caliphate first may mean eliminating the US and UK from the map. If it comes down to the Caliphate or them, I vote the Caliphate all the way!”
Just imagine if that had been tweeted out by a Muslim cleric here or in America.
Such an incitement to genocide would spark outrage. There might be calls for the arrest of the person responsible, and for their deportation, depending upon their immigration status.
Donald Trump would be all over Twitter baying for blood, talking about his travel ban, and attacking Muslims. The British tabloid press would be apoplectic and their favourite rent-a-gob MPs would be queuing up to vent their ire. Lots of ordinary Muslims, unfairly tarred with extremist brush amidst the furore, would be thinking, sigh, here we go again.
Now at this point I should come clean. What I quoted is a doctored version of an actual cleric’s tweet.
What it actually said was this: Putting America first may mean eliminating N Korea or Iran from the map. If it comes down to the US or them, I vote US all the way.
You’ve probably guessed by now that it wasn’t written by an Isis apologist. It was, in point of fact, penned by a preacher claiming to follow Christianity.
So there was no fulminating on Twitter from the President. Nor did any tabloid newspapers or rent-a-gob MPs shout and scream.
It seems it’s ok if a Christian endorses genocide if it's only North Koreans and Iranians that stand to be killed.
Here are a few more missives from the writer of said tweet: “How will the evils of Islam impact your children? It depends on what we do NOW.”
“Islam—all of it—is pure evil. We MUST stop all Muslim immigration to the US.”
People who live in glass houses…
He also once infamously tweeted that “Only psychos feel abused” in the midst of a controversy that his alma mater, the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, was embroiled in as a result of an investigation by an organisation called GRACE into sexual abuse on its campus.
Now, if all that, the incendiary rhetoric, implicit threats, a less than enlightened attitude towards women (Christian fundamentalists are just as fond of dress restrictions as their Islamic equivalents), and the fact that he and his mates are armed to the teeth, doesn’t make our man a hate preacher, I don’t know what does.
After having wrestled with my conscience, I’ve decided not to name him, so as not to gift him with publicity he doesn’t deserve.
But if you want more examples of the hate peddled by him and people like him I would direct you to www.stufffundieslike.com, which pokes fun at fundamentalist Christians, or some of the Bob Jones University survivor blogs. They're a good place to start if you want to learn more about the workings of America’s independent fundamental baptists, of which my man is one.
The views expressed by him are, sadly, by no means unique. They are not even all that uncommon. He is not an outlier in American Christian fundamentalism. If only that were so.
You can find a small army of them venting such bile.
But where am I going with this?
This is not an exercise in what about-ery, an attempt to justify the horrible things that the Islamist hard right says because the Christian hard right says much the same sort of things.
No, the point I’m leading up to is this: What unites my hate spitting preacher, and his friends, and his fellow travellers in closely related denominations, is their uncritical adoration for the aforementioned President Donald J Trump.
They are among his most rabid supporters. It doesn’t matter what he does, or says. It doesn’t matter how “unchristian” a more mainstream follower of that religion might find his behaviour. This is, after all, a serial adulterer who appeared on the cover of Playboy, who boasts about his sexual conquests and makes liberal use of cuss words.
They will be there for him. They supply him with the adoration that he clearly desires above all else. And it is, in part, to their gallery that he plays to keep it coming.
Hate preachers. The Muslim kind do a lot of damage, of that there can be no question.
The Christian kind? They influence a President with his finger on the nuclear button. Men who urge the obliteration of Iran and North Korea in nuclear fire while calling those who have been brutalised by perverts “psychos”.
I’ve maintained a scholarly interest in these preachers, and the religion they pay adherence to for a number of years. Perhaps that's in part because, having stumbled across their creed, I can't help but contrast it with what I was taught at a Church of England school in a village on the edge of Sheffield when I was young. It doesn't really matter that my early lessons in religion didn't take (I'm an agnostic).
But, given the political situation in America, I’m moved to share some of what I’ve discovered about the extreme end of America’s religious right and, in so doing, to raise a question: Are we afraid of the right people?
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