In today's Washington Times, National Review senior writer Rod Dreher makes a point that Weblog has been meaning to write about all week: "Last week in Nigeria … Muslims destroyed churches and beat and murdered Christians. Yet in many of the press accounts, there was no mention of who started the violence (Muslims), and who the victims were (Christians). Typical of the nonjudgmental approach was a report I heard last Monday from CNN correspondent Nancy Curnow, who mentioned 'religious violence between Muslims and Christians.'"
Likewise, The New York Times referred to "religious zealotry," and emphasized that Christians fought back. That's a common thread in media reports coming out of Nigeria—not that Christians are being attacked for no reason, but that they say they'll fight back if necessary. "No group of people should be allowed to invade the city of Abuja and molest law-abiding citizens," said Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan. "It is a Christian duty to protect yourselves."
This steams columnist Dennis Prager. "The Times assures us [that] what happened in Kaduna is merely another example of Africa's 'difficulty in reconciling people who worship separately.' Nigeria's and Africa's Christians are just as guilty … Fanatical Muslims are not the killers—'devoutly religious people' are."
This isn't terribly new. After all, Christians were blamed equally with Muslims for Indonesia's religious violence as well. Not to excuse the Christians who fought back, but let's not forget that the instigation is radically one-sided.
But at least the Times only spins the facts. Others dispense with the facts altogether, and make it seem like Nigeria's Christians used turmoil over the Miss World pageant to go kill some Muslims. "Many Nigerians, Muslims and Christians are mostly poor, fervently religious, protective of their heritage and distinct cultural principals. Such passion, however, can turn bloody in Nigeria, and it has, repeatedly, as each group feels threatened by the other, desperately trying to preserve what it perceives as sacred and holy," writes Ramzy Baroud, editor-in-chief of Palestine Chronicle.
Wale Abiru, a new High Court justice in Ikeja, Lagos state and president of the Movement for Islam Culture and Awareness in Nigeria, told ThisDay that he blames Christians—especially Christians in the Nigerian government—for the riots.
"I do not believe any Christian leader has come out to support the Miss World Beauty Contest in terms of it being acceptable to the Christian faith, but they have not come out to condemn it either," he told the newspaper that the Muslims originally rioted against before turning on Christians. "While the Christians kept quiet, the Muslims chose to voice their opposition. … You bring that kind of thing to the country at a time when a certain section of the population was to be in a state of religious piety and the tendency is not the contest itself but the insensitivity of the leadership to the feelings of those people without regard to the sensibilities of the people."
As a counterpoint, listen to Zakka Bonnet, leader of the Nigerian evangelical denomination Solid Foundation: "The Miss World contest is not being organized by Christians, so why should Christians suffer?" he tells the Associated Press. "Before we knew it, churches were being burned down and Christians were being slaughtered. And nobody has apologized to Christians. We are disturbed."
And they continue to be in danger—while they get blamed.
More reaction to the riots:
- You don't reason with killers; you go after them | How many more innocent civilians must be blown apart or gunned down, as in Nigeria and Kenya in recent days, for it to sink in that we can't go on like this? (William Murchison, The Dallas Morning News)
- Zealotry is never a pretty picture | Do Nigeria's riots prove Jerry Falwell's point? (Salim Muwakkil, Chicago Tribune)
- Ungodly slaughter in God's name | There are days when I think religion is the best argument for atheism. (Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald)
- The Muslim world's peace problem | Islamic extremists don't speak for Muslims everywhere, but they clearly dominate the debate (Editorial, New York Post)
- Don't blame religion for the killings done in God's name | Political failure often paves the way for resurgent fundamentalism (Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, London)
- People fall victim as Islam and Christianity battle for Africa's soul | A violent clash of faiths is bringing more misery to a continent already plagued by poverty and disease (Sunday Herald, South Africa)
Islam and Christianity:
- Conservatives dispute Bush portrayal of Islam as peaceful | Critics, include some policy advisers, call stance political (The Washington Post)
- Silence of the 'moderates' | Conservative Christians are not about to stop supporting the president, but they are disturbed that he keeps saying things about Islam they do not believe are true and, in their hearts, do not believe he believes (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)
- 700 Klutz | Pat Robertson sabotages Bush's courtship of Muslims (William Saletan, Slate.com)
- Imams of Inanity | Bush has yet to denounce these preachers by name. But they all have earned a personal rebuke. (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)
- Cultures of terror | Even if Falwell and Robertson did harbor genocidal impulses towards Muslims (which, of course, they don't), they could never act on them (Mark Goldblatt, New York Post)
Other religions and interfaith relations:
- Tips for Christians dealing with Jews | Jews have mixed emotions about proselytizing (Bill Gralnick. The Dallas Morning News)
- Jews follow Jesus between worlds | 'He Is The Messiah' (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)
- Christian reactionaries leading a new crusade | The missionaries have won. (Paul Sheehan, The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Pastors predict greater New-Age influence | 82% say they expect non-Christian faiths to be more popular (Religion News Service)
- Alternative religions really do thrive in Marin County | Survey finds faiths, practices far more diverse than U.S. as a whole (San Francisco Chronicle)
Persecution and discrimination:
- Religious refugees get unfair treatment, says report | Refugees seeking asylum from religious persecution in their home countries regularly face inappropriate "questioning" or "quizzing" about their religions by United States asylum officers and immigration judges, according to a survey released Tuesday by the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (OneWorld.net)
- A murder in Sidon | The murder of Christians in Lebanon is nothing new (Amnon Rubinstein, Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv)
- Egyptian activist freed pending retrial | Saad Eddin Ibrahim accused of "fabricating false information to harm the country's reputation" with reports on discrimination and massacres against the Coptic Christian minority (BBC)
Crime and violence:
- Suspected gunman in church shooting arrested | Police say Rafael Mora was shot in the chest after telling a would-be robber—inside a church just after Mass—he had no money (KPIX, San Francisco)
- Death shows potential danger of 'healers' | The Los Angeles Police Department formed a task force to crack down on the practice, but after two years, the phony doctors and pharmacists still flourish (Associated Press)
Bono's Heart of America tour:
- 'Blame is on both sides' in relationship with Africa | Bono's Heart of America tour arrives at Wheaton College tonight (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Bono's crusade | On tour through the Heartland with one of the world's biggest rock stars as he works to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic (Chicago Tribune)
- Bono issues blunt message for Christians | The singer is on a seven-day tour of Mid-America with his organization DATA (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Museum abandons Christian year system | Royal Ontario Museum's display for James ossuary uses CE instead of AD (The National Post)
- Experts question authenticity of bone box for `Brother of Jesus' | Some see differences in the handwriting (The New York Times)
- Chapel and refuge struggles to define role | The minister who ran St. Paul's chapel when it served as a refuge for Sept. 11 rescue workers and the chapel itself are at a turning point (The New York Times)
- St. John the Divine tapestries destroyed | The tapestries, which had been hanging on a nave wall, were scorched from the top down and lay in black, smoldering heaps on the floor of the Episcopal cathedral (Associated Press)
- Methodists back off merger | The nation's four Methodist denominations—one predominantly white and three serving black churchgoers—have stepped back from an earlier goal of merging into one religious body (The Washington Times)
- Evangelical church now a model of ethnic tolerance | Olivet Evangelical Congregational Church houses Middle Eastern and Portuguese congregations who jointly run a twice-monthly food bank (The Express-Times, Bethelehem, Penn.)
- The priests in black yearn for unorthodox attire | Greek Orthodox priests are clamoring for a makeover, or at least a few alterations, to the clerical dress code and grooming (The New York Times)
- For pastors, worldly help with spiritual messages | What should be a religious service's boon more often is its bane (The Washington Post)
- New (and louder) voices for an old Phila. church | The building is given to a younger congregation (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- State cuts hang over chaplaincy service | No new chaplains, but plenty of talk about saving program from budget ax (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Vicars in employment rights row | Church of England clergy are protesting outside Parliament to demand rights to protection in their employment. (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- For some, green is next to Godliness | Amid the standard Christian iconography adorning All Saints Episcopal Church in Brookline - the lush stained glass, the heavy wooden cross suspended above the altar - is a less obvious but very real symbol of the parish's faith: the boiler (The Boston Globe)
Archbishop of Canterbury:
- Williams confirmed as Archbishop (BBC)
- Also: Solemn, arcane and ceremonial, church confirms its liberal new archbishop (The Guardian, London)
- Also: New archbishop of Canterbury officially takes up post at St.Paul's ceremony (Associated Press)
- Anglican leader warns church could split | Blamed evangelical opponents for tarnishing the church's image (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Rowan Williams will thrive on public controversy | Dr Williams' first experience of public life at the highest level may have been frightening, but he is going to be a formidable player (Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent, London)
- Rowan Williams: The patron saint of disruption | Prudent. Discreet. Kind. Clever. A thoroughly nice bloke. This is what they say about the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. He is all these things, and a beardy to boot. But don't be fooled. He doesn't pull his punches on the big issues (Paul Handley, The Independent, London)
- Advocate for women Canterbury archbishop (The Boston Globe)
- Archbishop calls for religious harmony (BBC)
Clergy sexual abuse:
- More clergy abuse, secrecy cases | Records detail quiet shifting of rogue priests (The Boston Globe)
- He invoked religion for sexual acts | A priest initiated sexual acts with teenagers preparing to become nuns by encouraging them to believe they were making love to Jesus Christ himself (The Boston Globe)
- Records show a trail of secrecy, deception (The Boston Globe)
- A bankrupt archdiocese? | With its credibility battered, the archdiocese is burdened with proving this is not another delaying tactic or negotiating ploy (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
- U.K. churches handed 'devastasting' sex abuse study | Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans, welcomed the study as a contribution toward ensuring greater openness in Britain's religious institutions (Reuters)
- Sex complaints detailed against a former minister | Presbyterian Church officials detailed the sex abuse allegations against a prominent former minister at an emotional meeting today that drew more than 100 Presbyterians from around the region (The New York Times)
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