Thomas Schirrmacher
Relevant ProMundis Blogposts

Dispelling the legend of evangelical violence: Taking Issue with Ramelow’s Urban Legend: No Evangelical has ever Shot and Killed an Abortion Doctor

27. August 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

The Prime Minister (equivalent to a U.S. governor) of the German state of Thüringen, Bodo Ramelow of the Left Party, made the following statement on a television program about Islamist violence:

“In America there are self-appointed evangelicals who are of the opinion that they can attack … abortion clinics and kill people.”

This was a surprising and frivolous comment in the middle of a serious discussion of Islamist terrorism. But more importantly, where did he get this idea? Who are these “self-appointed evangelicals” who believe in murder? A closer look reveals that Ramelow is repeating a false charge against Christians that must be laid to rest.

I published a comprehensive report on this issue in 2009 for the World Evangelical Alliance (available on the Internet in both English and German) because reputable evangelical pastors and leaders would want to know if there were potential murderers in their midst. Comments such as Ramelow’s have caused me to update my research. I maintain the point that I made in 2009: there is not a single case in which a practicing evangelical has been accused of killing an abortion advocate. Rather, people who have a personal interest in discrediting the Christian church are repeating a myth without doing their homework.

In the last 18 years, there have been two fatal attacks on abortion clinics, in 2009 and 2015. Although every murder is terrible, this is hardly a pattern worthy of comparison to Islamic terrorism.

Going back further, we find that in the last 40 years, from 1977 to 2016 there have been 11 murders in abortion clinics or of abortion doctors in North America, for an average of slightly more than one murder every four years. Since 1995, there have been six fatalities, three of them in a single attack in 2015. The most frequent cause is mental instability, followed by membership in white supremacy groups. Christian churches or believers have played no role.

For my 2009 report, I examined publications of the National Abortion Federation, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). These publications describe all attacks on abortion clinics, as well as the backgrounds of the offenders. As you might guess, these groups are nor particularly fond of pro-life Christians. Nevertheless, they report honestly that evangelical pro-life groups have sharply distanced themselves from violent crime.

These major pro-abortion organizations have never claimed that evangelicals are shooting abortionists. I checked their 2016 reports, which do not hold evangelical Christians responsible for any criminal act.

Moreover, although there were earlier instances of violence in Canada and Australia, since 2009 the handful of attacks on abortion clinics or doctors have all occurred in the United States. There is no basis for drawing a parallel between these isolated incidents and the wave of religious terrorism threatening Europe.

The lone 2015 incident is typical. On November 29, a shooter with a long criminal history killed three and injured nine at an abortion clinic in Colorado Springs. He surrendered after a long siege. He was not associated with any evangelical church or organization, although he may have had religious delusions, as is common among psychiatric patients. No one has blamed the tragedy on Christians.

Why has the myth of evangelical violence against abortion advocates traveled so widely, even internationally? Perhaps, since Christians are the most prominent voices upholding the sanctity of every human life and thus opposing abortion, it is natural for people to assume that those who take up arms against abortion providers must be Christians. But it is also possible that some people are seizing upon these tragedies for political purposes, seeking to damage Christians’ public reputation.

This is very unfortunate. Not only are evangelicals and other Christians unfailingly peaceful in their opposition to abortion, but they are responsible for much of the best and most caring public service around the world, even in an age of government-funded safety nets. They support women in crisis, promote adoption and foster care, and give generously (much more generously than secularists) to aid children and families in poverty. They give selflessly to others because they serve a Lord who did the same.

To falsely besmirch evangelicals’ public image does a great disservice not just to evangelicals themselves, but to all of society. We would all be impoverished without their contributions. We will always have political differences, but let us negotiate them honestly and with mutual respect.


Links:

Bodo Ramelov in German: In den USA gebe es “selbst ernannte Evangelikale, die der Meinung sind, sie könnten Abtreibungsgegner oder Abtreibungskliniken überfallen und Menschen umbringen, erschießen, die sich für Abtreibung einsetzen”. Quoted by Katholische Nachrichten, “Vorwurf: Bodo Ramelow verunglimpft Lebensschützer,” April 2, 2016.

About the Colorado shooting in German and then in English:

Reports from pro-abortion organizations:

Our report on this problem from 2009:

The German Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has declared that Evangelicals are Trigger-Happy Murderers

23. August 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

At the moment, Among the cheapest and most promising ways to defame those who think differently is to throw them into the same pot as ISIS and Islamist terrorism. While it has almost become normal for dictators around the world to declare unwelcome movements and forces to be terrorists or to be the breeding ground for the same, it is astounding that this is also happening in Germany. And as of late, it has been happening to Evangelicals, among others. In the process, a completely innocent group of people has been found to be guilty by association for three decades. This runs according to the following principle: Little strokes fell big oaks. The latest example:

A self-declared IS adherent kills 50 guests in a gay bar which he himself had frequently gone to. The newspaper Die WELT even speaks of a gay self-hatred.

The newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote the following on the incident: He could just as well have been an Evangelical Christian and have committed this act.

  • What is it, besides hatred for Evangelicals, that could make such a statement intelligible?
  • Do Evangelicals often shoot and kill homosexuals? I am not aware of a single case anywhere in the world.
  • Do Evangelicals often defect to ISIS? This also yields a negative report.
  • Do Evangelicals often conduct shootings in public? The web has also not revealed any such case.
  • Do Evangelicals at any rate shoot and kill abortion doctors?
    This is also purely fictional, although it has been repeated in public so often that people on the street actually believe it. The leading associations of abortion clinics in the USA do not even bring this charge!
  • And finally: Are there Evangelical churches even just hinting at advocating such things? Although I have often asked: No one has yet provided any evidence that Evangelicals are dangerous.

I would humorously suspect that the author grew up in an Evangelical monastery under medieval educational methods and has not yet processed that. However, there are no such monasteries. What have Evangelicals done to him that they are accused of the worst crimes one can think of without good cause, of indiscriminately killing people on a massive scale without any recognizable reason? Which Evangelical advocates such a thing, let alone allows it or carries it out?

And since the Süddeutsche Zeitung is published in Germany: Which event in Germany entitles this daily newspaper to even hint at sweepingly pushing Evangelicals into the proximity of terrorism and indiscriminate shootings?

Do anti-discrimination legislation and the anti-discrimination agenda not apply to Evangelicals and Pentecostals? Is hate speech against Muslims condemned, is action taken by the media against hate speech against Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and Sinti and Roma but allowed at any time against Evangelicals?

Even if there were a single in-the-flesh Evangelical or Pentecostal terrorist and only a single member of an Evangelical church who had killed an abortion doctor: Does that entitled throwing one-half a billion people into a pot and ridiculing them as disguised terrorists?

Erdogan and Islamist seizure of power

18. August 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Immediately after the attempted Putsch, an eye witness reported Erdogan’s first big appearance:

“It felt like an eternity that Erdogan just stood there while the crowd chanted: ‘Here is the army! Here is the Commander, and ‘Just say it and we will kill! Just say it and we will die!‘ And there was always the following accompanying the chants: ‘Allahu Akbar!‘ – ‘God is great!’”

In Turkey we are experiencing a second Islamist seizure of power, which supposedly is comparable to that in Pakistan and in Iran. Surprisingly, however, nothing has yet come of it.

In my 2015 blog “Turkey is a uniquely terrible disappointment: Has Erdogan always been an Islamist, or has he returned to Islamism?” I wrote:

“‘There are good reasons to think that, in his heart, Erdogan has remained what he was as the mayor of Istanbul, and that he is implementing the Ist agenda with a much more long term strategy than the very clumsy strategy used by the short term Egyptian President Mursi. Mursi wanted to implement Islamism in five minutes and thereby failed because of the opposition of the Army, which Erdogan first checkmated before implementing his larger agenda.‘

In any case, Erdogan’s system is equally as corrupt as all the Islamist systems. He makes absurd demands, such as teaching the Ottoman language in schools, although he cannot speak it. He has absurd goals, such as the reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire—dangerous for all neighboring states! Religious rules are imposed on all citizens of Turkey. The rule of law has been replaced by corruption, while the judiciary and police have become the front line for the rule of power.

In his youth Erdogan was a member of the militant Turkish-Islamist underground organization, Akincilar Dernegi. Since 1970 he had leading positions in the various Islamist parties that took over from one another after they were outlawed, until the founding of the AKP in 2001. As the mayor of Istanbul (1994-1998) he promoted Islamist policies, for example, school busses divided by gender and a prohibition of alcohol at city facilities. In 1994 he described the EU as an association of Christians from which Turkey had nothing to gain. It was, in his assessment, impossible to be Muslim and to tolerate a secular government. In 1998 he was sentenced to prison because he positively quoted the following poem in a speech:

‘Democracy is only a train which we are boarding until we arrive at our destination. Mosques are our military bases, minarets our bayonets, domes our helmets, and believers our soldiers.‘

Should we not have known? Although we must be ready to recognize that people can change, should we not have kept in the back of our minds something about the way in which Erdogan started his career as an Islamist? Should we not have understood the ongoing indications of Islamist leanings by turns of phrases from his mouth against this background? And shouldn’t these questions have been more frequently and extensively discussed among non-Muslim politicians?

There have been many other similar examples where people do not want to perceive Islamism, even when it is standing in plain sight. For example, the King Fahd Academy in Bonn-Bad Godesberg (Germany) has been celebrated by politicians and church leaders as a place of mutual understanding for peoples and religions, as if that had ever or anywhere been the goal of Saudi Arabia. Today central Bad Godesberg has as many business signs and advertisements in Arabic as in German, and Bonn has become a virtual Mecca for Islamists. In comparison by population size, there is no other German city with so many Islamists.

To be sure, this does not have to do with Schadenfreude, nor with claiming, ‚we always knew.‘ Turkey, under the rule of law, protecting human rights, would not only have been extremely desirable, but would also have had enormous effects across the Muslim world.

In any case, whether or not the dream of a democratic Turkey ever had a chance of becoming reality, or if Erdogan is only a polished tactician who is able to hold his breath for a long time: the dream has come to an end, and under President Erdogan, Turkey is seeking to position itself as the leading voice of all Muslims, including violent Muslims, in direct competition with Iran and Saudi Arabia. Turkey is no longer a part of the solution for violence in the Middle East; it is now a part of the problem. Realpolitik must very soberly take that fact into foreign policy calculations.”

The member States of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have 300 million Christian citizens

11. August 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

A Commentary based on a table of member countries of the OIC and the religion of their citizens – a statistical research project of the International Institute of Religious Freedom (2013, translated 2016)

By Thomas Schirrmacher, 2013

This was published in German as “In den Mitgliedsstaaten der Organisation Islamischer Kooperation (OIC) leben 320 Millionen Christen”. S. 170-178 in: Thomas Schirrmacher, Max Klingberg, Ron Kubsch (Hg.). Das Jahrbuch zur Verfolgung und Diskriminierung von Christen heute – 2013. Bonn: VKW, 2013. ISBN 978-3-86269-080-0. The original German article can be found here.

This contribution is based on two tables, which list all states of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in alphabetical order and give numbers of Muslims and non-Muslim and as part of the latter group, of all Christians. Both tables can be found here (2010) and here (2012/2013).

The numbers of the first table are taken from „The World’s Religions in Figure“, 2013, based on „World Religion Database“ as of Januar 2012. „OW“ each time gives an alternative number in brackets from the second table, based on „Operation World“, 2010.)

The 52 member and 5 observer states of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have 1.77 billion (OW: 1.8 billion) inhabitants. 70.8 % (OW: 71 %), that is 1.254 billion (OW: 1.274 billion), are Muslims, 29.2 % (OW: 28.7 %) are non-Muslims (= 0.52 billion, OW: 0.51 billion). Roughly two thirds of the non-Muslims are Christians, that is 333 millions (OW 324 millions), or 18.8 % (OW: 18.6 %) of the inhabitants of the OIC-states.

If one does not count the observer state (which the OIC itself never leaves out), there are 1,56 billion inhabitants (OW: 1,58). 79,4 % (OW: 79,1 %) are Muslims (= 1,24 billions, OW: 1,25 millions ), 20,6 % (OW: 20,5 %) are non-Muslims (= 429 millions, OW: 323 millions), including 13,5 % (OW: 14,2 %) Christians (= 211 millions, OW: 224 millions).

As the OIC by definition only speaks on behalf of Islam and Muslims alone, more than half a billion people are represented by an organisation, that ignores or even denies their rights.

OIC’s website says (retrieved 12/06/2013):

„The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world.“ „The Organization has the singular honor to galvanize the Ummah into a unified body and have actively represented the Muslims by espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world.“

So it seems, that the OIC just counts the non-Muslim citizens as Muslims. And it is very clear, that they do not work for the interests of their non-Muslim citizens, but have them pay for the expansion of Islam via their taxes. The intensive actions within the United Nations – the OIC is the largest body of states in the world beside the UN – always was and still is only in favour of Islam.

The strangest members of OIC are those, where Muslims are not the majority of the population. Look at the percentage of Muslims in the following member states of the OIC:

  • Benin 24.5 % (OW: 23.5 %) Muslims
  • Cameroon 20 % (OW: 26 %)
  • Cote dÍvoire 40,6 % (OW: 41.8 %)
  • Gabon 10,2 % (OW: 10 %)
  • Gyana 7,5 % (OW: 9.4 %)
  • Mozambique 17,5, % (OW: 18.6 %)
  • Nigeria 45,5 % (OW: 45.1 %)
  • Surinam 15,9 % (OW: 16.9 %)
  • Uganda 11,7 % (OW: 11.5 %)

[One has to add the following observer states with non-Muslim majority:

  • Russia 10,4 % (OW: 12.5 %) Muslims
  • Thailand 5,9 % (OW: 7.9 % )
  • Central African Republic 13,7 % (OW: 13.8 %)]

Why are those states members of OIC? Why do they pay and work for the sole expansion and protection of Islam and against the interests of the majority of their citizens?

Think for a moment, there would be a similar organisation like the OIC made up of Christian states. Nigeria would be a member and would work towards the expansion of Christendom and bypass its Millions of Muslim citizens!

I would like to add one further thought. The OIC does not even work on behalf of Muslim minorities within their own countries. The OIC only speaks up on behalf of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. And even there, it speaks up for mainstream Islam, never for minorities from minor wings of Islam, and surely not for those minorities seen as ‘sect’ outside Islam. Wikipedia writes rightly so (retrieved 17/08/2012):

„The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz in Iran, the Hazaras in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam’ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.“

Wikipedia should have added the wording from the OIC-Charter, which clearly states as one of the goals of IC:

„to assist Muslim minorities and communities outside the Member States to preserve their dignity, cultural and religious identity“.

This is further proved by a report of the General Seceretary of OIC, Ekmleddin Ihsanoglu, in his major work (The Islamic World in the New Century: The Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Columbuia University Press: New York, 2010. 127-142).

International human rights indexes

A search through major international indexes related to specific human rights shows, that the OIC states first of all should urge each other to protect the dignity and human rights of its citizens. Following are some examples (these indices are all available in the web under their name, so we do not provide detailed links here):

The Democracy Index (2011) does not list one OIC member state as a ‘Full Democracy’, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as ‘Flawed Democracy.’ The rest are rated either as ‘Authoritarian Regime’ or as ‘Hybrid Regime.’ The situation is even worse when looking at the countries only, which have a Muslim majority.

The Freedom in the World Report (2010) ranking the political rights and civil liberties only list 3 OIC member states as ‘Free’.

The Press Freedom Index (2011) by „Reporters Without Borders“ rated only Mali and Suriname among the 57 member states of the OIC having a ‘Satisfactory Situation’. All other members were rated between ‘Noticeable Problems’ down to ‘Very Serious Situation.’

The global rankings of global restrictions of religious freedom worldwide by the PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life and by the Hudson Institute report Religious Freedom in the World show that the OIC member countries, which have a large Muslim majority, mostly belong tot he countries with the highest restrictions on religions and that these restrictions have been growing between 2009 and 2011 (see „Global Restrictions on Religion“, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, December 2009. pp. 49-52; „Rising Restrictions on Religion“, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, August 2011; Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom: Paul A. Marshall. Religious Freedom in the World. Plymouth UK, 2008. pp. 5-7).

The newest published research by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which only studied the written constitutions and laws of the OIC member states with a Muslim majority, not the actual situation, shows, that Islam is the state religion and sharia the highest law of the country in 18 states, while another 4 states only declare Islam to be the state religion and one state mentions sharia as the highest law alone.

Comment on the approximate numbers for South-Sudan, which had to be subtracted from Sudan (united), as all available figures come from the time before the division of the country (10 Mio. inhabitants, 220.000 Muslims, 9,8 Mio. Non-Muslims including 7,7 Mio. Christians). [The statistics of the „The World’s Religions in Figures“ already list North- and Southsudan seperately.]

Inside the Vatican Synod on Family
An Expert Evangelical’s View as a Fraternal Delegate

7. August 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Collected blog posts October 4 – 25 on Christian Post

During the Vatican synod I blogged more or less daily on Christian Post. Now those blogs have been proofread by Thomas K. Johnson and nicely collected into a PDF-file:


Downloads:

Thomas Schirrmacher