Radical Christianity vs. Radical Islam
Finally, Bill Maher got something right. Following the Boston bombings, Maher responded to Brian Levy, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino (a great example of needed reforms in public higher education), "[T]here's only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There's only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith."
There you have it. Even a flaming atheist can recognize the difference between a religion of peace and one full of bloodlust. The Tsarnaevs are just the most recent example of the tragic bitter fruit produced by radical Islamists. To further Maher's point, consider and contrast the efforts of radical Islamists with those of radical Christians.
Just what is a "radical Christian"? Some might call them (with apologies to DC Talk) "Jesus Freaks." Examples are all around us, and most are virtually unknown outside their home towns (mainly because they don't make the news by killing people). They plant churches, feed the poor, heal the sick; they open orphanages and pregnancy resource centers; they visit prisoners and deliver the oppressed; in other words, they have sold themselves out to be the hands and feet of the One they worship.
Some popular examples would include men like the late Jim Elliot, who served and evangelized the Quechua Indians, even though it cost him his life. Countless Christians have forsaken the comforts of Western civilization to go and fulfill the call of Christ. In other words, Christianity exports its radicals to bring life and hope, while much of Islam does so to bring death and despair.
Radical Christian and Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller and his wife Linda started an organization "that has helped build or repair more than 600,000 houses and served more than 3 million people around the world." The organization began in 1968, and the Fullers moved to Mbandaka, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1973 to spread their mission of affordable housing to developing countries.
Meanwhile, Muslims in Pakistan recently burned nearly 200 Christian homes over the alleged blasphemy against Muhammad by a Christian sanitation worker. Coptic Christians continue to suffer under the "reforms" taking place in Egypt. The Coptic minority have been murdered and seen their homes, businesses, and churches looted and burned.
Radical Christians build hospitals. Radical Muslims seek to fill them up. Christians have led the world in caring for the sick and dying among us. As Virginia Health Information notes, "[s]ome of the earliest hospitals existed in ancient Rome in 100 BC as important centers for the emergency care of sick and wounded soldiers. With the spread of Christianity, hospitals grew as part of the church's mission and became part of the community as they tended to health care not only for soldiers but also for all who needed it."
The first hospital in North America, the Hospital de Jesus Nazareno, was founded by Cortés. The first hospital in the U.S, Pennsylvania Hospital, was founded by a Quaker, Dr. Thomas Bond (with the aid of Benjamin Franklin). The Catholic Church alone operates over 1,100 hospitals and long-term health care facilities in the U.S. What's more, a 2010 study revealed that Christian hospitals in the U.S. outperform all others.
Radical Christians build schools. The world's first university, birthed in 1088, was The University of Bologna in Italy. It was founded to teach canon (church) law. The second-oldest university, The University of Paris, grew out of the cathedral schools of Notre-Dame and soon became a great center for Christian orthodox studies. Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt, in his book Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, points out that every college established in colonial America, except the University of Pennsylvania, was founded by some denomination of Christianity. He adds that, preceding the Civil War, 92 percent of the 182 colleges and universities in the U.S. were established by some branch of the church.
Radical Muslims attack young girls who merely want an education. In 2012, Taliban forces in Afghanistan were responsible for what was described as "an intentional act to poison schoolgirls." More than 150 girls in northeastern Afghanistan suffered in the attack. "Every day [in fact, just the other day], you hear that somebody's thrown acid at a girl's face ... or they poison their water," moaned the founder of a girls school outside Kabul.
According to the U.N., there were nearly 200 attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan in 2011. In addition, radical Islamists also attack administrators who don't conform to their ideas of what constitutes a proper education. According to Reuters, "[r]adical Muslims burst into a Tunisian school ... and assaulted [nearly killing] its chief after he barred entry to a teenage girl wearing a niqab."
Car bombs detonated by Muslim radicals have killed dozens in Somalia and Nigeria this year alone. Just last month, Muslim suicide bombers in Pakistan and Syria killed well over 100 people. Whether it's bombing, burning, beheading, hacking, poisoning, or shooting, the list of Muslim violence is long and obscene.
Of course, the proper Christian response to such violence is never revenge. (However, justice is another matter.) As we look to be salt and light to those outside Christianity -- whether they be violent, mocking, or merely apathetic -- we must never forget that Christ came not to destroy lives, but to save them. This is why, when it comes to comparing radical Christians to radical Islamists, there is no comparison.
Trevor Grant Thomas: at the Intersection of politics, science, faith, and reason. www.trevorgrantthomas.com