Terrorist organization Boko Haram, which has been waging war on Christians and attacking churches in Nigeria for months, has come out with a statement making it clear that its goal is to eliminate followers of Christ from the region and establish an Islamic state.
“The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state,” Boko Haram stated in no uncertain terms in the statement published by the Osun Defender on Thursday.
“We are responsible for the suicide attack on a church in Jos and also another attack on another church in Biu,” a spokesman for the group, Abul Qaqa, is said to have told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri over the phone. The group was responsible for recent terrorist attacks, in which six people were killed and dozens injured after a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a church in Jos and other Boko Haram gunmen opened fire at worshipers in a church in Biu.
“We launched these attacks to prove the Nigerian security wrong and to debunk their claim that we have been weakened by the military crackdown,” the man added, referring to the Nigerian military fighting back against the group in recent times, managing to kill 19 terrorist gunmen in a shootout last week in the cities of Kano and Maiduguri.
Nigeria, which is largely divided along geographical and religious lines, with most Christians concentrated in the South and Muslims living in the North, has been unable to contain the violence aimed at churches. Boko Haram has killed hundreds of Christians throughout the past year, and despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise to do all he can to push back against the group, they are still very active in the country.
“We will crush them. We will begin from tonight to take different measures, different approach in fighting Boko Haram and we must weed them out from the society,” Jonathan said earlier this year.
In today’s “secular society’ anyone who takes the Bible seriously is usually dismissed as a “religious fundamentalist’ and often grouped with other so-called fundamentalists, especially those who hold to radical Islam. In this way Bible believing Christians are said to be no different from the kind of Muslims who were responsible for the 7/7 bombings in London or indeed Boko Haram terrorists.
There have, at times, been Christian fundamentalists who resorted to violence in the pursuit of their cause. For example, some calling themselves Christians committed murder in their battle against abortion in the USA. The Oklahoma bombers of 1995 were said to have been influenced by extremist “Christian’ militia groups. Both Protestant and Catholic paramilitary organisations were involved in terrorism during the “troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
But those who do such things deny the clear and unambiguous teaching of Jesus who said, “My kingdom is not of this world, otherwise my children would fight”, and who also said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” But the issue is not so clear when it comes to Islam whose founder declared in what is claimed to be a direct word from Allah in Surah 47:4, “So, when you meet those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them).”
If fundamentalism means taking a religious text seriously, then we need more Christian fundamentalism, not less, and the term should be used as a complement reserved for those Christians who are truly following Christ in today’s world. But the term is not used in this way at all.
Through an examination of the Koran, other Islamic texts and the example of the prophet Muhammad, this documentary argues, through a sober and methodical presentation, that violence against non-Muslims is and has always been an integral aspect of Islam. Features interviews with noted experts on Islam including Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Bar Ye’or, Abdullah Al-Araby, and former terrorist Walid Shoebat.
You can watch the full video here
Fundamentalism refers to a tendency said to be found in all major religions today which, not only interprets religious texts literally, but also seeks to implement religious teaching through aggressive political means – the very opposite to the teaching of Jesus who repudiated such politicising of the gospel.
The gospel is about proclamation and persuasion, not coercion or control. In Luke 20:22-25, Jesus separated the claims of church and state showing that state or government had no right to determine the religious views of its citizens.Whenever the church lost sight of this, disaster was not far behind – whether we speak of the efforts of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor, or John Calvin and his attempts to introduce a form of theocracy in Geneva during the Reformation, or the botched attempts of more recent times, such as the efforts of the Right wing Moral Majority to “make society Christian’ through aggressive Christian political campaigning in the USA. Such an approach denies to people created with free will their God-given right to choose their religious beliefs according to their own conscience.
This is why the term “fundamentalist’ does not apply to us, or indeed, most evangelicals in Britain today. While we uphold the “fundamentals’ of the Christian faith, we are not fundamentalist in the modern meaning of the word.
If a Christian is to be called “fundamentalist’ with all the intended negative and derogatory overtones of the word, simply because he or she takes the words of Christ in the Gospels literally, is it right to place that person in the same category as a Muslim “fundamentalist’ who takes the teaching of Muhammad and that of the Qur’an equally seriously?
The issue here is not merely that of sincerity.We ought to give the benefit of the doubt to all so-called fundamentalists and be ready to believe that they may be sincere, at least, even if they are wrong or misguided. But the issue is concerning the truth or viability of their views when tested and subjected to close scrutiny. I would suggest that, without hesitation, any rightminded person would respect the “fundamentalist’ Christian who seeks to take literally the words of Christ where he says,
“…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44).
Or, for that matter the words of St Paul who in Romans 11:14 & 17-19, echoes Christ’s teaching,
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse….Repay no one evil for evil… do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. “
Surely, the same amount of respect should not be shown to those who seek to live their lives by the literal, and natural, understanding of such texts of the Qur’an as, “Those who reject Islam must be killed. If they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them…” Surah 4:89.
This shows that the indiscriminate use of the term “fundamentalist’ to apply to all people of faith who take their religious texts seriously is so superficial as to be intellectually lazy, if not downright dishonest.
These issues are being hotly debated today.With the rise of modern Muslim fundamentalism and its connection to global terror, many both from within Islam and external commentators on these events are at pains to disassociate Islamic extremism from the “true nature of Islam’. Moderate Islam has yet to rise up and prove itself to be the “true Islam’ of the Qur’an and of Islamic history.
This leaves us with the stark differences between Khalifa of Islamist ideology or the kingdom of God as taught by the Christ of the gospels. The choice is simple – you can accept or reject either one or both of these alternatives, but one thing is sure, you cannot with integrity dismiss them both as the empty claims of fanatical or fundamentalist religion.