Julie Burchill attests to “trying hard to be a Christian” and she’s loving it.
“I believe, literally, in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understand as the Lord of the Jews and the Protestants. I’m a Christian Zionist, as well as a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist. But over the past two decades, almost without me knowing it, the Christian part has become the most important.”
But because Julie Burchill is the world’s leading expert on “Julie Burchill”, her exploration of the motivation that drives a Christian Zionist such as she, seems less to do with the Love of Christ than the hatred of secularists, atheists and Muslims.
“When one considers the shocking plight of British Muslims who seek to convert to Christianity, it seems to me quite offensive that Christianity should be dismissed by Dawkins and his like in the same breath as Islam.”
To see the transfiguration of Julie Burchill from foul-mouthed enfant terrible to foul-mouthed curtain twitcher is to go from the sublime to the irrational. A searing indictment of what the pressures of middle class conformism can do to even our heroes.
Why she should think an atheist should logically place religion A to be qualitatively of a higher order than religion B because it is harder to convert from B to A is anyone’s guess. However, if you consider that Dawkins approves of Patrick Sookhdheo’s tendentious views on Islam in spite of being an evangelical fundamentalist Christian in The God Delusion, you can forgive Burchill for being confused.
Although following Burchill’s confessions from Punk to Protestant Frump will no doubt turn into a long and depressing tale, which you will be happy to learn that I will no longer dwell on, Theo Hobson’s response to it is to write an ingratiating “thumbs up” to Julie. Hobbs is a Christian blogger who has in the past written some thoughtful and thought provoking articles. But here he is happy to validate Burchill except his response to the quote (above) is very bizarre,
“Also, I sympathise with your observation that Richard Dawkins is wrong to lump Christianity and Islam together. But â€“ whoah! â€“ let’s tread carefully here. If there’s one monotheism that stands out from the three, it’s not Islam for being violent: it’s Christianity for being non-violent.”
Theo Hobbs must have never heard of the violence that is replete in early Christian history. For a start, he must have forgotten about the unlovely events of Pope Gregory’s Inquisitions. Was he asleep during the lectures on Christian history of the last four hundred years which included the millions upon millions of deaths of Europeans during the Reformation, the treatment of pagans and Wiccans. And wherefore the Christian roots of the Nazi Holocaust?
And as for Christianity’s modern history, the American “Culture Wars” may have produced it’s first anti-secular, anti-liberal Christian suicide killer who left behind a gut-wrenching manifesto of hate. These are the words of Jim Adkisson who opened fire on 200 people in a church because he hated the fact that he thought his country was being taken over by “liberal chickenshit”, homosexuals, communists and socialists. For him, it was an act borne out of hopelessness but rooted in patriotism and religious extremism.
“Don’t let the word church mislead you.” he wrote “It isn’t a church, it’s a cult. They don’t even believe in God. They worship the god of secularizm (sic). These sick people aren’t liberals, they’re ultra-liberals. This is a collection of sicko’s weirdo’s and homo’s.” (‘sic)
Andrew Brown deals with the awful story of Jim Adkisson. The conclusion he brings together is worth repeating,
“But the really worrying element of his story is that there’s so little that is special about his hate-filled rhetoric against the “liberals”. You could find it all over the right-wing bits of the Internet, and even here you find the use of “liberal” to mean “traitor”. I think this is worth bearing in mind, especially by Guardian readers, when we look at the fuss about defining extremist Islamist rhetoric. There are millions of people who listen to hate radio in the US, and very few of them have ever killed any liberals. Similarly, there are at least hundreds of thousands of people who have heard flaming Islamists denunciations of the wicked West in Britain and hardly any of them have killed anybody as a result. You need more than propaganda to become a homicidal lunatic. But without propaganda the suicide killers would never have gone mad in the way that they did.”
Although Britain probably has a lot less ‘hate filled rhetoric against liberals’ floating around the public radio networks or other forms of public access media, that is not to say it does not lurk in a postcode near you. Harry’s Place regular, Edmund Standing, posted a superb research piece on British Fascists and ‘Christian’ racism well worth reading:
That BNP members are promoting racialised forms of Christianity should be of great concern to us all. Colin Farquhar’s connection to Alan Campbell, an extremist who promotes the writings of ‘Christian Identity’ preachers, is particularly worrying. The violence associated with Christian Identity teachings has so far largely been confined to America, but if such ideas take hold among Britain’s fascists this could become genuinely dangerous.
In April 1999, a former BNP member made contact with Christian Identity groups in America and visited the website of Kingdom Identity Ministries, a ‘church’ that promotes the teachings of, amongst others, Bertrand Comparet and Sheldon Emry. That same month, this former BNP member carried out three nail bombing attacks in London, killing 3 people and injuring 129. This man was, of course, David Copeland.
Secularists, liberals and religious moderates of all stripes can and should unite to fight against religious extremism in all the monotheistic religions. The only way to convince the extremists that their confrontational approach to the “other” is not necessary; that the threat mentality of those who think only about their own survival and are obsessed with catastrophe and conspiracy can backfire; and that only those can truly prosper over the long run who can transcend their own self-centered interests in order to develop an opportunity mentality together with those who are no longer merely the “other” but now are a single pluralist community.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Terrorism,The BNP