Don’t assume the Marathon bomber was a white Christian

During periods when we understandably react emotionally to an abominable act of terror like the Boston Marathon bombing, it is important not to make hasty assumptions based upon stereotypes.

It is, for example, easy to assume that the perpetrators might be white Christians because of sensational acts of terrorism like the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, the 2012 Sikh temple massacre in Wisconsin, the 2012 Aurora movie theater massacre, the 2011 Seal Beach massacre, the 2008 Northern Illinois University shootings, the 1999 Columbine School massacre, and of course the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. However, we must not rush to the conclusion that white Christian culture is at fault, nor hide in fear of Christianity or of people whose skin is lighter than ours just because of a minority of evildoers who happen to come from that community.

It is true that one can point to the violent words of some Christian leaders and their followers who predict and advocate the eradication of nonbelievers and extreme intolerance toward persons of other races and religions. However, the majority of white Christians have long condemned such interpretations of their religion as corrupt, and have spoken out against racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazis. We must not treat them as if they are all cut from the same cloth.

It is also true that most of the owners of assault weapons in the U.S. are white Christians. However, a majority of Christians own no guns at all. Similarly, one might cite the violent sports in which many white Christians engage, like American football and ice hockey, or their love of violent films. However, this fails to recognize the diversity within the white Christian community, and the many Christians that abhor violence.

White Christians have challenges that they need to address, and it is incumbent upon the rest of us to show understanding and support as they deal with these struggles. For this reason, it is necessary to keep an open mind, to realize that not all white Christians are the same, and that no community should be judged by its worst elements. To assume that the Boston Marathon bomber is a white Christian is therefore to allow our deepest prejudices to cloud our judgment when we are in greatest need of moral clarity. Let us hope we are better than that.

Author: Barb Weir

Barb Weir is the pseudonym of a writer and social justice advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

10 thoughts on “Don’t assume the Marathon bomber was a white Christian

  1. Thank you for this information, Joseph. I know that white Christians have abused, persecuted, enslaved and massacred native Americans, Chinese, Filipinos, hispanics and other non-whites, but thank you for letting me know that it includes African Americans, as well.

    On the other hand, I know at least three white Christians that have abused none of these groups. Okay, one is an albino and another is a Carmelite nun…well, at least one, I think.

  2. As an African American, I too have been a victim of white Chritianity — in fact, decended from people who have been victims of white Christianity and white Christian terrorism for centuries! In our case, millions of people mass kidnapped from our Motherland and put into *intergenerational* forced labor camps, brutally worked from, at the least, sunup to sunset, until we died (except for the relative few who were lucky to eventually escape). After those camps incidentally all fell in a major civil war between loving white Christians themselves, my people were still victims of often state-sanctioned vengeful white Christian terrorists groups.

    In other people’s cases, the native people’s of said people’s respective lands, directly genocided or semi-genocided, from the European Christian’s original discovery of non-European lands in the “Americas”, to colonial wars on the African continent, to modern genocidal wars on the Asian continent (East, Southeast, & Southwest), to the white imperialist Christian support for yet another largely European, modern-day, settler-colonial state in Palestine!

    In my own case, a victim of the particular bigotries of the Roman Catholic church — a virtual, international, multicontinental, child sexual abuse *syndicate*, although luckily I didn’t fall victim to that particular kind of abuse — run by a Christian *male-supremacist* city-state, where, of course, “God” was a “white European”, as well as all the saints, and even all the seraphim (the angels)& cherubim (those little, cute, chubby babies floating around on wings).

    And now I can’t even go to see a major new movie release, when the theater is likely to be packed, without first thinking twice and then checking for all the exits and the best shielded escape route out away from some white Christian terrorist, if I go there.

    Still you are right, Barb Weir: let not my deepest, longtime knowledge and experiences in, or by, *this* country, and who the *typical* mass murderers are in, and by, *this* country, cause me not to keep an open mind on *not* jumping to the conclusion that the Boston massacre (and some people say possibly in Texas now) is yet another example of white Christian terrorism.

  3. Encouraging responses! Regardless of the hate that spews from the mouths of some Christian preachers, I do not believe that Christianity is a religion of hate, or indeed that there is any religion based on hate.

  4. Thank you, Barb, for your comforting words. As a White (formally) Christian man, I have had to endure a lifetime of discrimination at the hands of the minority power structure in this country. Being a white man in the USA has been a cross for me to bear all my life. But , with the support of understanding people like you, it gives me hope for a brighter future!

  5. It's true that I HAD rushed to judgment, assuming that the perpetrator was a white supremacist "Christian" of the OKC bombing stripe. But for now I'll take a step back.

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