The right-wing is quick to condemn all of Islam like it’s a singular entity, and hold every Muslim accountable for the actions of a handful bad apples. As I’ve often said, no one religion — not even Buddhism — has the “right” to claim they’re non-violent. Holy War is one of those things that cuts across all religions equally. And while you can point this out to right-wingers, they won’t listen: they’re quick to invoke Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Sheebab, or some other terrorist agency and pretend they’re the sum total of all Muslims.
Well, there are Christian terrorist agencies that are just as scary, and some of them just as bad if not worse, than ISIS. A few of these you may have heard of, but since our so-called “liberal media” gets cold feet at naming Christian Terrorism what it is, some of them slip under the radar or aren’t as associated with Christian terrorism as they should be in the popular imagination.
8. Lord’s Resistance Army
Active: 1980s-Present, about 30 years
Who are they? The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a Christian Fundamentalist terrorist group originally from Uganda, but now active in the Sudan, the Central African Republic, and other places. Uganda, you may remember, is a hotbed of Christian Fundamentalism, so it makes sense that a group who calls themselves “Christianist” would come from the country. The LRA surfaced in the popular conscious sometime ago when Joesph Kony suddenly became a meme on the internet; up to that point, their main claim to fame is child sex slaves and children soldiers. Indeed, the LRA is known to orchestrate kidnappings, railroading young boys into fighting while forcing young girls into sexual slavery. Those who refused to fight were hacked to pieces. The young girls are forced to be “brides” for the soldiers, and thus helping to spread HIV. They’re especially brutal towards civilians, as well, wiping out entire villages and attacking refugee camps.
The goal of the LRA is pretty straight froward: they want a Bible-based state that uses the Ten Commandments as guide posts. That’s something any right-wing politician or Christianist can sympathize with, right?
7. Ku Klux Klan
Active: 1860s-Present, 149 years
Who are they? These guys don’t need any introduction; every American knows who the Invisible Empire is. The Klan name probably comes from the Ancient Greek ‘κύκλος‘ (kuklos), which means “circle.” There’s a frightening overlap between White Supremacist ideology and Christian terrorism in the Western World, and the Klan is the tip of that iceberg. There’ve actually been three Klans; the first one was formed in 1865, in Pulaski, and drew on former members of the Confederacy Army. They were a vigilante group, and they wore the sheets as a reminder of their fellow Confederates who died (think the classic “sheet ghost” and you’re not far off). Everything about the Klan is geared towards terrorism and psychological war, from the uniform to the cross burning. And while it’s true the Klan got their start as an arm of the Democratic Party, it was back when the Republicans were Theodore Roosevelt and not Sarah Palin, so I dare you to tell a modern Klansman they voted for Barack Obama.
While the Klan started out hunting down and terrorizing freemen and women, that wasn’t their sole target. The Klan is a far right-wing Protestant organization, and being a Protestant organization, they hate Catholics. As a result, Klan has targeted both Catholics and Jews in the (not-so-distant) past. The KKK’s history is so violent, in fact, that many draw a comparison between the KKK and Al Qaeda, although I think that’s an unfair comparison, as I’ll explain below.
6. National Liberation Front of Tripura
Active: 1989 to present, about 30 years
Who are they? You’ve probably heard of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the KKK, but this is a group that I’m pretty sure you haven’t, unless you’re from India. It’s easy for us to forget, as Americans, just how big India is; it’s far more diverse than Europe is, culturally speaking, and it’s roughly the same size. It’s called the “world’s largest democracy” for a reason, but as the United States shows, no democracy is without it’s secessionists. And these folks are just some of the many secessionist organizations in India.
According to their manifesto, the NLFT wants ” to expand the kingdom of God and Christ in Tripura,” and often does so at the point of a gun. They threatened anyone celebrating the Hindu Festival of Durga Puja with death, and are backed by a Baptist Church that’s selling them arms. They’ve orchestrated at least two massacres, and used rape as a tool of intimidation. While the Nayanbasi faction has been shut down, the Biswamohan faction has promised to fight on. So here we have a Christian terrorist group spreading their faith in India “by sword,” metaphorically, and at the point of a gun more prosaically — small wonder we haven’t heard anything about them in the West, huh?
Active: 1990s to present, about 25 years
Who are they? I’ve cited the Central African Genocide in at least two articles now; these are the militia behind that genocide. Their name means “anti-machete” in the Sango and Mandja languages, and they first formed to defend Christians and Animists who were on the receiving end of politically motivated violence carried out by Muslims. As these things often do, the tables turned, and now the Antibalaka is doing what right-wingers only wish they could do: ethnically cleanse their country of all Muslims. This includes children, who they’ve targeted and murdered in the past. Now, the Antibalaka now stand accused of crimes far worse than anything that Séléka, the Muslim rebel group, are guilty of.
4. Catholic Reaction Force/Protestant Action Force
Active: 1983 till 1994; at least 2002 for other groups using the CRF name; 1970s till 1990s for PAF
Who are they? Really, anytime some claims that Christians aren’t violent, all you have to do is direct them to Ireland. I could do a whole entry on what happened in North Ireland, beginning in the 1970s. Americans like to pretend that Eire is Guinness, the Blarney Stone, and leprechauns, but during the 1970s, religious violence a la the Thirty Years’ War was painting the Emerald Isle ruby red. The Irish call this time period The Troubles, and that’s an understatement if there ever was one.
The Provisional IRA is perhaps the best known terrorist agency from the period and would definitely earn their spot on this list, if I weren’t aiming for more obscure groups, but the Catholic Reaction Force and Protestant Action Force were also active and, in the case of the latter, also responsible for a large number of murders. For those who are unfamiliar with the Troubles, it occurred in North Ireland and, as so many European conflicts do, pitted Protestants against Catholics in unmitigated bloodshed. The CRF was behind the Darkley killings, in addition to several mailed bombings in the early 2000s. The PAF, which was far more effective in their killings, has a rap sheet a mile long. You can find it on the Wikipedia page, here.
3. The Orange Volunteers
Active: Early 1970s to Present, about 40 years
Who are they: We’re staying in Ireland for this next group. Fans of science fiction probably remember the Orange Catholic Bible from Frank Herbert’s Dune, but may never have understood why that name was so subversive, or why it was similar to Herbert’s other Coca-Pepsi religious hybrids like Zensunni. Orange is the color of Protestantism in Ireland, and green is the color of Catholicism; when you wear green on St. Patty’s Day, you’re proclaiming your Catholic heritage. The Orange Volunteers, then, are a Protestant terrorist organization.
The OV are Protestant Fundamentalist, and responsible for a number of violent attacks in North Ireland. While the police have been cracking down on the group, the group is still considered to be active and is still terrorizing Catholic citizens and hitting “soft targets.”
2. The Aryan Nations
Active: Unknown, to the Present
Who are they? “The Aryan Nations” is an umbrella agency that nets a large number of White and Christian Supremacist agencies ranging from certain breeds of Neo-Nazi to the KKK itself. It’s heyday was in the 1980s and the 1990s, when various White Nationalist groups would convene at the group’s Idaho compound for their annual congress.
The Aryan Nations got their start in the Christian Identity movement, but has since fractured into no fewer than three factions, with one faction even looking to buddy-buddy with Al-Qaeda in 2005. The Phineas Priesthood is another branch, and they’ve made headlines here on AATTP before. The last faction is the Aryan Nation Revival, which holds to their Christian Identity heritage like small-town Conservatives cling to their guns and Bibles.
1. The Christian Identity Movement
Active: 1920/1930s to Present, about 95 years
Who are they? When you’re dealing with White Nationalism and White Supremacy in the United States, it’s turtles all the way down, but you can almost certainly find God at the top of the heap. That’s what the Christian Identity Movement is; it’s not necessarily an organization so much as it is a loose affiliation of organizations like the Aryan Nations.
The Christian Identity Movement is a very weird movement; they actually have hostile relations with Evangelicals and other charismatic Protestants — not because they’re racist bigots, no; it’s because the CIM is Post-Millennial, where the vast majority of Evangelicals are Pre-Millennial. This distinction is lost on anyone who hasn’t studied the Scofield-Derby Heresies, but the basic idea is that the Tribulation has already occurred and the goal is to build up the world to the second coming. Their theology is just as skewed, though; for instance, members of the CIM believe that non-Caucasians don’t have souls, and therefore, can’t be saved.
The CIM is made up of various Christian terrorist organizations, like Americans Promise Ministries, who are responsible for terrorist attacks and bank robberies; the aforementioned Aryan Nations; the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord; the Oklahoma Constitution Militia; and the South African Groups that were behind the 2002 Soweto bombings.
This group is why I consider the comparison between the KKK and Al-Qaeda to be unfair. The CIM is a worldwide movement, with adherents across the Commonwealth and former-Commonwealth Countries, as well as the United States, and is responsible for ideologically motivated terrorism. This, I think, makes the Christian Identity Movement a much better comparison to Al-Qaeda than the KKK.
So this is it?
Nope. There are hundreds more. I mentioned a few of them in the article — the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, the Oklahoma Constitution Militia, and the Provisional IRA are just a few who didn’t get entries but deserve noting anyway. By now it should be apparent to anyone watching that Christian Terrorism is a thing, it exists, and it’s just as bad and widespread as Islamic Terrorism. The only difference between Christian Terrorism and Islamic terrorism is that Christian Terrorism never makes the evening news.