Fr Ed Tomlinson

We witnessed evil at play in Manchester this week. Children and young people targeted by a depraved man. What darkness must have infested his soul to lead him to this demonic conclusion. And after the prayers and tears a nation is, again, left aghast. Why? Why must we endure these ever frequent horrors of terrorism? Why so much bloodshed and hate?

The answer is, of course, complex. And to answer satisfactorily we must explore various strands that combine to produce the modern terrorist. One strand is undoubtedly Islam itself. Because, leaving aside the millions of peaceful followers which are to its credit, a question remains; why does Islam so dominate the landscape in the production of hate crazed lunatics?

With over 90% of terrorist activity stemming from the Islamic world- there is much for the Muslim community to ponder in seeking a solution and answer to this question. Apologies if this question offends politically correct sensibilities but it is reasonable. And my own Muslim friends acknowledge it. How might we stand by these, the decent Muslims, to denounce the wicked in their ranks?

We must also acknowledge the influence of politics. For there is no doubt that the rise of Wahabi fanaticism is linked to Western meddling in the Middle East. How the media demonise refugees whilst failing to acknowledge that the West created these refugees thanks to bombs we dropped. You cannot wreak havoc and not expect backlash. And as we tend wounds and bury our dead we in the West might ponder how such carnage is now daily reality for Middle Easterners. Why did the Arab Spring, so lauded by the Western press, turn into a desolate winter of suffering not a summer of liberty? Is it not because our real intentions were centred on greed not decency?

Finally let me put a silly (but widely held) supposition to bed. One rife on social media. Namely that religion is to blame for violence. This argument will not do because it does not stand to reason. Firstly because most every conflict was started by politicians not priests.  Religion is just a convenient banner to justify brutality theft and dominance. Only a cretinous grasp of history would deny this.

Secondly if religion were the cause of violence you would produce peace if it was removed. But Pol Pot, Stalin and every other dictator prove, beyond doubt, this is fantasy. History demonstrates atheistic regimes, if anything, produce more death not less. So how can it be religion? So where might we look for peace? Is it even possible given that humanity is the problem not religion?

The answer does exist, though its implementation seems unlikely at present. It can be discerned when we ponder an interesting fact. That the secular atheist has more in common with the militant terrorist than any authentic Christian. I say ‘authentic’ because nominal Christianity, though widespread, is a total sham, it is simply secular atheism wrapped up in Christian clothing.

See both the terrorist and secularist deny that life is sacred. Both endorse, albeit in slightly differing ways, the right to choose- who is worthy of life and who is not. The former dehumanises and then discounts ‘filthy infidels’ where the latter opts for unwanted children in the womb. But both play the same philosophical game. Both claim a right to state which life is worthy and which is not for their own gain.

If you doubt that secularists do this; explain why a foetus of 24 weeks is termed a ‘premature baby’, and given care, on the ward where parents desire the child. But in a different room of the same hospital a foetus of the exact same stage is washed down the sluice every day and deemed to be medical waste? Dress it up however you want, justify it as you like. Nevertheless when you endorse abortion you embrace a philosophy of winners and losers- one in which equality does not exist and death comes at the hands of another.

Whereas the true Christian (and to be fair those of no faith who see the importance of upholding the dignity of life) cannot play this game because they reject the atheistic claim that man is merely a clump of cells fighting for dominance, in the same breath that he/she rejects a fanatics claim that God only loves those of pure creed. Rather the Christian espouses a firm belief in human beings as embodied souls of infinite worth to God. And it is this belief – and this belief alone– that has the capacity to bring peace on earth. A consistent, uncompromising pro-life narrative. Whereby every one is held to be valuable and worthy of dignity from conception to the grave. No exceptions. Life is sacred.

So peace is possible but only if we embrace a belief in the sanctity of life and refuse to dehumanise others. Alas then that both the present Western culture and the lunatic fringe of the Muslim world are a long way from that position at present.  I guess we better prepare to deal with more of the inevitable fallout then, the fallout that comes when humanity is in denial of its true identity. When we refuse to accept that we are all children of God, and brothers and sisters one of the other.

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