By Nancy Pearcey
About 25,000 people were expected at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
Enough to attract a would-be jihadist.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a Somali-born Muslim, hoped to detonate a car bomb that would kill and maim thousands. Fortunately, the FBI was tracking him and the bomb was fake.
Mohamud had told undercover agents that he was planning a “huge mass” of victims, who would be blown up “with their families celebrating the holidays.”
The phrase war on Christmas has taken on chilling new meaning.
Nor is the war limited to the Christmas season. The Hudson Institute recently published an article titled Muslim Genocide of Christians throughout the Middle East.
Written by an Arab Muslim journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, the article says Middle Eastern Christians are an “endangered species.” They are being raped, kidnapped, and killed. Their churches are pillaged, burned, and destroyed.
Tragically, the violence has largely gone unreported in the Western press. The media, Toameh says, have failed to “pay enough attention to the dangers facing the Christians.” They have “turned a blind eye to complaints about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”
Why this selective blindness? Many journalists are influenced by a myopic multiculturalism that is suspicious of anything Western, while giving the benefit of the doubt to non-Western societies.
The irony is that today Christianity is non-Western. We tend to forget that it was born in the Middle East and spread initially through lands that are now Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq.
Those ancient communities—Coptic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite—are now being targeted by Islamicists intent on wiping them out.
That is not multiculturalism, it is murder.
Christianity has also migrated to other non-Western cultures. In Africa, Christians were only 9 percent of the population at the beginning of the twentieth century; now they are 44 percent. South Korea has five of the world’s ten biggest churches. China has close to one hundred million Christians. More Chinese attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party.
Within decades, says historian Philip Jenkins of Penn State, white Western Christians will be only one in five compared to black and brown Christians.
Indigenous people have discovered that Christianity is not inherently Western but universal—“translatable” into any cultural idiom. According to Lamin Sanneh, a former Muslim from Gambia who now teaches at Yale, “Christianity is the religion of over two thousand different language groups.” There are more Christians who “pray and worship in more languages than in any other religion in the world.”
That is genuine diversity.
Yet the same misguided multiculturalism that causes the secularized media to overlook non-Western Christianity also makes them miss the motives of those who oppose it. When the Holy Warriors of Allah attack their Arab Christian neighbors, Western reporters consistently misstate their motives in terms of politics, economics, nationality, or ethnicity.
For example, in 2002 gunmen entered a Christian charity in Karachi, Pakistan, separated the Muslim from the Christian workers, bound and gagged the Christians, and methodically shot them in the head, execution style. “There is no doubt about the motives of the perpetrators,” wrote Daniel Pipes in the National Post, “for militant Islamic groups brazenly speak their minds, declaring their goal ‘to kill Christians’ and afterwards bragging of having ‘killed the nonbelievers’.”
Yet against all the evidence, the New York Times described the bloodletting as an assault on “Western targets” and quoted a police official saying its goal was to drive away “Western business.”
For the blinkered secular mind, religion is merely a mask for other, supposedly more fundamental motives and interests.
This makes no sense, for every worldview, whether religious or secular, expresses an individual’s most fundamental convictions and motivations. As G.K. Chesterton observed, secularism imposes “a taboo” in which “we are free to say that a man does this or that because of his nationality, or his profession, or his place of residence, or his hobby, but not because of his creed about the very cosmos in which he lives.”
That “taboo” prevents journalists and policymakers from recognizing the true nature of events that could alter, for good or ill, the destinies of billions of people.
Some 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, a king declared war on a baby born in Bethlehem. Today in the Middle East, the followers of that child are likewise under attack.
An Al Qaeda group in Iraq recently issued a bulletin declaring, “All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen . . . We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.”
The war on Christmas is a battle in a much broader, more virulent conflict. And with domestic jihadists like Mohamud rising up among us, it could break out at a Christmas celebration near you.