A hostage drill at a New Jersey high school, which was intended to prepare the school for a Columbine-style crisis, portrayed the gunmen as fundamentalist Christians. In the drill, which took place on March 22 in Burlington Township, police detectives portrayed two men who went to the school to supposedly seek justice because the daughter of one of them had been expelled for praying before class.
According to an article in the local paper:
Two Burlington Township police detectives portrayed the gunmen. Investigators described them as members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the “New Crusaders” who don’t believe in separation of church and state. The mock gunmen went to the school seeking justice because the daughter of one had been expelled for praying before class.
The article doesn’t use the word “Christian,” but clearly it has conservative Christians in mind. Don’t think that you can ignore this because you don’t consider yourself a fundamentalist. To those on the liberal left, anyone who accepts the core beliefs of the historic Christian faith and believes in moral absolutes is a “fundamentalist.” This event is very disturbing on a number of levels.
- Why portray Christians as the terrorists? Why not just use generic terrorists? When was the last time you can remember Christians going on a shooting rampage because of an attack on their faith? The article implies that these fictional Christians are not merely individuals who have mental problems, but part of an organized group that advocates the use of violence. This exercise is insidious, because it suggests the possibility that there are groups of conservative Christians who might act in this way.
- Christians have a legal right to pray before or after school. Why would someone be expelled for praying? Is that a scenario that the school administrators envisions for the future? The school administrators must know that praying before or after school is a legally protected right.
- Calling the gunmen part of a group called “New Crusaders” is very telling. Using the word “Crusaders” conjures up the image of a radical Christian group that advocates military conquest in the name of Christ. What evidence is there that such groups exist? There are some fundamentalist Muslim groups that advocate killing innocent people in the name of God, but I have not heard of any Christian ones. The Crusades were a long time ago.
But I think the reason for evoking this image is to create a climate of fear in which it will be easier to legislate restrictions on Christians who believe in absolutes. This is the “Red Scare” of the 21st century. If you watch carefully, you can see this theme played out again and again in the media. “Watch out for those crazy Christians! They are a threat to society!”
- Did you notice that this fictional Christian group is described as people “who don’t believe in separation of church and state.” Why is that in there? Most fundamentalist groups that I have heard of want to keep as far away from the government as possible. They are big believers in the separation of church and state. But this fictional group apparently wants to practice their faith in public, and that is very frightening to those on the political left. Perhaps the underlying message behind this exercise is that we must be careful to keep religion (at least conservative religion) out of the public sector, or else this sort of thing might happen. This is more of the big “Red Scare” tactic.
It seems apparent to me that the person who created the text for this exercise has little real understanding of the Christian faith. But the underlying assumptions and attitudes reveal a person who has a fear of Christians who believe in absolutes, and wants to do whatever possible to “keep them in their place.” According to a report on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the public safety director responsible for the drill was very apologetic and said that he didn’t have any particular religious group in mind. But his words in the text of the exercise indicate otherwise, and reveal his apology as nothing more than damage control.
What if the exercise had used a radical Muslim group instead of Christians? Suppose that the incident that touched off the violence was the school’s insistence that one of their daughters not wear a head covering at school? I am not suggesting that such a scenario would be a good idea, but imagine the kind of press that it would receive. Many would be outraged by the stereotyping of Muslims as violent. People would demand that whoever was responsible should be disciplined or fired. But since the target was Christians, there was no outcry from the major media. Apparently it is alright to slander Christians.
The problem is that Christians tend to be far too passive about this sort of thing. But we dare not let these false pictures of conservative Christianity go unchallenged. If enough people begin to believe that conservative Christians are this sort of threat, then we will continue to lose our freedoms.
Don’t let this issue die. Bloggers need to keep the heat on until the big media takes note. Let’s make our voice heard!