Massacring Christians – Who Cares?
Last Sunday we had a wonderful Christian woman speak to us in St Peters who lives and works in Peshawar, Pakistan. Her love for the Pashtun people and culture shone through, as did her love for Jesus. They married together beautifully – so much so that the man leading the service was so moved he found it difficult to pray. Leaving church yesterday morning I received a message from a British Pakistani Christian saying that two suicide bombers had killed over 50 people leaving a church in that very same city – Peshawar. At first I found it difficult to believe – not least because when I want to check it on the BBC website it was not even mentioned. In fact I responded to my informant by asking ‘are you sure?’ Sadly he was telling the truth. You can read about it here –
Two suicide bombers who thought they were doing the will of Allah killed 81 people including many children. 81 men, women and children killed as they left church! Can you imagine the horror and hellishness of that? And yet if you live in the West, if you blink you will have missed it. 24 hours later I look at the BBC, CNN and Sky and there is no mention of this on any of their front pages. We have wall-to-wall coverage of the horror in Kenya, where Islamic extremists have targeted a shopping mall in Nairobi, telling Muslims they are safe but executing non-Muslims, but nothing about Pakistan. I was so horrified by both events I was stunned into silence. But the silence from the British media on the church bombing is different. It is a silence that speaks volumes and deserves comment. I have just finished listening to BBC radio news and am now watching the News at One (on I player), even as I write. Not a single mention. We of course have Kenya (as we should). We also have the Labour party conference, Rolf Harris, Global warming, Angela Merkel, the Emmy awards, and the England cricket squad. But not a word about the massacre in Pakistan. Not a single word. The BBC should be thoroughly ashamed. I am glad I don’t pay my licence fee.
Likewise the silence from the British government. They have recalled an emergency committee of the Government. David Cameron even came home from holiday at Balmoral to deal with this emergency. But not a word about Pakistan. I cannot help but wonder why? And why is it that the continuing massacre of Christians and others in Iraq (suicide bombers in Iraq killed 96 people over the weekend) and Syria hardly causes anyone to bat an eyelid. I think there are a whole lot of factors at play here.
Firstly the Kenyan massacre is much more televisual. There is an on-going drama and the images are graphic. Even more so because they take place in a Western style shopping mall – we can understand that. We recognise that. We can empathise. Maybe a whole lot more than we can empathise with a bunch of poor Pakistani Christians in Peshawar. Apparently attacking a church is now no longer shocking; attacking a temple of materialism is.
The Christians in Pakistan are largely the poorest of the poor. Those shopping in the brand new mall were not. There is the fact that those in charge of news communication themselves have agendas which determine the narratives they portray. For example let us suppose that a bomb had been outside an abortion clinic and killed many people, does anyone imagine that it would not have been the headline news?
Maybe its simple parochial nationalism? 4 Britons were killed in Kenya – none, as far as we know in Peshawar. Maybe its because there are uncomfortable questions that we don’t want to face up to? It is British and American policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan that has had a devastating effect on local minority groups, especially Christians. When John Kerry spoke about ‘not going to war’ in Syria because we were just going to drop a few bombs and no American lives would be put at risk, he was admitting the cowardice of current Western policy. Those who bombed the church have used the excuse of American drone attacks. You can understand that. If you cannot fight back against the ‘death from the sky’ what will you do? Seek to punish other people, other non-Muslims. Every time a controller sits in a nice warm room and presses a button which kills people, every time President Obama rejoices that he has been able to fight for our values without risking American lives, perhaps he can think of the lives that are risked elsewhere. Killing always has consequences. But maybe those other lives don’t matter so much? They are certainly not as politically valuable.
The Darwinian biologist Bill Hamilton once declared that he would grieve more over the death of a single giant panda, that he would over the deaths of ‘one hundred unknown Chinese’. Perhaps there is something of that attitude amongst our politicians and media manipulators? They don’t value the lives of poor Pakistani Christians as much as they do the lives of our ‘own’ people. Thankfully the God of all justice is no respecter of persons. He cares for all. He especially cares for those who are the apple of his eye. The Islamic militants will have to answer, not to the BBC or the British and American governments, but to the Judge of all the earth – who will do right. Always. How long, O Lord, how long? Meanwhile we weep with those who weep, ask Him to break the arm of the wicked man and pray that justice would come for the poor – especially in Pakistan. Unless the Lord changes hearts we will live in hell.
I remember this afternoon my friend heading back to Pakistan, to the people from whom this horrendous religious evil has come. I am delighted that rather than sending a missile to punish, kill and show power, we are sending a woman to share the love of Jesus Christ. A woman who wants to do that not as some kind of religious mission to earn her passage into heaven, not out of some sense of cultural superiority, but simply because she loves Him, and she loves the Pashtun people.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Christian Martyrdom is different from Islamist Martyrdom. Christians don’t kill for Jesus. We die for him. And we live for him. There is no other hope and no other way. Lord have mercy.