Following · Frienemies · General

The New Taliban

Fill in the blanks:

“I left the Azov because it was full of pagans. Committed ___________ in the Azov were not allowed to stop to pray throughout the day – I needed a unit of _________, a closely knit unit of committed _________ warriors. When two of three __________ gather around, they have God with them, and victory is guaranteed to be with us.” (source: www.aljazeera.com)

We are so accustomed to seeing these types of statements from Muslim radicals that, likely, if you’ve been reading or paying attention to news from America over the last 15 years, you automatically inserted ‘Muslim’ and ‘Muslims’ into the blanks. I wouldn’t blame you.

The reality is perhaps surprising to you. In Ukraine, a small-but-growing militia has formed that is determined to fight Russia forever, until “European traditions and the…mindset of the 13th century” are finally set in place. Again, this sounds a lot like the good ol’ Taliban that we associate with everything from oppression of women and Sharia Law to terrorism and bin Laden. And, you’re right. It does sound like the Taliban.

You’re also wrong… these guys are Christians.

“The enemy – the forces of darkness – they have all the weapons, they have greater numbers, they have money. But our soldiers are the bringers of European traditions and the Christian mindset of the 13th century. We represent the side of light against the dark side. Putin supporters are representatives of the devil.” ~ Vitaly Chomly

Or are they?

That’s our typical response to these types of stories. Whether we are Muslims, Christians, Jews, or otherwise, we typically put distance between ourselves and “those guys over there”. We do this by questioning the faith of those we disagree with or who represent us in a bad light. “They aren’t really Christians”, or “They are really Muslims”, or “They aren’t really Jews”. I’ve often heard Muslims say that when they see an act of terrorism, they say to themselves, “Please don’t let it be a Muslim”. That’s our natural response.

That is, we respond in this way if we even respond at all. More typically, we just ignore these types of stories. We don’t want to dignify the story even with a response. So we say nothing.

But, I’m not sure how helpful that is, especially for those who are choosing to take a radical posture that is cloaked with religion. How do we love the radical into a new way of being in the world? We definitely don’t do it by ignoring that they exist.

Whether or not this is true, silence is seen as agreement.

So, read this article (“Christian Taliban’s Crusade on Ukraine’s Front Lines”), posted on Al Jazeera today. Al Jazeera, if you don’t know, is the premier news source for the entire Eastern hemisphere. The majority of the world’s Muslims live in the East, and many look to Al Jazeera for their news.

How do you want people to read and interpret this story?

Speaking on behalf of only myself, I do not condone the choices to organize a militia that is so closely tied to a religion, especially Christianity. Militias and Christianity don’t have anything to do with one another. No matter how many Christians tell you that Jesus was violent or condoned violence, he didn’t and he doesn’t. These guys, who through their admiration for the Taliban have decided to conduct a new Crusade (against Russia), are Christians, but their decision has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus pursued peace (shalom), and encouraged us to be peacemakers, not warlords or crusaders.

Forming a militia is understandable, given the Ukrainian situation.

Forming a Christian militia is an oxy-moron, a logical impossibility.

I, for one, do not want people, my Muslim friends, cousins, and neighbors, to read the headline and conclude that Christians are starting the Crusades again. I also want my Christian brothers and sisters to know that we are not immune to radicalism related to our religion. It serves no one for us to deny that these guys in the Ukraine are Christians because they like the way the Taliban went about practicing their faith in God.

We all have baggage. There are crazy people in our religion, as well as in every other religion. Those crazy people don’t speak for us, so long as we speak up and speak out against what is wrong in what they are doing. Let’s all raise up our collective voices against violence in the name of religion, no matter the context, and place our feet firmly on the pathway of peace.

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5 thoughts on “The New Taliban

  1. My grandmother immigrated from Simferopol which is in the area of fighting and persecution. Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA) is owned by Qatar, not considered by most in Europe or the West as an objective source.
    While Al Jazeera Reports the story you quote, a quick search of reputable Christian sources provide stories of mass persecution of Christians by the Russians. Some respond in passive resistance, some plead for military help to rescue them. The tone of anger with which you often present your view of Christians, here and in foreign countries, cause me to wonder if you harbor hostility within.
    Rather than search to find reasons to be hostile toward Christians, let us work to rescue and support our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in perilous situations .

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    1. I appreciate that you keep following along to my various blogs. What you seem to miss is that the language and motivation of the “Christian Taliban” is un-Christian. If you read the whole blog, you certainly read that I said organizing a militia is understandable. A “Christian” militia is a misuse of the word “Christian”.
      All news is biased. The point of bringing up Al Jazeera was to illustrate that, whether or not YOU think its a reputable news source (which it is), much of the East does. Do you want Crusader language to be said by Christians and heard by those most charged up by such language? Do you think that the Christian Taliban is a good thing? I am NOT HOSTILE TOWARDS CHRISTIANS, and I have no idea how you come to that conclusion. I appreciate that you do read, and I hope that you actually are transformed by hope that the way of Jesus is the way forward to actually seeing change in this world. Christian Taliban’s are anti-Christ. I have my doubts that your motivation is anything beyond being a naysayer, however. Again, if you’d like to get together to actually talk about what you perceive to be my issues on things, I am open to that conversation.

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  2. I just returned and found your reply. My comments were written in an effort to show you targeted an isolated Issue rather than highlight the true problem in that area. And what about other areas?Now that the Christians are nearly non existent in the Mideast could you please plead for the worlds attention to their suffering at the hands of Muslims?
    I responded in hopes to reveal to others the greater problems ignored by your mission.
    Also, does the natural progression of your pacifism lead to the elimination of local police forces?

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  3. Thanks Barbara. My words about the ‘Christian Taliban’ and the militia claiming that Christ will be with them wherever two or three warriors/extremists are gathered were focused on that particular story. I wrote about how the world would perceive the words written by Al Jazeera regarding this story. I asked that people would distance themselves from extremism in their own religions, not by denying the faith of the extremist, but by pointing out that their misuse of religious symbols for political and military motivation are a misuse also of religion itself.
    We, the Church, are not on earth to protect ourselves primarily, but to give ourselves for the benefit of the world. I refuse to get into an us vs. them conversation about what is going on in the Middle East, mostly because that’s what ISIS would like. They would like us to get religiously riled up. What I am doing and will continue to try to do is to elevate the conversation to seeking ways to live and work towards peace together, despite the intentions of the terrible few.
    Pacifism is not something that can be legislated, so there cannot be a natural progression of pacifism that affects local governance. I am pacifistic, I believe Jesus was and called all of us to be, but I don’t expect that governments and societies will become pacifistic at a local or national level. If we all were seeking peace at all costs, there would be no need for local police. That desire starts with us, not lawmakers.

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