Thursday, April 16, 2015

The President's Topic for Another Day

What it took to make mention of Christians.

“On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less-than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that’s a topic for another day.”

These words were spoken by our president at a gathering of clergy. Just four days earlier he offered a written statement to the people of Kenya following the massacre at a college. Here’s a small part of his letter:

“This much is clear: the future of Kenya will not be defined by violence and terror; it will be shaped by young people like those at Garissa University College – by their talents, their hopes, and their achievements. “

That much was clear. What seemed to be unclear, or at least unmentionable was that this was an attack against Christians by Muslim extremists. Here on this blog, I’ve addressed viewing all Muslims as terrorists. I know they’re not all out to kill Christians. But some of them are, and the members of al-Shabab who came to Garissa were among that classification. The president’s statement appeared to suggest the “scourge of terrorism” had no defined agenda.

In a radio broadcast soon after the attack, a spokesman for al-Shabab claimed elected leaders are using the university in their “plan to spread Christianity and infidelity.” Sending a clear message to the Kenyan government, the terrorists went from dorm to dorm separating Christians from Muslims. The Christians were lined up and executed. One hundred forty-seven of them.

The president not only failed to mention the religion of the victims, he did not identify the murderers as Muslim. They were just a bunch of weapon-wielding thugs attacking a bunch of book-toting kids. I’ll admit that’s bad enough, no matter who died at the hands of these killers. It was horrible. Victims, according to some reports, were brutalized beyond recognition. But it's no secret al-Shabab had particular victims in mind. Would the same vague message of hope and promise have gone out if the terrorists were Christians and the victims were…anyone at all?

It’s not the first failure to fully recognize the victims and appropriately identify the killers. After an attack on a Kenyan quarry in December ended the lives of thirty-six Christians, the White House issued a similar statement. Plenty of sorry and support. No mention of the religious affiliation of either the dead people, or of the killers who separated Christians from their Muslim co-workers and murdered them. Since April of 2013, over 400 Kenyan Christians have been slaughtered by al-Shabab. This latest attack made headlines. For a day or two. And it required a sympathy card from the president.

Perhaps the message to a nation grieving the loss of murdered young people shouldn’t be filled with pointing fingers and flying arrows. Maybe it should just express sorrow and hope. Yes, maybe it was enough to offer condolence without making a truthful statement about what really happened.

But if it was enough, didn’t that meeting the president addressed only days later deserve the same respect? He could have just thanked the attendees for their good work. For their charity. Even for their love. He could have spoken a peaceful blessing. Instead, he threw a punch. As a Christian, he says he’s supposed to love. If he speaks the truth, he ought to love his own people—Christians—a little more expressively. His heart ought to be cut a little deeper for his fellow believers who are persecuted and murdered. And as the leader of this formerly Christian nation, he ought to call it what it is. If not in his sympathy note, then at least at this meeting where the attendees were primarily Christian.

I don’t know every word spoken at the meeting. I only know the president’s Christian love critique became of matter of public discussion. I hope he also mentioned those who were recently slaughtered in Kenya. That they died because they followed Christ. That their selection was not random.

I hope he was able to express enough love for the family of God to speak the truth.


No comments:

Post a Comment