Nicholas Kristof is the New York Times columnist who has gotten himself and his paper sued for smearing former U.S. government scientist Steven Hatfill as the anthrax killer. Kristof urged the FBI to investigate Hatfill when the evidence suggested that Islamic fanatics were behind the anthrax mailings that killed five people. Kristof also went to the defense of Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian, who was indicted as a leader of the murderous Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Finally, Kristof used discredited former Ambassador Joseph Wilson as a confidential source for the claim that President Bush lied about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa. It turns out the President was telling the truth, and Wilson had actually brought back evidence of a proposed deal between Niger and Iraq. Leaving that embarrassment aside, Kristof has now published a column warning that some Christians may have the same mentality as suicide bombers. He says they represent “militant Christianity.”
We normally don’t criticize columnists because their work is supposed to be opinion. But this July 17 Kristof column, “Jesus and Jihad,” was so divorced from reality that it deserves comment. In the column he says some fundamentalist Christians are comparable to Islamic terrorists because of the popularity of the “Left Behind” series of books, which concludes with a book titled “Glorious Appearing” showing Jesus returning to earth and saving Christians and destroying non-Christians. The comparison, on the face of it, is ludicrous. “Left Behind” is science fiction based on one interpretation of scripture. Suicide bombers are real people who blow themselves up to kill others.
In Kristof’s world, however, Christians who read “Left Behind” are helping to “celebrate religious intolerance and violence against infidels,” just like the Islamic terrorists. Not surprisingly, the Kristof column has been republished by Aljazeera.com as evidence of the danger posed by Christians.
Before people come to the conclusion that their neighborhood Christian church may be plotting violence against others, it is important to remember that “Left Behind” leaves the job of judging humanity to God, not man. The extreme notion of Islamic Jihad requires individual people to kill themselves in order to kill others. These people are hailed as “martyrs” who enjoy a fast path to heaven. There is nothing comparable in Christianity.
Kristof says, “I had reservations about writing this column because I don’t want to mock anyone’s religious beliefs, and millions of Americans think ‘Glorious Appearing’ describes God’s will. Yet ultimately I think it’s a mistake to treat religion as a taboo, either in this country or in Saudi Arabia.” Taboo or not, the idea of God judging humanity is not a New Testament phenomenon. In the Old Testament God wipes out humanity during the flood and only saves Noah and his family. Does this mean that Jews or Christians who believe in this account are somehow comparable to Islamic terrorists? Kristof has really gone off the deep end, but this is just the latest column in which he has done so.