Was Jesus a terrorist?

The following was originally a reply to a site called "Jesus was a terrorist" which seems now to have disappered in a .com version (a .net version seems to be more of a Christ-myth venue). Thus I have trimmed this essay a bit, since the claims are recopied by other sites.

One source for that site was a book titled "Apollonius the Nazarene" by one "Dr. R. W. Bernard, B.A., M.A., Ph.D." While this was about Apollonius of Tyana as a copycat Christ, it is noteworthy what else was written by Barnard.

This is taken from a Skeptical site (the critical parts of which I have confirmed in other sources):

In 1964, Raymond W. Bernard, an esotericist and leader of the Rosicrucians published The Hollow Earth - The Greatest Geographical Discovery in History Made by Admiral Richard E. Byrd in the Mysterious Land Beyond the Poles - The True Origin of the Flying Saucers. The book is out-of-print but available on the Internet. Bernard also authored Flying Saucers from the Earth's Interior. His real name was Walter Seigmeister. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "Theory and Practice of Dr. Rudolf Steiner's Pedagogy" (New York University, 1932). In his Letters from Nowhere, Bernard claims to have been in contact with great mystics in secret ashrams and with Grand Lamas in Tibet. He was, in short, another Gurdjieff. Dr. Bernard "died of pneumonia on September 10, 1965, while searching the tunnel openings to the interior of the Earth, in South America."* Bernard seems to have accepted every legend ever associated with the hollow Earth idea, including the notions that the Eskimos originated within the Earth and an advanced civilization dwells within even now, revving up their UFOs for occasional forays into thin air. Bernard even accepts without question Shaver's claim that he learned the secret of relativity before Einstein from the Hollow Earth people.

So before you take Bernard's word about "one of the most colossal frauds and deceptions in the annals of history" being perpetrated at the Council of Nicea, and his account of alleged textual changes there that removed things like vegetarianism from the original Gospels (using Gideon Ouseley as his source) make sure you read the word on it from a more credible source.

The site also made use of an editorial by Dan Barker identifying Timothy McVeigh as a Catholic. For a corrective to such, we have this from an online columnist, from a link now defunct:

On the two great state occasions McVeigh had, at his sentencing and his execution, Jesus made no appearance in his rhetoric. At the sentencing, McVeigh quoted from Louis Brandeis' 1928 decision: "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example." McVeigh's last public act before he was executed was to distribute copies of the 1875 poem "Invictus." It begins: "I thank whatever gods may be/ for my unconquerable soul," and ends "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul" -- sentiments that to a Christian are at least vaguely blasphemous....In a letter to the Buffalo News and in conversations with author Dan Herbeck, McVeigh said he had no firm convictions about an afterlife: "And he told us that when he finds out if there's an afterlife, he will improvise, adapt and overcome, just like they taught him in the Army," Herbeck said.

In May 2001, Esquire published 13 letters of McVeigh's. In them, he portrays himself variously as a patriot, a lover of "The Simpsons," a "Star Trek junkie," a fan of the movie "Unforgiven," a reader of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," an enthusiastic consumer of Hustler and Penthouse magazines. His only direct religious reference (other than a Christmas card) was a letter dated April 11, 1998: "Yesterday was Good Friday; tomorrow is Easter; and it's been so long since I've been to church (except Christian Identity) (kidding!)."

Another source now offline added:

For example, there is the book American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (ReganBooks, 2001) written by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, who are staff reporters for the Buffalo News in New York...Michel and Herbeck also tell how during the Gulf War McVeigh lied about attending church: "On Sunday mornings, the recruits were required to either attend church services or spend an hour cleaning the barracks. McVeigh, an agnostic, chose to clean the barracks until he found out that nobody took attendance at church. One Sunday, he signed up for church and just slipped away from the rest of his platoon. He found a field of tall grass and lay there, a little worried about snakes, but enjoying the opportunity to relax in solitude. The following Sunday, McVeigh signed up for church again. This time, he sneaked into an old abandoned barracks to kill time."...Michel and Herbeck say that McVeigh would tell friends, "Science is my religion." To worship at the altar of science is, of course, idolatry and not Christianity.

Finally, in an interview, Lou Michel told me: No, Tim McVeigh was not a Christian - "though he acknowledged the possibility of a higher power. But, he didn't accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, so far as I know." Michel notes that, at the end, McVeigh did pray with a chaplain and receive the anointing of the sick, known as the last rites in the Roman Catholic Church. "But," says Michel, "I think he was just covering his bases." He didn't ask for the last rites until they were offered to him. Whether McVeigh really repented and had a true conversion no one can know. But either way, the event happened long after he had committed - as a non-Christian - his act of terror in Oklahoma City. . .'

The main claim of the site: "the Book of Exodus is where God himself became a terrorist". The site first defined terrorism from the dictionary as, "the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons". So when the colonists dumped tea in Boston harbor they were "terrorists"? (the unlawful use of force by an organized group against property to coerce government, after all).

The critic has three options: 1) Condemn the colonists that gave him the freedom he enjoys today; 2) admit that under certain circumstances, "terrorism" is indeed justified; 3) admit that the dictionary is defining the word too broadly.

I can take either 2 or 3 (see interesting discussion here); others define terrorism in terms of attacks on innocent civilian populations, but in that case, even Hiroshima was a terrorist act, and in the ancient world, every person was a soldier or a supporter of the society they lived in, so that this is still too vague to be of any use.

We leave the matter of definition aside at any rate, because the site's purpose was to prove that Moses/God are no different than Osama/Allah, and to this end, raised a series of parallels:

  • (Moses)Upbringing: raised as a privileged Egyptian by wealthy adoptive parents with powerful connections.
  • (Osama) Upbringing: raised as a member of Saudi Arabia's business elite, by a wealthy family with powerful business and political connections

    By itself this is an irrelevant point. It's like trying to establish connections between Lincoln and Kennedy (see here, and being raised in a situation of wealth and power has nothing to do with proving a person is or was a terrorist.

  • Grievances: Hebrews are oppressed and treated as a slave race by Egypt, the leading economic and military superpower at the time. Male Hebrew children were supposedly killed in large numbers around the time of Moses' birth
  • Grievances: Arabs are oppressed and live in economic poverty despite their vast oil riches, except for those who prostitute themselves to American interests (the wealthy ruling families). Millions of Arabs in Palestine are oppressed and brutalized by an occupying army, and denied access to education. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children are being indirectly killed by American sanctions

    This yet again is a meaningless parallel. Numerous peoples have had "grievances" ("the British are taxing us too much"); the issue is, are the grievances valid, and then, is the reaction a necessary one? This requires evaluation of the validity of grievances for either side.

  • Warning: "Let my people go".
  • Warning: "America will not know peace until we see it in Palestine".

    So then what of, "Give me liberty or give me death"? Issuing a warning is also hardly a specific marker of being a terrorist. .

  • Terrorist act: poisoning the water supply (turning water to blood)
  • Not yet.
  • Terrorist act: destroying the food supply (killing all the fish and livestock, destroying all the crops)
  • Not yet, but Al-Qaeda operatives showed interest in crop dusters.

    Cutting off or poisoning food and water supplies has been a staple of war for thousands of years. In Moses' day most armies had to be content with blocking the river into a walled city, or maybe polluting it with their excrement or a dead horse or two. The point of sieges throughout history has been to starve out the people inside. So we just ended up defining out scores of military campaigns as "terrorism".

  • Terrorist act: disrupting transportation (trapping Egyptians in their homes through blanket of darkness outside)
  • Terrorist act: disrupting transportation (trapping Americans on the ground, through fear of air travel)

    So when we bombed German railroad tracks, that was terrorism? Setting up roadblocks is terrorism too?

  • Terrorist act: biological agent (fine powder which causes boils)
  • Terrorist act: biological agent (anthrax spores, ie- a fine powder which causes skin lesions and in some cases, lung infections which can be fatal)

    Anthrax was NOT used by the Muslim terrorists; that was traced to someone here in the States. But this also makes things like poison-tipped arrows by the Scythains, and Hannibal's launching of jars full of poisonous snakes at enemy ships, or even his use of elephants (!), "terrorism". (See here for a fascinating item on ancient biological warfare.)

  • Terrorist act: slaughter of innocent children (all the first-borns)
  • Terrorist act: slaughter of innocent people (the civilian workers, police officers, firefighters, and bystanders in and around the World Trade Centre).

    This is the first time that any of the parallels have any relevance at all; but does it hold true? In a sense it does -- but it represents a clash of values between worlds.

    For the ancient person, there was no such thing as an "innocent" in the sense of a person non-involved. In a collectivist society one person is as important to the workings of the whole as any other, even the "innocent". The child represents a future solider against whom one will have to do war at some point when the inevitable vengeance is sought. Our modern sense of security finds such thinking hard to comprehend; but we do not live in a world on the brink of chaos and anarchy.

    And to be fair, it has been argued that the WTC bombers viewed the average American the same way. The parallel does not hold, because the individualistic diversity of our society means that the bombers merely projected their collectivist values on us (in an ironic reversal to modern Skeptical views) and truly did kill contextual innocents.

    But if anyone wants to object, the words "Hiroshima" and "Nagasaki" speak as well for merely issuing a blanket judgment on the "slaugher of innocent people." Thus again: It is not mere surface judgment that is enough.

  • Enemies' kindness: the Egyptian people took pity on the Hebrews and gave them "silver and gold".
  • Enemies' kindness: the American people send humanitarian aid to the Afghans. Womens' groups in America have been trying to help brutally oppressed Afghan women for years.

    This goes back to being of no relevance to proving someone is a terrorist. We also send humanitarian aid to India; is that a terrorist nation?

  • Military actions: killing Pharaoh and his charioteers by causing the receded water of the Red Sea to return and drown them.
  • Military actions: attacking the USS Cole in Yemen, as well as US military barracks and government facilities elsewhere.

    So taking military action against military targets makes one a terrorist? So when American colonists shot British soldiers, that means...?

  • Turning on his own: killing 3000 Hebrews and forcing their children to drink contaminated water after accusing them of betraying their faith by worshipping a golden calf.
  • Turning on his own: accusing Arab governments who co-operate with the Americans of betraying Islam and calling for violent overthrow of those governments.

    So when we executed the Rosenbergs, we "turned on our own" and became terrorists? In fact, if we arrest or kill anyone for a crime we are terrorists?

  • Eventual fate: died in the desert.
  • Eventual fate: will die in the desert.

    So if Osama runs into some woods before being shot, does that mean he isn't a terrorist?

    So in conclusion, it seems that Saddam's parallels between Moses and Osama amount to nothing. We may as well add these to assist the case:

  • Had facial hair: Moses is pictured in movies like The Ten Commandments with a long beard.
  • Has facial hair

  • Wears long robe: See the movie!
  • Wears long robe

  • Gun advocate: Charlton Heston, who plays Moses, was leader of the NRA
  • Gun advocate: Caches weapons for terrorist activities

  • Wanders in desert: For 40 years during the Exodus
  • Wanders in desert: Trying to evade capture by American forces

  • Travel and return for recruitment: Moses left Egypt and went to the Sinai wilderness for a time, then came back and began to organize a movement among the Hebrews
  • Travel and return for recruitment: Osama left Saudi Arabia and went to Afghanistan, then came back and began to orgazize a movement among Saudi Arabians (see here, "Afghanistan: The First Encounter")

  • Brought weapons/support: Moses brought the Hebrews back his secret weapon, God
  • Brought weapons/support: Osama brought the Afghan rebels plenty of construction machinery (see above, "Inside Afghanistan")

  • Defied a world superpower: Egypt
  • Defied a world superpower: two -- Soviet Union, America

  • Camper: Moses led the Hebrews camping in the wilderness
  • Camper: Osama established several camps for training terrorists (see above, "The Camps")

  • Lists of people: Moses wrote the genealogies in the Pentateuch
  • Lists of people: Osama made a tracking record of visitors (see above, "Al-Q'aedah")

  • Banned from travel: Not allowed into the Promised Land
  • Banned from travel: Not allowed out of Afghanistan ("Back to the Kingdom")

    -JPH