Blaming the Victim

A few years back, probably in 2002 or 2003, the priest at our church made a couple of statements about how real Christians wouldn’t wage war against terrorists and that if people wanted to kill us, real Christians would let it happen. He had two strikes and a third strike would have meant we’d never be back to that church. Thankfully, he not only did not make a third strike, he actually said a number of things (about a year later) that I felt sort of “made up” for his earlier statements.

That priest moved on and we got a new one. A lot of folks have disliked various things the new guy’s done, but I’ve had no problems. And, regarding the war, I’ve thought he’s done a good job of choosing ways to phrase things that aren’t inflammatory one way or the other, but contain what I perceive to be a foundation of support for our efforts to fight off the bad guys.

Until today.

Today he was talking about the new year and the new decade and how we needed to be careful that we don’t let all the talk of fear and hate and cynicism get us down. That we make sure to follow “The Way.” That we don’t give in to the alarmist talking points of today’s society, in essence, and stick to the guns of our belief, so to speak. This, of course, is great advice.

Then he said (and I believe this is verbatim):

Maybe so many people wouldn’t be trying to kill us if we were doing a better job of following The Way.

This, in my mind is WORSE than telling us we should “let them do it.” This is telling us it’s our fault they’re doing it. It’s the victim’s fault that they are victimized.

This thinking is very liberating for bad guys:

  • In the World Trade Center on 9/11? Well, maybe if you were a better person those guys wouldn’t have crashed airplanes into your building.
  • On Northwest 253 on Christmas Day? Well, maybe if you were following The Way more religiously some guy wouldn’t have put explosives in his underwear and tired to blow up your aircraft.
  • Work the late shift in a convenience store to make ends meet? Well, maybe if you were nicer some hoods wouldn’t hold your store up for drug money.
  • Are you black? Hispanic? Female? Maybe if you did a better job living your life you wouldn’t be victimized by bias and prejudice.

All those who have been killed, raped, robbed, beaten, and spit on have only themselves to blame?

The priest acknowledged that people are “trying to kill us,” so he’s not even in the camp of those idiots who wag their finger and remind us that more Americans are killed by peanuts every year than by terrorists. He seems to think that it is indeed a concerted campaign conducted with intent, not a statistical anomaly.

At the end of the service, he nearly corrected himself. He said that “it isn’t really that simple,” but then he ended with “well, maybe.” So what does that even mean? Being more complex than “the victim is at fault” is not the same as “the victim is not at fault” and implies that the victim carries the blame, but there’s more to it than that.

“Well, maybe.”


  1. “Maybe so many people wouldn’t be trying to kill us if we were doing a better job of following The Way.”

    You should ask him, “Are you saying that although that plan didn’t work even for Jesus, it would probably work for us?”

  2. Hopefully, he’ll run into several of them in the very near future; giving him the opportunity to show us how it’s done by a true believer.

  3. Those who advocate pacifism, who say “thou shalt not kill”, those who say to turn the other cheek, haven’t a clue what Jesus’ message was all about, or what the various accounts actually say.

    Jesus, in Luke,22:36 says: “Then said He unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

  4. Kevin: Jesus was here on a mission. It was a crappy one, but He did it anyway. I’m glad He did, and I wouldn’t deign to compare the attacks on US people and interests with the killing of Christ.

    Flanker: Well, I certainly don’t hope he runs into some of them. I wouldn’t mind something adjusting his understanding a bit, though. The unsure manner of his semi-clarification makes me think that he sort of said it without thinking, realized that he probably shouldn’t have said it quite like that, then fumbled an attempted recovery.

    AW1 Tim: I say we sell garments to raise funds to arm all of our enemies with the best swords that money can buy. After all, it’s better to give than to receive. Then we fight them with machine guns, strike aircraft, and GPS-guided munitions. After all, it’s better to give than to receive.

    Seriously, though, I do believe that there is a responsibility upon us to do our best to take care of ourselves. Faith that God will provide doesn’t mean that you sit around and wait for Him to send it on a silver platter. Faith that God will keep robbers out of your house is good, but that same faith AND locking your door is better. I always wonder if God would take my faith that He’d protect my home seriously if I refused to lock my door.

  5. Don’t criticize Obammao for hanging around “Rev” Wright if you keep going to this “church”.

  6. Fiftycal: Really? I thought for sure Rev. Wright said more than one “controversial” thing on more than one occasion. Maybe I’m wrong and one statement one time is enough to make them comparable.

    If there was a pattern, it would be different. There isn’t, and as I wrote in the post all war-related statements have been very good until this one.

  7. I feel kinda sorry for Western religious leaders these days. They’ve got to be experiencing cognitive dissonance.

    First, many of them have swerved liberal over the last few decades, so I’m sure it’s hard for them to admit that we are even involved in a war.

    And second, I expect it’s even harder for them to accept we are in a war that’s motivated by RELIGION. I mean seriously, didn’t we have this crap behind us 200-300 years ago?

    Well, most of us did. But it’s raising it’s ugly head again, and I’m sure it’s got to be hard for people of faith to admit that religion can do bad things too. Let’s hope the last few centuries were not an anomoly….

  8. I don’t necessarily think it is advocating pacifism as much as it is butting out of others affairs.

    We should try to abide by the prime directive.

  9. The main problem I see about this “war on terror” is the side effects of every action and intervertion. We have seen many times that when the USA tries to fix a problem in the Middle East, it ends up create a bunch more. We saw that in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the list goes on…

    And when it tries to fix those side effects, it ends up creating more side effects, and you guys are running out of money.I know the libertarians sound too 1776 for most neo-cons, but the fact is the current situation is economically unsustainable, and money loves to abandon those who pave their way full of expensive noble intentions.

  10. Vitor, I think it’s domestic spending that’s going to sink them, not war spending.

    Wars are expensive, but not as expensive as having a massive proportion of your population relying on the government for handouts.

    I agree with Murdoc though, the only people to blame for terrorism is the terrorists. Even if they have legitimate grievances (and in many cases that’s a big IF) terrorism is NOT the best way to have them redressed.

    I’m not even sure terrorism could be justified in the most extreme of cases. For example I don’t know that it would have been OK for victims of geoncide like Jews in Nazi Germany to fight back using terrorism, and that’s one of the worst circumstances I can imagine being stuck in.

  11. Don’t feel Bad. His Blame America First Mirrors the quiet whispering that underlines what passes for astute political thinking in Washington nowadays.

  12. I was in Der Vaterland for a christening ca 2004.

    As it happened the christening was not on 9-11 exactly but was close enough that the priest worked it into his sermon. He talked at some length, and I didn’t understand alot of it.

    But the gist of his message was, we will always triumph over terrorists because we love more than they do. We love life more than they love death; love our children because we christen them instead of teaching them to be suicide bombers, etc.

    Small comfort if you happen to be killed by a terrorist, of course, but it was still a nice bit of speechifying and much better recieved than MO’s guy.

  13. GL: To be honest, that sounds a lot more like my priest’s normal message than what he said on Sunday. I’ve always felt that he was coming from the right direction and was taken a bit aback by what he said this time.

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