By: E. Jane Rutter

Today’s news from the Holy Land is one of destruction. Innocent lives lost to misguided zealots. My heart is melting for the homeland of Christ, our homeland. What lies in store for us, citizens of the United States of America – the Great Satan – as these murderers call us? Will this attack on Israel return us to God as did the 9-11 attack on our nation? How quickly we have forgotten the terrorism of a mere 22 years ago.

We deny, disregard and deafen our ears to the past, unwilling to teach our children the full truth of history and our need for God’s grace and mercy. We deny Jesus’ Lordship; disregard His call for brotherly love and turn deaf ears to salvation. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? (Romans 8:35) None of these, St. Paul reveals.

Why was this message so important for St. Paul to relay to the people of Rome? Because the world in his time was no different than it is in ours. Cruelty, war, injustice, and sin existed then as they do today.

I think we can choose better words in reporting the news; words no longer popular in our advanced, ‘progressive’ day, but that accurately reflect the reality of terrorism: cult, evil and Satan. We lay violence at the feet of religion, placing emphasis on particular religions as breeding grounds for terrorists rather than calling these organizations and participants in the chaos what they really are: cults.

When Christianity, Islam and other faiths denounce their actions as evil and counter-God, why then aren’t we taking terrorism out of the religious context and into the satanic? For that’s what violent cults are – sects of satanism. Satan: the adversary of God, the opposite of life, goodness and love. Satan, unleashed in our world as the prophets so proclaimed. Enlightened ones, surrounded by evil, we have trouble acknowledging evils as more onerous than “one’s behavior’ and create rationale to justify the perpetrators as victims.

Embracing Christ challenges us to accept God’s Word and ways as truth. Difficult to do in cultures that deny the existence of truth, having exchanged it for terms such as ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’. As Pope Benedict addressed at World Youth Day in 2009, “There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment.”

Do we truly believe that if Hamas and Hezbollah were to succeed in gaining control, they would transform their sovereignties into ones of peace, love, plenty and freedom for all? Adolph Hitler, Jim Jones, Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein and scores of others before them have answered that question for all time.

Terrorism is not based on religion; is not a fight, of, by, or for God’s people. Rather, terrorism is about the desire for power and is nurtured in cults whose criteria are the antithesis of our search for love and community: (1) centralized control by a charismatic leader; (2) an ‘us versus them’ mentality that results from and fortifies the psychological, if not physical, isolation of the group’s members; (3) lack of toleration of dissent; (4) a belief that the group and its leaders are above the laws of the land (Langone, Cults and Violence). Langone should consider adding a fifth criterion: the expendable lives of its mostly young members who accept that killing innocent people and committing suicide are noble sacrifices God will reward.

We have a long road ahead of us in this work of teaching and living by God’s precepts.

And so I pray: Come back to God my sisters and brothers. Let us put on ash cloth, get on our knees and pray as one with our Jewish family.