Birds of a Fundy Feather

There is a scientific principle called Like Aggregation. It states that objects of similar size and weight will aggregate towards one another or join together, this being due to ocean currents and winds, the response of the objects to magnetic fields, and other factors. This effect is something we take for granted, but we see it every time we observe a wad of cat hair or a clump of dirt lying around.

It is very interesting to see a spiritual side to this principle at work in the lives of people, as well as inanimate objects. As human beings, we find that those who think like us, act like us, are comfortable and willing to associate with us, and will side with us in arguments, tend to gravitate toward us. This is why street thugs, choirboys, and presidents aren’t seen hanging out together at shopping malls!

In 1997, during my last year at preaching school, I saw this principle at work like I never had before. On the way home from a lectureship in Denton, Texas, we students were making reference to the powerful preaching we heard while at the lectureship when the subject of abortion came up. This led to the subject of Eric Rudolph, the famous abortion clinic bomber and domestic terrorist. He was first becoming recognized back then, and we soon found ourselves talking about his crimes, when out of the blue, one very vocal preaching student said, “I honestly can’t condemn him for what he did!” It was like someone dropped a pistol! There was the usual stunned moment of silence as the students began to look around at each other and then back at the speaker to clarify the shocking statement just made. “Honestly, murderers need to die. Abortionists are murderers. I can’t condemn this guy at all for what he did.”

I was unprepared to see one of my own brethren defend the likes of this monster. I said to him again, this time with a partial grin on my face as though I knew he was about to cop to pulling my leg. “Seriously…” With not the slightest of hesitation or anything but a serious, almost angry expression on his face because I didn’t believe him, he said, “Does it look like I’m kidding?” I realized then that he wasn’t, and at this point, just waited for some of the other guys to jump in and tell him what a nut he had become. No one did. Looking to see why, I glanced over the bus seats and got a load of the facial expressions of others. To my amazement, I beheld what appeared to be nods of approval, maybe a few disturbed looks, but not one horrified expression in the bunch.

I seemed to be alone. No one else saw this as a terrible sign of a dangerous dogma. I can remember thinking to myself, “I am riding with potential terrorists! These people are not that far removed from Subway-bombing Jihadists!” Of course, I quickly put the thought behind me, assuming perhaps they were speaking out of anger and not serious reflection. This didn’t seem likely though, since even when I described the agony of having to undergo multiple painful skin-graphs and reconstructive surgeries, loss of hearing, loss of sight, chronic pain, missing limbs, and any number of other injuries that come from incendiary devices like explosives, I got no reactions from them. They seemed unphased, able only to think about the heavily influential anti-abortion materials they had been fed. This was probably the first red flag that went up in my head, showing me just how dangerous any religiously motivated ideal can be.

Even being consumed in the very same radical dogma they were, I still found this disturbing. I was apparently the only one who was truly appalled. My brethren would never have had the courage or the desire to do what Rudolph did, but they couldn’t fault him for it either. What was so sad was that they didn’t realize how they had stooped to the level of the desert-roaming radical groups they claimed to oppose. They became Christian terrorist sympathizers who entertained the idea that maybe God was using Rudolph to extend the arm of divine justice on those “ godless baby-murderers” who worked in abortion clinics. “Thus saith the Lord, my servant Eric Rudolph shall bring justice…” Scary indeed to think about! The Bible doesn’t say this, but it might as well have in the minds of these believers. It is the cauterizing lesson of humanity—if no one is around for us to hate and oppose, we eventually become what we once hated and opposed the most!

In my first home church, I was asked to march in several anti-abortion rallies but never did. The whole idea seemed a bit radical to me, but as a young Christian man, I found that the proponents of abortion rallies argued their case well, “Joe, why won’t you march? If we can intimidate just one young girl into staying away from the slaughterhouse so that her child lives, we’ve saved a life. God wants you to do that!” I once thought to respond, “Well, we could handcuff ourselves to the doors and that would stop people too!” They quit trying to convince me to join them after a while, but listening to their boasting from pulpits on how they had such huge turnouts at the rallies was still disgusting. You never saw the eyes of believers light up with hatred as when standing outside a Planned Parenthood facility!

As I look back on these events, I remember how grandma’s old saying went, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Life dictates that you won’t have to wait long for someone to show their true colors. People’s convictions make them act like they do. The things they say, the rash statements they make, those with whom they side in arguments…all signs of their indubitable selves. And the fruits of that nature can be clearly seen; Rudolph’s deeds are right in line with the beliefs of many Christians, one of those being that God wants abortionists to pay for their sins in blood (Genesis 9:6). A lot of believers might disagree on how to go about shedding this blood, but that is a minor detail in comparison to the big picture. Be it government or vigilante justice (whichever happens to come through quickest for the believer’s holy cause), they want action here and now! God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), even though, ironically, when all the hype is cleared away, the Bible itself is found to be a pro-abortion book (see Genesis 38:24; Exodus 21:22-23).

The Christian fundamentalist mindset is dangerous. It devalues life and appreciates one that exists only in fantasy. It enslaves the rational mind, empowering an otherwise conscionable individual to do inhumane things with feelings of integral justification, or at the very least, creates support and sympathy for those who so act.