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Sri Lanka and Notre Dame: Christianity under fire

| Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sri Lankan Christians were stunned when a series of bombings in Catholic churches killed 290 and left more than 500 others seriously injured. This comes only days after the devastating Notre-Dame Cathedral fire and the destruction of other French churches by fire around the same time. Catholics already in mourning for the loss of a beacon of their faith were hit with more tragedy as the persecution of Christians continues. While the media did address these attacks and covered the Notre Dame fire extensively, the fact remains that Christian persecution is grossly overlooked.

This has become a pattern in this column, but the social media addressing of the Sri Lankan attacks once again failed to capture the enormity of the devastation and the actual victims of the crime. Hillary Clinton rightfully spoke out on Twitter specifically against the persecution of Muslims after the Christchurch attack in New Zealand (though the full scope and meaning of that attack is an issue to address another time). However, following the Sri Lanka Easter attacks on Christians, Clinton avoided using the word “Christians,” instead substituting the phrase “Easter worshipers.” Barack Obama did the same thing. While the intent still seems to be the typical politician “thoughts and prayers,” this tweet carries a subtext that Democratic politicians fear using the word “Christians.”

This begs some questions: Why is the left so afraid of Christianity? For a party so devoted to diversity, why not condemn specifically the persecution of Christians, just as it condemns the persecution of Muslims? Will world leaders don crucifixes and rosaries just as they donned hijabs in solidarity with those at Christchurch? This is not a Christianity vs. Islam debate. This is an observation of the hypocrisy of politicians with an agenda. Politicians that preach diversity and equality should treat religious tragedies equally, then, right? The cycle of the media means great tragedies are forgotten within 48 hours, and the selective avoidance of the word “Christian” is an attempt to filter out the Sri Lanka bombings quickly and disassociate the attacks with anti-Christian violence.

The media, of course, did their part in focusing on all the wrong things. CNN actually aired a segment criticizing Donald Trump for getting the fatality number wrong in his condolences tweet. The network decided to actively avoid discussing the implications of the tragedy to nitpick the President’s error, which was sent while the death toll was still being tallied. This was not surprising for a network devoted to slandering the President first and delivering news second. While CNN did cover the Notre Dame fires sufficiently as the news broke, it did what the other news outlets did: avoided a real explanation.

Church fires surfaced around France before the Notre Dame fire, but these went generally unacknowledged by the mainstream media. The atrocity of church arsons and bombings recently during the Triduum is appalling and disgusting. Given that there were many deliberate attacks on churches in recent weeks, the Notre Dame Cathedral fire should be given a second look and much further investigation. The cathedral’s rector speculated that an electrical short circuit may have caused the fire, which spread quickly in such an old building. The blaze was detected and an alarm sounded, but a computer bug showed the fire in the wrong place, causing the roof to ignite without obstacle. This explanation is very feasible, and I hope investigators can prove that it was accidental. Until then, though, every cause is on the table.

Keeping in mind that both Sri Lanka and Notre Dame are very fresh, hot-button topics, I mean no disrespect by this speculation. Nevertheless, I do think that it is worth considering Notre Dame to be a potential arson. Think about the context: churches around France were vandalized in the year leading up to it, and now bombings at Catholic churches in Sri Lanka killed nearly 300 Christians. Notre Dame was sandwiched between these purposeful terror acts. It stood for 800 years before it suddenly burned down. I do not believe it was anything more than an unfortunate accident, but the media has not even entertained the idea of an intentional attack, especially given the context of incidents before and after Notre Dame.

Christians everywhere are grieving for Sri Lanka and Notre Dame. Christians continue to be persecuted, yet it is glossed over in the media, which is afraid to even use the word “Christians.” In this time of violence, Christians must remain true to their faith and politicians must avoid hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be far less likely than the former.


Jack Zinsky is a sophomore from Tinley Park, Illinois, majoring in finance. He writes for the rights of the right. He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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