This is our archive of news items tagged Islamic Terrorism.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Is Faith Christian Church in Tucson, Arizona, a Cult of Christianity?

Religion News and research resources for busy people.

Faith Christian Church

This cult-like church has a number of affiliates with different names.

  • The University of Arizona is investigating Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ) a religious group that more than 20 former members and staffers describe as a cult. The church, which is led by a “self-proclaimed former criminal,” has operated on the UA campus for 25 years. It is initially welcoming, then slowly imposes control over most facets of members’ lives, an Arizona Daily Star investigation found.
  • Faith Christian Church was originally an off-shoot of Florida-based umbrella group Maranatha Christian Ministries. Maranatha’s authoritarianism and lack of financial accountability was sharply criticized in a 1984 report by a committee of Christian scholars. See this article from the Cultic Studies Journal1. The Daily Star says that many of the report’s criticisms echo the stories from ex-members of Faith Christian in Tucson. The paper also lists a number of the church’s offshoots/affiliates.
  • Sociologist Dr. Ronald Enroth addressed Maranatha Christian Ministries in his book, Churches That Abuse (full text online, with permission). See chapter 5, Abusive Churches Use Fear, Guilt, and Threats, and chapter 7: Abusive Churches Foster Rigidity
  • Cults can be defined theologically and/or sociologically2. The Daily Star‘s investigation does not delve into the church’s theology, but as Jan Karel van Baalen said, “Bad doctrine produces bad fruit behaviorally … which is as true for Christians as it is for cultists.”
  • In many cases an abusive church will have a more-or-less standard Statement of Faith to which lip service is paid in public, while in private the ministry’s doctrines and practices turn out to be different.

    The official website of Faith Christian Church in Tucson includes a Statement of Faith that is fairly common, except that most such statements normally include a reference to the fact that Christians have been saved by grace through faith:

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” — Ephesians 2:8

    This is one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, and should not be missing in such a public profession of beliefs.

    Instead, Faith Christian Church includes this statement:

    We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

    More often than not, that kind of declaration — especially when it is not balanced by a reference to the doctrine referenced in the Scripture quoted above — is a warning sign, indicating that the church in question emphasizes works (e.g. actions, lifestyle, obedience to leaders, etcetera) over faith.

    The Bible teaches that faith and works go hand in hand.

    Churches that reject the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith are, theologically, cults of Christianity.3

  • Theology has to do with the doctrinal reasons why a particular group’s beliefs and/or practices are considered unorthodox.

    Sociology takes into consideration the actions of a group or movement (e.g. deceptive recruiting, undue pressure on members, forced separation from family and friends).

    A church that is theologically a cult does not necessarily behave like a cult as defined sociologically. However, many churches whose core doctrines define them as, theologically cults of Christianity also have cult-liked tendencies as defined sociologically.

  • The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) defends the church, but that doesn’t necessarily count for much.
  • Faith Christian Church‘s official website; Former Members of Faith Christian Church and its Offshoots (Facebook); Related: Former Members website, last updated in October, 2012.

Faith Christian’s affiliates

Faith Christian lists six affiliate branches, including one at Northern Arizona University, and ranging from Colorado to Florida to New Zealand.

The affiliates all recruit members at nearby universities. In response to inquiries from the Star, most of those universities say they either have had no formal complaints about the campus ministries, or only anonymous complaints.

Here are the names of the affiliates founded by Faith Christian members and the universities where they recruit:

New Life Christian Church in Flagstaff (Northern Arizona University)

Grace Christian Church in Fort Collins (Colorado State University)

New Covenant Christian Church in Albuquerque (University of New Mexico)

Cornerstone Christian Church in Tampa (University of South Florida)

Resurrection Church in Boulder (University of Colorado)

Palmerston North Victory Christian Church, in Palmerston North, New Zealand (Massey University)

Two other branches — Hope Christian Church in Tempe, which recruits at Arizona State University, and Living Hope Christian Church in Las Cruces, which recruits at New Mexico State University — are run by former Faith Christian pastors but are not listed on its website.

Hope Christian Pastor Brian Smith, who was formerly with Faith Christian, says his church is “built on a different philosophy” than Faith Christian and that the two are not affiliated.
– Source: Carol Ann Alaimo, Emily Bregel, Arizona Daily Star, Mar. 7, 2015

Islam-inspired Terrorism

  • Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that his government must work effectively with community leaders to prevent young Australians from becoming radicalised through online channels and foreshadowed the launch of an important campaign to tackle the brainwashing.
  • Attorney-General George Brandis in December announced a $17.9 million plan for a suite of measures to monitor online extremist campaigns. The measures include monitoring of social media, taking down of terrorist websites and postings, and funding for civil society groups to publicly contest extremist messages.
  • Meanwhile, the terrorist group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the so-called ‘Islamic State.’ Birds of a feather: savages and barbarians joined by an extremist interpretation of islam. In an audio message the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, says Boko Haram would obey IS “in times of difficulties and prosperity.”
  • But will ISIS/ISIL/’Islamic State’/Daesh want to partner with Boko Haram? One blogger provides 5 reasons why that is not likely.
  • Despite efforts by women’s groups, thousands of Nigerian widows struggle to survive because of Boko Haram’s insurgency.
  • Speaking of barbarians and savages: Saudi Arabia has rejected strong criticism from a German ambassador over the treatment of a liberal blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison for insulting Islam in his blog. The kingdom “expresses its intense surprise and dismay” over international criticism of the sentence, and says it “does not accept any interference in its internal affairs” and said its judiciary is impartial and independent. The statement added that the kingdom’s constitution, based in Islamic law, ensures human rights. Clearly, Islamic law (Sharia) and human rights often are incompatible.
  • On our Twitter stream we often use the hashtag #DarkAges when referring to Islam-inspired evil. For instance, when pointing to an article titled, “Taliban Assassins Target Pakistan’s Polio Vaccinators.” Most Muslims reject the Taliban as a cult of Islam.
  • The vast majority of Muslims — from whichever sect of Islamdo not support terrorism. But those who do are clearly motivated by their interpretation of fundamentalist Islam.
  • A snarky website at TheReligionOfPeace.com keeps track of the evil committed in the name of Islam: 25286 deadly terror attacks since 9/11.
  • Incidentally, from September through December 2014, it is estimated that at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters, although not all of them were active at the same time. Download the Brookings Institution report, The ISIS Twitter Census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter

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Notes:

  1. Published by the cult experts at the International Cultic Studies Society (ICSA)
  2. Note the difference between theological and sociological definitions of the term ‘cult.’
  3. It should be noted that we have not performed an in-depth examination of the teachings of Faith Christian Church in Tucson, Arizona. We are here merely providing an opinion based on the information stated. We encourage readers to examine the church’s teachings and actions, as well as the research resources we link to.

Jihad recruitment; human trafficking; and Jesus as a redhead

Religion news and data in bite-sized nuggets. Because you’re as busy as we are.

  • The trailer for Going Clear, Alex Gibney’s powerful documentary exposing the Scientology cult to daylight, is now online. One of the most talked about films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the doc will debut on HBO, March 29.

  • Psychic Daniel Perez has been convicted of first-degree premeditated murder in the 2003 drowning of a 26-year-old woman at his commune’s compound near Wichita, Kansas. At the same trial, he was also convicted of 27 other charges: one count, first-degree murder; eight counts, rape; seven counts, aggravated criminal sodomy; three counts, aggravated assault; one count, sexual exploitation of a child; eight counts, making a false information. At his March 24 sentencing, Perez will face, at a minimum, a life sentence without parole eligibility for 25 years.
  • Brusthom Ziamani, a 19-year-old teenager who converted to Islam less than a year ago and idolised the barbaric killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby is facing a lengthy jail term after being found guilty of plotting to behead a British soldier.

    The Guardian says “he first became interested in Islam at the age of 15 through rap music and decided to convert in the months before he was first arrested. He turned to extremists in the Muslim group al-Muhajiroun after being kicked out of his home when when his Jehovah’s Witness parents discovered his newfound religion.”

  • Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, Raffaello Pantucci, says that the Brusthom Ziamani case reflects “a broader trend in radicalisation and terrorism in the UK
  • Alienated Muslim Youth Seek Purpose, Thrills in Joining Jihad, says reporter Joji Sakurai. Youth confronting poverty, unemployment, and social disdain grasp at extremists’ promises of a higher mission. Your life has meaning, the recruiters say — while promising a big reward at the end.

    Sakurai suggests that the process of recruiting potential Jihadists is not much different from that of recruiting drug gang members. The process is the same in Texas (Branch Davidians), Moscow (Neo-nazis), or Japan (Aum Shinrikyo)

    Says Sakurai, “Religious fervor rarely has much to do with what draws people to join such groups. Deep down, it’s about purpose. Belonging. Excitement. A sense of identity. Order amid disorder. A focus for pent-up rage. The profound insight of the jihadi recruitment machine is that the cause can be anything – as long as the needs are satisfied.”

  • Along with the above article, read Muslim Leaders in U.S. Seek to Counteract Extremist Recruiters.

    Imam Suhaib Webb says that in 15 years as an imam he had encountered only five Muslims who were considering whether they should join violent militant groups. “They were all males,” said Imam Webb, and “they all had daddy issues.” He added, “They were not really drawn to this on theological grounds.”

    Humera Khan, the founder of Muflehun, a think tank based in Washington that focuses on countering violent extremism, says that, increasingly, there is no consistent profile of those who are targeted for recruitment or drawn to Islamic extremists.

    “There are no patterns, and that’s making it harder for everyone,” she said in an interview in Virginia late last month. “They can come from every ethnic, socioeconomic group, any geographic area. But they are more often men than women, and they’re getting younger.”

  • Meanwhile, Australia’s top counter-terrorism police officer has expressed concern that a rising number of “cleanskin” jihadis who have radicalised rapidly below the radar of police are slipping overseas to fight with extremists.

    Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism Neil Gaughan confirmed that extremists were continuing to leave the country, including increasing numbers of women and younger men. They’re self-radicalising and deciding to go overseas. “We’re seeing young boys radicalised really quickly online and just going.”

  • Do you know the difference between ‘greater Jihad‘ and ‘lesser Jihad‘?
  • Change of pace now: We live in interesting times. How interesting? Consider this headline: French Catholics sue adultery website for encouraging affairs. Yes, it’s a real story.
  • So is this, I guess: There is some speculation as to what color Jesus‘ hair was.

    Did Jesus have red hair?

    Usually people have different questions when it comes to Jesus.

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Notes:

  1. Rachel’s own experience with sex trafficking, coupled with her passion for education, led her and her husband to start Sowers Education Group, an organization purposed to sow seeds of awareness and empowerment to end human trafficking
  2. A licensed attorney, who advocates for victims’ rights. Carissa’s memoir, Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets (Viking 2012), is used by instructors in juvenile detention facilities, as well as professors of social work in graduate level courses. Her organization, Runaway Girl, organizes survivors of human trafficking around resources, networks, businesses, and local efforts to protect and care for survivors and victims within their own communities
  3. Founder of Families Against Sex Trafficking (FAST). D’lita is a community activist, who is well known for her frontline work to pass Prop 35 and highly sought after for her ability to connect with survivors. As a sex trafficking survivor and mother of a survivor, D’lita has made it her life’s mission to help clean up the streets of her hometown, Compton. She also does extensive outreach and lobbying throughout California.

Scientology take-down * Memo to Evangelicals: stop the rhetoric * More…

Newspapers The City of Clearwater, which at one point was target for a take-over plot by the Church of Scientology, has told the cult to remove a massive sign from a temporary building.

Has the NSA violated the former pope’s privacy? Also, from our ‘You Call That Religion Reporting?’ file: the story about an ultra-conservative rabbi’s comments regarding soy products was not true.

Plus: a prominent evangelical leader says evangelicals should change tactics when it comes to their involvement in politics and the culture wars. [Read more...]

Florida pastor Terry Jones’s Koran burning has far-reaching effect

Un-Christian behavior on the part of an attention-seeking ‘pastor’ and his 30-person fringe church in Gainsville, Florida, has led Muslim extremists in Afghanistan to savagely murder innocent people.

Terry Jones, the 58-year-old pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, presided over what he called an “International Judge the Koran Day” on March 20, in which he supervised the burning of Islam’s holy book in front of some 50 people. [Read more...]

Sweden: 2 guilty in Muhammad artist’s home attack

A Swedish court convicted two brothers of trying to burn down the home of an artist whose Prophet Muhammad depiction infuriated some Muslims, and sentenced each of them Thursday to more than two years in prison.

The attempted arson attack was motivated by a controversial 2007 sketch by artist Lars Vilks that depicted Muhammad as a dog, the Helsingborg District Court said. The defendants, aged 19 and 21, were not identified by name due to Swedish privacy rules. [Read more...]