The hearts of peaceniks and terrorists

peaceWhat to say about the shocking lack of coverage of the kidnapping of the four members from the Christian Peacemakers Teams? It's shaping up to be a deeply compelling story that carries serious ironies that are just begging to be explored. Mollie here at GetReligion first tackled this subject on Saturday and little has been written in the mainstream press since then Morning Edition covered the group on Dec. 1 along with this BBC report on the group, and today the Canada Free Press ran a strongly opinionated piece titled "The truth about the Christian Peacemakers Teams." Here's what it says (and it mirrors what Mollie said):

Since CPT vaulted into the headlines of the major media throughout the world, very little has been written or portrayed about the group in the mainstream media. The media seems to be content just to mention the group's name and refer to those that were kidnapped as "peace activists". From exposure to the mainstream media alone, people are not likely to know any more about CPT than they do about the Swords of Righteous Brigade, a group than no one knew existed until the late November kidnappings.

Even when it seemed that every major terrorist group in the world, from Hamas to al Qaeda, appealed for the hostages' release, the media did not think it important to look into the group that was garnering so much sympathy from organizations that take so much delight in blowing up civilians.

Mollie called for reporters to dig into the hostages' motivations and CPT's "Quaker-infused theology" and I would second her in that. Like we've said in the past, understanding the root motivations of groups like CPT or these terrorists goes a long way in breaking through the mist that is Middle East violence.

Kirk Wattles commented on Mollie's post that "Quakers and Mennonites have generally been a distinct minority with a radically different take on what it means to be Christian." And here's more:

Christian Peacemaker Teams' activities in Iraq are labeled absurd and foolish by many in the mainstream, but they draw from a long tradition (three to four centuries, anyway). And in other instances, for example in the movement to abolish slavery, such activities were often heaped with scorn (and sometimes violence) by other people calling themselves Christian.

You ask why coverage of this countercurrent is so weak. I think there's a divide in the conception of what Christianity is about, the media tacitly recognize this and tend to avoid it because the secular outlook has no easy way to deal with such a deep conflict over issues. ...

But elements to be considered include the Constantinian shift in the 4th century, the emergence of dissident sects during the Protestant reformation, the post-enlightment Church-State detente, and the industrial (and post-industrial) organization of warfare in the last century.

Is this the case? I say more digging is necessary to know for sure, but a solid grounding in history and Christian philosophy is is a good place to start.

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