The whole aim of terrorism is to create fear, but it is been said that there are 366 verses in Scripture which say “Fear Not,” or similar words. Some Christians think they are doing the Church a service when they repeat propaganda from groups like Islamic State. Propaganda by its nature needs some truth in it to make it believable but it then exaggerates it in some way or another. Earlier this year Islamic State claimed that it was sending 5000 of its operatives into Europe under the guise of refugees. Now that two of the attackers on Friday night/Saturday morning appear to have entered Europe as refugees this summer might appear to support this piece of propaganda until you ask where are the other 4998 who have allegedly been smuggled in? True, several suspicious characters have been detained amongst the refugees but, I ask you, does Islamic State have that many men or women to spare to send into Europe in order to attack it. I very much doubt it. I believe the number of 5000 to be an exaggeration designed to create fear and overreaction by the authorities. Some Christians seem to lack the gift of discernment when it comes to sharing things on social media without recognising that in repeating propaganda verbatim that they are effectively spreading lies. One of the disadvantages of Twitter is the there are not many characters in which to add a caveat. It is the truth that sets us free. There should also be no need to spread our own propaganda in retaliation, just the truth.
I would also like to say something of the intended targets of the terrorists. There has been comments in the media that the victims were just ordinary people with little understanding as to the reasoning behind their choice of targets. I believe the targets reflects what the Islamic militants regarded as the symbols of idolatry of the people of France, which is officially a secular state. The first target was the football match. To many people sport is an idol in the west. Sport is often seen as a means of spreading peace and understanding between nations. The theme song of the Rugby World Cup is “The world in union,” The FIFA World Cup may not have a similar song but the sentiment is mutual. We should ask ourselves about our attitudes to sport whichever your favourite sport may be. How many of us have not skipped a church meeting to watch some sporting event on television? I know that I have been guilty in the past. I am not quite sure as to why the roadside restaurants were targeted though I suspect that this might be because they thought that this epitomised pleasure-seeking, with French cuisine being renowned worldwide and thus symbolising western decadence. Again we should ask ourselves about the when was the last time are pursuit of pleasure came first before God? The last target of the rock concert seems to be because they regard music, especially rock music, as a form of idolatry. Before you say this is absurd remember how we often talk about rock and pop idols. In the west we might see the popularity of western music around the world as a sign of our superiority of our culture but they might see it as a false god. The terrorists seem to have targeted the audience rather than the band, was that because they saw them as worshippers of a false god? But it is difficult to say for sure. Despite claims from IS that they regard France as a crusader nation none of the targets were overtly Christian but secularists are reluctant to admit that secularism itself is a target.
David Rose, 2015