by Julian Mann – Friday, January 6, 2012

It would be better for Nigeria, and indeed the West, if Christianity wins against Islamic extremism

When Nigeria’s Islamist terror was confined to its northern states, politically correct Western opinion was able to get away with spinning the violence as six of one and half a dozen of the other.

An outrage in Jos, for example, would be put down to ‘religious tensions’ between the Muslim and Christian communities. It was almost as if elements in the Western media were desperate for stories of Christians behaving badly.

But the politically correct spin is now becoming increasingly untenable following Islamist terror group Boko Haram’s Christmas Day attack on St Theresa’s Roman Catholic Church in central Nigeria, close to the federal capital, Abuja. It is now becoming clear that the group is moving its terror south.

And the closer the group takes its terror to Lagos, the more open US and UK opinion becomes to the view Nigeria’s Christian president Dr Goodluck Jonathan is keen to promote that Boko Haram represents a threat to Western interests.

Dr Jonathan faces massive internal political hurdles in his stated aim to ‘crush Boko Haram’. He needs Western help, particularly from US and UK intelligence agencies. The State of Emergency he announced on New Year’s Eve, including the closure of Nigeria’s borders with Niger, Cameroon and Chad, is welcomed by the Christian community but Christians know that the long-term security of the nation they love depends on co-ordinated and united action by the various arms of government.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s churches remain in the frontline of the battle between the Judaeo-Christian values underpinning Western civilisation and the forces of medieval barbarism wanting to impose Sharia Law.

In a move to foil further attacks on their worshippers over the New Year celebration, churches changed the times of their watchnight services on New Year’s Eve and both federal and individual state security services stepped up their presence. On New Year’s Day and Eve I attended services at Luke’s Cathedral Church in Jos, where I am visiting the Anglican diocese.

The services were wonderfully joyful but the tension over the security situation was palpable following Boko Haram’s attack on the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in the city on Christmas Day. One could not help watching the door. Leading the New Year’s Day service, Jos Archbishop Dr Ben Kwashi was characteristically positive.

“2012 – look unto Jesus Saviour. Do not look unto man, look up to Him,” he declared.

Thankfully, there were no attacks on the Body of Christ here or elsewhere in Nigeria that day. But the reality is that Christian churches in the New Year are what they were on Christmas Day – soft targets.

Boko Haram would appear to be biding its time, waiting for the government’s reaction to its Christmas Day atrocities to subside. Then it can be relied upon to resume its agenda of destabilising Dr Jonathan’s administration and undermining the worship and witness for Christ of the Church in Nigeria.

Western politically correct opinion cannot conceive of this as a battle between good and evil. But that is what it is.

What political correctness fails to grasp is that the true spiritual and moral interest of the West is for Christianity to be strong both in its own countries and in those nations where the battle between the gospel of the Prince of Peace and militant Islam is at its most intense.

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