It is hard to believe, even in these times filled with religious and political strife and hatred, that anyone would deliberately bomb a church while people are in it on Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus. But, it happened last year in Cairo and it has happened this year in Nigeria.
Nigeria is the largest country in Africa, with 160 million inhabitants. It is also one of the most divided upon religious lines. The south has a Christian majority, while the north has a Muslim majority. The group claiming responsibility for the attacks that have left at least 40 people dead is called Boko Haram, an extremist islamist group that some suspect has developed ties with the Maghreb al-Qaida group in French West Africa responsible for numerous attacks and kidnappings, mostly of European tourists.
It really doesn't matter what the goals of Boko Haram may be, or if they have been oppressed or belong to underclasses. What matters is that they have chosen to bomb a religious building full of worshippers. The tactic is not only heinous, but so lacking in human values that one wonders what kind of person or group could believe that their cause would be advanced by it.
It may be that they are zealots whose cause is so important in their own eyes that they have chosen the most drastic way of highlighting it. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have displayed such a lack of basic human decency that they are now open to whatever pursuit will end their reign of terror.
The Pope has spoken out against this most recent attack on Christians, as have most European governments and the United States.
What I have not yet read is the declaration of any government or religious leader in the Muslim world. This is shameful, if true, because such an atrocity does not require deliberation before condemnation. It requires, it cries out for, the condemnation of every individual and government and religion that wants to remain in the community of civilized human beings.