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Was alleged Olympics bomber motivated by religion?
Is Eric Rudolph a Christian terrorist? The Washington Post asks the question in yesterday's edition. "The question is not just whether Rudolph is a terrorist, or whether he considers himself a Christian," writes Alan Cooperman. "It is whether he planted bombs at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, two abortion clinics, and a gay nightclub to advance a religious ideology—and how numerous, organized and violent others who share that ideology may be."

Syracuse University political science professor Michael Barkun, who has consulted the FBI on "Christian extremist groups," is willing to use the phrase. "Based on what we know of Rudolph so far, and admittedly it's fragmentary, there seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist," he said.

But Idaho State University sociologist James A. Aho disagrees. "I would prefer to say that Rudolph is a religiously inspired terrorist, because most mainstream Christians consider Christian Identity to be a heresy," he said. The phrase "Christian terrorist," Aho says, is "sort of an oxymoron." But maybe now that the phrase is being used, says Aho, Christians will be more hesitant to use the phrase "Islamic terrorism."

Similarly, The New York Times called Rudolph a "Christian ideologue" (at least reporter Jeffrey Gettleman did initially—the phrase seems to have been dropped from the online version).

But there is compelling evidence that Rudolph actually wasn't motivated by religion—perverse, heretical, or otherwise.

Charles Stone, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who supervised the bombing task force, says that Rudolph was really upset that the Food and Drug Administration didn't approve ...

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Is Eric Rudolph a Christian Terrorist?
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June 2003

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