November 22, 2002
WHAT, COULD YE NOT WATCH WITH ME ONE HOUR?:U.S. Evangelist Is Shot Dead in an Attack in Lebanon (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, November 22, 2002, NY Times)
An American evangelist, Bonnie Penner Witherall, was shot dead Thursday at the missionary clinic where she worked as a nurse's assistant in this southern Lebanese city, apparently the latest victim in a string of lethal attacks around the region targeting United States citizens.
Lebanese investigators said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the motive was linked to the anti-American climate rife in the Middle East or involved a personal dispute, but they were leaning toward the first explanation. [...]
The Sidon area has been identified previously by Washington as home to at least one extremist organization, Asbat al-Ansar. In addition, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, where Mrs. Witherall, 31, worked in a prenatal clinic, had been involved in a public dispute in recent months for proselytizing Christianity to young Muslims.
"We told her she might be vulnerable to insults or even being hit and she answered that she would consider it an honor," said Bishop George Kwaiter, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese, speaking at a gathering of Christian and Muslim religious leaders who condemned the shooting.
"We don't accept this kind of preaching," he said of the proselytizing. "We reject it totally."
One pastor who knew Mrs. Witherall said that derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad made by leading evangelists like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson had added to the ill feeling toward Christian evangelists working in Sidon.
"I would not think that this is our calling to say bad things about this religion," said the Rev. Pierre Francis, the pastor of Mieh Mieh Baptist Church, where Mrs. Witherall and her British husband, Garry, were members. "They just jeopardize our safety."
Even for the Times this is worse than despicable. In addition to practically blaming Mrs. Witherall for causing her own death, they manage to name the Reverends Falwell and Robertson as accomplices. This is an age-old problem that it seemed like the Left was mostly ridding itself of in the Clinton era, the tendency to absolve the perpetrators and blame the victims of crime. Then again, because Mrs. Witherall was an evangelist--as are the Reverends--the Timesfolk may not consider her worthy of the same basic decency as other victims. This is after all the same paper that said the following:
Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The president is not a bigot, or a pessimist.
It certainly seems that, for them, Mrs. Witherall was just another Christian bigot who got what she deserved.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2002 9:24 PM