Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.
- John 16.2b.Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistani government minister for minorities, was assassinated this week for speaking up as a Christian against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. He was the only Christian minister in the Pakistani government and his murderers left behind a tract claiming responsibility in the name of "Taliban al-Qaida".
Only days before, he had given an interview in which he addressed threats against his life (see above): "The forces of violence, militant [?] organisations, the Taliban and [?] al-Qaida, they want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy, they threaten them. When I am leading this campaign against the Sharia law for the abolishment of blasphemy law and speaking for the oppressed and marginalised Christian and other persecuted minorities, these Taliban threaten. But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of [the] cross. And I am following of the cross. And I am ready to die for a cause. I am living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings can not change my opinion and principles. I would prefer to die for my principle and for the justice rather [than] compromise on these threats."
May he rest in peace awaiting a glorious resurrection.
Shahbaz Bhatti is far from the only Christian this week who has died for his faith, but his high profile and eloquent and timely witness are likely to see this issue receive a little media attention. His death is a reminder that Christians fight for the truth by being willing to die, rather than being willing to kill. Killing to prevent or punish blasphemy is itself blasphemous against the one who gave his life as the true and living way. He was himself killed for blasphemy (Mark 14.64).
Of course Christians would never consider killing Muslims to be a good thing or condone state sanctioned violence with this goal, would we? We would never seek a spurious theological rationale for our fears in order to justify murder or oppression, would we?