Jihadist theology vs. mainstream Islam debated. 

Finalist (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Anger.

That was minister and elder Royce Bell’s first reaction when a friend called to tell him her son, Robert Adams, had died in the terrorist attack on county employees enjoying a holiday celebration.

In all, the Dec. 2 massacre by Islamic extremists wielding military-grade rifles killed 14 and injured 21 — stunning this city of 215,000 about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

“I cannot fathom a religion … that so radicalizes its adherents to where they become murderers and evildoers,” the San Bernardino Church of Christ preacher said, referring to the jihadist theology espoused by the terror group Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

The California tragedy came on the heels of coordinated suicide bombings and shootings that claimed 130 lives in Paris on Nov. 13.

Among America’s estimated 2.7 million Muslims, both attacks stirred fears of a backlash — concerns ratcheted up when presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Addressing the nation from the Oval Office, President Barack Obama declared that the San Bernardino killers “had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West.”

Obama urged Americans not to define the fight with terrorists as a war between America and Islam.

“Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors,” the president said.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the January 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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