Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."
—Antony Flew, Thinking About Thinking (1975)
This paragraph outlines what has become known as the "No true Scotsman" fallacy. Outside the realms of fiction and more into the realms of religion, we see the "No true Christian" fallacy with statements like this:
I wouldn’t refer to those who commit violent acts of murder as Christians.1
and this one:
Christians who do horrible things are NOT practicing Christianity.2
I think that Shelley Shannon, Michael Griffin, Scott Roeder, Paul Jennings Hill, John Salvi, Eric Robert Rudolph, James Charles Kopp, and Clayton Lee Waagner would disagree. And let’s not forget Otis O’Neal "Neal" Horsley, Jr.
That is, unless you think that what these individuals have done do not constitute "horrible things".
And let’s also not forget the organization called The Army of God, who has a famous history of violence against abortion clinics and providers, having bombed, vandalized, invaded, or set fire to hundreds of abortion clinics across the United States.
The United States also leads the world in anti-abortion violence, all of it perpetrated by Christians. You may not want to call them Christians, but they are Christians. You don’t get to decide who is and is not a Christian.
Jesus may have preached peace, but there is no doubt that a lot of Christianity’s history is penned in blood.
- The Right Scoop. (2010, May 28). "Tavis Smiley: Christians blow up more people in America than Muslims" [↩]
- "Jaynie59". (2010, July 8). "Jon Stewart: We shouldn’t fear Islam any more than Christianity". [Comment in response to "chrish43".] The Right Scoop. [↩]