There are those who think that at the heart of Christianity lies a bedrock of pacifism. Turn the other cheek, beat your swords into plowshares, etc., etc.
That may be true for those comfortable Western Christians who believe the greatest threat to their faith is the temptations of excess or the erosion of faith by secularization. In Nigeria — as it is in other parts of the emerging world — things are a bit more dire for Christians, and holy men have had to take up the mantle of self-defense to protect parishioners.
Thus, in the wake of a massacre of over a hundred Christians by Islamic militants, footage that allegedly shows a Catholic priest with a shotgun while leading prayers has gone viral on social media.
The brief 10-second clip, which has not been independently verified, was initially posted on Wednesday and had been viewed over 1.5 million times as of Saturday morning.
In it, the clergyman can be seen making the sign of the cross as he leads prayers for the flock behind him.
A Nigerian Catholic priest carries a shotgun as he leads his faithful in prayer after the Christmas Massacre by Islamist Fulani militias, during which 200+ Christians were murdered.
Despite what many may believe, Catholics are not pacifists.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) January 3, 2024
“Church pastors were killed and hundreds of houses were destroyed in the massacres in villages of Barkin Ladi, Bokkos and Mangu counties, officials and residents said. The assailants killed the Rev. Solomon Gushe of Baptist Church in Dares village along with nine of his family members, said Bokkos County resident Dawzino Mallau,” the publication reported.
“Some pastors were killed, and another pastor and his wife and five children were killed during these attacks,” Mallau said.
“These terrorists who attacked these Christian communities were in the hundreds, and they carried out the attacks as the hapless Christians were preparing for Christmas programs lined up by their pastors.
“About 160 Christians in these villages were killed by the terrorists,” Bokkos resident Alfred Mashat told the outlet. “We believe they are carrying out these attacks alongside armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.”
Residents told The Associated Press that, while they called for help from authorities, it didn’t arrive for over half a day.
“I called security, but they never came. The ambush started [at] six in the evening, but security reached our place by seven in the morning,” said Bokkos youth leader Sunday Dawum.
Islamic Fulani militants have been responsible for other attacks on Christians of late, including gunning down a pastor of an evangelical church in Kaduna State, Nigeria, in November, according to International Christian Concern.
The pastor’s wife was kidnapped and ransomed by the militants. She was released three days later.
“The Fulani militants killed Reverend Amako Maraya,” said one of the church leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All. “He is my pastor. Last Sunday before he was killed, he preached about forgiveness.”
All of this is a stark reminder that other Christians don’t have the protections we have. Yes, Christianity is under attack across the globe — but in the West, at least as of right now, that assault is from secularists who wish to exert subtle social pressures on those who hold to orthodox biblical teachings on certain social issues. Thankfully, in the United States, we have concealed carry laws in many jurisdictions that also discourage unstable potential lone-wolf shooters looking to take out their frustrations with religion on Christians.
In some places in the world, however, standing up for your faith and for the faithful requires something more than just words or the implicit threat of concealed carry. It requires action. To quote Luke 11:21, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe.” So, too, is his flock, as this priest demonstrated.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.