Controversy

Should Christians step up and bury the Boston bomber?

I admit that the thought never even crossed my mind. Nobody wants to bury the Boston bomber, Tarerlan Tsarnaev. Nobody. This article asks why no Christian (or anyone else for that matter) has stepped up to show enough mercy to take the body and bury it. From the article: “I’ve not heard a lot from the Christian community” on this issue, said Joel Anderle, senior pastor of Community Covenant Church in West Peabody, Mass., and president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. “This is one of those curious areas where Christianity, and in particular Protestant Christianity, has come to believe that it doesn’t have a voice.” The issue isn’t theological uncertainty. Believers of all stripes would say Tsarnaev should be buried — in local soil if necessary, perhaps in an unmarked grave — as a matter of respect for personhood, for the human body and for God, according to Laura Everett, executive director of the MCC. She notes Christians are known for burying even pariahs, including those executed for heinous crimes or left to die in the streets, as acts of faithful witness. Why then today’s reticence? Some blame the media. Christian leaders would love to tell why even a killer should have a burial, but reporters aren’t giving them a platform to weigh in, according to the Rev. Suzanne Wade, priest-in-charge at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Westford, Mass. “We have a moral imperative to say yes to the burial,” Wade said. “But I wonder if the voices of those who would speak peace are being muted because the conflict is a much better story.” Others suspect reticence serves particular purposes for faith leaders who must walk a delicate line in the aftermath of a devastating disaster. These purposes might be lofty and pastoral, or part of something less holy, depending on one’s perspective. Because the bombings left more than 260 people injured and dozens maimed, pastors across the region are ministering to parishioners who were hurt or know victims and still feel the sting of the attacks. Such pastors might be too upset or angry to champion mercy and respect for a man responsible for their people’s misery, according to Wade. “It’s much easier for me to be that public voice than it is perhaps for people who have somebody very close to them who was affected,” Wade said. “Distance allows a perspective that you can’t get when you’re living in the middle of it.” What’s more, the best pastoral outcome would probably be for a burial to take place with consent from Tsarnaev’s family and with minimal fanfare, Everett said. In their reticence, faith leaders might be trying to keep the debate from escalating, she said, since no one is served well by a heightened, emotional spectacle. Thoughts? Read more here. Todd