More than 200 people were murdered on Easter Sunday as a series of coordinated attacks were executed against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. As statements condemning the attacks poured in, one word was notably missing from many of them.
Former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and nearly all of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls tweeted in response to the attacks, and although at least some of the bombings specifically targeted Christians on the holiest day of the year — Easter Sunday — hardly any of their tweets mentioned Christianity. (RELATED: Fearing ‘Unrest,’ UK Reportedly Denies Asylum To Christian Woman Asia Bibi)
The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 21, 2019
On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 21, 2019
It wasn’t long before some people noticed the disparity.
“Easter worshippers” aka Christians. https://t.co/ocXXyD49ZK
— Brit Hume (@brithume) April 22, 2019
You know, it’s really not hard to say the word “Christians” pic.twitter.com/9yraAv9SwL
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 22, 2019
I literally never heard the phrase “Easter worshippers” before today. We’re called Christians. pic.twitter.com/AMx5qwqXDU
— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) April 22, 2019
Whoa! This is more widespread than I thought????
Dear Christian brothers and sisters, it seems the Democrats are in the process of renaming us to???????? “Easter worshippers”.
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) April 22, 2019
When the Democratic 2020 hopefuls began to weigh in on the attack, many of them took the same approach. (RELATED: ‘A River Of Blood’: Coordinated Church Bombings Leave More Than 200 Dead In Sri Lanka)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” On a day meant for celebration, so many families in Sri Lanka are devastated, and my heart breaks along with theirs. There’s absolutely no justification for this. https://t.co/RxdulEPnv4
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 21, 2019
I’m heartsick for the victims of today’s terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Hundreds have been killed and wounded. To slaughter worshippers at church during Easter service is an act of great evil. My thoughts and my prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 21, 2019
Easter is a reminder that there is hope and rebirth even in the darkest of times. We must remember that today, more than ever.
I am horrified by the attacks in Sri Lanka, where so many families were celebrating such a joyous day. Praying for the victims and their loved ones.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 21, 2019
The killings in Sri Lanka shock us all. Near and far we have seen, many times now, rising terrorism against foreigners and against minorities in worship. America must help lead the world in resisting all such deadly hatred.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 21, 2019
Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka. No person should have to fear for their life in their place of worship. We must work to bring this world together around our common humanity.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 21, 2019
Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio also followed suit.
Even President Donald Trump, after correcting a mistaken tweet Sunday that claimed 138 million had died in Sri Lanka, recognized the victims without noting that they were Christians.
138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019
Former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang were among the few who actually used the term “Christian” in their statements.
These acts of terror against Christians in Sri Lanka are unspeakably tragic. Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We owe them our commitment to making our world a place where no family lives in fear of persecution because of how they worship.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) April 21, 2019
The attacks in Sri Lanka are a horrific tragedy. Our heartfelt condolences to the individuals and families who were victims of this senseless attack, particularly Christian communities who were celebrating in peace. #HumanityFirst
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) April 21, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence also condemned the attack, saying, “This atrocity is an attack on Christianity & religious freedom everywhere.”
.@POTUS and I are monitoring the horrific attacks on those celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka. Our hearts & prayers are with the victims & their families. This atrocity is an attack on Christianity & religious freedom everywhere. No one should ever be in fear in a house of worship.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 21, 2019
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took it a step further, saying, “These terrorist attacks are a stark reminder that Christians remain the most persecuted and targeted religious group in the world, and that we must redouble our efforts to combat religious persecution.”
These terrorist attacks are a stark reminder that Christians remain the most persecuted and targeted religious group in the world, and that we must redouble our efforts to combat religious persecution.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 21, 2019
What struck many as interesting, however, was not just the omission of the word “Christian” in so many responses, but how different those responses were when mosques were attacked in Christchurch, New Zealand just weeks ago.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Sri Lanka church bombing
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the New Zealand shooting pic.twitter.com/52Zml9dWwS
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 22, 2019
My heart is heavy with grief for New Zealand & Muslims worldwide affected by the tragic murders in Christchurch. The massacre of those in a house of worship, in prayer, is evil & cowardly. We stand with our friends around the world to condemn hate & speak out against intolerance.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 15, 2019
I’m sickened by the news coming out of New Zealand—the horrific terrorist attack targeting Muslims at prayer that killed at least 49 people.
The rising tide of white supremacy and Islamophobia around the globe must be met with our determination to work against hate.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) March 15, 2019
In addition to recognizing the fact that it was Muslims who were targeted in New Zealand, several commented on the need to curb the “rising tide of white supremacy and Islamophobia.”
The latest estimates put the death toll in Sri Lanka at approximately 290.