When Christians think of Jesus,, they have the choice of multiple images that go back to their childhood. The most common, of course, is Jesus dying on the Cross, or “Ecce Homo” – Jesus, before Pilate, dripping with blood after His scourging – or at table with His Apostles at the Last Supper the night before. Others include the Babe in Bethlehem, the Divine Child teaching in the Temple, or being baptized by His cousin John. There is the Angry Jesus driving the money-changers from the Temple, but also the Sweet, the Gentle Jesus, in flowing robes and with a face that is almost smiling, surrounded by infants, saying “Suffer the little children to come unto Me”.
Today children are often in the news. We see them, terrified in overcrowded inflatable (and capsizable, sinkable) boats, or drowning in the sea, or lying dead when they are washed up onto the beach. But children are suffering in many other ways and places. I think of three in particular, all of them in the context of religion. The first is as victims of clerical pedophilia. The second is as victims of religious indoctrination. The third is as … Islamic terrorists ! TIME this week (April 25, 2016) reports that :
“One in five suicide attacks launched by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was carried out by children in 2015, according to a new report by UNICEF. About 75% of the children used as bombers were female, some as young as 8.”
No comment (though yours will be welcome).