george hancock stefanOn Sunday morning, we as a nation experienced the worst disaster inflicted on us since 9/11. On 9/11 a group of people hit the center of the American economy because they hated us. On Sunday morning, another individual entered a place of relaxation and friendship and killed 49 people because he hated the people who were there.

The first common sense requirement in this situation is to mourn with and comfort the families of those who have lost their loved ones. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says, “Comfort, comfort ye my people!” The first day after the tragedy, people raised over one million dollars to help the grieving families. In their shock and grief, the American people responded in the best ways that they could from the distance of other states or across the whole country. In cities across the United States, people gathered in churches, synagogues, mosques, parks, and other public facilities to offer up their prayers. We shall mourn and bury our dead and then work to figure out what has happened to us.

In spite of these shows of unity, debates and arguments have already started. For his entire presidency, President Obama has been unwilling to state that any attack has been carried out by Islamic radical terrorists. In his first address he went to his usual attack on the lack of gun control. During his second address, he took the accusation of Islamic terrorism and responded to it. The murderer was a guard in a well-known security company. He had been under FBI surveillance, but he was cleared by them twice. According to owner of the gun shop, he legally and legitimately purchased all of the weapons and ammunition a few weeks before the attack. At the same time his mind and decisions have been shaped by his allegiance to the Islamic State and his interpretation of a particular aspect of the Quran. In these two realities he is not alone. There are millions in this world who are in agreement with him about eradicating gay and lesbian people in their countries. What is most frightening is that the Islamic State proposes to do this not only in their own nations, but throughout the world. The terrorist, even though he was born in New York, did not have have allegiance to this nation, but to a different group, to a different state.

As I was listening to various commentators, four different conclusions came up. One was that as long as we can keep the people who think like this far from us, we will be ok. A second opinion was that we will not be ok until we pulverize the Islamic state that influences first and second generation refugees and their children, who are born in New York and other states. The third was that moderate Muslims need to rise up and vet people who use their Muslim identity as a cover for doing evil. A fourth commentator proposed that we might as well learn to live with people who hate us, because they will continue to do what they want do.

While thinking through these viewpoints, I was also thinking of something that happened over 80 years ago. In the 1930s, we knew that Fascism was on the rise. We knew that Fascists were persecuting and killing Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals and that they will persecute and kill all those Slavs that have taken territories from them and maybe some French people as well. Fascism was of the conviction that Aryans were a superior group of people. Americans were not willing to become involved in a costly war that was fought in distant lands.


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During that time, Churchill came to talk with Roosevelt. In a historic conversation, he told the American president that after Hitler is done with the Russians and the Europeans, he will set his sights on America. Churchill told him that if the US sat and watched Europe be defeated, they would be defeated later. They could combine strengths and defeat Hitler together or stay separated and be overcome.

While it is easy to blame the German people for WWII, most of them were not fascists themselves. But they were Aryans who were swayed by fascist ideology that agreed that they were inherently better than other people. The Allied forces worked together and destroyed the Axis powers so decisively that it took about 20 years for them to obtain some semblance of cohesive functionality.

The United States and the world is divided on how to deal with our current situation. There are ideologues on both sides. The fact that a person was able to purchase so much firepower is something that has to be accepted as excessive. The fact that he was influenced by an ideology that is bent on killing thousands of people should not be disputed. People who defend the constitutional right to bear arms can agree and Muslims can agree that radical Islam terrorists are not interpreting the Quran correctly.

The United States and the Western world is too divided about how we should respond. We need someone of the stature and the vision of Churchill to unite us. We need someone who is able to think long-range versus instead of just looking to the next election. These past few years have shown us that systematic evil on the horizon. A systematic evil has to receive a systematic response. If it does not, this radical evil will expand and adapt until it triumphs over the world.



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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...