Former President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were among a number of Democrats who called Christians killed while worshipping on Easter in Sri Lanka on April 21 “Easter worshippers,” triggering a backlash.
Some 290 people were killed in the country after radical Muslim terrorists set off suicide vests in churches and hotels, with more than 500 others injured.
Obama was among the many current and former politicians responding to the attacks, but appeared to go out of his way to avoid saying “Christians.”
“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,” he wrote.
— Dustin Humphreys (@TheMrHumphreys) April 22, 2019
Clinton likewise released a statement: “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.”
Other Democrats, including former Obama administration official and current presidential contender Julian Castro, also used the term instead of “Christians.”
Matt Walsh, a Christian who works for the conservative Daily Wire website, was among those who said the wording wasn’t appropriate.
“If just one of them had gone this route, perhaps I could be convinced that it might be clumsy wording and nothing more. But it is simply impossible to believe that several significant Democrats would all independently and innocently think to refer to Christian victims in such a roundabout and obscure way,” he wrote.
“I can’t imagine why anyone would be so unnecessarily vague and wordy. Unless, of course, there is some reason why they don’t want to explicitly acknowledge the group in question. And that appears to be the case here.”
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) April 22, 2019
Many people on social media noted that Obama and Clinton recently reacted differently after the shootings in New Zealand that left dozens of Muslims dead.
After that tragedy, Obama said, “Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms.”
Clinton said: “My heart breaks for New Zealand & the global Muslim community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms. White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.”
Sri Lankan authorities said that National Thowheed Jamath, a radical Islamic group, was behind the attacks, but said it was likely the group had assistance from groups outside of the country.
A slew of others also criticized Clinton and Obama.
“No Obama! They’re called Christians not Easter Worshippers!” wrote conservative commentators Diamond and Silk.
“How do President Obama and Secretary Clinton both come up with Easter worshippers in their tweets about the murders in Sri Lanka?” added former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “To have both of them use the same term the same day is strange. Is Easter Worshipper the left’s new way to avoid the word Christian? Pathetic.”
“I literally never heard the phrase ‘Easter worshippers’ before today. We’re called Christians,” added “Holy Wars” podcast host Jeremy McLellan.
“In New Zealand, did anyone refer to the victims as ‘Ramadan worshippers?’ Why is it hard for liberal politicians to say the word ‘Christian’ in this instance?” wondered actress Patricia Heaton.