Gaddafi Dead: Can Christians Find Compassion for the Death of a Dictator?

Following the recent death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, many Christians have been asking themselves a fundamental question that puts their beliefs to the test: how should the Christian community feel about Gaddafi’s death?

Susan K. Smith, senior pastor of the Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio, tackled this question in a recent commentary written for The Washington Post. Throughout the commentary, she examined what it means to be a Christian, how many Christian and religious groups have diverted from what it means to be a follower of God and how Christians might find compassion for Gaddafi’s murder despite the atrocities committed under his rule.

"Religious people seem to be out of alignment with the way the God would like for us to treat each other,” Smith said. "Just as when Osama bin Laden was killed, I am relieved that Gaddafi will no longer be able to terrorize the world, but I also know that their deaths are not the end of terrorism nor are their deaths the end of corrupt leaders, who want power more than they want to be in relationship with the God we all say we worship... But I cannot be 'glad' that he was apparently gunned down, murdered... I do not think days like this are pleasing to God."

While many Christians on the Web have been saying that Gaddafi's death is certainly something to be grateful for because it marks the end of an oppressive era for Libya, they have also been making the point that the violent manner in which he was killed and the fact that his life was taken away by others is something that should never be condoned, no matter how monstrous a human being he may have been.

"While we can rejoice that he is out of power, we cannot [ever] rejoice when a lost soul remains lost forever," said Facebook user Vikki Jaskolka Cerbin in response to an article announcing Gaddafi’s demise. "We cannot rejoice in his death."

User Mari Lopez wrote, "God does not rejoice in the death of any man. Neither should we. Let's pray for his family, for as long as they have air in their lungs they still have a chance to repent and come to the Lord."

Libyans, many of whom suffered under Gaddafi's rule, have also been debating the same issue. Munir Abdusalem Kridig, 25, said his brother was shot by security forces in June simply for complaining about Gaddafi as he sat in his car in a long line at a gas station, the Washington Post reported. "They heard him and opened fire," he said.

Kridig added, "Now that Gaddafi’s buried, I don’t think even Satan would accept him."

The 69-year-old Libyan dictator was killed last Thursday during a rebel assault on his hometown of Sirte. Video and photos emerged soon after of Gaddafi being beaten repeatedly by an angry mob of screaming rebels, and it was later determined that the ultimate cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Gaddafi was buried in a secret grave in the desert early Tuesday morning.

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