The Atlantic has this terrorist all figured out

Ever since I saw the first pictures of the horrible bombing in Oslo, I’ve been glued to Twitter trying to make sense of everything.

My husband and I had a conversation where he theorized about Norwegian extremists but it wasn’t difficult to wonder whether this was the latest example of Al Qaeda-style terrorism. The New York Times published that a jihadi group had claimed responsibility, although the paper noted that the claim was “unconfirmed,” and it seemed this might be a story about violent religious extremists wreaking havoc.

It turns out that while a Muslim group claimed responsibility on the internet, the actual perpetrator was not Muslim. But that doesn’t mean the story is without a tremendous religion angle.

The terrorist, it turns out, is vehemently anti-Muslim. Apart from that, the mixture of information we’re getting about the man is very hard to synthesize. I saw his Facebook page before it was removed. It had only been started a few days ago and featured a professional headshot, no friends and a listing of YouTubes featuring some of his favorite classical and trance music. In his “information” section, it included a list of his favorite books and influences, including Swedenborgian philosopher William James and the books On Liberty, 1984, The Trial, War and Peace, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Critique of Pure Reason, The Prince, Wealth of Nations, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Leviathan, The Divine Comedy and The Republic. On Facebook, he self-identified as Christian and conservative.

In this lengthy listing (49 pages) of writings the alleged shooter posted to a message board, there’s a paragraph or two devoted to his religious views. We learn that he’s a Protestant (of his own “free will”) who wishes that the Church of Norway would just convert back to Rome, he dislikes priests who wear jeans and support Palestinians, and that he thinks the modern church is dying. We know from other evidence that he is a Free Mason.

Meanwhile, the deputy police chief announced that the shooter was a “Christian fundamentalist” but no one has reported either the evidence for the claim or how the police determined that. Whatever the case, he may be the only Freemason, Rome-leaning, Protestant fundamentalist in the world.

We know much more about his politics, I guess, although I find some of his positions there to be just as incongruous. He was anti-Marxist, anti-Nazi, pro-Israeli, anti-multicultural. He vehemently opposed Norway’s immigration policies but thought that the far right groups in Norway were racist.

So. Who takes these views and thinks that a good way to advance them is to kill 80+ children? I’m not sure we have a satisfactory answer.

But The Atlantic has figured it all out. Turns out the shooter was led to do all this by his fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity. This hasn’t been a good week for The Atlantic and religion news, but let’s see. Maybe they have something to teach us.

Note the url: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/07/christian-fundamentalist-charged-death-toll-norway-soars-past-90/40321/. The headline? “The Christian Extremist Suspect in Norway’s Massacre”

Wow! They must really have access to some exclusive information. I can’t wait to find out what it is. Here are the top five paragraphs of the profile:

The death toll in Norway rose to at least 91 in Norway, the New York Times reports, following the bombing of a government center in Oslo on Friday and a shooting attack on a nearby youth camp island. The reports so far have been horrifying. According to The Guardian, a 15-year-old camper gave her account of hiding behind the same rock that the killer was standing on, dressed in a police uniform, as he shot at people. Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said he knew many of the victims of the shooting on Utøya personally.

The Norwegian police charged a 32-year-old man on Saturday, who was identified by the Norwegian media as Anders Behring Breivik. The photo above is a screen grab from his Facebook page, which has since been blocked. Breivik has been identified as a “Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections,” according to the Times, as well as with anti-Muslim views, according to multiple sources.

This is what we do and don’t know about Breivik so far:

Religious views: According to the BBC, Breivik has a Facebook and Twitter account that he set up a mere few days ago on July 17, where he identifies himself as a Christian and a conservative. There are several reports of his anti-Muslim views. In a post in Norwegian in an online forum on December 2009, a user named Anders Behring Breivik claims there is not one country where Muslims have peacefully lived with non-Muslims, stating that instead it has had “catastrophic consequences” for non-Muslims.

Political views: The Daily Mail reports that National police chief Sveinung Sponheim told public broadcaster NRK that the suspected gunman’s internet postings “suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but if that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen.” Furthermore, the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying Breivik became a rightwing extremist in his late 20s.

Um, OK. Maybe the explanation of how he was motivated by his Christianity or Christian fundamentalism is further down in the piece.

We learn that he’s a member of a political party that advocates for stricter immigration and lower taxes. He apparently argued that socialism was breaking down traditions, culture, national identity and other societal structure and that this made society weak and confused. We learn that he was a fan of anti-Nazi World War II hero Max Manus. He liked Dexter, the TV show about the serial killer. He was into partying, gaming and fitness. We learn about his like of John Stuart Mill.

And we learn that he ran an organic fruit and vegetable farm. Hmm, so I guess we’re still waiting to find out about why The Atlantic is so dramatically pushing this idea that Breivik was motivated by Christian fundamentalism.

Now it’s certainly true that the New York Times printed that a jihad group had claimed responsibility for the attack. An attack that, based on the evidence we have thus far, they didn’t actually commit. And certainly some parts of the blogosphere were either too trusting of this report or too eager to believe that this attack fit into the mold of Muslim terrorism as opposed to anti-government terrorism.

But now the media are committing an equal and opposite rush to judgment. It is certainly true that a police chief said that this man was a “Christian fundamentalist.” But at this point, I’ve seen precisely zero evidence that he was one, much less that he has in any way claimed it as a motivation for what he did. Maybe that will happen. Maybe he is right now telling police that his interpretation of a particular book of the Bible means that you shoot up 80-plus kids on an island. I don’t know.

Until such time as we learn that, though, this seems more like an attempt to force the shooter’s motivation into something equivalent to Islamist terror. Again, maybe it is. Maybe we will discover a trove of writings about how Jesus commands his followers to kill a bunch of kids. I don’t know. But we certainly don’t have that now.

I think we can safely say, as Mother Jones does, that the shooter was “obsessed with the impact of Islam on Norwegian society.” That’s precisely what I picked up when I read the many dozens of pages of internet comments.

The media have an unfortunate history of taking people who claim political motivations, be they anti-government Timothy McVeigh or anti-abortion Eric Rudolph, and call them “Christian” terrorists. Even if these same people vehemently deny that their acts had anything to do with their (lack of) religious views. And I’m sure that happens with terrorists of other stripes whose violence isn’t related or strongly related to their religious views.

I’ve read a bit more since I started writing this. Norwegian media have linked to the terrorist’s explanation for his actions. He spent years on his plans. There is quite a bit to chew on in terms of his obsession with Muslims, multiculturalism, nationalism, etc. And it seems, if I’m reading this correctly, that he was part of a Masonic group called Knights Templar.

And here’s an English translation of a Norwegian blog that has been tracking conservative extremists. He says that it’s wrong to call the terrorist either a “Christian conservative” or a “neo-Nazi”:

Breivik was inspired by an internet community who brands itself “counter jihadist”, a community espousing an ideology that may be considered as extreme right-wing, which also has connections to European neo-fascism. It’s a community I have been following fairly closely for a number of years. I am not surprised that the spirit of this community has now resulted in an act of terror in Norway. What is surprising is the scale, the scope of the terrorist attacks. The number of casualties exceeds the Al Qa’ida attack in London a few years ago. Although there are examples of terrorist attacks perpetrated by similarly motivated people in the past, they have not approached the scale of this incident.

If you read the terrorist’s own manifesto, it seems like this is a more fruitful avenue for journalists to pursue. And I guess many of us will need some refresher courses on Freemasonry, too.

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  • Bob Smietana

    The anti-jihad website Atlas Shrugs run by Pamela Gellar says that the group Stop Islamization of Europe banned Anders Behring Breivi from their group a year and a half ago.

  • Bob Smietana

    But The Atlantic has figured it all out. Turns out the shooter was led to do all this by his fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity.

    Where exactly does the Atlantic piece say that? The headline identifies him as a Christian and the piece says that he had religious views but does not say those beliefs motivated the attack.

  • Jerry

    For what it’s worth, most if not all the media I’ve checked describe him as a fundamentalist.

  • Less

    Seems likely that he has more elapsed time invested in organic farming than in Christian Fundamentalism. So how ’bout we call him the Organic Farmer Mass Murderer? Just as rational. (Which is to say, not rational at all)

  • Norman

    After spending a very long day chasing this around it seems like the media jumped on the Christian fundamentalist angle on very thin evidence, namely the words of a single Norwegian police officer, and made of that, in many papers, the headline quote and one of the most common descriptors applied to him.

    I’m still trying to puzzle out just what this man’s religious convictions are, how important of a motivator they are for him, or how deeply they were held (in other words, whether he is just a cultural Christian, or someone who has a deep faith, and how he actually understands that faith).

    Given that we are still trying to find answers to these questions, I think most media outlets jumped the gun in playing this angle of the story up so prominently.

  • http://www.mikehickerson.com Mike Hickerson

    Bob,
    I think that was Mollie’s point – the article doesn’t support the headline. Calling him a “Christian extremist” in the headline makes it sound like that’s the primary identification for him. Why isn’t the Atlantic article headlined something like “The Anti-Islam Freemason Suspect in Norway’s Massacre”?

  • http://gottagetgoing.blogspot.com Kunoichi

    note re: the facebook page. What is described in this post is the English one that got passed around. Atlas Shrugs put up some screenshots. The Norwegian one, screen captured shortly after the gunman was named, does not include indentifying as “Christian” or “conservative.”

    Norwegian
    English

    The Norwegian one includes movies, tv shows and WoW. The English one does not.

    From Atlas Shrugged

    Did he have two different Facebook pages, one in Norwegian and one in English, and he only identified himself as a Christian and a conservative on the English one? Or did he pause from his murder spree to add “Christian” and “conservative” to his Facebook profile?

    There is so much that doesn’t fit in this story.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JERRY:

    Yes, quoting the police official.

    Not one shred of factual info pointing toward that — in terms of the practice of fundamentalist faith, or any kind of faith at all, by this individual.

    Facts. Quotes. We need information, not labels.

    All of the facts and his writings point toward political motivations, linked to Islam and multiculturalism. That’s the only way to make sense of his ACTIONS, too.

  • http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber H. E. Baber

    Nightmare. Last spring I chatted with a guy from Scandenavia at a (Christian) conference and he said that there was strong anti-Islamic sentiment that spilled over into hostility to all religion. The take of his countrymen he said was that religion–all religion–was irrational and promoted intolerance and, potentially violence. Well here we have it: if religion wasn’t already dead in Scandenavia, it is now.

    The NYTimes headlines this guy as a “Christian extremes” in spite of the fact that, reading the article, it’s not clear what kind of Christian he is and in any case he has a range of ideas picked up from lots of places that aren’t in any way religious. But you can bet that the NYTimes and other liberal media are going to spin this as yet another consequence of wicked religion.

    It’s really a win-win situation for the anti-religious. If Islamicists do violence they can say, ah-ha! See what religion does? Those Muslims are religious and that’s what makes them oppress women and bomb buildings. If self-proclaimed Christians like this Norwegian guy do violence then they say the same ah-ha: See what religion does? And if somebody like McVeigh who proclaims himself an agnostic does violence, the media doesn’t make a fuss about his agnosticism and no one notices.

    It’s hopeless. The whole pitch of the mainline media now is that religion is bad, stupid and dangerous.

  • Jerry

    Terry, not all media correctly quoted the police official. Some skipped that essential element.

  • Norman

    Hats off to H.E. Baber, from across a previously established gulf.

    I’ve dipped into his manifesto a bit. His grievances are primarily political and ethnic, though he does present them with a thin overlay of Christian iconography. He has a romantic fixation on knighthood, signalling more of an emphasis on Christendom- a vision of a unified, chivalrous, white Europe- than Christianity, which knows no race or ethnicity.

    We are talking Arthurian legend here, not the Sermon on the Mount. I simply don’t see how any Christian who is not certifiably insane gets from the Gospel to Utoya Island. There are no clerics of any denomination who will write justifications for his actions; the Christian faith and what he has done is simply irreconcilable.

    Come to think of it, I don’t see how anyone who is not certifiably insane can have the stomach to blaze away at defenseless adolescents on some Scandinavian island for an hour. There’s a failure of humanity here that is facially pathological.

  • Norman

    Back to journalism, a powerful front page from The Independent http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx

    Hope that link works, because it’s an amazing layout.

  • http://spinstrangenesscharm.wordpress.com New Class Traitor

    Just saying: I may be living in a sheltered environment, but while I know “conservative Christians”, and I know identified Freemasons, I know none who are both.

    Something doesn’t pass the smell test.

  • http://demographymatters.blogspot.com R.F. McDonald

    @ 10: The thing is that Breivik committed his crimes _because_ of his stated religious affiliations _as he understood them._ In contrast, McVeigh’s agnosticism was irrelevant to the worldview that led to Oklahoma City.

  • Kristina Odom

    It’s interesting that in America he is labeled a Christian fundamentalist. There has not been one note on that here in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland), as far as I have seen. Everybody here knows that he is an extremist, but he didn’t do this because of Christianity, but of fear for other cultures, especally islam. A Christian fundamentalist here is someone who is against women’s ordination and gay marriage.

  • kjs

    I do think the “fundamentalist” angle taken on this story is off-base. Breivik’s Christianity appears to be of a cultural kind – Christianity as the religion of opposition to Islam & “cultural Marxism.” He wrote this book under the pseudonym “Andrew Berwick.” I certainly haven’t read the whole thing; it’s incredibly long at 1511 pages. Page 1309 has some interesting bits on the Christian angle:

    A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

    If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian. …

    European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defence. It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists.

    The pacifist/suicidal Christians must never be allowed to dominate the church again which one of the reasons why I personally believe that the protestant Church in Europe should once again should reform to become Catholic (Nordic countries, the UK, Germany, Benelux etc). Re-introduction of cultural and Church aspects relating to honour should be the core of our objective when reforming the Church. My hope is that the future nationalist leadership in Western European countries will agree. At the very least, we must support the conservative, anti-pacifist cultural Christian leaders and ensure that they are able to influence the European churches. There must however be clear distinctions. The Church must not put any limits whatsoever on issues relating to science, research and development. Europe will continue to be the world’s center for research and development in all areas, strengthened by a predictable and “unchangeable” cultural framework. This again will considerably strengthen European and societal cohesion and therefore contribute to sustainable societies where harmony, progress, freedom and the furtherance of mankind are the primary civilisational pillars.

    There’s also a lengthy interview with Breivik beginning p. 1351 that reveals many of his ideas about “Christianity.”

  • http://gottagetgoing.blogspot.com Kunoichi
  • Erasmus II

    Mollie is right to ‘trident’ American media for drowning themselves in old tropes before attempting to make sense of and report on the barbarism that has erupted in one of the world’s very few Shangri-Las.

    But the religion [or motivation] of Anders Breivik is not the most important religious question now. No matter how much time skin-heads rehearse their violence before bathroom mirrors and each other they now are confronted by the example of ‘Anders.’ And that is a religious question if you think of yourself as any kind of knight.

    Europe [with ovational agreement by 'elite' Americans] sees itself as the apotheosis of secularization. We can only say this in whisper as we turn our head away: “That kind of Secularization is itself a religion.” Then there are the Catholic Church, State Churches, free churches, other religionists, and Islam [like Europe, an abstraction].

    How will the religions respond to Anders? Will journalists get those stories right? And by doing so will they inadvertently serve Anders’ end?

    I have heard one person say that France would have experienced a bloodbath if the students who tore up streets for sinecures and the young men who burned cars for jobs had done so on the same day.

  • Ben

    kjs seems to have dug up the most relevant piece of information so far that he views himself more as a cultural Christian.

    On the other hand, there is some evidence that he viewed what he did in religious terms. In his diary (see here) he says, “screwing around outside of marriage is after all a relatively small sin compared to the large amount of grace I am about to generate with my martyrdom operation.”

    When I read that I flashed back to the detail of the 9/11 hijackers going to a strip club beforehand. Many Muslims for a very long time have been trying to make the point that terrorists are misusing Islam, using it as a political tool of identity. But that’s generated a lot of debate because the Islamists do use religious language even if they’re not always scholars or even strictly pious.

  • E.D.C.

    Set aside whether or not the headline provides insight into his motives for a moment. You claim that the headline is false as written, or, at minimum, that the headline as written contains information that is entirely unsubstantiated.

    However, the headline says he is “Christian” – you concede that.

    It says he is “extremist” – this is obvious.

    And that he is a “suspect” in the “massacre” – quite well substantiated.

    The headline is perfectly correct.

    If you don’t like the fact that it includes “christian” you are free to argue that. However, around the world media were broadcasting in their first reports about the bombing and massacre that al Qaeda had likely struck again. “Christian” in this case was necessary not to say that christianity motivated the attacks, but to make clear that Islam had NOT motivated the attacks.

    As for the claptrap about McVeigh being agnostic:

    from an interview he gave to Time magazine in 2001.

    Did he [renounce or question Christianity]? Here’s what he said:

    Time: Are you religious?

    McVeigh: I was raised Catholic. I was confirmed Catholic (received the sacrament of confirmation). Through my military years, I sort of lost touch with the religion. I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs.

    Time: Do you believe in God?

    McVeigh: I do believe in a God, yes. But that’s as far as I want to discuss. If I get too detailed on some things that are personal like that, it gives people an easier way [to] alienate themselves from me and that’s all they are looking for now.

    He was a Christian, but he didn’t go to church for a while. He actually became MORE religiously committed to Christianity after he left the military & before the bombing. He refused to discuss his Christianity because he didn’t want people to think that he killed because of his interpretation of Christianity. In other interviews he says that the bombing wasn’t about religion & that he didn’t want to talk about religion b/c it would get in the way of the “message” of the bombing, which for him was political.

    Thus the news got it right: He didn’t bomb Oklahoma City b/c of atheism. He didn’t bomb it b/c of agnosticism & he didn’t bomb it because of Christianity. And the media in the vast majority of cases did not blame it on any of those three things.

    So this post is ridiculously off base. There is a reason to mention Christianity here: it was important to stop the Islam-blaming that had already started.

  • Ben

    Here’s a word-cloud generated from the 1500 page manifesto, which is a helpful way of seeing the big picture: http://emanuelkarlsten.se/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Bild-114.png

  • Norman

    KJS (#17):

    Is this:

    If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God.

    his only reference to Christ? I skimmed the manifesto myself and didn’t find any others.

    Quite a strange Christian fundamentalist who writes a 1500 page manifesto with only one reference to Christ (and then only to tell us that he does “not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God”), no mention of prayer or Christian practice that I saw, rarely, if ever, quotes the bible, but writes obsessively about multiculturalism, cultural marxism, immigration, farming, bomb-making and how to look photogenic while committing a massacre.

  • Gringo

    The mainstream media’s focus on this man’s religion is hyped and, worse, avoids the real reasons of what ultimately could have lead to his atrocious actions for as many of the opinions expressed in his manifesto (ie, regarding Socialism and Islam) are very common. …

    If you read his manifesto (all in English) it is clear that the religious aspect is almost non-existent. What is clear is that this person has an incredible hatred of the established European socialist (Marxist) political parties and news-media which he labels as Category A and B traitors and which he accuses of allowing many Muslims to gradually take over Europe. That on itself is a ‘common’ opinion among European right wing (and extremely right wing) groups and political parties (ie, Geert Wilders’ Dutch PVV party).

    For this right winger, the Labour Party youth he systematically killed on Utoya the other day were nothing more but Category A traitors who deserved to die for his political cause. There is no religion in that whatsoever, just political terrorism.

  • Mediocrates

    @ New Class Traitor- Just saying: I may be living in a sheltered environment, but while I know “conservative Christians”, and I know identified Freemasons, I know none who are both. Something doesn’t pass the smell test.”

    I am both a conservative Christian and a Freemason, and know hundreds of others who are. Freemasonry and conservative Christianity are by know means incompatible. Freemasonry is a philanthropic fraternity, conservative Christiantiy is a theology. The two are no more incompatible than driving directions and a recipe for fudge, the both contain instructions but are concerned with totally different outcomes.

  • Mediocrates

    correction I meant to say **no means** although “know means” is an interesting malapropism. lol

  • Gringo

    Portions of the killer’s manifesto copied from Unabomber’s manifest, reports Norwegian VG news media. (Scroll down for English text comparisons)

    He just replaced Unabomber’s ‘Leftism’ with his own ‘Multiculturalism’.

  • http://www.mikehickerson.com Mike Hickerson

    BTW, I used “Freemason” in my earlier post just as an example of another, random descriptor that could have been used in the Atlantic headline. As in America, the vast majority of Norwegians identify themselves as “Christian,” and – just like in America – this means different things to different people. In the US or Norway, any random person taken off the street will likely call themselves a “Christian” if you ask them for their religion. So, making this identity the primary way of describing a person and his motivations requires more than “he calls himself a Christian on his Facebook page.” In particular, his version of Christianity (e.g. equivalent to the national Church of Norway, connected intimately with Norwegian national identity) bears no resemblance to any form of fundamentalist Christianity I’ve encountered, which almost always holds a “free church” position (i.e. a rejection of national churches, and a prioritization of personal faith over adherence to church structures).

  • David

    I would love to see this much scrutiny into the theological consistency of Muslim terrorists, whom we typically assume to be straightforwardly “Muslim.” In this case, however, since we are familiar with the doctrinal controversies and theological problems of Christianity, we balk at calling this man a “fundamentalist Christian”, as we should. That he self-identified as a Christian is, I think, not in doubt. But we hate to see the whole faith blamed for his crimes. A fair move toward the other side, no?

  • Norman

    I’ve finally found, near the end of his opus, his vision of what Christianity should be all about:

    “the Churches primary role will be to contribute to unity by offering cultural and spiritual opportunities. The Church will once again be allowed to do what it was intended to do; to propagate and maintain cultural unity through pre defined rituals and celebrations. Christendom is after all the primary factor that unites all Europeans.”

    For him the role of the church is not to save souls by leading people to Christ, but to be a unifying cultural marker for Europeans: it’s prime role is to “to propagate and maintain cultural unity”.

    It is a completely politicized vision of religion, an empty set of rituals requiring no belief in anything but the folk community it is to tie together, and whose actual content is trivial, so long as it cements social bonds. It is about the here and now, and not the divine, indeed there is a complete absence of any spiritual dimension. It is religion subjugated to the state and designed to serve the interests of the state.

    It is also particular and not universal. Rather than a God who created all people in His image, and sent His Son as Redeemer and Savior of all, we have a religion designed to be a cultural touchstone for Europeans alone.

    From what I can see, he is a political thinker who seeks to turn religion to his ends, not someone impelled by religion to political action.

    I’m not sure how much more of his manifesto I care to read. Very strange stuff indeed.

  • David

    @ Norman

    I don’t see how any Christian gets from the Sermon on the Mount to War in Iraq, and yet most of us in the U.S. do just that.

  • Jefferson

    As my spouse and I just returned from visiting relatives in Norway this topic literally strikes close to home.

    E.D.C. nails it: the headline this blog posting objects to is accurate. …

    E.D.C. also nails the real religion story here: the American press (but not the Norwegian press) was ready to pin this atrocity on Muslims before the accused was named and has been sheepish but unapologetic about those editorial decisions afterwards. Get Religion had a great chance to address this but Salon.com has beaten it to the punch:

    “The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of “Terrorism”

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/23/nyt

  • EpiscoPal

    It seems at this time that the evidence linking the murderer’s “conservative Christianity” to a motive for the shooting is indeed quite thin, though I agree with EDC above that the headline is accurate as written.

    But the scurrying about to insist that a “REAL conservative Christian” would NEVER do such a thing is fascinating. Religious affiliation and political beliefs do not insulate us from madness.

  • John B

    EDC,

    You are aware that McVeigh officially denounced his faith over and over again (before and after), right?

    http://www.getreligion.org/2010/09/st-timothy-mcveigh-strikes-again/

    Secondly, if you count every cultural christian as a “christian fundamentalist” or as an active christian, you have just described the vats majority of Europe. Hell, even Richard Dawkins describes himself as a “Cultural Christian”.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7136682.stm

    So no. This post was not “ridiculously off base”. In fact, I think Mollie hit the nail right on the head.

  • Norman

    David:

    I don’t see much point in whataboutery, and agree that the rush to pin this on Muslims was wrong. Jennifer Rubin is suffering for that: http://hurryupharry.org/2011/07/23/on-the-terrible-tediousness-of-reserving-judgment/ She was not alone. The speculation was general in the media, and that rush to judgement is a valid subject for media critics to analyses.

    I’m also not someone who has spent any time attacking or stereotyping Muslims, and I agree that that is wrong.

    My interest is this particular issue, whether it is valid to call someone who has constructed, to serve their own political obsessions, a DIY bastardization of Christianity a Christian fundamentalist.

    My Church did not support the War in Iraq, declining, much to the consternation of the Bush administration, to say it met the threshold of a just war. Christianity does allow for self-defense, however. Slogging through more of Breivik’s work, this is in fact the only doctrine that moves him to quote scripture at length. Killing children as self-defense. Right.

  • John B

    Norman,

    That was….chilling.

  • Julia

    Real Fundamentalists would call a return to Christendom a return to Papistry – and would hate it.

    I had an atheist Philosophy professor who had lived in Florence for 10 years. While there he developed this strange fondness for the Christendom of Italy in the Middle Ages when everybody had a defined place in society and there was no angst over finding out who you were or what you would grow up to be. It was all cultural with him, an avowed Marxist, just as it appears to be with the Norwegian terrorist, a self-defined conservative.

  • http://Lucianne.com TerryS

    @mediocrates – I also have a brother-in-law who is conservative, Christian and a Freemason. In addition, he is a retired Representative of the Teamsters Union. If he should for some reason (not even remotely likely) go off like this fellow did, how do you suppose the NYT and Atlantic portray him?

  • Bob Smietana

    Breivik posted a 1,500 page manifesto on the web, including a journal of how he build the bombs, his cover story, and his desire to start a holy war. There’s a Templar cross on the cover page.

  • Jefferson

    @ Norman & JohnB, several things:

    I don’t think anyone here is counting “cultural Christians” as “active Christians.” I imagine most folks use these terms as opposites, not synonyms.

    That said, I think it’s a mistake to infer “cultural Christians” are folks without Christian faith. Dawkins is an easy target but please remember: the term “cultural Christian” is also used by our Sola fide friends to describe (deny?) the Christianity of those who are merely baptized and church-attending.

    Sincere worries about stereotyping and objections to the description of the accused as a “Christian fundamentalist” are duly noted – there is nothing fundamentally Christian about mass murder. But “fundamentalism” in this context is not a literal adjective but an adherence to religious doctrine in reaction to modernism. Again, from his own writings, this label fits the accused and, as a matter of journalism, was an accurate headline in the Atlantic.

    Norman, I have to end with the happy nostalgia you gave me from questioning “whether it is valid to call someone who has constructed, to serve their own political obsessions, a DIY bastardization of Christianity a Christian fundamentalist.” That’s exactly how my hillbilly grandmother (with pride!) described Protestant churches!

  • David Johanson

    Something is not right here. Freemasonry is about the most religiously tolerant organization in the world. Trying to start a religious/cultural war would be anathema. It would violate everything a Mason stands for to advocate forced conversion of people to any religion.

    Finally, “right wing Christian extremism” and Freemasonry don’t mix. Just visit some extreme right Christian websites and see what they have to say. It is rather hateful.

  • John B

    Jefferson,

    Two things.

    1. A Fundamentalist is a person possessing specific set of theological ideas. It is not a verbal swiss army knife which the press can use to mean anything they want. This man does not fit the definition. The Atlantic was wrong.

    2. What faith? This man’s conception of Christendom is that of an anglo-uniting (ethnocentric) cultural construct, a secular entity, not a religious one. A sentiment shared by many non-religious Europeans. Hence, my Dawkins example. Therefore, the descriptor “Christian” could be easily switched out with “Nutty Nord” and mean the same thing. The term doesn’t fit.

  • Arminius

    I’m curious to see if this dellow is in fact a false flag job. It is very suspicious. These discussions are mostly based on a facebook page started a week beore the attack. His head shot is very professional; how many organic farmers have professional head shots. The article summarizes his ppolitical/religous views perfectly “….he may be the only Freemason, Rome-leaning, Protestant fundamentalist in the world.”

    His construct would seem to be one that was built by someone with a very limited knowledge of the strains of lunacy in our culture and how they fit together; instead a pastiche was created with something for everyone.

    Compare this to manifestos from the like of the unabomber which was perfectly internally consistent. It’s only when held up to reality that it seemed insane.

  • Dave G.

    Personally, I am just waiting to see how this continues to be covered, and what everyone concludes are the lessons. It will be interesting to watch. It already is, as the desire to put ‘Christian’ in bold letters is already being met with ‘but it all doesn’t make sense.’ Perhaps the lesson is, people can often be far more than simple cookie-cutter labels, even if they adopt the labels themselves.

  • Gringo

    @ Arminius

    “I’m curious to see if this dellow is in fact a false flag job. It is very suspicious. These discussions are mostly based on a facebook page started a week beore the attack. His head shot is very professional; how many organic farmers have professional head shots.”

    You obviously have not read his manifesto. Someone linked it above.

    Read it and you’ll soon discover that there’s no ‘false flag job’ here. It’s a chilling account, particularly the diary part, of a right wing nutjob with an absolute hatred of socialists (which he calls Category A traitors) and which he believes are a danger to his country and to Europe. Killing ‘socialist youth’ by using 99% nicotine containing bullets is in his eyes an act of martyrdom.

  • kjs

    @ 22 Norman: No, it’s not the only time he mentions Christ, but most of his referrences to Christ are discussions of history & historical theology. There is a section in his book, pp. 1329-1335, in which Breivik discusses biblical passages describing self-defense & God’s protection going into battle. The following section is a copy of a letter written by Bernard of Clairvaux to the grand master of the Knights Templar at the time. Then, starting on p. 1342, Breivik has a section on “preparing for martyrdom,” of which the most relevant portion is this selection from pp. 1345-1347, subtitled “There are no atheists in foxholes”:

    I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment. In the past, I remember I used to think;

    “Religion is a crutch for weak people. What is the point in believing in a higher power if you have confidence in yourself!? Pathetic.”

    Perhaps this is true for many cases. Religion is a crutch for many weak people and many embrace religion for self serving reasons as a source for drawing mental strength (to feed their weak emotional state f example during illness, death, poverty etc.). Since I am not a hypocrite, I’ll say directly that this is my agenda as well. However, I have not yet felt the need to ask God for strength, yet… But I’m pretty sure I will pray to God as I’m rushing through my city, guns blazing, with 100 armed system protectors pursuing me with the intention to stop and/or kill. I know there is a 80%+ chance I am going to die during the operation as I have no intention to surrender to them until I have completed all three primary objectives AND the bonus mission. When I initiate (providing I haven’t been apprehended before then), there is a 70% chance that I will complete the first objective, 40% for the second , 20% for the third and less than 5% chance that I will be able to complete the bonus mission. It is likely that I will pray to God for strength at one point during that operation, as I think most people in that situation would.

    I can’t possibly imagine how my state of mind will be during the time of the operation, though. It will be during a steroid cycle and on top of that; during an ephedrine rush, which will increase my aggressiveness, physical performance and mental focus with at least 50-60% but possibly up to 100%. In addition, I will put my iPod on max volume as a tool to suppress fear if needed. I might just put Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell on repeat as it is an incredibly powerful song. The combination of these factors (when added on top of intense training, simulation, superior armour and weaponry) basically turns you into an extremely focused and deadly force, a one-man-army. At the moment, I do not fear death, but I am very concerned about being afraid on the day of the mission. I’m afraid that the potential fear I might experience during the mission will paralyze me or will result in me “crapping my pants” so to speak. Theoretically, this will not happen, as I have grown to be extremely mentally disciplined and I have undergone numerous hours of training and simulations. Nevertheless, it is impossible to properly simulate a martyrdom operation so I am still somewhat concerned for my mental state during that time.

    If praying will act as an additional mental boost/soothing it is the pragmatical thing to do. I guess I will find out… If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other martyrs for the Church in the past.

    I am pursuing religion for this very reason and everyone else should as well, providing it will give you a mental boost. There is no shame in praying minutes before your death. I highly recommend that you, prior to the operation, visit a Church and perform the Eucharist (Holy Communion/The Lord’s Supper ). As we know, this ritual represents the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and eventual crucifixion. You should also solve any issues you might have with God and ask for forgiveness for past sins. Finally, ask him to prepare for the arrival of a martyr for the Church. A hardened atheist may think this is silly, but believe me when I say; you will be extremely glad you did as soon as you realise you may actually die after the initiation of your operation.

    Sure, many deny God now. But when they’re looking death in the face, when they’re sick or in an accident or staring down the barrel of a gun, they’ll change their mind. They’ll beg for God then. There are no atheists in foxholes.

    “Thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”

    King David

    “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

    Jesus of Nazareth

    In times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare or a martyrdom operation, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power.

    Pragmaticists or rationalistic minded individuals who are hardened atheists should consider the following; it may be pragmatic to believe in an afterlife as it will make you a more efficient soldier. The less fearfull a person is the more effective he will be as a warrior. A person who believes that death is eternal is likely to be more fearful than an individual who believes in an afterlife. And as we all know; fear is poison in combat and it will cause confusion and hesitation. A spiritually confident individual, who does not fear what awaits him, is less likely to fear death and will therefore act more confidently and professionally in warfare. As such (and from a pragmatical viewpoint), religion is an essential component in warfare but ESSENTIAL in martyrdom operations.

    A great majority of people tend to seek out a divine power when they are facing an extreme threat. It is therefore essential and it is strongly recommended that all Justiciar Knights (even our Christian agnostic and Christian atheist brothers and sisters) attend Church before the operation to seek absolution and to request that God infuses our our soul and our armour of steel with the armour of spiritual protection and confidence.

    “[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless Knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.” Bernard de Clairvaux, c. 1135, De Laude Novae Militae—In Praise of the New Knighthood

    Starting on p. 1348, there is a discussion of the difference between suicide & martyrdom, which opens with the following:

    There is normally absolutely no justification or excuse to commit suicide. It is a shameful, selfish and cowardly act which normally can and should never be justified. According to the canon laws of the Catholic Church; any individual who commits suicide will forever burn in hell as suicide is considered the gravest of sins, similar to that of murder. The definition of suicide by the Christian faith is explained in the following manner; to commit suicide is to “throw away Gods most divine gift”, the gift of life. And anyone who willingly throws this gift away will forever burn in hell without any chance for redemption.

    Then you have other Christian denominations like Protestantism who literally propagates a view which nullifies the meaning of hell, good deeds, martyrdom and sainthood altogether. According to Protestant laws (for a majority of denominations), you will not go to hell regardless of the fact that you have committed suicide for any imaginable reason. As long as you turn to Jesus before death occurs, all will be forgiven… Not only have the Protestant views made a mockery of every Christian historical codex, it has also severely undermined the practice and glorification of good deeds, martyrdom and sainthood. Who will willingly walk a saint’s path involving pain, sacrifice and martyrdom if there is no distinction between a paedophile rapist murderer and Saint George of Lydda? I usually refer to Protestantism as the Marxism of Christianity. As long as you ask forgiveness before you die you can literally live a life as the most despicable character imaginable.

    From his interview, here are two relevant Q&As on pp. 1362-1363:

    Q: Is it likely that Odinists will support the cause of the PCCTS, Knights Templar, considering the fact that many of them hate Christendom?

    A: First of all, as a Norwegian, I am extremely proud of my Odinistic/Norse heritage as it is an essential aspect of my culture and my identity. However, things aren’t black and white. Supporting the Christian cultural heritage does not automatically mean you hate Odinism or vice versa. There are pragmatical considerations Odinists have to evaluate as well. Do they really believe the symbolism of Mjöllnir (Thors hammer) has the potential to unite the Nordic peoples against the forces we are facing? Do they really believe Odinistic symbolism would be more suitable compared to the uniting force of Christendom’s symbolism and that of the cross? Anyone with half a brain will know that only the symbolism of the cross (which is a part of all the Nordic flags btw with the exception of Germany) has the potential to unite us for this cause. Choosing to fight under the banner of the cross, does not constitute that you have to reject your Odinistic heritage in any way or form. As for their claim that a Christian principle of suicidal humanism is a part of the root of our current problems, I couldn’t agree more. However, instead of abandoning Christendom altogether I know European Christendom can be reformed. The Church wasn’t always as weak and suicidal as it is today. The Odinists needs to understand that the Church they hate is the cultural Marxist Church and not the real Church. The Church I love doesn’t exist anymore because it has been deconstructed. However, I know that it can be reformed and that it again will embrace and propagate principles of strength, honour and self defense. Instead of abandoning the Church we will save it and re-create it as a nationalistic Church which will tolerate and allow (to a very large degree) native cultures/heritage/thought systems such as Odinism.

    As a cultural Christian, I believe Christendom is essential for cultural reasons. After all, Christianity is the ONLY cultural platform that can unite all Europeans, which will be needed in the coming period during the third expulsion of the Muslims.

    Odinism is significant for the Nordic countries but it does not have the potency to unite us against such a devastating force as Islam, cultural Marxism/multiculturalism and capitalist globalism. Only Europeans, in solidarity with each other, can solve our current problems. As for secularism, are there any strong uniting symbols at all? I think not. In order to protect your culture you need, at the very minimum, strong, uniting symbols representing your culture. In this context, the cross is the unrivalled as it is the most potent European symbol. I have had this discussion with many Odinists, and even they understand this.

    Odinists need not fear us as they should consider us brothers in our common fight. I strongly encourage them to support us. Because we might not succeed in our struggle to defeat the EUSSR cultural Marxist/multiculturalist hegemony without their support.

    Q: Do I have to believe in God or Jesus in order to become a Justiciar Knight?

    A: As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus. Being a Christian can mean many things;

    - That you believe in and want to protect Europe’s Christian cultural heritage.

    The European cultural heritage, our norms (moral codes and social structures included), our traditions and our modern political systems are based on Christianity – Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and the legacy of the European enlightenment (reason is the primary source and legitimacy for authority).

    It is not required that you have a personal relationship with God or Jesus in order to fight for our Christian cultural heritage and the European way. In many ways, our modern societies and European secularism is a result of European Christendom and the enlightenment. It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want).

    So no, you don’t need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)).

    The PCCTS, Knights Templar is therefore not a religious organisation but rather a Christian “culturalist” military order.

    This guy may be a Christian, but he is clearly not a man of deep personal piety. He is also clearly not a “fundamentalist.”

  • http://returntorome.com Francis J. Beckwith

    How does the media know he’s a Christian fundamentalist? He may claim to be a Christian, but what are the precise grounds by which the media issue their judgment? Does he believe in biblical inerrancy? Does he connect his theological roots to the revolt against modernism on the part of late 19th-century and early 20th century American Christians? Is William Jennings Bryan one of his heroes? Does he think of himself an heir to Billy Sunday, the temperance movement, or young earth creationism?

    A “yes” to any of these questions js a all tell tale sign (though not an entailments mind you) that one is likely a “Christian fundamentalist.” I suspect, however, what is doing the work in the media’s minds is the principle laid down by philosopher Alvin Plantinga: a fundamentalist is just the stupid sumbitch to my right.

  • Ben

    no mention of prayer or Christian practice that I saw, rarely, if ever, quotes the bible

    Here are the Bible citations and Canon Law citations that I came across in the manifesto:
    Psalm 24, Prov. 30:8-9, 2 Peter 3:16, Prov. 30:8-9, Psalm 67, Exodus 22:2-3, Samuel 25:13, Judges 5:8, Psalms 144:1, Luke 22:36, Matthew 26:52-54, Nehemiah 4:17-18, 1 Samuel 17, Leviticus 26:3, Isaiah 54:17, Daniel 11:32, 1 Corinthians 4:20, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Psalm 144:1, Psalm 18:32,37, Proverbs 24:10, Exodus 15:3,6, Isaiah 42:13, Isaiah 52:12, Deuteronomy 9:3, Deuteronomy 33:27, Genesis 12:3, Psalm 35:1, Psalm 9:3, Psalm 7:11, 1 Samuel 2:9, 2 Chronicles 20:12-17, Isaiah 41:11, Habakkuk 3:12, Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11, Psalm 35:5-8, Exodus 23:20, 1 Chronicles 21:27, 29, 2 Kings 19:35, Acts 12:23, Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11, Psalm 35:5-8, Exodus 23:20, 1 Chronicles 21:27, 29, 2 Kings 19:35, Acts 12:23, Acts 5:29, Luke 22:36, Matthew 26:52

    Can. 992, Can. 993, Can. 994, Can. 995 §1. & §2. , Can. 996 §1. & §2., Can. 997

    … After reading 90% of his manifesto I would agree with the overall assessment that he is (mis)using Christianity to enhance Europe’s cultural identity for his political project of resisting Islam’s spread.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Ben,

    Have any media outlets denied that the terrorist is a Christian are has talked about Christian nationalism? I haven’t seen any but please do send links if you have. That would be a grievous error.

  • Ben

    It’s pretty clear in the writings why he’s interested in Catholicism — he views it as a more likely vehicle for resisting Islam’s spread into Europe. Here’s an interesting tidbit from the manifesto regarding Pope Benedict:

    Would Pope Benedict XVI take the initiative for launching a new crusade?

    Not likely. The closest Pope Benedict has come to anything controversial was his statement in a lecture delivered on September 12th 2006….

    As a result of this controversy the Pope had to indirectly apologise and has since that time not tried to do anything of significance to prevent the ongoing Global Jihad against Christians or the ongoing Islamic colonisation of Europe. As such, Pope Benedict has abandoned Christianity and all Christian Europeans and is to be considered a cowardly, incompetent, corrupt and illegitimate Pope much like his most recent predecessors; John XXIII (1958-1963), Paul VI (1963-1978), John Paul I (1978), John Paul II (1978-2005). If Pope Benedict had any shred of integrity he would at least attempt to contact all European senior and junior military officers and ask them to inintialise coups against the given multiculturalist European regimes and contribute to repell Islam from Europe for a third time. Pope Benedict, as his most recent predecessors, have failed to identify multiculturalism as an anti-European hate ideology championed as an instrument for unilaterally dismantling European Christendom. As of now, no Pope have even attempted to reach out to all European military leaders and demand action against the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites who have implemented given ideology. Pope Benedict has a responsibility to act against the deliberate and systematical annihilation of European Christendom. Yet he has not even tried to do anything of significance.

    When we, the cultural conservatives of Europe seize power in approximately 5-7 decades, we will take the necessary steps to eradicate the corruption which is continuing to plague the Church (both the Catholic and Protestant church). We must ensure that we have Christian leaders who believe in; self defence, protection of Eastern Christendom and the protection of Christians worldwide.

  • Norman

    Ben:

    “It’s pretty clear in the writings why he’s interested in Catholicism— he views it as a more likely vehicle for resisting Islam’s spread into Europe.”

    That has been my point.

    “Here are the Bible citations and Canon Law citations that I came across in the manifesto”

    Yes, I came across those too, a the tail end of the manifesto. We are digesting a 1500 page text in 24 hours here.

  • Ben

    Hi Mollie — nope, responding more to the discussion here which is far more interesting than what will be in the newspapers :-) .

  • Jefferson

    @ John B

    Two things:

    A) RE: Fundamentalism. Likewise, a blog is not a Swiss Army knife that magically turns opinions into facts just because they are typed.

    The dictionary definition of “fundamentalists” are those who reject modernist innovations in their society and their church. In his writings the accused did both. Do you dispute these facts? If you do, your problem is with reality. If not, your problem is with the dictionary.

    2. You are not free to deny the accused’s faith. Just because you find his ideas of a Christian Europe unsubstantial doesn’t mean that Christianity didn’t inform his ideas. In his writings the accused’s concept of Christendom is not “anglo-uniting” (as Norway is a Scandinavian, not Anglo-Saxon country) or even ethnic but rather, to the European peninsula under siege from Muslims and secular/atheist fellow travelers. The accused is interested in the Christian state in Europe as a cultural construct, yes, but nowhere in his writings does he say that he wants that state to be a “secular entity” – those are your words, not his. Besides, support for a “secular entity” does not ergo mean indifference to religion as the Baptist and Anabaptist founders of this country made explicitly clear.

    If you wish to deny his Christianity on the basis of Sola fide, you may say so. But as I have said before, “cultural Christians” is a broad continua that includes both Dawkins and Pope Benedict – good luck with that.

  • Ben

    Just curious, did someone edit my comment 48? If so, spike it.

  • Norman

    Ben: it was moved to 47, I think. And sorry if I sounded a little testy, especially as we are in agreement. You said:

    “… After reading 90% of his manifesto I would agree with the overall assessment that he is (mis)using Christianity to enhance Europe’s cultural identity for his political project of resisting Islam’s spread.”

    Quite true. I need to take a break from this. It’s like cramming for a test and it has left me frazzled.

  • John B

    Jefferson,

    1. The dictionary definition of a Fundamentalist is someone who holds a specific theological school of thought, it’s doctrines, and a specific form of Biblical Literalism. That is the definition of a fundamentalist. That DOES NOT match up with this individual. So it seems that the only person here who can’t grasp reality is you.

    2. Given that his own writings speak of Atheists and Agnostics as his allies in “saving Europe”? Given his ideas are based not on Christian precepts, but rather secular ideas and cultural romanticism from days long past? Given that his interests are purely political and cultural? It is obvious that the only “Christendom” he knows is a cultural idea devoid of religious meaning. The entire idea is, as revealed by his own words, a matter of ethnic and cultural unification. I’m not denying his faith. He is. His own writings do.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    So some of us nerds are reading through his manifesto and trying to explain his motivation.

    The question is, how best to do that? I think it’s beyond question that “Christian fundamentalist” is not how you describe an irreligious, pope-leaning Protestant who whores around and considers atheists his allies in the cultural and political fight against Muslims.

    But what is the right term? I think the right term must emphasize his anti-Muslim and nationalistic views. Those seem to be key.

    Any other thoughts? And any suggestions?

    The irony is that many of his actual “Christian” arguments are so light on doctrine and heavy on culture as to be more like a country club discussion on values or something.

    But he does believe that Christian culture is key to his nationalistic conservatism. How to explain that? I would love to hear some ideas.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Friends,

    I had to delete an anti-Muslim comment from this thread and it altered our numbering. I’m trying to stay on top of things but I’m reading this manifesto while writing up a bunch of stuff elsewhere so sometimes there’s a delay.

    Feel free to note if we’ve missed a comment that doesn’t abide by our code of conduct (no personal attacks, keep comments focused on journalism, etc.).

    Mollie

  • Jeff

    This man shows many of the symptoms of a manic/depressive. I think the right term must be mentally ill. Religion usually features in there somewhere usually because of upbringing and the nature of the fear mongering that is so prevalent in many religions.

  • Ben

    In terms of his objectives, I think using the term Christendom sort of makes sense as an analogue to Al Qaeda’s dreams of a Caliphate. Sometimes he embraces that term; but in his movie he actually blames Christendom (pre-Enlightment) for the deaths of 15 million people, so that’s sort of imperfect.

    Would the term “Christianist” go too far in IDing this guy, again as an analogue to how Islamist is used for people employing violence in favor of Islamic identity politics? He does argue for rolling back feminism, takes various culture of life stands, wants a role for the Church in certain specific areas of government, and wants artists pressured to glamorize nuclear family procreation. But he also argues for a lot of stuff way beyond the pale of Christian discourse like eugenics for instance.

    * Christian nationalist?

    * Anti-Muslim — probably the safest short descriptor but sort of leaves behind what he is for and probably underplays the role of Christian identity as a unifying factor in a group that calls itself Knights Templar Europe.

    By the way, I’m still pretty unimpressed with the airbrushing of a portion of my comment. But I guess it’s always revealing personally to figure out the limits of discussion set by a community’s leaders.

  • Bern

    from NYT today a very interesting take on the language of the suspect’s manifesto:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/world/europe/25oslo.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2

    Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism specialist at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, said the manifesto bears an eerie resemblance to those issued by Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda, though from a Christian rather than a Muslim point of view. Like Mr. Breivik’s manuscript, the major Qaeda declarations have detailed accounts of the Crusades, include a pronounced sense of historical grievance and call for apocalyptic warfare to defeat a religious and cultural enemy

    For myself what I have read of the manifesto gives me a kind of vertigo: I find the sentences to be perfectly constructed but at the same time they make no sense.

  • Julia

    Jefferson:

    Here’s what the guy wrote in his manifest:

    It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want).

  • Julia

    Practical question here:

    Is the Googledoc version of the Manifesto not working?

    I’m also having trouble getting it at other locations who say I don’t have permission to view it.

    Is there a good site for a computer with 850 gigabytes available?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Ben,

    Yeah, I’m not sure how to handle it. It is only since last night that I first began to “understand” (insofar as this whole madness is comprehensible) his motivation.

    A couple of thoughts. First off, I hate that we are all reading this thing that he wanted everybody to read but I suppose that truth and light are the best disinfectants for combating murderous terrorists.

    Okay, conceding that this neo-Crusader, anti-jihadist thing has strong religious elements, it still must be noted that this is much more about anti-Marxism and anti-socialism and anti-multiculturalism than it is about anything doctrinal.

    In other words, there is no theological doctrine I’ve come across yet but quite a bit about politics. Any term must make note of that. He is emphatic that this is about his “conservative” politics. We need to not pretend that his conservative political orientation is not in play here.

    And being that he asserts that it would be a “lie” to call him religious and he only views Christianity as a cultural bulwark in the fight against Islam, I’m wary about emphasizing “Christian” too much over and against his political views, which are overt. I mean, what does it mean to call someone who self-identifies as “not very religious” as a “Christianist”? I’m not sure it gets at what we’re trying to get at. Having said that, I’m still trying to understand how his neo-Crusading anti-jihadism relates to any positive as opposed to reactionary religious views.

    I should also note that I’m preparing to dig into this Knights Templar stuff. Hopefully I’ll have some more info on that soon.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Julia shared this quote:

    It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want).

    This is why the Atlantic headline and copious other media characterization are so inaccurate.

    I’m not sure what we call this, but “Christian fundamentalism” is not the right term.

  • Julia

    He’s cloaking himself with Christian-ness.

    Kind of like Colbert’s truthiness.

  • Ben

    Mollie –

    I kind of like “neo-Crusader” though it sounds like something out of a Muslim conspiracy theorist’s mouth. But so does much of this manifesto ;-) .

  • Ben

    Julia — Not like Colbert’s truthiness. I don’t detect irony in this thing. I would say he is, unfortunately, deadly serious.

  • John B

    I was tossing around the term, “Eurosupremacist”, to describe this guy. What do you think? Too broad?

  • Jefferson

    Mollie,

    Getting back to the point of your blog the appellation “Christian fundamentalist” was not first ascribed to the accused by the Atlantic but by Roger Andresen, the Deputy Chief of Police for the Oslo Police District.

    John B, you may direct your complaints about his verbiage and how his remarks reflect a lost grip on reality here:

    https://www.politi.no/oslo/om_oss/Tema_481.xhtml
    https://www.politi.no/oslo/kontakt_oslo/

    It’s Norway, so don’t be surprised if he actually responds….

  • Julia

    I didn’t intend “Christian-ness” to be ironic.

    It’s sort of like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    He obviously has no love for what Christendom really was; he’s just using it as a rallying symbol.

  • Jefferson

    @ Mollie

    FYI from The Christian Post:

    Norway’s Killer, ‘Christian Fundamentalism,’ and the Media

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/norways-killer-christian-fundamentalism-and-the-media-52759/

    “The phrase “Christian fundamentalist” is all over the news. Anders Behring Breivik (the Norwegian mass murderer) appears to be one, according to many news sources, but particularly The Atlantic. Fair enough– he very well may identify himself that way, but I’d like to know why that term has now been so readily embraced……..”

  • Julia

    pope-leaning Protestant

    Who thinks the present-day Popes have all been wimps according to the blockquote at #48:

    Pope Benedict has abandoned Christianity and all Christian Europeans and is to be considered a cowardly, incompetent, corrupt and illegitimate Pope much like his most recent predecessors; John XXIII (1958-1963), Paul VI (1963-1978), John Paul I (1978), John Paul II (1978-2005). If Pope Benedict had any shred of integrity he would at least attempt to contact all European senior and junior military officers and ask them to inintialise coups against the given multiculturalist European regimes and contribute to repell Islam from Europe for a third time.

    Looks like he is going to install a Pope more in the line of the warrior Popes of old.

    When we, the cultural conservatives of Europe seize power in approximately 5-7 decades, we will take the necessary steps to eradicate the corruption which is continuing to plague the Church (both the Catholic and Protestant church). We must ensure that we have Christian leaders who believe in; self defence, protection of Eastern Christendom and the protection of Christians worldwide.

  • Julia

    Jefferson said:

    If you wish to show that a mass murderer has a poor understanding of religion; commits acts inconsistent with their religious doctrine; is not connected to a congregation; or is not reflective of a greater religious tradition that’s fine, let’s talk about that and get perspective.

    He doesn’t have a poor understanding of religion, he doesn’t profess with any particular religious doctrine, he doesn’t believe in any religious tradition.

    He writes about why he chose Christendom and the cross as his preferred symbols over Thor and his hammer. If he thought Thor would have been more unifying, he would have gone with Thor. There is no religious content involved at all.

  • Mark Baddeley

    Thinking about Mollie’s question at #56, what about something that focuses on ‘Christendom’ – Christendomist (parallel with Islamist), or Christendom warrior (picking up the violence), or even Christendom terrorist (picking up the precise nature of the violence). Christendom seems to have the most chances of illuminating things to me – it recognizes the Christian dimension, but focuses on the kind of culture created by an alliance of religion with society of a previous era in Europe, rather than religious belief per se.

    To reinforce multiple comments, this guy can only be considered ‘Christian’ by robbing ‘Christianity’ of most of its core doctrinal and ethical commitments. And if he’s a fundamentalist then pretty well everybody from the Pope to Schliermarcher, to Bishop Spong is a fundamentalist.

  • Jefferson

    @ Julia

    RE: 61

    Please reread what the suspect wrote: “It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want).”

    State and society are two different things. That he did not want a theocracy does not mean that he wished for the state to be uninformed by religion. How could the European state he wanted guarantee its “Christian cultural heritage” without some interest in Christianity?

    RE: 73

    The suspect describes himself as a Christian, full stop. That he didn’t go on and on about it in his manifesto like he did everything else doesn’t mean he wasn’t one, however opportunistic his politics.

    Seriously: if anyone in the USA truly feels defamed about the description of the suspect as “Christian fundamentalist” I encourage you to elucidate your concerns to your elected representatives who will, in turn, demand the U.S. Ambassador protest the comments of this high police official to the Norwegian government.

  • Eric

    Some more to add to the discussion…

    From Breivik’s 12 minute video power point presentation:

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=89a_1311444384

    (10:55 into the video)
    KT is a “cultural Christian” [Christian identity] military order and NOT a “religious Christian” [Christian fundamentalist] organization. Logic and reason will always take precedence over biblical texts. KT is open for members from all denominations of Christendom, even agnostic – and atheist – Christians. Our Christian profile does not mean that we oppose Odinism or Odinistic principles. KT believe Odinism make out a central and important part of Northern European culture and traditions. KT principles are not compatible with national socialism as NS propagates a clear imperialistic [expansionist] and anti-Christian (cultural and religious) stance. KT on the other hand are clear supporters of cultural isolationism, strongly condemns the Jewish holocaust and strongly supports Israel’s ongoing struggle against Jihad.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jefferson,

    I think we should all be interested in an accurate portrayal of events. Nobody denies that a Norwegian police chief used the term on the man. There’s very little understanding, however, of what that term means in Norway, much less whether it’s accurate or appropriate or what not.

    Someone who says the things we’ve seen in this comment thread — e.g., he opposes Christian fundamentalism, should not be described as the opposite.

    And that’s not about telling a police officer what to say but about how the media should explain the man and his philosophy to folks not about to read one page, much less 1500 pages, of his beliefs.

  • Julia

    I’m part Norwegian and spent the better part of last year researching Norway on-line. Like the guy said in the previous post about this subject, you ask any Norwegian and he or she will say they’re a Christian. It’s a national Christian church they have there. The family records are all kept by the Lutheran churches. My ancestors’ family passport to emigrate was a letter from the Lutheran pastor in Kongsberg, not far from Utoya Island. (which is why this incident has riveted my attention)

    And I’m a Papist, so fundamentalist doesn’t punch any of my personal buttons, either.

    I don’t feel defamed at all. I’m a retired lawyer and I like things to be correctly, clearly and precisely stated. Choice of words matters greatly.

    I withdraw from this argument – we’re going around in circles.

  • Katherine

    It is clear that Breivik uses the word Christian to describe a cultural identity rather than a religious one, and that the MSM is going to ignore, to the very best of their ability, any evidence which does not serve their political purposes. Have we so quickly forgotten the political disingenuousness and opportunism of the MSM in the Giffords shooting?

    Why not ask: What are the differences and/or similarities between Breivik and Bill Ayers, who is unapologetic about his past and who has admitted he greatly desired the killing of 25 million Americans to further his political aims.

    Also, we should be asking if Breivik’s fears regarding Islam and/or multicultural Marxism are based in fact.

    The answers to those questions will not excuse nor defend Mr. Breivik’s actions, but they will bring to light, a category in which to (if we must) place Mr. Breivik, and the true impact of a political doctrine which ignores or disparages those who question it.

  • Kingofthenet

    Mollie, you are doing the SAME kind of reasoning, that Muslims do when there is an act of Islamic terrorism. They as you are NOW doing say, this Monster doesn’t represent Islam, he has a twisted view on our Religion. Here is the problem, MOST Religions that I am aware of don’t have a central authority, except Roman Catholics with the Pope.That’s why for example, you will find Protestant ‘Born Again’ sects with all different focus issues. Some are more ‘Conservative’ and like to protest Abortion Clinics, others put much more emphases on helping the poor or sick.It pretty much all depends on the Pastor/Imam, see what I did there. Do you think Osama bin Laden was evil? Do you think he thought of himself as evil? How about a ‘Suicide bomber’ they might have a twisted view of Islam, but they believe that setting that bomb off is the most HOLY thing they can do.Your ‘Love’ view of Christianity ‘might’ be more common, but others will take a different angle, and when your main ‘GOD’ kills EVER SINGLE living thing except one small boat, who’s to say they are wrong?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Uh, thanks, Kingofthenet.

    But while I have no problem personally lambasting this man as a blasphemer of God, that’s not the job of the media. The media need to accurately explain this man’s motivations. That requires actually understanding them insofar as they’re able.

    Which is what we’re talking about. How should the media characterize this man and his motivations?

  • John B

    Jefferson,

    1. Christendom as a cultural construct, as a unifier, and as a bullwark. Not Christianity as a religion. He says so in his own words. The very section you quoted points to that larger theme.

    2. He describes himself as being this kind of Cultural Christian and repeatedly looks and refers to Christendom merely as a socio-political device, full stop. These are his words, his ideas.

    Your constant hand waving away of hard evidence (written by the killer himself, no less) as being merely the figments of the imagination of skittish American Christians trying to distance themselves from this lunatic, does not do you (or this discussion of the facts of this case) any favors.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Keep comments focused on journalism, please.

  • Kenny D

    If the killer said “I am a Christain”, non critical thinking believes the words, as if his words can be trusted.
    If he (a wolf) put on sheeps clothing, and said “I am a sheep”, how many people would believe his self discription? Those who happen to really dislike fluffy sheep.
    Our biases reflect our inability to discern truth from pure fantasy.
    Another sheep killed innocent people.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    Pretty good discussion, all. I’ll offer one point I don’t think I saw addressed: The Atlantic piece that touched off this discussion was — by necessity — done very quickly. Any analysis done on deadline so soon after an event is guaranteed to be flawed. Some more flawed than others.

    Headlines, particularly in our SEO world, are always nuance-challenged. And even a day later, I’m trying to figure out what half-dozen words would best describe this guy (other than that “evil” would be one of the words…).

    I’m not suggesting this discussion hasn’t been useful and interesting. But as a matter of journalism, I think a nod to the realities of breaking news production is in order.

  • Bob Smietana

    Breivek has a section in his manifesto at the end that’s almost Pentecostal, and seems to indicate he had spiritual as well as cultural ties to Christianity:


    God will anoint you with his power to go into battle
    If you are operating under a full surrender with God the Father, and walking in all of
    God’s ways and staying out of any serious sins and transgressions against Him – then the
    next thing you will need to fully realise is that God will now anoint you with His power if
    you are forced to go into battle with your enemy.
    The Bible tells us that we are now all good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Whether we want to
    face up to it or not, we are all living in a war zone as a result of the curse of Adam and
    Eve that is still in full operation on this earth. Anyone of us at anytime can come under
    human or demonic attack. The daily news will prove that to you without any shadow of a
    doubt.
    Each Christian must now make their own personal decision on all of this. You can either choose to learn how to rise up in the power of your Lord and Saviour
    and learn how to become a true warrior in the Lord, or you can continue to keep your head in the sand and oppressor after oppressor keep beating you down.
    The choice is yours”

  • Bob Smietana

    His manifesto also draws on “antiJihad” or “counterJihad” writers like Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch who see both Muslims and liberals as enemies.

  • Gringo

    @Mollie

    “How should the media characterize this man and his motivations?”

    In the same way the West asked/demanded the Islamic world to reject acts of terrorism every time such an act took place.

    But in this case it is not the Christian Conservatives who should reject this kind of utter violence for Bleivik’s motivations are not purely based on Christian Conservative reasons. As one can understand after reading his manifesto, his reasons are for 99.9% of a right-wing political nature.

    Hence it is particularly the right-wing media which should denounce it on those grounds and not by solely labeling him as a Christian Fundamentalist nutcase as many are doing now, including those who he frequently cites in his manifesto (Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Pam Geller, Geert Wilders, to name just a few).

  • Bob Smietana

    “Counter Jihadist” is the probably the best way to describe his views

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Bob,

    I think you might be on to something.

  • Bob Smietana

    Mollie:

    Have you seen the Q&A published on Time’s website?

    Here’s the money quote:
    “But the biggest problem then was that there were no options for me at all. There was no known armed culturally conservative, or Christian, anti-Jihad movement.”

    The manifesto draws the rhetoric of some of the best known anti-Jihad voices – and add a call to violence.

  • johno

    He claims to be a Modern Knight Templar, here are some of his ideas..
    The consecration of bread and a cup within the rite recalls the moment at the Last
    Supper when Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying, “This is my body”, and wine, saying,
    “This is my blood”
    We need Christian leaders who are willing to call for defensive Crusades if any of
    our Christian brothers are threatened by Jihad in the future. European Church leaders
    must not be afraid to contact the media, political and military leaders and demand action.
    The Church will gain x amounts of seats in the new Parliament but no veto rights. They
    have a right and a duty to call for military Crusades if any international Christian minority
    is being threatened by Jihad in other parts of the World. Their advice should be taken
    under consideration by military leaders and politicians.
    Our illiterate, lazy culture has spilled over to many professing Christians who have
    embraced the ways of the pacifist egalitarian. They are willing to read a modified,
    pacifist, gender neutral Bible, missing what God says so that they can continue to ignore
    their duties in regards to the ongoing Crusade (self defence). Our modern Bible
    perversion was written by men using dynamic equivalence. In other words, they are
    telling you their interpretation and their doctrine, NOT what the manuscripts really say.
    This can be confirmed by reviewing how the modern Church is using pacifist, fanatically
    egalitarian and gender inclusive language.
    Scripture, however,
    informs us that God is no respecter of persons. As such, true Christianity refuses to
    romanticise either wealth or poverty (Prov. 30:8-9)

  • Roy

    I agree with those who believe this was political. His victims were children attending a summer camp organized by AUF, the youth wing of the ruling Labour Party. I think the left emphasizes the (misleading) religious aspect of it for nefarious reasons.

  • John B

    This is what worries me:

    “He said he came in contact with like-minded individuals across Europe, and together they formed a military order inspired by the Knights Templar crusaders. Their goal was to seize power in Europe by 2083 in a string of coups d’etat. Norwegian police couldn’t say whether the group existed.

    Two European security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation said they were familiar with increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to a group called the new Knights Templar.”

  • Gringo

    @ Bob Smietana

    ““Counter Jihadist” is the probably the best way to describe his views”

    Counter Jihadists would target Muslims. This idiot’s right-wing views are not limited to being merely Counter Jihadist for he particularly targeted the Norwegian Labour Party which he labels as Traitors. The kids he killed were all members of the Labour Party attending an annual summer camp.

    He is a right-wing terrorist. His anti-Jihadism falls under that main category.

    @ Roy

    “I think the left emphasizes the (misleading) religious aspect of it for nefarious reasons.”

    And the right uses it to deflect attention away from the fact that this terrorist was an avid reader (and believer!) of whatever the right published in the blogosphere.

  • Jefferson

    @ Mollie & Julia

    For transparency’s sake: I am not Norwegian but am the spouse of a “Vestheimdotter” – a 4th generation Norwegian-American who speaks Norwegian (more Bokmål than Nynorsk, to the chagrin of her journalist heavy family), is a daughter of a lifelong Lutheran pastor (ECLA) who studied for his seminary in Riksmål (!), has a graduate degree from a Norwegian university, and maintains ties with several generations of relatives in the Vestlandet. She visits at least once a year, we’re just back from a work and family trip earlier this month. I put some of our concerns to her and several Norwegian friends, more about their opinions in a moment.

    @ Mollie re: portrayal of events, I seem to break this into two: the official characterization of the suspect by the police as a “Christian fundamentalist” and the (mis)portrayal of the suspect in the American press. You and other folks here are dealing with the latter, let me address the former.

    The characterization of the suspect as a “Christian fundamentalist” was not a flip comment by a random cop. Roger Andresen is the Deputy Chief of Police for Public Order for the Oslo Police District, one of the highest ranking police officers in the Norwegian system. Andresen justified his characterization from a preliminary investigation into the suspect’s web surfing habits. We don’t know what those sites are yet, but I doubt Andresen’s characterization was careless. Until very recently libel was considered a criminal as well as a civil offense in Norway and police officials are much more careful about their public comments on criminal suspects than in the United States.

    You asked earlier about the meaning of “fundamentalism” to a Norwegian ear? Julia remarked on Christian being a generic label in Norway, my mileage (based on a different generational experience, no doubt) differs. There is no public shame in Norway from atheism or agnosticism (only 32% of Norwegian citizens polled in 2005 said that “they believe there is a God”), I am not so sure about more observant, traditional faith communities.

    Norway is a free and liberal society and, from what I gather, there is great public suspicion of religious groups that are accused of policing the personal conduct of their members. Muslims generally get the greatest scrutiny but “free church” folk not affiliated with the Church of Norway (Lutheran) get a similar critical eye. My experience and my informants generally agree that Pentecostals in Norway are what comes to mind when “fundamentalism” is invoked concerning Christians. It is not a benign characterization. In the USA, some might take a generous interpretation, that a fundamentalist is merely a person who takes their religious texts seriously. In Norway, it implies that the person is a member of an organization that has removed itself from the greater mainstream of society for the purpose of engaging in cult-like behavior. (Bear in mind Norway is not the worst offender in Western Europe with regards to the religious freedom of Christian minorities: Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany and LDS in France are officially treated as cults).

    Whether the suspect was a member of any congregation is still not known.

    @ Mollie, John B, etc. really folks, you need to reconsider this denial about the however nominal Christianity of the accused. However cynical, the accused professed his support for a Christian Europe; identified himself as a Christian on his Facebook page, and (see above, thanks Bob Smietana) found meaning in meditations on good and evil as he found in the Bible.

    May I ask: at what point might any of you agree that the accused is a Christian? When the police produce a dog-eared Bible from his house? When he asks for one in jail? When a congregation faces arrest or asserts that they cast him out? If you can give me a falsifiable test I might be content but up to now this vague dismissal of the concern reminds me of Muslims who, ipso facto, assert that so and so “was not a Muslim because a Muslim would never do that.”

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jesse Walker over at Reason writes:

    If you rushed to announce that the terrorist attacks in Norway were “a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists,” you’re having your “Send the body to Glenn Beck” moment. It’s not just that Anders Behring Breivik turns out not to be a jihadist. It’s that he hails from the wing of the right that defines itself by its opposition to jihad, and to the leftists that it sees as jihad’s enablers. That was clear enough from Breivik’s Web comments that I blogged last Friday, but now there’s more evidence. Breivik turns out to be the author of a long manifesto [pdf], and it reveals an Islamophobe opposed to immigration and obsessed with dhimmitude and “cultural Marxism.” (Just to confuse matters, it is also partly plagiarized from the Unabomber.)

    Interestingly, Breivik is still getting tagged with the wrong labels, as reporters unfamiliar with the nuances of the far right reach for words that don’t really fit his particular constellation of views. He is described as a “fundamentalist,” but his manifesto states that he’s “not going to pretend I’m a very religious person.” He is described as a “neo-Nazi,” but he denounces Islamic oppression of Jews, identifies himself as pro-Israel, and expresses concern about anti-Semitic hate crimes.

    This will take some time to unpack but I think the best way to do it is just deliberately and with care. I’ve been reading through the manifesto and a picture is definitely emerging. It’s anti-jihadist jihadism and it’s worth analyzing what that means, what the influences are, etc.

    Because of the media’s jump to accept this idea he’s some American-style Christian fundamentalist, I think they missed that he’s a far-right anti-jihadist. Trying to understand him by learning more about his congregation, catechism classes and Bible studies (if they even exist) is probably going to be difficult. Taking a trip through some of the conservative to far-right anti-jihadist writings, list-servs, books, web sites, etc.? I think that will be infinitely more fruitful. I’m pretty sure that’s the prism that explains the references to cultural Christianity.

    I’m curious if the other folks slogging through his 1500 page manifesto think.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jefferson,

    Thanks for the additional information. For my case, I don’t see how anyone can deny that the accused claims a Christian status. He does so repeatedly.

    I’m anxious to find out more about which congregation he was a member of, if any, and stuff like that — but clearly he identifies as culturally Christian, even if he also says he’s not particularly religious.

    My question is about how the media should identify his motivations. At first this was about how the media identified him given extremely limited information. Now that we have more, we have more to go on. I don’t know what the answer is, but clearly someone advocating against a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” should not be described as someone who is advocating for it.

    However odd and convoluted and complicated the circumstances may be, I think it’s important that we in the media correctly identify what’s going on, which part of the world the terrorist was inhabiting, etc. That’s not going to be an easy answer but it’s one worth characterizing correctly.

  • John B

    Jefferson,

    “@ Mollie, John B, etc. really folks, you need to reconsider this denial about the however nominal Christianity of the accused. However cynical, the accused professed his support for a Christian Europe; identified himself as a Christian on his Facebook page, and (see above, thanks Bob Smietana) found meaning in meditations on good and evil as he found in the Bible. ”

    …all of which points back to him using Christendom as a cultural, not a religious identifier. All of which (as his very own writings point out) are used a focusing piece for his political views and his desire for a unifying cultural point. His meditations on the Bible being used as call backs to his romanticized version of a united, secular Europe under a single culture and a propaganda piece against his enemies (he even admits as much in manifesto_. How long are you going to keep denying his own words? Seems like (once again) the only person who needs to reconsider their views is you.

    I’d gladly call him a religious extremist and be done with it…save for the fact that his own words contradict this and show that his interests were not religious. I can’t go against the evidence Now if at a later date and interview, he takes back all that or explains otherwise? Sure. I’ll call it then. But right now, the evidence says otherwise.

  • Jefferson

    Mollie,

    You’re welcome for the Norway insight; thanks, as always, for offering this forum.

    Several things: first, for general information here’s the State Department 2010 report on religious freedom in Norway:

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010/148970.htm

    Second, I think it’s an error to conflate religious fundamentalism of any type as requiring clerical (pastoral?) rule. For example, both Iran and Egypt have religious movements that want an Islamic government but diverge on how to get it: in Iran, the Shi’ite doctrine called “the rule of the jurist” approves of clerical rule whereas in Sunni Islam majority Egypt all religious parties reject clerical rule as a necessary condition for an Islamic state.

    So yes, let’s demand accuracy in reporting on religion from everyone, including ourselves.

  • Jerry

    In Norway, it implies that the person is a member of an organization that has removed itself from the greater mainstream of society for the purpose of engaging in cult-like behavior.

    Your use of the word cult provides a perfect segue into the next topic which is about cults.

  • Gringo

    @Mollie

    “For my case, I don’t see how anyone can deny that the accused claims a Christian status. He does so repeatedly.”

    He also claims he is a true Norwegian acting to protect Norwegian culture yet I am sure many in Norway think otherwise, after what he did.

    Ergo, there is an often very large difference between what one claims to be and what one actually is.

    Me claiming numerous times to be Superman does not make me Superman.

  • John B

    “Me claiming numerous times to be Superman does not make me Superman.”

    What? It doesn’t?

    Oh poo…and here I spent most of the day claiming to be the Editor in Chief of DC in the hopes that someone would let me undo the stupid company-wide reboot they did.

    Oh well, I guess I’m just going to have to stomach issue after issue of “Superman: Angsty Alien Teenage Hipster”.

    *le sigh*

  • Mike O.

    Me claiming numerous times to be Superman does not make me Superman.

    To be fair, when what he is claiming is what he believes then we can take his word on it.

    I can claim to be a fan of the New York Giants without showing any evidence to that effect, but I can’t claim to play for the New York Giants without showing evidence.

  • kjs

    @ 68 John B: “Eurosupremacist” is not so much too broad as it is too limiting. He specifically mentions his support of a variety of nationalist movements around the world, including India, Korea, & Japan (from what I recall).

    @ 75 Jefferson:

    [quote]The suspect describes himself as a Christian, full stop. That he didn’t go on and on about it in his manifesto like he did everything else doesn’t mean he wasn’t one, however opportunistic his politics.

    Seriously: if anyone in the USA truly feels defamed about the description of the suspect as “Christian fundamentalist” I encourage you to elucidate your concerns to your elected representatives who will, in turn, demand the U.S. Ambassador protest the comments of this high police official to the Norwegian government.[/quote]

    The problem is he never describes himself as a Christian “fundamentalist,” & his own statements about the meaning of Christianity & his personal piety (which I’ve quoted in 16 & 45 above) indicate a man who was NOT himself a religious person. That religion to some extent shaped his views & actions is undeniable – but he says “A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it.” He considers himself a Christian, as he says, because he believes “in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.” He is not concerned with doctrine per se, except as it strengthens or weakens European unity – which is why he thinks the European churches should be turned back toward traditional Catholicism. He is not concerned with personal piety or holiness, except as “it will give you a mental boost.” None of these ideas are compatible with any meaningful definition of “Christian fundamentalist.”

    If, as you say in 96, the Oslo police chief “justified his characterization from a preliminary investigation into the suspect’s web surfing habits”, I would point out that Breivik does cite a couple of evangelical websites (bible-knowledge.com, gotquestions.org, loveyourenemies.org – this last one ironically devoted to pacifism) as sources for his information on self-defense in the Bible; but he also spent a lot of time looking at Roman Catholic canon law – is that a typical fundamentalist activity? Even if Breivik fits the definition of “fundamentalist” in the Norwegian understanding you describe, it does not make this term simply transferrable to the English-language American press.

  • Kenny D

    Even a cursory reading of “The Prince” (and “Leviathan” is another of those dangerous books), will do well to inform the nature of the killer’s mind and motive. The former advises to use any means to accomplish any ends “the prince” can devise. Leviathan concurs that all people can use any means to serve personal survival. At the top of “tools list” at the disposal of a sociopath are the appearance of high moral value, honesty, pure motive. A killer needs to justify hate and murder in his heart. What better self justification that a voice from on High. His was sourced in Machiavelli (“The Prince”), not the love sourced in the Christ(ian) . The Bible provides his veneer. What needs to be uncovered iw the real beneath the thin writings of his self justifying “manifesto”.

  • dalea

    What reasons do we have for accepting that Breitvik is the sole author of this document? Did he write it in this virtually flawless English or translate if from Norwegian? Large parts of it do not appear to have Norwegian influences.

    Calling Germany a ‘Nordic country’ is odd, and seems to differ from common use. Would a Norwegian regard Germany as Nordic?

    Before the document is accepted and analyzed, there needs to be a lot more checking of it.

  • http://gottagetgoing.blogspot.com Kunoichi

    Just to make things even more confusing, it appears a fair amount of his “manifesto” was plagiarized.

    Link

  • Wallace Edward Brand

    CAIR, a Muslim organization that has been named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, is calling anyone who criticizes Islam an Islamophobe. Now we have an example of a real Islamophobe, not just an alleged one.

    Read what Teller has to say about it, or skip the written part and scroll down to the video Anders Breivik posted before he set off the bomb in Oslo and killed many young people on Utoya Island. The group on Utoya Island apparently were in a meeting of young liberals. Teller speculates that many were children of Norweigan Goverment officials.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25761

  • http://demographymatters.blogspot.com R.F. McDonald

    dalea: Breivik seems to have copied large chunks of it from Wikipedia and other English-language sources, while Norway is a country where more than 80% of the population speaks English as a second language.

    As for Germany being a Nordic country, much of northern Germany is closely linked with Norden. Schleswig and Holstein were under Danish rule into the 1860s, a Danish minority remaining in the German part of Schleswig, Pomerania was under Swedish rule until 1815, there was quite a lot of trade and migraton and the link between Germany and the Nordic countries, and so on. It wouldn’t be eccentric to say that Germany had strong Nordic influences.

  • Julia

    The murderer’s relationship to Christianity is like the people who want to get married in church because you get better photos for your album. They may not believe any of it and have never even been to a church service, but they pretend in order to use the church. They may even choose some religious hymns because they like the way they sound. I sing in a church choir and there are tons of these people who pester pastors of the pretty, romantic-looking churches demanding to be married there.

    This mass murderer may have read too many novels by Sir Walter Scott that romanticize the Crusades, the Knights Templar, Robin Hood, King Richard the Lion-Heart and the Middle Ages. Like Ivanhoe.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanhoe

    And then there is the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood that painted all those romantic scenes from an imagined Medieval culture.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Raphaelite_Brotherhood

    http://www.artchive.com/viewer/z.html

  • John B

    “Just to make things even more confusing, it appears a fair amount of his “manifesto” was plagiarized.”

    Great. Not only is he a murderous sociopath, he’s an UNORIGINAL murderous sociopath.

  • Jon in the Nati

    Calling Germany a ‘Nordic country’ is odd, and seems to differ from common use. Would a Norwegian regard Germany as Nordic?

    It would certainly differ from common use, but Nordic is also used in a sense in which it is largely synonymous with ‘Aryan’; that is, referring to a ‘master race’ made up of peoples of Germanic origin. See, e.g., Nordic Race at Wikipedia.

  • Ben

    Anti-Jihadist doesn’t really get to the idea that he’s for mass deportation of Muslims out of Europe, regardless of individual Muslim activities there. He’s also for reconquering Anatolia and finding exclusive territory for Copts, Assyrians, and other Christian minorities in the Middle East.

    I mean, I’m an anti-jihadist as are 99.9% of Americans, right?

    I think I would call him a Christendom Revivalist. Neo-Crusader is good too.

  • Julia

    Christendom Revivalist is good.

    How about anti-multiculturalist?

    Neo-Crusaders not so much; they were romantic failures.

    Perhaps Re-Conquistator – as in the Spanish Reconquista wherein the indegenous Spaniards drove the Muslims out of Spain.

  • Ben

    I think most in this conversation have come to an agreement that:
    1) he’s not a fundamentalist
    2) he is a self-professed Christian and he does draw on religion in some limited personal — but mainly political — ways. Let’s not forget he does consider himself a “martyr” who expected to “generate a large amount of grace” for his actions.

    There’s still some unwillingness to accept No.2 by some people in this thread. I can understand the desire to define away any Christian elements to this but the effort is not really faithful to the texts we have at this point.

    I would agree with Mollie’s formulation in comment 63:

    Okay, conceding that this neo-Crusader, anti-jihadist thing has strong religious elements, it still must be noted this is much more about anti-Marxism and anti-socialism and anti-multiculturalism than it is about anything doctrinal.

  • dalea

    The LA press has gone thru the manifesto and discovered that his sister lives here. The nightly news showed a house in west LA under siege by every station in town. Complete with neighbors begging the press to go away so they can sleep. This is rapidly turning into a total circus.

  • Karen

    It never stopped conservative media before to call someone muslim terrorist even if their views do not have anything to do with real Islam. Media – any media – loves provocative headlines. It’s a given that some day situation would be reversed, Just giving you a taste of your own pill.

  • http://okubax.co.uk/blog AJibola

    Agree totally with the previous comment posted by ‘Karen’, the media are always fast to associate Islam with terrorism and now that they do the same with Christianity, you write a blog post denouncing the theory.

    Reading your blog post it seems you are trying to rubbish the theory that Christian fundamentalists are capable of terrorism, and you’d be wrong.

  • Norman

    Ben said:

    1) he’s not a fundamentalist
    2) he is a self-professed Christian and he does draw on religion in some limited personal — but mainly political — ways. Let’s not forget he does consider himself a “martyr” who expected to “generate a large amount of grace” for his actions.

    That’s a fair summation. His is a very idiosyncratic Christianity. I’m not sure how one characterises it, but “fundamentalist” does not work. I’ve seen him called a self-styled Crusader or Neo-Crusader in the press a few times. That’s about right. Somebody somewhere will hit on just the right term eventually. The press is grappling with this, too. It isn’t easy.

    One thing that hasn’t been touched on here, or in the media yet, is the grandiosity of his thought. He believes himself through his enormity to have set off a chain of events that will eradicate entire currents of thought, reshape an entire continent, bend political structures to his will, and unite Christianity under a reformed Church subjugated to the whims of his (hopefully imaginary) Templar confreres. They will pick Popes and define doctrine! There is no limit to his ambitions. There is nothing that cannot be achieved. Everything is within his grasp, and the future of the entire world is contained within *his* head.

    He is so sure of all of this that he was able to actually, physically kill scores of defenseless teenagers. He devoted years of his life to planning this moment. It’s just too much- too much to really wrap your head around.

  • Elijah

    Norman, you raise a good point about his grandiose plans. In this respect, I don’t think the word “idiosyncratic” is quite right. I would suggest “solipsistic” or even “megalomaniacal”.

  • Evy

    Kunoichi at #7 notes:
    >>note re: the facebook page. What is described in this post is the English one that got passed around. Atlas Shrugs put up some screenshots. The Norwegian one, screen captured shortly after the gunman was named, does not include indentifying as “Christian” or “conservative.”

    >>Norwegian
    >>English

    >>The Norwegian one includes movies, tv shows and WoW. The English one does not.

    >>From Atlas Shrugged

    >>Did he have two different Facebook pages, one in Norwegian and one in English, and he only identified himself as a Christian and a conservative on the English one? Or did he pause from his murder spree to add “Christian” and “conservative” to his Facebook profile?

    >>There is so much that doesn’t fit in this story.

    I suspect that the primary difference is accounted for by whether or not the visitor to either page was logged into Facebook. I was not logged into Facebook when I took my 2 screen shots of the English page (sorry, I don’t know how to enclose the images), and its content, apart from a difference in language, was identical to the Norwegian link above. The English page I saw did not list “Christian” nor “conservative.”

    Since the English link above shows more content than what I saw when I visited ABB’s English page, I’ll surmise that the English screen grab was taken by someone logged into Facebook. That the Movies, Television and Games categories are missing from the English link can be explained by noting that they come at the bottom of the page and were probably out of monitor visibility for a single-swipe screen grab. Otherwise, those categories were visible to me.