Anders Behring-Breivik, Christianity, and Violence

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There was quite the uproar in right wing circles once it became apparent that Anders Breivik, the Norway killer, saw himself as a Christian Knight riding forth to do battle with the Muslim hordes and slaughtering any Norwegian disloyal enough to treat them well. Even while radical Christian culture warrior Pat Buchanan said that he thought Breivik "may be right" about an impending clash between Muslims and the Christian West, Bill O'Reilly was mewing that Christians could never do anything like that.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of 2000 years of Christian history knows it is filled with blood and violence against not only non-Christians such as ourselves, but also against the wrong kind of Christians. The first argument I know of against Roman universal religious toleration was by St. Augustine, who argued there should be no toleration whatsoever for those he regarded as the wrong kinds of Christians. Later, when there were fewer of us, Pagans got their turn to face the sword, the mob and the stake.

The Thirty Years War in Europe slaughtered millions, including about 1/3 of what is now Germany and the Czech Republic. It took 100 years for populations to rebuild. That war and simultaneous slaughters in England helped usher in the belief that religion should be kept out of politics, a belief that finally triumphed with the establishment of the United States.

In 1785, James Madison said,

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

Madison elaborated,

What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not.

But that was a long time ago. What about now? After all, this is America!

I will set aside the long record of individual terrorism such as the thugs who murder abortion providers. Let's look at a group that apparently currently includes the following prominent Senators: Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Mark Pryor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Sen. John Thune.

This is a sizeable minority of all Republican Senators. They are members of something called "The Family."

The organization is secretive, so the actual list is longer and includes many in the House as well. They have been influential in right-wing and some conservative circles in Washington, DC, for many years and have had members in both parties. Mostly they avoid publicity, but they received a little a few years ago because their members, while living at The Family's C Street residence in Washington, DC, seem to have a disturbing habit of getting into sexual scandals which are then covered up. Some cover-ups were unsuccessful, which is how we know about them. It makes one wonder how many were covered up successfully.

But isn't there is a big jump from cheating on your spouse to advocating killing?

For most of us, yes.

But consider the following account by Jeff Sharlet. In an article in Salon, Sharlet, who has done more to shine light on these people than anyone else, wrote that Doug Coe, the group's spiritual leader...

offered Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden as men whose commitment to their causes is to be emulated. Preaching on the meaning of Christ's words, he says, "You know Jesus said, 'You got to put Him before mother-father-brother sister?' Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that's what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn't murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.