Most journalists would never correlate terrorism with Islam for fear of being criticized as Islamophobic, but now they are relishing in the opportunity to connect Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik to Christianity using a fairly weak link.
Breivik, who published a manifesto hours before his shooting spree, discussed his cultural connection to Christianity only as a vehicle by which he could accomplish his goal of a pure Nordic race. He even wrote, "I'm not going to pretend I'm a very religious person, as that would be a lie." Nevertheless, Breivik's supposedly radical Christian beliefs are making the headlines, instead of his truly radical belief of eliminating Muslims through modern eugenics.
While the media generally label Muslim terrorists as a tiny faction of Muslim extremists, they are not applying the same standard to an extremist "Christian" terrorist, who would seemingly be categorized in the same way. Instead, they are taking the opportunity to warn of threats of Christian and right-wing extremism in America and Europe.
Furthermore, Breivik's direct ties to Christianity aren't even accurate. After the publication of his 1500-page manifesto, it is evident that Breivik's connection to Christianity is for cultural and political, not religious, reasons, using Christianity as the most unifying factor to create an Aryan race. According to Breivik,
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.
Breivik self-identifies as a "cultural Christian" who only sees Christianity as "essential for cultural reasons." He explains, "Christianity is the ONLY cultural platform that can unite all Europeans," which, according to him, would be needed to expel Muslims through eugenics. Breivik goes on to say the taboo against eugenics only exists because of the Holocaust, and eugenics should be employed to eliminate Muslims and protect a traditional Europe.
[W]e need to get over [the eugenics] taboo as soon as possible because it is estimated that the Nordic genotypes will be extinct completely within 200 years...The Nordic genotypes might be wiped out within 200 years and yet not a single counter-measure has been employed to prevent this from happening due to the fact that it is considered politically incorrect.
Nevertheless, many outlets quickly jumped at the opportunity to have a right-wing, Christian extremist terrorist. The New York Times opens its article on the shooting with a direct correlation to Christianity.
The Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination, according to Norwegian and American officials familiar with the investigation.
In a second analysis, the Times describes Breivik's manifesto as being "the closest thing yet to a Christian version of Al Qaeda."
On closer inspection, however, Mr. Breivik’s worldview does not fit squarely into any of the established categories of right-wing ideology, like white supremacism, ultranationalism or Christian fundamentalism. Rather, it reveals a new doctrine of civilizational war that represents the closest thing yet to a Christian version of Al Qaeda.
At the Washington Post, Susan Brooks Thislethwaite says, "Christians are often reluctant to see these connections between their religion and extreme violence," adding that "[t]he rise of this type of right-wing extremism is not confined to Europe but is also a growing threat in the U.S."
Anders Behring Breivik has now “acknowledged” that he carried out the horrific series of attacks in Norway that have left at least 76 dead. He has been described by police there as a “Christian fundamentalist.” His rambling “manifesto” calls for a “Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination.” Christians should not turn away from this information, but try to come to terms with the temptations to violence in the theologies of right-wing Christianity.
Time Magazine denies the accuracy of journalists arguing against Breivik's Christian identification.
Ever since the murderous rampage in Norway last week, Bill O’Reilly and other American conservatives have sought to insist that the alleged Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik is not a Christian. “Breivik is not a Christian,” O’Reilly said on his Fox News show on Tuesday. “That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.” Elsewhere on the channel, Fox contributor Ralph Peters argued that “[Breivik] defines himself as a Christian, but you know, anybody can claim anything.” And conservative Christian activist Jordan Sekulow wrote at the Washington Post that “to label Breivik a ‘Christian’ requires a depraved understanding of what it means to be a Christian.”
In his coverage of the story, Bill Maher says, "Christianity is perfectly capable of coming out of its dormant phase and once again becoming the violent, bloodlusty religion it was under the crusades"
While the element of cultural Christianity in Breivik's manifesto should be part of the coverage in his horrific shooting spree, it should not be the whole story. Just as Muslim terrorists are criticized for their extremist philosophies instead of their religious beliefs, Breivik's extremist philosophies encouraging eugenics and a pure Aryan race should be making the headlines, not his weak ties to Christianity.