Norway terrorist: more media mendacity
Published: 11 August 2011 (GMT+10)
CMI offers our deepest sympathy for the victims of the atrocity in Norway. One Anders Behring Breivik, 32, confessed to the bombing and mass shooting that left 76 dead and 96 wounded, and seems unrepentant. Yet the mass media were only too happy to use this tragedy to smear Christianity, by claiming that the murderer is a “Christian fundamentalist”. The double standards are only too glaring, compared with the walking on eggshells when Islamists commit murder.
“Christian fundamentalist” smear
We have often documented the extreme christophobia of the mainstream media (e.g. for just the print media alone, see Time and Newsweek blatantly attack Christian doctrine and Newsweek's Gay Apparel: Lisa Miller’s Travesty of Exegesis). The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has such a bad history that it should perhaps be renamed Atheists Blast Christianity. The way they rushed to conclusions about Breivik was bad even by the ABC’s usual standards; it was so shocking that non-Christian conservative Australian columnist Andrew Bolt, on his Herald Sun blog on July 24, 2011, noted the double standards, contrasting the ABC’s “determination to mention the murderer’s (at this stage seemingly irrelevant and certainly anomalous) Christian faith with the ABC’s extreme reluctance to mention the faith of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he shot dead solders at Fort Hood, after telling a colleague: ‘Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor.’”
In fact, it would only have taken minimal research to find out that Breivik, in addition to loving the HBO TV series Dexter that portrays a serial killer favourably, liked the anti-Christian 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill, and did not list the Bible among his reading material. This is most unusual for a ‘fundamentalist’, a term which historically referred to defending the inerrancy of the Bible and other fundamentals of the faith (see Anyone for fundamentalism?). Nor would a ‘fundamentalist’ (either the historic meaning or the modern colloquial usage) be expected to admire Darwin and say in his own manifesto:
“As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings. Europe has always been the cradle of science, and it must always continue to be that way. Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I’m not an excessively religious man. I am first and foremost a man of logic.”
And Breivik specifically denied that he was a religious Christian, caring nothing for God and Christ:
“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.”
In fact, Breivik is clearly a believer in evolution. In a section of his ‘manifesto’ deploring “race-mixing”, he refers to “Nordic/European” features (i.e. blue eyes and blond hair like his own) as “rare characteristics that have been acquired through an evolutionary process which has taken more than 1 million years.”
Elsewhere, in the context of his own destiny after death, he makes the proviso “if there is a God”. This is the proviso of an agnostic, not a Christian. So it seems that he was nothing more than a ‘cultural Christian’. Even the strident anti-Christian Richard Dawkins said of himself: “I’m a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.”
Also, Dawkins’ fellow atheistic propagandist Sam Harris admitted on his blog1 (another hostile witness):
“It has been widely reported that Breivik is a “Christian fundamentalist”. Having read parts of his 1500-page manifesto (2083: A European Declaration of Independence2), I must say that I have my doubts. These do not appear to be the ruminations of an especially committed Christian: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 ….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. (p. 1344)
“As I have only read parts of this document, I cannot say whether signs of a deeper religious motive appear elsewhere in it. Nevertheless, the above passages would seem to undermine any claim that Breivik is a Christian fundamentalist in the usual sense. …”
Indeed, it’s not the first time that a Western terrorist has been labelled a ‘Christian’ although he was demonstrably strongly anti-Christian. For example, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber who killed 168 people and wounded over 680, has often been called a ‘Christian terrorist’. In fact, his final pre-execution public statement was a strongly humanist poem claiming, “I am the captain of my soul”, spitting in God’s face, as it were.
Eric Robert Rudolph, who had nail-bombed an abortion mill in 1997 was likewise labelled a ‘Christian terrorist’. Yet according to this report, Rudolph wrote in a letter from prison:
“Many good people continue to send me money and books. Most of them have, of course, an agenda; mostly born-again Christians looking to save my soul. I suppose the assumption is made that because I’m in here I must be a ‘sinner’ in need of salvation, and they would be glad to sell me a ticket to heaven, hawking this salvation like peanuts at a ballgame. I do appreciate their charity, but I could really do without the condescension. They have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible.”
Of course, Nietzsche, widely known for his pronouncement that “God is dead”, was a strongly anti-God philosopher (see Nietzsche, the man who took on God and lost!).
Could Christianity be responsible?
As shown above, Breivik was extremely far from being a Christian, even according to his own words. But even without that, it’s important to remember what we have often pointed out: atrocities committed in the name of Christianity were inconsistent with real Christianity, which is revealed in the Bible. There is nothing in the Bible that would do anything but condemn Breivik’s monstrous deeds. But atrocities in the name of evolution are consistent with the theory, as we have explained in articles such as Christian vs evolutionary atrocities and The Bible vs slavery and apartheid.
In fact, Bible-believing Christians around the world have been universally horrified at Breivik’s deeds.
Contrast this with the situation where, as polls show, huge swaths of Muslims endorse anti-Western violence; and the more religious they are, the more they endorse such violence. Over 50 percent of Jordanians and Lebanese support the terrorist group Hezbollah; over 40 percent of Nigerians and Indonesians do, too; 30 percent of Egyptians and 19 percent of Pakistanis do as well. Those numbers are even higher, in general, for Hamas. In countries like Iran and territories like those controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the numbers skyrocket.
So it’s not surprising that those who make the claim ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ often don’t really believe it. This was shown by alarmism from US General Petraeus about a Florida pastor’s plan to burn a Koran in public (which we don’t endorse for a moment, by the way):
“Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday. Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy, and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult.”
Surely if they were truly oh-so-peaceful, there would be nothing to fear. But this shows very well that they know it takes very little to inflame Muslims, as Michelle Malkin documents.
Furthermore, there was no apparent problem with the US Army burning a shipment of Bibles for fear that “it could be perceived by Afghans that the U.S. government or the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims.” Of course, they knew very well that they had no fear of Christian reprisals.
Even arch-atheist Richard Dawkins knows this:
“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”
“Senior figures admitted that the BBC is guilty of promoting Left-wing views and an anti-Christian sentiment. … executives admitted they would happily broadcast the image of a Bible being thrown away—but would not do the same for the Koran.”
Denial of evil
Many of our critics within the church claim that creation is ‘just a side issue’ (but see the articles under Creation: Why It Matters). But this enormity is one example of what happens when creation is undermined.
Norway has been even more evolutionized, thus secularized, than say, Australia and the USA. Chuck Colson has pointed out a baneful consequence: a refusal to acknowledge genuine evil. He tells us of his tour of a maximum security prison in the 1980s, wherein the warden claimed, “anyone who commits a violent crime is obviously mentally unbalanced.” So instead of treating a crime as a wrong deserving punishment, it’s now a sickness needing a cure. As Colson says:
“ … when we attempt to explain away moral evil, we will fail to constrain it. We cannot account for human behavior without recognizing that we are fallen creatures prone to sin.”
In line with this ‘crime is sickness’ fallacy, the maximum sentence any criminal in Norway—even a mass murderer—can receive is 21 years. So Breivik could be on the streets in 2032, when he will likely be still healthy enough to murder again.
“when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him … , we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’. …
“The older view was that mercy ‘tempered’ justice, or (on the highest level of all) that mercy and justice had met and kissed. The essential act of mercy was to pardon; and pardon in its very essence involves the recognition of guilt and ill-desert in the recipient. If crime is only a disease which needs cure, not sin which deserves punishment, it cannot be pardoned.
“How can you pardon a man for having a gumboil or a club foot? But the Humanitarian theory wants simply to abolish Justice and substitute Mercy for it. This means that you start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which no one but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties. You have overshot the mark. Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful.”
Such are some of the many problems with an evolutionary view of man, diametrically opposed to man being created in God’s image. And this has had its outworking in previous massacres: young murderers in Columbine Highschool (Colorado) and Finland overtly claimed evolutionary backing for their evils, as we documented in the links.
Why would a God of love allow this?
This is of course a major question that Christians need to be able to answer. After the 11-9 terrorist attack, we produced a detailed booklet Why would a loving God allow death and suffering? This showed that ultimately all death and suffering is due to Adam’s sin. Like the Islamofascists of 10 years ago, this Norwegian tragedy is an example of ‘moral evil’, i.e. caused by humans misusing their God-given voluntary will. It would take us too far afield to rehash this here, and also unnecessary since the issues are dealt with already.
Where long-age views really run into problems is the issue of ‘natural evil’—under the evolutionary/long-age view, natural disasters long pre-date Adam’s sin. We answer this in articles such as:
- Waves of sadness: Tsunami terror raises age-old questions
- Australia’s season of disasters
- Haiti’s horrendous earthquake disaster: Should we help and why?
We also have some more philosophical critiques of the common ‘argument from evil/pain’ against God:
- CMI answers philosophy/religion professor on biblical exegesis and the problem of evil
- Problem of evil
- Answering angry anti-Christianity
Readers would also benefit from Dr Carl Wieland’s latest book, Beyond the Shadows: making sense of personal tragedy, where he gives a biblical explanation for death and suffering and how that can help one to cope; see Foreword.
The mass media have long ago abandoned any semblance of honesty; telling outright falsehoods to bash Christianity. This latest Breivik-tragedy is no exception. CMI exists to equip Christians, including noting the double standards of christophobes, who are being consistent with their evolutionary worldview; and showing the importance of a biblical worldview in explaining and dealing with evil. So when Christians read media reports, they might do well to heed the warning of the 18th century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, who pointed out: “There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.”
- Harris, S., Christian Terrorism and Islamophobia, samharris.org, 24 July 2011. Return to text.
- Breivik, A.B., 2083: A European Declaration of Independence,
. Return to text.
Great article. I am proud to be a Christian fundamentalist. I believe that a Christian should, amongst other things, love his enemies, do good to those who harm him, bless those who curse him. Does that include killing them? I doubt it!
Good to see the facts so clearly presented. Like most Christians, I was horrified and saddened by the murders in Norway, and deeply offended by media claims that Breivik was a “fundamentalist Christian”. I am a believing Christian, a “fundamentalist”, and therefore I believe in the sanctity of all human life and in God’s commandment: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The heart of Christianity is the great commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:19, 22:39). Lawlessness and violence is the fruit of human immorality and sin, the root of which is unbelief in God and refusal to obey His moral law. Faith in Christ sets us free from sin and leads to genuine love and concern for others and a desire to obey God’s law.
Once again a great article by Jonathan Sarfati.
Here in Canada the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) did exactly like the ABC in Australia calling Breivik a Christian Fundamentalist and I cringed. They used that label the day of the shootings and the following day but stopped and used different labels thereafter so I figured there must have been an outcry from somewhere.
Believe it or not I was waiting for the "inside scoop" from CMI and sure enough, you guys came through!
Your article does well to highlight the blatant prejudice in the media on this tragic event that focused on the uncritical labeling of Breivik as a “Christian fundamentalist”. I was astonished to read 3 days after the massacre a freelance columnist in the local paper gleefully accusing “Christian fudamentalists” of being a threat to world peace, and to the Great Tolerance of our Society. He went on to find fault with these people (with whom I would identify myself) for not being able to think critically. One point you elaborate well is that if one is to hold a belief, then it follows that another can measure you against a standard of conduct: indeed, in Christian context, often the most critical of one’s conduct is oneself. In this case, whatever the label someone used to describe Breivik, you can compare his behaviour with that of Christ and his followers, and it doesn’t take much to work out that it doesn’t match. Unfortunately, these hostile commentators, whatever their lipservice to critical thinking, show themselves entirely incapable of it themselves. And in praising the wonder of Tolerance in our society, in one case going so far as to mistakenly credit it with the abolition of slavery, the columnist displayed such a profound intolerance, in addition to his profound insensitivity, that it was beautifully clear why I can’t be bothered with Society’s Great Virtue—Tolerance along with Critical Thinking are things essentially for Other People: a proponent of Tolerance need not trouble to be tolerant himself, for it merely what you require of other people.
Thanks for the comments above. As for ‘tolerance’, see our articles The tyranny of ‘tolerance’, The hypocrisy of intolerant ‘tolerance’: Christian schoolgirl failed for refusing ‘gay’ assignment, and Review of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power by Melanie Phillips.
I am so grateful to CMI for producing these well balanced and biblically based analyses of current events. You give us such well argued and thought out responses, without resorting to rant and abuse, and I find it so helpful in clarifying my thinking about complex social and cultural issues. My deepest thanks to CMI and Dr Sarfati.
We are reminded that there will always be those who will seek justification for unacceptable behaviour by aligning themselves with Christianity. Identity theft is nothing new. Its also no surprise how the Christophobic media ‘piles on’ in taking every slight opportunity to slam Christians by irresponsibly ascribing Judeo-Christian religious motives to individuals, both current and historical, who have been part of some atrocity. I don’t think it will be getting better any time soon. We need to expect it and learn how to respond. Thanks for articles like this which set the records straight.