Monday, August 8, 2011

Anders Breivik's Religion: Fundamentalist Christian Secular Agnosticism

Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik is the new poster boy for Christian terrorism.  Thus far our generation has had to pretty much make do with agnostic-but-had-a-Catholic-family Tim McVeigh. But in the post-9/11 world, the balance was so unfair to Islamic terrorists, who struck more than 17,000 times. 

LUCKILY, Breivik issued a manifesto in which he described himself as "Christian". What a relief! Now we can talk about the Norway attacks every time a jihadi makes an attempt on civilian lives.

[In fact, within a week of Breivik's heinous killing spree, a young Muslim soldier who had gone AWOL was arrested near Fort Hood before he could carry out a murderous rampage. Naser Jason Abdo's plan was to detonate explosions at area restaurants frequented by soldiers and their families, and then to machinegun anyone who survived the blasts.

Abdo had won the right to be a conscientious objector because he refused to fight against Muslims. In all the publicity surrounding that campaign last year, he even said, "I just want Americans to know we're not all terrorists." Famous last words!

This, following the more successful "statement" of Fort Hood jihadi and US Army major Nidal Hasan, as well as two other jihadi attacks involving American military personnel, should probably alert the military to the possibility that Muslim soldiers, by definition, are more of a threat than any other enlistees with any other ideologies.]

But now we have Breivik, who calls himself a Crusader. You can't get more Christian than that!

Well, you can.  Because it turns out the Breivik, unlike most of the fundamentalists I know who are often found singing in the choir on Sunday and who can quote Scripture for practically any occasion, Breivik's definition of Christianity DOES NOT INVOLVE A BELIEF IN GOD OR A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. 

He states, several times, that belief in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is unnecessary. (Although he does admit that some people may find such beliefs a comforting "emotional crutch.") He says he personally has no raltionship with Jesus Christ and no belief in the Trinity.

He believes that science ALWAYS trumps faith, and that the Bible isn't all that big a deal--it's just another crutch.  

He does, however, love getting Christmas presents and sees nothing wrong with that. 

He goes on to explain the difference between a benign "cultural Christianity" which would allow Easter dinner, Christmas gifts and carols, and lighting Christmas trees, versus actual belief in the Trinity and any sort of practice (attending church, for instance). The former is fun, the latter is not important, but as long as its influence is limited, probably not harmful. 

Western Europe has been going down this road for years. Most Europeans identify as either Catholic or Protestant, but they don't practice except when they're christened, married and buried. Central/Eastern Europeans tend to be more observant, partly because the Church was  persecuted for generations and this intensified the determination of the faithful.

In the US, Christmas has become largely secular, and we have had this debate in my own house. My sons maintain that exchanging gifts and lighting the tree is fun and an important tradition, but they reject Catholicism. They don't think our traditions have any connection to our beliefs. This despite the fact that the traditions as we've practiced them--lighting the advent candles, attending mass, setting up the manger, reading the birth narrative of Jesus, and the non-meat Polish Christmas Eve feast with my in-laws--have all been distinctly focused on Christ.

I think "secular" Christians who light the tree and exchange gifts without any context may continue to do so for any number of years, but I also think they will one day stop and say, "Wait--WHY are we doing this?" I don't think they'll sustain those traditions if they're totally meaningless. To say that everyone else on the block is doing it won't cut it.

So Breivik was one of those guys--an agnostic who nonetheless did not want to be cut out of all the holiday cheer.

In other words, an agnostic who didn't have the backbone to actually make a break from Christianity.

Breivik does go into some detail in his manifesto regarding Christian culture, as he calls it. It's because he doesn't have another ideological tag for what he sees as a pan-European culture that is not Marxist or Muslim--two ideolgies that are collectivist and dedicated to eliminating individualism. He also likes the history of Christianity, regarding the Crusades, which he sees as a great real-life video game (he was addicted to World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, really violent games). The Crusades, in Breivik's mind, involved good versus evil, the way his video games do.

When he went on his killing spree at the youth camp, he crossed the line from playing video games in his mom's basement to acting them out with live ammo. But in video games, your opponants are also armed and can kill you off at any level. He not only had a psychological break that put him in "game mode" with real weapons against an unarmed, unaware target, he was CHEATING.

One big difference between devout Muslim jihadis and Breivik is that jihadis ARE well-versed in the tenets of their faith, they DO know the Qur'an, and they DO take seriously the Prophet Mohammad's injunction "to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them." They're not "cultural Muslims" who enjoy a nice lamb kebab on their main holiday, Eid. Not only that, but they also have imams who describe jihadi warriors as heroes and martyrs. I haven't --yet--heard any Christian leaders celebrating the Norway attack.


It's not surprising that Breivik's description of what he calls Christianity is so far from what practicing Christians actually believe. He is totally ignorant of the Bible, the tenets of the faith, and the foundation of all those traditions he is loathe to give up--like his Christmas bonus and a paid day off.

It's also not surprising that you will not hear any of this in all the news reports about Breivik, in print or on the air. Painting Breivik a Christian, even though he really isn't one, serves a very important purpose: it silences people who dare to speak the truth about the Islamist agenda.  


No comments: