July 25th, 2011
11:13 AM ET
Is 'Christian fundamentalist' label correct for Norway terror suspect?
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - Given initial suspicions that Friday's bombing and mass shooting in Norway were carried out by Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda, the way police ended up describing the suspect behind the attacks came as a big surprise even to many security experts: The alleged attacker was called a "Christian fundamentalist."
But experts on European politics and religion say that the Christian fundamentalist label could overstate the extent to which the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik - who has told authorities that he carried out the attacks - was motivated by religion, and the extent to which he is tied to a broader religious movement.
"It is true that he sees himself as a crusader and some sort of Templar knight," said Marcus Buck, a political science professor at Norway's University of Tromso, referring to an online manifesto that Breivik appears to have authored and which draws inspiration from medieval Christian crusaders.
My Take: Norway attacks shows terrorism isn't just Islamic
"But he doesn't seem to have any insight into Christian theology or any ideas of how the Christian faith should play any role in Norwegian or European society," Buck wrote in an email message. "His links to Christianity are much more based on being against Islam and what he perceives of as 'cultural Marxism.'"
From what the 1,500-page manifesto says, Breivik appears to have been motivated more by an extreme loathing of European multiculturalism that has accompanied rapid immigration from the developing world, and of the European Union's growing powers, than by Christianity.
"My impression is that Christianity is used more as a vehicle to unjustly assign some religious moral weight," to his political views, said Anders Romarheim, a fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. "It is a signifier of Western culture and values, which is what they pretend to defend."
"I would say they are more anti-Islam than pro-Christian," Romarheim said in reference to what appear to be Breivik's views.
The manifesto is religion-obsessed in that it rants for long stretches against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe.
Who is Anders Behring Breivik?
It calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute "cultural Marxists." The manifesto includes a link to a video asserting that the majority of Europe's population will be Muslim by 2050 "unless we manage to defeat the ruling Multiculturalist Alliance."
The author of the document identifies himself as Breivik, but CNN could not independently verify that he wrote the document, and Norwegian authorities would not confirm that the man in their custody wrote the manifesto, saying it was part of their investigation
Opposition to booming Muslim immigration to Europe, exacerbated by high birth rates in the Muslim community, has become a mainstay of Europe's burgeoning far-right, helping right-wing parties gain seats in parliaments across the continent.
But those right-wing movements are mostly secular. Europe's hard right does not have deep ties to Christianity in the way that the United States' conservative movement is entwined with evangelical Christianity and other theologically conservative religious movements.
A far-right comeback in Europe
Recently adopted European laws aimed at curbing Islam's public visibility, including France's new burqa ban and Switzerland ban on minarets - towers that a part of mosques - were secular causes, not ones championed by Christian interests. Many Christian groups oppose such bans.
"The bulk of the anti-Muslim sentiment is not against Muslims as such, but is a secular rejection of how some Muslims allegedly want to place Islam at the center of society," Buck said. "It is more anti-religious than anti-Muslim."
Breivik's apparent manifesto, by contrast, cites biblical verses to justify violence for political ends.
"Clearly, this is not a pacifist God we serve," it says. "It's God who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Over and over again throughout the Old Testament, His people are commanded to fight with the best weapons available to them at that time."
"The biggest threat to Europe is the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist political doctrine of 'extreme egalitarian emotionalism,'" the manifesto goes on. "This type of political stance involves destroying Christendom, the Church, our European cultures and identities and opening up our borders to Islamic colonization."
The video that's linked to in the manifesto also includes some religious language: "Celebrate us, the martyrs of the conservative revolution, for we will soon dine in the Kingdom of Heaven."
Experts on religion in Europe said those faith-infused views are likely peculiar to the suspected gunman and do not appear reflect wider religious movements, even as they echoes grievances of Europe's right-wing political groups.
"He was a flaky extremist who might as well have claimed to be fighting for the honor of Hogwarts as for the cause of Christ," said Philip Jenkins, a Pennsylvania State University professor who studies global religion and politics, describing the suspected Norway attacker. "He did not represent a religious movement. ... People should not follow that Christian fundamentalist red herring."
At the same time, Breivik told investigators during interviews that he belongs to an international order, The Knights Templar, according to Norwegian newspaper VG, which cited unnamed sources.
He described the organization as an armed Christian order, fighting to rid the West of Islamic suppression, the newspaper said. He also told investigators he had been in contact with like-minded individuals and said he counts himself as a representative of this order, it said.
For many in Norway, the potential implications of the suspected killer's religion are still settling in.
"This is the first time we've heard of Christianity/religion as a driving force behind right-wing extremism," Buck said. "The mainstream right-wing movements in the Nordic countries (very small and disorganized groups in Norway) would generally point to the Old Norse beliefs, if anything."
"Norwegian, Nordic and European society," he said, "were totally unprepared for a violent attack from someone who calls himself Christian."
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
that was for Dan
God wants our worship and love it seems.
But he only appears to us in our dreams.
You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.
For his plan for you is your inevitable death.
They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.
But a witness for this has never been found.
No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.
So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.
Rule #1 of Christianity: When a Christian does something bad, say "But he's not a REAL Christian!"
The article says: "But he doesn't seem to have any insight into Christian theology or any ideas of how the Christian faith should play any role in Norwegian or European society," Buck wrote in an email message. "His links to Christianity are much more based on being against Islam and what he perceives of as 'cultural Marxism.'""
Sounds like most Christian fundies I've talked to. They don't know squat about their own religion, and use their religion mainly to hate on others. Seems to me Breivik fits the fundie Christian label perfectly.
How about considering this....he is part of no organization....no group of like-minded people....Did you stop to consider that he is just a lone nut? If you or I kill a group of people and claim to be a Hindu, does this indict all Hindus just because we SAY we are one? Since there is no organized effort, no support base, no followers or leaders, no evidence he was ever a serious Christian, I call BS on smearing Christians with this.
Couldnt have said it better myself..
Christians and Muslims and Jews should all be kicked out.
there are a lot of christian terror groups around the world. Lords Resitance Army is just one of them. They are evil and twisted. Every religion has it's share of idiots. Christianity is no different.
Well said Gumby.
@ad....I didn't say there wasn't some group of "Christian nuts" here or there....that has NOTHING to do with this...this guy was a lone nut...and is in no way an indictment of Christianity. That said, can you name ONE global Christian terror group? How about ANY Christian terror group that has committed an a single act of terrorism that the average person on the street would be aware of? Quit trying to equate the terror problem in islam with a few rinky-dinky groups in Christianity, it's very silly.
LOL... David Stone... desperate excuse-maker for his religion.
The killer is a self proclaimed Christian, dude. You don't get to play God and decide who is "really a Christian" and who isn't. Funny thing is, you Christers are so eager to point at others and proclaim them "not really Christians". I have yet to see any Christian level that accusation at himself. Just remember... every time you point your finger at someone and say "You're not a real Christian!", there's another Christian out there pointing his finger at YOU and saying the exact same thing. Either you're all "real Christians", or none of you are.
Grow up and start taking responsibility for the bad apples in your religion. Burying your head in the sand and lying only hurts your already morally-challenged religion.
As an atheist who grew up in a Muslim country in the Middle East, I could not get along or perhaps even survive had I stayed back there for long. Staying and fighting for my beliefs was not an option. So I left about 35 years ago to get away from all those that I considered religious nut cases. And nut cases they were. Islam is exactly what it has been portrayed as these days. Violent and controlling and trying to expand to the 4 corners of the world (similar to Christianity of several hundred years ago. But the Christians evolved and changed for the better in some aspects). I wanted some basic freedom so I came out west to look for it. I have been happy with my decision, thinking that I would never have to go through the suffocating existence that they enforced back there. Boy, was I wrong. Not only, they have moved to the west and are trying to expand their “kingdom” and got away with tragedies like 9/11, they awakened their Christian counterparts who are just as close minded and nut as they are. Now, I am being attacked from one side by the Muslim nuts and the other side by the Christian right wing nuts and I don’t like any of them! Incidentally, my conservative and liberal friends aren’t too sure about me either. I am an atheist who believes abortion is a personal choice but small government and low taxes are good. I seem to be one mixed up dude and I guess I simply don’t belong. Sometimes, when it all seems too hopeless, I pray to see if it works for me! I look at the sky and talk to myself: “Scotty, are you up there, man? Could you beam me up please? Everyone has gone quite mad around here.”
Pray only to Jesus – He WILL answer you.
Actually dont be too hard on yourself. You sound like a Canadian is all. Which is a good thing.
"my conservative and liberal friends aren’t too sure about me either."
BO, then you have much bigger issues if you consider them your friends.
"“If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. . . . The world will be yours and everything in it, what's more, you'll be a man."
Here come the double standards.........
Christianity DID NOT exist prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ. There is absolutely NOTHING in the New Testament that would lead any true Christian believer to think that they should harm anyone. On the contrary, Jesus commands His followers (Christians) to turn the other cheek, not to repay evil with evil, but to forgive and LOVE those who hate us. The Bible says that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan's kingdom. We do not wage war as the world does. CNN is irresponsible in suggesting that any form of Christianity teaches this kind of violence.
There is lots and lots in the new testament which is pure evil. Christianity is just as bad as any other religion.
@ad – Then you have never read and/or understood the New Testament.
yes and by that logic, you have not understood the Quran.
Yes, I do understand islam. It is NOT Christianity. It is the very opposite of what Jesus commands us to do. Why do you make these statements when it is obvious that you have no understanding of Christianity or islam? Why don't you read the Bible and the quor'an and then decide for yourself which is true? Stop listening to what the media (or other people) have to say and judge for yourself!
Chrisians and Muslims killing each other as China takes over the world.
What global Christian terror groups (as Al Queda is for islam) do you think we should be most concerned about at this point genius?
The idiot's manifesto:
1) When someone does something bad and claims to be a Muslim, brand the entire Islamic population as "terrorists"
2) When someone does something bad and claims to be a Christian, make excuses and say "well, they aren't REAL Christians"
We should ba concerned about all christians! A religious zealot is the most dangerous person in the world.
Lord's Resistance Army.
The maoists in India.
Nagaland for Christ.
National Liberation Front of Tripura.
need more? I have a long list.
To David Stone....If you did your homework you would realize that the Al Quaeda and Taliban were employed by the CIA from their beginnings.....CIA meaning from the US, a supposedly Christian nation.
@ad...please name a single act of terrorism committed by the lords resistance group that the average American would be aware of. Thank you.
Incorrect label! I see no evidence that this guy was a dedicated Christian.
Beyond his statement of 'I am a Christian'?
It isn't which faith that matters it is the desire to kill others in the name of the faith that is morally repugnant.
Perhaps you're right....and perhaps some/most of the "Islamic Fundamentalists" who've committed acts of terrorism were also not really "Dedicated" Muslims. It's called a double-standard in case you were unaware...
Typical response from a fundie. It is irrelevant that you say because of his actions he is not a christian. That is nonsense! He believes that he is and that makes him a christian. So his actions are part and parcel to Christianity. So you as a christian bear just as much responsibility as he does. You are all foolish religious nuts! End of story.
More important to me is that he was NOT part of any Christian group that supports such things, he was a lone madman. Trying to compare him to Bin Laden is so silly.
I know of very, very few Christians who are "dedicated". Most just like the idea of belonging to a religion but they have their own ideas about how they should conduct themselves.
a lone gunman goes on a spree, all of a sudden he's compared to islamic fundamentalists that try to murder westerners each day. See how bad extreme left leaning is? You guys are pathetic.
"His links to Christianity are much more based on being against Islam and what he perceives of as 'cultural Marxism"
so from that we get christian terrorist. Really? oh wait i get it.. someone at cnn sat for a bit and thought.. how can we make this headline controversial and sensational.. oh i know. lets make crap up loosely based on something taken out of context.
We need to get rid of these violent right wing fundamentalists, and continue the path of multiculturalism. The world does not belong to nations, it belongs to people. Let the voters do the talking. Fortunately, the right wing fundamentalists will lose the population war, and we can marginalize them by non-violent political means. The multicultural society will out populate those with fascist dispositions, and the problem will be confined to a few extremists. Until then, this type of violence must be rooted out at its base, even if that means infringing on some freedoms of expression.
Right, and we know how the fundamentalist tend to not to have massively large families. It's normally the non-fundamentalist who have wives at home popping out three and four offspring.
Sorry dude, in the fundamentalist camp where women's lives are as breeders ..... And so many of them happily and honorably accept that role..... The population war will continue to be on their side.
"The world does not belong to nations. It belongs to people"... sounds to me like typical islamic ideology. All christian-majority nations are secular and most muslim-majority nations are islamic. Isnt that a double standard?
So...your saying that I need to give up my freedoms? Don't think so. Perhaps we can segment the world somehow so that the oppressive, power hungry mullahs can take away your freedoms, if thats what your ok with. I dont want them infringing on my freedoms! I dont want them anywhere near my segment. thanks but no thanks!
" The multicultural society will out populate those with fascist dispositions..."
No Muslims in your multicultural society, 'eh? Works for me.
He is merely restarting the crusades. christians and muslims have been killing each other in the name of their god for two thousand years. Nothing has changed and never will as long as the ignorant masses maintain their ridiculous belief in a mythical supreme being. What idiot would believe in a supreme being that allows mass murder in his name?
check yer facts dum dum.... Islam has not been around for 2000 yrs. Nothing will ever change as long as you hold on to your silly belief that you are smarter than anyone.
The great thing is that more do good in the name God.
My bad! Should have wrote one thousand years....
Right wing religious nuts be they christian muslim or jew are ignorant hateful wackjobs. They are the furthest from God regardless of their supposed purity. My dog will get into heaven before any of them...
Very well said my friend!
Many of the atheist responses here seem to say "but I want him to be a Christian fundamentalist." Have to say this points to a lack of critical thinking or accepting of nuance on their part. Even weirder someone earlier today misread Stalinism as Satanism, saying they don't believe in deities or some such thing. I'm starting to wonder if many of these posters can understand or accept what they read if it doesn't fit their prejudices.
There is no difference between Extremism in ISLAM and CHRISTIANITY.
That has nothing to do with what I just said.
His manifesto states unequivocally that he is christian. The atheists posting are stating the obvious. It proves that we have defeated natural selection. There are too many stupid people alive!
@Human...no difference except for the fact that one religion has global terror networks with training camps and huge amounts of funding and support, while the other religion doesn't have such things.
That seems to be an issue of organization not religion.
@Theodore: There's plenty of organization and funding in the christian religion, but an extreme shortage of militant training camps.
Have you seen a count of the militia training camps in the U.S.? We like to pretend they are secular but most are quite religious in nature. It isn't about which faith these people follow it is about a willingness to blindly kill to prove that faith is 'the real faith'. Christianity isn't inherently less inclined to do this less. One could pull up the LRA as an example, which is just as true to the faith they proclaim as Al-Qeada is to the faith they proclaim.
People like to assume that the faith is behind it because it lets them think that there is something easily identifiable about themselves that would prevent them from doing something like what this man did. The truth is there probably is but it isn't easily identifiable.
Extremism of any religion, race or culture is BAD for all inhabitants of this earth. This guy is the OSAMA BIN LADIN of the Christians. Be warned!
He is a terrorist, to be sure. And yes, he does call himself a Christian. One crucial difference between him and Muslim terrorists is that Breivik was not trained at a madrassa with hundreds of others who agree with him. He is not a part of a world-wide network of like-minded people, hell-bent on the destruction of others. He seems to have acted alone. If you can't see the difference, you are willfully blind.
as much as i respect you point of view...there's a big misunderstanding of how you view Muslims!! first of your basically trying to prove that Christianity is not in any way considered terrorists because the terror act was done by an individual person, and the religion(Christianity) has nothing to do with it. However because some ("Muslims"-in Afghanistan) work in groups to do terror acts, every Muslim in the whole world shouldn't be considered a terrorist as well like many people view them now a days. because they're work are also individual work because they tend to have the same immoral thoughts, which the majority of the Muslims view it as unislamic and people should indeed take the time to learn about Islam before they judge!! ever heard of (never judge a book by its cover)??
Have you ever seen the cover of the satanic bible? Some covers tell the whole story.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER is that Islam is indeed a problem in Europe, a massive one! Lets not blurr the issue here.
'let's not blur the issue here'
Thank you Eddy 🙂
CNN edited out the part where I suggested that the rest of your statement was nothing but blurring the issue but;
How is practicing your religion and culture a problem? Europeans will find out that the demographic trends favor Muslims, not Europeans. In the next few decades you will begin to see Muslim politicians in European states, and we will have our voice heard!
Yes, Muhammed, we know that the Muslim goal is to overpopulate and take over. The artilcal states that fact as well. Thanks for confirming!
Democracy means every vote counts equally. There are power in numbers. Do you think supressing a growing population will not come back to bite you?
@ Jeff- luckily we have a US president who doesn't want to fuel the fire against Islam, and understands the growing multicultural nature of global politics. We need more politicians like him and we will get them!
once the muslim theology takes over and we all must submit to sharia law or die, how do you think that all of the peoples of the earth that DONT agree with that theology will react?
CNN does not have the technology to edit "part" of a post. It's all or nothing. YOU screwed up something.
Sure, his beliefs would not, upon close examination, stand up as Christian. For Christ's sake, he slaughtered nearly a hundred people as a publicity stunt.
But there are a lot of self-described "Christians" - on both side of the political spectrum - whose beliefs do not stand up upon close examination. And sometimes the result of a close examination depends on who is doing the examining. It is not so unusual for people to use religion to justify acts of inhumanity that they themselves would view as reprehensible but for the purported religious justification.
Even when the guy says he's doing it as a Christian Fundie... they won't call him a fundie... but was a "muslim terrorist" before we knew who he was. What crap! Christian terrorist.
The question is whether the "christian" aspect of him was related to the "terrorist" aspect of him. I can a Buddhist who bombs something a "Buddhist terrorist" because both describe him/her, but that doesn't mean the two adjectives are necessarily related.
Of course he is a Christian fundamentalist. He is a Crusader by his own admition
He also called himself a Templar Knight. He's a nutjob.
Complete rubbish! There is only one mention of his "Christianity" and it was on his Facebook page. No religious motives at all, unlikthe Muslims. Be honest!
I wonder with all the crosses in his book cover and all over his book what does it mean?
and the answer is it is the christian cross, go figure
BTW the crusades killed over a million Muslim.
And the Muslims never killed anyone? How did they advance thier religion to the place where the Crusaders felt that they had to stop them?
If Christians can label people terrorists 'Muslin Fundamentalists' then yes, it is only fair that terrorists who claim to be Christian are labeled such. To those mouthing off about how he isn't a Christian and shouldn't be labeled such how many of you are quick to label all Muslims as terrorists? If you don't want it done to you then don't do it to others.
No one can point to Jesus and say, "He said it's okay." That is a huge difference.
No one can point to Mohammed, Moses, Jesus, etc and say "He said it is o.k.".
Read the Qur'an, bud. YOu can point to Mohaamad and see that he said it's ok. Over and over again. It's called "jihad." Perhaps you've heard of it? Try googling "jihad bis saif."
@JustTheFacts Actually, you CAN point to Mohammed and say, "He said it was ok", because he DID say killing non-Muslims was ok. He spelled it out pretty crystal clear.
But calling out Jihad against non-muslims makes it a big difference....
Having read both the Bible is more violent.
so how is this guy christian fundamentalist? he even hasnt admitted he is christian or he did this for the pope nore any christian deno? this is anther liberal conspiracy to put christianity in the same sorry state as radical islam, i know and some of my conservative friends know that liberals cant stand christianity but i am catholic and i am very proud of it and i will never waver on my beliefs i haved lived in the south in the united states which is known as the bible belt and i haved never known a christian fundamentalist have any of you? andi go to church i go to different churchs too where are they can you telll me? but i bet i can find a muslim extremist they are all over the muslim world western europe and some in the united states hmm. you folks are a joke truly
"But he doesn't seem to have any insight into Christian theology or any ideas of how the Christian faith should play any role in Norwegian or European society,"
Neither do most christian fundamentalists, most of them just regurgitate a number of verses but have no real grasp on Christianity or its roll in the world.
You have no idea what you're taliking about. The general population, full of nominal and cultural Christians, are not well versed in teh Bible, to be sure. Evangelicals, on the other hand, typically study the Bible regularly.
Most evangelicals I know have never read the Bible other than what they have been told to read. Most non-evangelicals I know have read it, Christians and atheists alike.
David. What a joke. I have been in evangelical churches for thirty years. I have known hundreds of Christians, most of whom read the Bible regularly. As to read "what they are told to read" that is a baseless accusation.
I am not making any broad generalizations, just disputing your broad generalization.