Norway attacks: Was Breivik a Christian terrorist?
Anders Behring Breivik's Norway attacks have instigated a discussion about a double standard in the way people react to 'Christian terrorists' vs. 'Muslim terrorists.'
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A columnist in Turkey’s Hurriyet last Friday found that Breivik’s brand of Christianity is essentially anti-Islamic and says, “I agree with the Christian writers who object to the links made between their faith and the Norwegian monster…. But, alas, this is the same thing we Muslims have been saying about Al Qaeda and most of its terrorists: Theirs was not a genuine expression of the Muslim faith, but a highly politicized, paranoid and fanatical expression of Muslim identity.”Skip to next paragraph
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Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, points out that many of the writers and pundits who were first and loudest to decry Breivik’s self-definition as a Christian have often been the last to accord Muslims the same degree of sensitivity, and have even assumed “victim status” at the hands of a “liberal media.”
In a blog posted today on GetReligion.org and hosted by The Christian Century Website, the commenter Mollie Ziegler argues against the moral equivalency of Christian and Islamic terrorist terminology, citing studies showing that opposition to Breivik in the West is nearly uniform, while polls show that feelings about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are more ambiguous in Green crescent states.
“Are we capable of seeing the distinction between a dude acting alone with, at this point, no following and a large global movement with many leaders and supporters?" Mollie asks finally. ”Supporters of Islamic extremism are a minority in most Muslim countries. But there’s a dramatic difference between the level of support a killer such as Osama bin Laden had and the level of support a killer such as Breivik has. Media coverage should not ignore that distinction when pushing the moral equivalency meme.”
Religious scholars argue that Christianity in its better moments has been a force for liberation, whether through radical Protestant abolitionists and civil rights leaders in the US, or among radical Catholics working in South America.
The inspiration found by practicing Christians is often bestowed or experienced as a sense of grace, a subject with which Breivik does not appear to identify. The apostle Paul notes that all persons were free and equal in the sight of God and the slavery of anyone is a sin in the divine order of things. Hence poets like John Greenleaf Whittier and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe, could partake in Christianity’s promise of grace and also be extremely active in anti-slavery movements. “Breivik’s views run in the opposite direction,” says a religious scholar in Cambridge, Mass., “Though he might not see it that way.”
One other Breivik notion that runs in another direction is his views on women. The rise of females and feminism in the West has weakened Western society and its martial spirit, he writes. “The feminization of European culture, moving rapidly since the 1960s continues to intensify.”