Anders Breivik: A Teachable Moment on Fundamentalism
Liberals have been waiting since 9/11 for a deranged madman they could call a "fundamentalist Christian terrorist" to justify their denial of an Islamic threat -- not to mention the "disastrously stupid" policies which result from the denial. In Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo mass murderer, the media finally have their man. And they got a bonus inasmuch as Breivik is an "Islamophobe." That is, he apparently recognized the danger of a strong Islam in a weak Europe. Yet, because of his demented psyche, he harmed rather than helped his country.
The New York Times reports that Breivik was identified "as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration." Following the Times' lead, the words "Christian extremist" and "Christian fundamentalist" were plastered in headlines worldwide immediately after Breivik's bloody attack.
There are several ideologies and identities associated with Breivik which do not necessarily overlap, including: Muslim immigration opponent, right-wing extremist, Eurocentric autonomist, Nordic nationalist, and fundamentalist Christian. Let's focus on "Christian fundamentalist."
First, the writings of Breivik reveal that, on one hand, he identifies himself as Christian. Yet, on the other, he "is not religious, has doubts about God's existence, does not pray, but does assert the primacy of Europe's 'Christian culture' as well as his own pagan Nordic culture." In his manifesto, Breivik writes:
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. However, I am a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe.
If the New York Times reporters had actually read Breivik's manifesto, as New York Times bestselling author Ann Coulter notes, "they would have seen that he uses the word 'Christian' as a handy moniker to mean 'European, non-Islamic' -- not a religious Christian or even a vague monotheist."
Fundamentalism itself is a neutral word. If the underlying fundamentals of the subject are bad, then the practicing fundamentalist has a problem from the outset. But if the fundamentals are virtuous or at least unrelated to morality, then fundamentalism can be a good thing.
In the world of sports, when a team is struggling, the coach might call for an entire practice session to be dedicated to the fundamentals of the sport. "We need to get back to the fundamentals," you might hear him say.
Christian fundamentalism may vary, but whatever it is, it cannot involve murder or coercion. Terrorism is inconsistent with the fundamentals of Christianity. If someone murders to achieve his goal, he is not practicing Christianity.
How can I say that? The words and example of Christianity's founder yield no other conclusion.
After Jesus was betrayed, the mob came to take Him away. Peter drew his sword and struck the ear off the high priest's servant, Malchus. Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Christ then touched the servant's ear and healed it. Rather than fight to establish His kingdom, Christ laid down his life as a sacrifice.
The fact that Peter had a sword shows that he was permitted to defend himself. Yet there is no record of Christ taking up a sword or instructing His disciples to do so. Moreover, there is no record of Christ or His disciples using coercion to gain a single follower.
Unsurprisingly, the foundational example of Thomas Jefferson's Bill for Religious Freedom is Christ Himself, whom Jefferson cites in the Virginia Act: "[Attempts to coerce religious duty] are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do[.]"
Islamic fundamentalism may vary, but whatever it is, it allows for murder and coercion. The words and example of Islam's founder yield no other conclusion.
According to the prevailing view (held by Presidents Bush and Obama), extremists have hijacked Islam, and their acts of terrorism pervert the religion. But following the violent example of their founder and the words of their sacred book should hardly be considered "hijacking" the religion. Indeed, the viciousness and abuse associated with jihad and sharia law are the fundamentals of Islam.
Now, of course, there are millions of people who have been born into Islam and raised by Muslim parents who live normal and peaceful lives. We call them moderate or liberal Muslims.
It turns out that liberal Muslims don't always believe and follow everything their holy book teaches. Liberal Muslims are ignoring the fundamentals of their faith.
Nevertheless, a whole lot of Muslims continue to faithfully support jihad and sharia law.
In his recent piece, "When is an Ideology Responsible for Murder," columnist Ben Shapiro notes the following:
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.
Shapiro largely focuses on the identity of "right wing extremist" that has been attached to Breivik and concludes that "[c]onservatism does not promote political violence." In the same vein, liberalism no longer promotes political violence in the U.S. (see Weather Underground, et al). Both ideologies can be expressed through violence, of course, but neither is diminished by the isolated acts of a madman.
The left-wing press would have us believe that conservatism produces killers. And, for purposes of moral equivalence, the establishment press would have us believe that Breivik is a "fundamentalist Christian."
The left would have us believe that Islam and Christianity are morally equivalent, with each susceptible to perversion by violent extremists. Therefore, they believe that the Breivik massacre teaches us that Islam is no more a threat to our civilization than Christianity.
But the fundamentals of the two religions are polar opposites.
Breivik is a psychopath extremist who may call himself a Christian, but for sure he is no fundamentalist Christian. On the other hand, every Muslim terrorist who shouts "Allahu Akbar" before killing people is a certified fundamentalist.
If you want to remain in good standing with the politically correct, just don't notice the difference.