Following the attacks by the Norwegian madman, Anders Behring Breivik, that left dozens of people dead, there were attempts to brand him as a Christian-inspired terrorist. Every one of these attempts were wholly unpersuasive.
Perhaps the most obnoxious piece on this subject was written by Stephen Prothero in his CNN blog: he actually wrote that “Christians have a responsibility to speak out forcefully against [Breivik], and to look hard at resources in the Christian tradition that can be used to such murderous ends.” It is telling that he did not direct us to repair to the teachings of Jesus, when, of course, we would have no problem directing him to Muhammad’s appeals to violence. In response to Prothero’s article, Bill Donohue told the media, “If he expects a mea culpa from me, he should brace himself for disappointment.”
Similarly inane was the column by Mark Juergensmeyer on the website of Religion Dispatches. “If bin Laden is a Muslim terrorist,” he writes, “Breivik and [Timothy] McVeigh are surely Christian ones.” Wrong. McVeigh was a self-described agnostic who boasted, “Science is my religion.” Breivik said he strongly rejects the teachings of Christianity and held that the religion of his upbringing, Protestantism, was “a joke.”
Breivik’s affiliation with Christianity was purely cultural: he opposed the ideology of multiculturalism that has overwhelmed Europe. So do the leaders of Britain, France and Germany. The famous Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci, went to her deathbed fighting the incursions that militant Islam was making in Europe, and she was an atheist.
Susan Brooks Thislethwaite and Sally Quinn both engaged in moral equivalency by associating radical Christianity with radical Islam. They both failed to distinguish between the handful of Christians who murder—none of whom ever cite Jesus—and the legions of Muslims who murder, habitually invoking Muhammad. Must they be reminded what the ringleader of 9/11, Mohamed Atta, told his colleagues on how to proceed: “Seconds before the target, your last words should be there is no God but Allah. Muhammad is his messenger.” There is no Christian analogue.
The week following the brutal massacre, we found out that Breivik was “high on drugs” when he struck. What we didn’t find out was what those who want to blame Christianity for his actions were on.