Norway Killer Anders Breivik Wrongly Labelled a "Christian Fundamentalist"

Country: International

Date of incident: July 29, 2011

Shortly after his ruthless murder of at least 76 innocent men, women, and children Anders Breivik has been called a “Christian fundamentalist,” “Christian terrorist,” and “Christian extremist.” The media picked up the solitary, premature and unjust comment of a police officer right after the incident.

US TV host Bill Maher use the label in his HBO show "Real Time“ after the attack: "That's what he was. He's a Christian terrorist. He wanted to start a Christian onslaught against the Muslims." He went on to say that religion itself was the problem and that Christianity "is perfectly capable of coming out of its dormant phase and once again becoming the violent blood-lusty religion it was under the crusades."

John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association, says: “Such acts are utterly alien to Christian teachings and values. Violence carried out in the name of Christianity is an absolute distortion of a religion that finds its genesis in Jesus Christ, the ‘Prince of Peace.’ ... There’s a risk that ‘fundamentalism’ will become blurred in people’s minds with the idea of ‘Conservative Christianity’—a confusion that could serve to widen the gulf of misunderstanding between different religious traditions.”

Jordan Sekulow, a director with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), pointed out that the Norwegian man only “claimed the ‘Christian’ mantle” as a cultural, social, and moral platform."

Craig Parshall, general counsel of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), disputed the "Christian fundamentalist" label for Breivik, by referring to the accused killer's 1,500-page "manifesto": there he referred to Jesus Christ 16 times in the manifesto but cited Thomas Jefferson a total of 18 times. Concluded Parshall, "Linking Breivik to anything Christian therefore makes as little sense as saying that the mass murderer was motivated by Jeffersonian democracy."

Terry Mattingly (GetReligion) is quoted in the Christian Post on July 29: „At this point, I think most journalists have reached the point that they know that Anders Behring Breivik (a) has self-identified as a 'Christian,' (b) yet he also made it clear that he is not a Christian believer, in terms of beliefs and practice and (c) that it is bizarre to call him a "fundamentalist," in any historic sense of the word.“

Ed Stetzer, a US blogger says in the same article: „I think there are three reasons that many in the media were so quick to assume and report this unsubstantiated label:

1. Many in the media have deep suspicions about what they call "fundamentalism." They do not understand these strange people and are afraid of what they might do. If you are reading (my) blog, you are probably what the media would call a "fundamentalist."

2. Some desire to create a moral equivalence. There are Muslim fundamentalists and they are bad. There must be Christian fundamentalists who are equally bad.

3. Many believe that Christian fundamentalists are just a moment away from violence.“