Fox TV: Oslo terrorist couldn’t be a Christian


8:40 am - July 27th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Fox News’ top presenter Bill O’ Reilly yesterday evening attacked the characterisation of Breivik as a ‘Christian terrorist’.

He said: “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”

He added: “The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”

He said that the reason the media was calling Breivik a Christian was because “the left wants you to believe that fundamentalists Christians are a threat just like crazy jihadists are.”

Watch (via @cathrynfraser)

Yesterday, Melanie Phillips wrote:

Obviously, it is important to prevent any retribution against ordinary Christians, the vast majority of whom are utterly appalled at what has happened and who themselves live blameless, law-abiding lives. But what has happened has gone much further than that. The impression has been sedulously created that this act of Christian terrorism by a Christian man from Norway had nothing to do with nothing to do with the Christian community or indeed Christianity.

As for the BBC, it has seemed determined to wrench the spotlight away from the role of Christianity in these bombings and instead displayed an obsession with avoiding ‘Christianophobia’. Item after item on radio and television has dwelt upon the need to avoid blaming Christians for what happened, rather than addressing the hard questions to the community that cry out to be asked.

Oh wait, no.
That was Melanie Phillips talking about Muslims (I switched the words around) after 7/7. I think Melanie Phillips would call your attitude a ‘culture of denial’ Mr O’Reilly.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


“No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”
Crusaders, some Nazis, Inquisition, anti abortionist bombers, participents of the thirty year wars and many other killers.
Also no one believing in Allah, Hitler, Jehovah, Marx, or Queen Victoria commits mass murder ?
Also asking a pilot to drop a phosphorus bomb on a hospital full of kids or a wedding ?
Murder ?
Fuckin hell, like shooting fish in a barrel

The trouble is that reports that Breivik was a religious fundamentalist have turned out to be false. There does not appear to have been any religious motivation. We can’t say that about 7/7, so I’m not really sure how you expect anyone to swallow the idea that this was a Christian equivalent of 7/7.

And real muslims don’t do such things either. That’s what every muslim I know tell me, and they are extremely saddened that some fundamentalist muslims have hijacked the term “islam”. However christian fundamentalist terrorism isn’t anything new.

It’s also worth noting that before it was established a white person did this there were attacks on muslims in Oslo… There has however been no anti-christian sentient to fuel such a fire against common christians.

Also, if you are a real christian: Start working for peace and protect muslims from unnecessary attacks. Words have power.

I think you will find Christian references in his manifesto and blogs. The Templar one for a start. Were they a leftist knitting circle or a Christian crusader group.

@2 Well, except for all the knights Templar business anyway…

Also, if you are a real christian: Start working for peace and protect muslims from unnecessary attacks. Words have power.

To be honest that goes for every citizen.

“No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”

This may be the single most ignorant statement I have ever read. Pick up a history book Bill.

(Not wishing to single out Christians… of course believers in all sorts of gods, children of gods, prophets of gods etc., not to mention all sorts of human figureheads, have committed mass murder.)

“There has however been no anti-christian sentient to fuel such a fire against common christians.”

Clearly you weren’t looking at Twitter when the Christian Fundamentalist claim was being reported.

“Not wishing to single out Christians… of course believers in all sorts of gods, “children of gods, prophets of gods etc., not to mention all sorts of human figureheads, have committed mass murder”
That is the point, the vast majority of muslims, hinduis, atheists, rightists or leftists are good people who just want to get on with their lives. Well the ones I have met any way.
The idea that any group has people who cannot be violent is what I find baffling.

4 and 5

Oh for pity’s sake. That suggests his biggest link with the church was one severed in 1312. Knights Templars are big with freemasons, conspiracy theorists and Dan Brown fans. It is not evidence of a commitment to Christianity.

11. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

IT DOESN’T COUNT OK? IT DOESN’T COUNT.

‘As for the BBC, it has seemed determined to wrench the spotlight away from the role of Christianity in these bombings and instead displayed an obsession with avoiding ‘Christianophobia’. Item after item on radio and television has dwelt upon the need to avoid blaming Christians for what happened, rather than addressing the hard questions to the community that cry out to be asked.’

Ha-ha!

Except that, er, this hasn’t actually happened!

There does not appear to have been any religious motivation.

A quick perusal of his ‘manifesto’ suggests that he is extremely interested – indeed somewhat fixated – with the political & cultural aspects of Christianity, but less so with those parts of it which require individual church attendance or prayer. Having said which, his advice to any aspiring copycat killers includes “I highly recommend that you, prior to the operation, visit a Church and perform the Eucharist”.

His main concerns entail “protecting ethnic Christian European interests” and “European nation states, culture, traditions, Christianity and identity”. He also demands that every European Muslim should convert to Christianity or face deportation.

I guess it be argued either way about whether this truly constitutes “religious motivation”, but personally I’m inclined to take him at his word.

And – for the avoidance of any doubt – the implications of all this for ordinary Christians is nil.

More magical thinking from the conservative terrorist cult leaders.

In his diary he claimed he was a Christian and that he prayed. Fact.

Fuck Bill as usual.

It is true that any right thinking Christian that follows the ideology of Jesus would not committ such a heinous act but It’s extremely interesting to see Bill O’Reilly making these statements. O’Reilly has been a mouthpiece of hate against muslims and vilified Islam every chance he gets even though the same prinicipal applies to all the crazies that call themselves jihadists; they are NOT living by Islamic principals and really can not be considered muslims.

This is so very hypocritical of him and obviously he isn’t fair OR impartial and this proves that the SPIN most definitely starts at FOX.

17. Mr S. Pill

I’ve decided that Fox is actually the cleverest satire on right-wing lunacy currently showing. The idea that they actually believe the bullshit they spout is horrific…

oh and: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bush-god-told-me-to-invade-iraq-509925.html

Hmm.

13 and 15

He wrote:

“A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.”

How meaningful the concept of a cultural Christian is, is debateable, but it seems highly selective to simply say he is a Christian and leave it at that, or to imply that he normally prayed or took the Eucharist.

He said: “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”

The thing is though, this Berevik character does not (according to to defence team) see this a ‘mass murder’. He sees this as the type of justified killing that all warriors commit. You know the type of ‘justification’ that allows American ‘Christians’ to slaughter people ll over the World? Er, no, Bill killing people is either murder or it ain’t.

So what is the difference, in religous terms, between this and the thousands of American troops who have murdered their way across the globe?

oldandrew, I put it to you that if someone who wasn’t a mass-murderer identified as a ‘cultural Christian’, prayed and went to Church occasionally, were strongly desirous of the Eucharist at times of extreme stress and when near death, and if – when pressed – they strongly affirmed their own Christianity, then we would all accept them as a Christian without a moment’s hesitation.

I despair.

22. cristiano

Que idiotas son los que han dicho sobre el criminal de Oslo que es “cristiano fundamentalista”,incluso los superpolicias.. Desde cuando nos ensena Jesucristu matar?Es que los tontos han confundido los personajes:[a Jesucristu”el Rey del paz”,el que ha dicho que tienes que amar los eneamigos,con “el Profeta de Satanas”,el que llevo una politica de distruir el cristianismo y judaismo,inventando una”religion”,para que satisfacer sus instintos primitivos!]Aproposito…como hay tantos documentales sobre Jesucristu y cristianismo,me gustaria saber por que los ipocritas de Discovery,BBC,etc,no hacen peliculas documentales sobre la vida,”las esposas”,los crimenes,etc,del “profeta”?

lol, wow, ignorance and hypocrisy of the highest order.

20

If somebody who wasn’t a mass-murderer wrote the text I quoted earlier, saying they have no personal relationship with God, then I think plenty of people would, nevertheless, argue that it was unclear they should be identified as a Christian.

That said, when people try and link mass-murderers to religions it does become more pressing to get at the truth. Anyone familiar with history should know what a “blood libel” is and why we should be careful not to create a new one.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there is no one “truth” to get to. It’s just semantics. If “cultural Christians” count as Christians, then he is Christian. If they don’t, then he isn’t (maybe).

Because words like “Christian” (and “Muslim”, “Jewish”, “socialist”, “libertarian”, and what have you) mean different things to different people, as a general rule I favour accepting the labels that people self-apply, except when they’re patently absurd.

And, if I may say so, the words “blood libel” sit very ill in this comment thread. Whatever ideology or belief-system one subscribes to, there’s a high probability that you share it with some seriously unpleasant characters.

So relax, oldandrew. No-one is holding you responsible for this asshole’s actions. I’m a vegetarian. So was Hitler. Nevertheless, in terms of getting to the truth, it’s not about trying to link mass-murderers to religions. The inescapable fact is that his Christianity, such as it is, was a major plank in his motivation to kill – he said so repeatedly.

26. Leon Wolfson

@24 – That’s because of a different problem – society’s love of stereotyping groups. Someone needs to sit society down and explain that extremists claiming group membership do not, necessarily, mean the group are themselves extremists.

Judging on action rather than words is, unfortunately, hard for tabloid-fed John Q. Public.

Leon:

Judging on action rather than words is, unfortunately, hard for tabloid-fed John Q. Public.

0_o

I haven’t had my morning tea yet, and when I looked at this I was thinking, hang on, I’m not even in this thread, why are people accusing me of being tabloid-… Ooooh, I see.

Now I’ve arrived, though: I would argue that it’s not as simple as actions vs. words. It’s about analysis versus emotional intensity. The most dangerous thing about the tabloid hate-fests is that they combine spurious unstated or unchecked assumptions (Europe is under cultural threat, Christianity deserves dominance and power for ever, immigration is out of control, etc.) with a mode of describing the world and responding to it which is 100% emotional.

Evidence, analysis, investigating both sides of an issue before drawing a conclusion; these are all techniques, not ends in themselves. The tabloid press have been working for fifty years to try and ensure that their readers do not have access to those techniques. It makes people respond to dog-whistles, and it makes them react with active suspicion to anyone trying to do joined-up thinking.

… Rather like America has been for some time. Go figure.

25

“The inescapable fact is that his Christianity, such as it is, was a major plank in his motivation to kill – he said so repeatedly.”

Sorry, but I don’t think that’s remotely defensible as a claim – and is exactly what I feared would be thought if the claim that he is a Christian was repeated without qualification.

@28 oldandrew

“Sorry, but I don’t think that’s remotely defensible as a claim – and is exactly what I feared would be thought if the claim that he is a Christian was repeated without qualification.”

You might argue that it is overstated, but I don’t think you can say that it isn’t remotely defensible given the evidence we have. As you rightly continue, any qualification provided is the real issue…. and much the same could be said about reactions to terror attacks carried out by muslims.

It wouldn’t be any more correct to lump “all” christians in with the likes of Breivik than it would to lump “all” muslims in with the perpetrators of 9/11 or 7/7. That doesn’t mean however that we can simply assume that there are no negative aspects to the role of faith groups either. One only has to look at the role of the fundamentalist christians in the USA to see that fundamentalist muslims aren’t the only ones we have to worry about.

oldandrew, I find your position extraordinary. My claim is absolutely defensible! Just read his manifesto, he says it over and over again.

His major complaint is that *Christian Europe* is being taken over by *Muslims*, and the whole thing is being encouraged and enabled by *Marxists and Multiculturalists*. Those are the three major forces at work in Europe (in his head of course), and he leaves little doubt about which side he identifies with and wishes to prevail.

He is obssessed with the traditions and symbols of Christianity. The first think you see on his manifesto is a large Christian cross, while he styles himself a “soldier of Christ” (PCCTS = Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici = Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon).

I don’t think anyone’s suggesting for a second that his is a particularly common brand of Christianity (or, I hope, one likely to catch on), still less anything remotely like yours. But Christianity in some form it undoubtedly remains, however many times you may wheel out the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

Sorry if that’s inconvenient, but there you are.

Larry: Are you a Christian? But you are a cultural Christian, i.e. a white European? Just like Richard Dawkins, another famous self-described “Christian” (that is, cultural Christian–Dawkins, as you may be aware, is not a typical believer in the common use of the term). That’s what the killer means. He says quite clearly in his manifesto that he is’t a Christian:

“As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus…. In many ways, our modern societies and European secularism is a result of European Christendom and the enlightenment. It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a “Christian fundamentalist theocracy” (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want)…. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)).”

p. 1361

Sorry, “He says quite clearly in his manifesto that he is’t a Christian”, should read, “He explains the distinction quite clearly in his manifesto, &c.”

32. Yes, vimothy, that correction is certainly required. Because he says quite clearly in his manifesto that he is a Christian. One the parts you elided from your quotation is: “This makes us Christian.”

In other words, according to the murderer, being a native European is what makes you a “Christian”, not belief in Christ per se. Of course, this is rather different to what most contemporary Christians would think!

Here’s a bit more:

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

A majority of Christians, especially liberal, humanist Christians oppose the doctrines of self defence. I believe that self defence is a central part of Christianity as documented in another part of this book.

29

“That doesn’t mean however that we can simply assume that there are no negative aspects to the role of faith groups either. One only has to look at the role of the fundamentalist christians in the USA to see that fundamentalist muslims aren’t the only ones we have to worry about.”

This is entirely the agenda I suspect is behind the misrepresentation. There are no known links between Breivik’s ideology and any “faith groups” and he most certainly wasn’t a US style “fundamentalist Christian”.

I have no time at all for Protestant fundamentalism, particularly it’s ultra right-wing American incarnation. But to connect them to Breivik is at best prejudiced and at worst a blood libel.

30

The problem is that the concept of “Christian Europe” being threatened by Marxists and multiculturalists is not identifiably Christian as a concept. There is no form of Christianity that identifies itself with the continent of Europe. If that, along with crusader inspired words and imagery, is evidence of his ideology being a form of Christianity then it is so ridiculously weak then I simply don’t believe you when you say you find my position “extraordinary”.

It was the bit I left out that I was thinking re “he isn’t a Christian”, I guess, and maybe others. I don’t have time to pour over the demented rantings of a psychotic child killer and resolve all the contradictions. It looks like he says pretty clearly that he doesn’t believe in Christ. In my mind, that means that he is not a Christian, since by definition, Christians believe in Christ.

Incidentally, and OT, his definition of “Christian” seems appropriate (or more appropriate) for pre-secular societies, which we kinda-debated a bit in another thread here recently.

Erm, vimothy there’s quite a difference between being a native European and believ[ing] in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.

Incidentally he nowhere says that he doesn’t believe in God or Jesus. He says he “do[es] not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God”.

He then spends pages and pages attempting to justify his murderous rampage from Christian scripture: starting with “The Bible couldn’t be clearer on the right, even the duty; we have as Christians to self defence.” That strikes me as a very weird thing for a non-Christian to be concerned about.

I’ve repeatedly agreed that his take on Christianity is rather different from that of most contemporary Christians. Good thing too. And I’ll say again, before anyone else shouts blood libel, that his murders are no reflection on ordinary Christians.

@35 oldandrew

I didn’t posit that there were links between them, so your hysterical reaction to the not made connection being prejudicial or a blood libel just makes your look odd (or perhaps more charitably unable to follow an argument). Given your track record, I’m happy to believe it’s probably both.

Of COURSE practising christians are going to take your position, in much the same way that muslims would take a similar position vis-a-vis people using islamic fundamentalism and those who purport to act in its name as a stick to beat “ordinary” muslims with.

The fact remains however that many extremists, fundamentalists (call them what you will) from whatever flavour of supernatural belief system they come, feed off the nourishment afforded to them by their co-religionists, however hard the latter try to distance themselves from them.

We don’t need some ultra-sophisticated close reading of the text here. There are, according to the murderer, two relevant categories. One category is what he calls “religious Christians” and what most other people just call “Christians”–that is, people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour. The other category is what he calls “cultural Christians”, and represents people who inhabit cultures that are descended from Christian Europe–in other words, the relationship is cladistic, or genealogical, and not based on the community of belief, which is why according to his logic, and seemingly yours, we can talk about “atheist Christians”, which many Christians (meaning “religious” Christians, in the murderers argot) would find absurd.

He does claim to be a “religious Christian”–he claims to be a “cultural Christian”.

Now, for those of us who prefer to think in terms of Venn diagrams, obviously the former is a proper subset of the latter, and so the two sets cannot be equal. If you wish to adopt his taxonomy, that is your choice, but then I wonder why you are trying to keep a rhetorical space open whereby you can move him from the one to the other at will. If you are going to call him simply a Christian, without qualification, then I can see why some Christians might be offended.

This:

“He does claim to be a “religious Christian”–he claims to be a “cultural Christian”.”

Should be this:

“He does not claim to be a “religious Christian”–he claims to be a “cultural Christian”.”

39

I do love the way that when your argument completely falls apart you start suggesting that I must be “odd” to challenge it.

The fact is that you are bringing up the dangers of Christian fundamentalism in a thread about Breivik. There is no connection between Breivik and any known form of Christian fundamentalism. If I can’t follow your argument it is because there is no argument here, other than an apparent attempt to smear fundamentalist Christians with something they are not just innocent of, but completely unconnected to.

“I highly recommend that you, prior to the operation, visit a Church and perform the Eucharist (Holy Communion/The Lord’s Supper ). As we know, this ritual represents the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and eventual crucifixion. You should also solve any issues you might have with God and ask for forgiveness for past sins. Finally, ask him to prepare for the arrival of a martyr for the Church.”

Doesn’t the non-Christianity just leap out of the page?

Sheesh.

Incidentally I agree it would be wrong to label him a “Christian fundamentalist”. That implies biblical literalism and theological considerations that don’t seem to have concerned him. “Christian extremist” would be fair enough, I think, without intending to imply associations with other extreme forms of Christianity.

@42 oldandrew

Anyone who has read your contributions on here (and still more those in your blog) will know you are odd, so I think we can safely say that ship has already sailed.

You are known for the type of obscurantism that glories in argument for the sake of it, indeed you explicitly say as much in the fusty recesses of your blog.

You might not LIKE the fact that many of us see nutters like Breivik, McVeigh and other sundry far right whackos as inhabiting the same space as, and drawing some measure of sustenance from the useful fools on the christian fundamentalist right, but it doesn’t mean you can blithely assert there is no connection at all.

“Christian extremist” would be fair enough, I think,

You can only mean,

“Cultural Christian extremist”

C’mon Larry–if you are going to take him at his word then at least be consistent. This certainly looks like guilt-by-tenuous-association even to a non-Christian–sorry, I mean Christian–like myself.

Galen10,

No one here is arguing about whether the psycho was a fundamentalist Christian–because he never claimed to be one. The issue is whether we should refer to him as a Christian or something else.

@47 vimothy

I’m aware that no one is arguing that. Whether he was a practicing Christian, or simply (mis)informed by whatever whacky crypto-christian cobble of supernatural codswallop he happened to cherry pick from what was available to him is less important in the end than the context, i.e. the milieu in which his particular psychosis was nurtured.

It is that milieu, in which hateful, bigoted intolerance thrives that intersects with the further reaches of christian fundamentalism (or indeed any other faith based belief system).

I’m getting quite pissed off of being accused of blood libel and imputing guilt-by-association.

How many fucking times do I have to type the implications of all this for ordinary Christians is nil before anyone will take notice?

This thread started with Bill O’Reilly stating that the guy wasn’t a Christian because no-true-Scotsman. And then oldandrew showed up and said “There does not appear to have been any religious motivation.”

I think both of those claims are eminently dubious, because they hinge on someone’s carefully drafted definition of “Christian” and “religious motivation”, which are not shared by Breivik, and I would say his meanings of these terms are what’s pertinent here. It is beyond question that by his own lights he is a Christian, and his murders had some religious motivation (he considered himself a martyr for the Church – or at least wiould have been if he’d died).

And that is the sum total of what I’ve tried to argue on this thread. I have repeatedly gone out of my way to stress that I am not trying to blackedn anyone else’s name. And I’ll do so again for the really hard of thinking: the implications of all this for ordinary Christians is nil.

Like “Christian”, “fundamentalist Christian” has a commonly accepted meaning. I think it is a useful term, and I would like to keep it to use to refer to elements of the set of fundamentalist Christians (using again the language of Venn diagrams). I do not see how it benefits us to abandon this meaning and instead switch it to “terrorist mass-murderer, possibly Christian”.

43

You are being ludicrously selective in picking a quotation that implies something he directly contradicts elsewhere. It is particularly misleading because, while he does speculate about a religious justification for his crimes in the passage you quote, he begins it with: “If there is a God…”

45

I had a feeling you would respond with insults and assertions. You obviously cannot answer the question.

Larry,

Apologies–I’m certainly not trying to make you angry. I have’t followed oldandrew’s argument, and haven’t read the rest of the thread.

All we can go on is the info available, which is basically the manifesto, AFAIK. On the basis of that text, it does not seem fair to call the murderer simply a Christian, without qualification. If he is a Christian, then why does he establish a category for atheist Christians? The very notion is absurd, conditioned on the commonly accepted definition of “Christian” (one who believes in Christ). At the very least, this is a kind of heresy. So if the murderer says “Yes, I am a Christian”, it’s clear that what he means by Christian is not identical to what most people mean by Christian, and therefore, in my opinion, that to call him a “Christian extremist” is somewhat misleading.

@49 Larry

Hear, hear!

@50 vimothy

There is all the difference in the world between agreeing with Larry when he says that the implications of “ordinary” christians are nil, and accepting that religion was therefore nothing to do with this at all. He didn’t do this in the name of atheism. His “understanding” of christianity, whether he was a “cultural” christian, went to church every sunday, or had his own personal jesus is less important in the end than the fact that (as others including Larry have said) ANYONE promoting hateful, bigoted beliefs is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

No, it’s you being ludicrously selective. I agree there’s conflicting evidence in the text: there are about 2 places where he expresses a measure of doubt about his religious conviction (never outright denial mind you), and the rest of it is jam-packed with stuff about how he’s soldier of Christ and martyr for the Church, how God will welcome him with open arms, how his Christianity is central to his life, many pages about how what he’s doing is justified by the Bible, and Jesus would totally have approved, etc, etc, etc.. The overall picture couldn’t be clearer: it comes with a big red cross on the front.

49

You keep addressing the straw man that Breivik’s supposed Christianity has implications for other Christians. That’s not the issue here. It is the accuracy, not the implications, of the claim that Breivik is a Christian that you are being challenged on.

Everything I have to say about the *implications* of the claim is based on the fact that it is not accurate and we have reason to be concerned about the agenda of those who deliberately mislead.

Vimothy, thanks, apologies accepted.

@53 vimothy

“Apologies–I’m certainly not trying to make you angry. I have’t followed oldandrew’s argument, and haven’t read the rest of the thread.”

Hardly surprising, since he doesn’t generally have one. Course, you could always try reading the rest of the thread… it might make you look less like oldandrew, and more like someone rational who actually had a point.

“It is beyond question that by his own lights he is a Christian, and his murders had some religious motivation (he considered himself a martyr for the Church – or at least wiould have been if he’d died).”

Except the actual quotation is:

“If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other martyrs for the Church in the past.”

I consider your paraphrase to be highly misleading.

@56 oldandrew

Larry has specifically stated that he doesn’t think there are implications for “ordinary” christians…. how much clearer could it be to anyone not hard of thinking like you?

Why are you more qualified to pontificate about whether Breivik is, or is not a christian than Larry or anyone else for that matter? There is ample evidence from his 1500 page document that he considered himself so.

Nobody here is making claims specifically about the implications of Breivik and his actions, any more than we would accept that the actions of the 7/7 bombers had implications for ordinary muslims.

It appears you are the one with an agenda bent on “proving” he isn’t a christian… so you’re being just as misleading as O’Reilly. Go figure!

@58 oldandrew

“I consider your paraphrase to be highly misleading.”

That’s priceless…!

So he has his doubts about whether god exists, but if he does he’s convinced by a lot of the other mumbo-jumbo that goes along with it… you know… heaven, martydom, being martyred FOR the church.

No, that doesn’t sound at all religious…..

Oh..wait….

Galen10,

You are to be applauded for your restraint. A lesser person might have taken that olive branch (which was not actually offered to you, incidentally), and stomped on it.

If you are not capable of following my argument, then I would be more careful about denouncing other writers for not following your own, such as it is. But anyway.

I am not a Christian, and I am not posting on behalf of Christians. I’m just trying to get to the truth.

The fact that whether the murderer is a Christian, a cultural Christian, or something else entirely, has no relevance to most Christians, itself has no relevance to the accuracy of the statement. If he is a Christian, then he is a Christian. If he is not, then he is not.

Since belief in Christ is the basis for membership in the set of Christians, then this establishes the conditions for the truth of the statement “the Norwegian murderer is a Christian”. As far as I can tell, he makes no typical profession of faith in his manifesto. On the contrary, he goes out of his way to establish a category of Christians who do not “necessarily” believe in Christ, an obviously heretical notion, and that is the set he claims membership of.

So it is seems fair to say that “the Norwegian murderer is a cultural Christian”, if one is interested in saying such things. If not, then not. But to say “the Norwegian murderer is a Christian” requires a change in the definition of the word “Christian” from “one who believes in Christ” to “one who does not necessarily believe in Christ”–which is rather different in its implications. Wouldn’t you say?

59 and 60

Aren’t you now just repeating points that have already been answered?

Vimothy, thanks, apologies accepted.

oldandrew, yes that “if” is one of the 2 things you’ve got. Here’s another quote, from his “Personal facts” section:

Religion: Christian, Protestant but I support a reformation of Protestantism leading to it being absorbed by Catholisism. The typical “Protestant Labour Church” has to be deconstructed as its creation was an attempt to abolish the Church

Religious: I went from moderately to agnostic to moderately religious

So the latest information we have is that he considers himself “moderately religious”.

Later he says “At the age of 15 I chose to be baptised and confirmed in the Norwegian State Church. I consider myself to be 100% Christian.”

And then later (another crumb of hope for oldandrew!)

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.

So, a moderately but not excessively religious Protestant, prone to occasional doubts.

So… not Christian at all then.

@61 vimothy

I was quite aware the olive branch wasn’t offered to me; who appointed you room monitor for comments? Given that you’ve just admitted to not actually following the thread, you might like to consider your position.

I have been following your argument, such as it is (see what I did there….?)…

There are as we all know plenty of self-professed Christians who behave in ways that are anything but, or who stretch the tenets of their belief into such a contorted form that they are scarcely recognisable to each other.

@62 oldandrew

You answering anything would be a first… still, we can but hope….

Larry,

How about this: There are statements in his manifesto that could be construed as professions of Christian belief, coupled with statements that are very unorthodox from the perspective of what most people consider to be Christian–wildly at odds with, in fact. Hence the idea, which he identifies with, of agnostic Christians and atheist Christians–which are oxymoronic terms from the standpoint of what I would call Christianity.

So even though he must be far from what Wilde would call wise (“The well-bred contradict other people. The wise…”), he does contain some multitudes. I read one fundamentalist Christian writer recently who compared him to James Joyce, in the sense that Joyce claimed that he planted so many hidden meanings in the text that scholars would spend years arguing over what Ulysses meant.

Galen10,

Yes, I also know people like that–but my argument is not of the form,

Christians are all good people;
The murderer is not a good person;
Therefore, the murderer is not a Christian.

So I do not see its relevance. Why don’t you explain a bit for the slow-readers here at the back of the class?

@67 vimothy

“Yes, I also know people like that–but my argument is not of the form,

Christians are all good people;
The murderer is not a good person;
Therefore, the murderer is not a Christian.

So I do not see its relevance. Why don’t you explain a bit for the slow-readers here at the back of the class?”

Right… sit up straight and pay attention, or oldandrew is gonna give you such a slap (which doesn’t count as a beating in his world, so don’t come crying to me about it afterwards, ok?)…

Bill O’Reilly says no true Xian could do what Breivik did;
Oldandrew pitches up and says “verily, ’tis a blood libel”;
People who actually know what they are talking about point out that Breivik’s statement is replete with Xian nonsense and professions of faith;
It is pointed out that evil hate speech pedalled by the whacky right (including Xian fundamentalist nutters) just “might” be implicated in this case, as the right have so often done WRT “others”;
Those apologists for the right (& those not paying attention) insist it’s a calumny;
The rest of us point out that what is sauce for the goose etc., and generally stand around laughing and pointing.

Clear now? Do TRY to keep up, or at least make an effort to read “up-thread” eh?

Galen10,

Thanks, but I wasn’t arguing with oldandrew, or Bill O’Reilly. After reading your recap of the thread, I don’t feel differently about anything.

My argument is that although the murderer claims to be a “Christian”, he doesn’t mean what most people mean when they claim to be Christian, and thus it is misleading to describe him as such.

Note that this can be true or false irrespective of your disagreements with Bill O’Reilly, oldandrew, the Christian right, and whoever else. If my argument is a bad argument, then it is bad on its own terms–right?

63

Do you think we have got amnesia? We have seen his definition of “Christian”. Every quotation you find where he implies he is Christian is going to be subject to that definition. That’s the big issue over the claim that he is Christian, you can’t just ignore it and go and look for more quotations. You could find a million quotations where he says he is in some way Christian, but we would still be in the same situation with him claiming to be Christian only by an unusual definition which, if quoted without qualification, is likely to mislead.

68

I realise that you are probably fully aware that you have created a straw man here that completely misrepresents me.

But just in case it is a sincere error on your part, I will clarify now that I do not accept Bill O’Reilly’s argument. The reason I think it misleading to call Breivik a Christian without qualification is not because he is a mass-murderer, but because he identified himself as having no personal relationship with God and called himself a Christian only with reference to a “cultural” definition of Christianity which many would not accept.

I am addressing a matter of accuracy, not making a value judgement about all Christians.

@70 oldandrew

The history of Christianity is full of the followers of some sub-set or other deciding that the “other lot” weren’t true christians at all because they crossed themselves the wrong way, were arians, nestorians, pelagians or opened their eggs at the wrong ens (OK, one of them may not be strictly true…..), and as a result needed to be converted, flogged, expelled, or burnt at the stake.

Roman Catholics and Orthodox christians are particularly prone to universalist claims… tho the plethora of different sects all seem to believe their road is the best one, if not in fact the only one.

Breivik’s understanding of Christian theology may be particularly skewed, but it’s not as if there is some general agreement out there. Ian Paisley insisted the Pope was the antichrist if memory serves…..

He wasn’t claiming to be an atheist, or a muslim, or an adherent of the flying spaghetti monster. You might not like the fact that he self described as a christian, or disagree with his theology, but why are you any better placed to insist he isn’t really a christian than anyone else?

Do you think we have got amnesia?

I really don’t what you’ve got oldandrew, but you appear to be glossing over the point of that quotation, namely the part where he identifies himself as “moderately [but not excessively] religious”.

His definition of Christianity is unusual insofar as it allows for purely “cultural Chistians” as distinct from “religious Christians”.

That remains true, but – much as you would like to – we cannot seal him away in the odd “cultural Christian” box, because he also claims to be “moderately religious”.

So we’re left with someone with an enduring affinity to the cultural aspects of Christianity, whose personal religious convictions vary over time – reaching agnosticism at their lowest point, then reviving, though still not immune to doubt (that “if” you keep bringing up). But when all’s said and done, when asked directly about his beliefs, he settles on “moderately religious”.

Well that sounds like about 75% of Christians I know. Shall I tell them they don’t make the cut?

72

I have no problem acknowledging controversy over what “Christian” means.

My issue is with people using very controversial definitions without qualification or acknowledgement of the controversy, particulary where it is likely to mislead.

73

“I really don’t what you’ve got oldandrew, but you appear to be glossing over the point of that quotation, namely the part where he identifies himself as “moderately [but not excessively] religious”.”

To be honest I have stopped looking into individual quotations, because I suspect you could happily cherry-pick for weeks, without coming up with anything that changes the debate from what has already been said.

However, if that is now the cutting edge evidence that he was Christian then all I can do is point out that he contradicts it elsewhere and that it appears to be pasted from a CV last updated in 2007, and isn’t, as you claimed “the latest information” nor does it reflect, as you claimed, a judgement given “when all is said and done”.

Come off it, this is desperate stuff oldandrew.

That’s from his “personal facts” section of his own individual manifesto. It might carry just a little weight in the argument, don’t you think?

No? Really??

Are you sure you’re not just binning it because it’s inconvenient?

And no, it is not cut and paste from an old CV – it’s the section before that.

Any more mistakes you want to cram into your short comment?

Oh yes – he doesn’t ‘contradict’ it anywhere at all.

Nowhere at all does he deny God or Jesus. He allows for the possibility of Christian atheists and agnostics – that is true and unusual – but nowhere does he apply those categories to himself. In fact he distinguishes himself from them: “It is therefore essential and it is strongly recommended that all Justiciar Knights (even our Christian agnostic and Christian atheist brothers and sisters) attend Church before the operation…”

(So that spluttering about ‘amnesia’ was actually a result of your not having bothered to read my comment. I see. I suppose an apology would be out of the question?)

76

It’s always a sign that somebody is desperate when they start accusing other people of being desperate.

The idea that he is “moderately religious” is contradicted by the quotation you have seen many times before where he distinguishes between himself and religious Christians:

“So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.”

But you know this, don’t you? You wouldn’t have bothered pretending that the quotation you found was “the latest information” if you hadn’t known it was old and contradicted elsewhere.

Incidentally, I did not say I had stopped reading your quotations, just that I had stopped routinely looking all of them up to see the context. After all, Breivik’s manifesto is long enough that I’m sure you could cherry-pick indefinitely and I suspect if there was anything that was clear and uncontradicted we’d have seen it long ago.

oldandrew, since you don’t bother to check these things yourself, I should point out to you that your case is in tatters.

You’ve repeatedly talked about “him claiming to be Christian only by an unusual definition”, etc.

Well that can now be seen to be flatly false, not that I expect you to notice. The key word is “only”. Becuse he also claims to be Christian according to the perfectly ordinary definition, when he describes himself as “moderately religious”.

You complained that what you were shown was not “evidence of a commitment to Christianity” or of “his ideology being a form of Christianity”.

I have now provided evidence that he was indeed a moderately religious Christian, by the standard definition.

You can go cherry-picking for quotations which seem to contradict this, if you like. But if you want to continue to argue that he’s only a “cultural Christian” you’ll have to explain why one section buried the middle of the manifesto (where he is self-evidently trying to sell his ideology to the broadest possible demographic, including atheists and agnostics, by arguing that a personal relationship with God is not a necessary prerequisite) should take precedence over what he very clearly spells out in the “Religion” section of the “Personal facts” chapter at the very end of his manifesto.

78

Seriously?

You are going to go with the words “I went from moderately [sic] to agnostic to moderately religious” on a CV, apparently from 2007, that he pasted into his manifesto as grounds to ignore his explicit claim, when talking about his ideology, not to be a religious Christian?

And this is meant to be evidence of “his ideology being a form of Christianity”?

81. Trollwatcher Pursuivant

Please don’t keep feeding the deliberately obtuse troll, we need him to get back to his bridge to keep it in good nick.

I’ve already pointed out that’s not from a 2007 CV. (Not many CV’s include an entry for “name of your sidearm”.)

Try again…

83. Trollwatcher Pursuivant

@81 Now what did I just say? Do you want that bridge to fall into disrepair? Do you?! Because that’s what’ll happen! And then it’ll be all “who’d have thought it?”.

81

I know you’ve pointed it out, but have another look. That’s his CV, bizarre though it is.

Cuando se despiertaran los europeos?Que tontos son,sobre todo los politicos europeos de izquierda,por que permiten entrar en Europa cristiana a milliones de primitivos fanaticos de Africa y Asia,los que,en vez de integrarse en la sociedad,quieren imponer sus tradiciones primitivos,por aqui…Si los politicos noruegos no dejavan infectarse el pais con tantos primitivos,seguidores del “profeta de satana”podeis ser seguros que el criminal de Oslo no matava a nadie!El imno de Europa tiene que cambiarse en;DESPIERTA EUROPA CRISTIANA!!! El peligro de islamisarse es muy evidente,Europa sera conquistada a travaves de sus armas;democracia!!!

completamente de acuerdo, creo que entre todos podríamos mejor si nos lo proponemos realmente


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