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Reminders That Norwegian Terrorist Was A Christian Extremist Make Non-Extremist Christians Defensive

First Posted: 07/26/11 04:46 PM ET Updated: 09/25/11 06:12 AM ET

Anders Breivik

Over at Salon, Alex Pareene notes that commentators of the right-ish extraction are taking grave offense at any reminder of the fact that Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik was a Christian. As Pareene points out, that Breivik was Christian is one of the more basic, unadorned and easy-to-grasp facts about the man:

Breivik chose to be baptized at age 15. He self-identified as "Christian" on his Facebook page. He thought "Christianity should recombine under the banner of a reconstituted and traditionalist Catholic Church" or, later, under a new (traditionalist) European Church.

Breivik is not an American-style evangelical Christian. He is not a "fundamentalist" in that sense. Though he does identify with American cultural Christian conservatives. And he considers himself to be fighting in the name of "our Christian cultural heritage." He supports a reconstituted Knights Templar devoted to winning a war against Islam in the name of Christianity.

Now, here's something I believe we can all agree on: Anders Breivik was not a very good Christian. And to the extent that he was a Christian, the larger feature of his personality was that he was a mass-murdering psychopath. So why try to whitewash away his religious beliefs? And why get defensive when someone makes this mundane factual observation? It's actually quite understandable -- when the beliefs of a death cultist intersect, even tangentially, with one's own beliefs, one tends to rebel at the association. It's a normal human response.

Now let's cast our minds back to May of 2010. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is mad at Attorney General Eric Holder because Holder is loath to use the words "radical Islam" while discussing the ongoing effort to defeat and destroy the death cult known as al Qaeda. Here's what I said at the time:

I'll readily admit, part of me sort of wishes that Holder would just recognize that he is speaking to a child, accede to his frivolous needs, burp him and then just move on. But it's understandable why Holder is unwilling to cast the entire matter as some epic religious clash -- a key component to counter-terror efforts is to continually marginalize the terrorist dead-enders from the larger Islamic community, with whom we have common cause. Smith would probably argue that the word "radical" does all of Holder's heavy lifting for him, but just try referring to the Hutaree terrorists as a "radical Christian group" (which they are!) and see what kind of complaints you get.

Call Anders Breivik a radical Christian (which he is!) and non-radical Christians complain, just like I said they would. Nevertheless, as gratifying as it is to be proven right, it's too bad that this very obvious teachable moment with regard to the mainstream Islamic-American community will be lost on nearly everyone.

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