First I want to apologize to anyone who returned to read more about this in the last 2 days, I promised more later that evening, but didn’t deliver. Hopefully the adage of “Better late than never” holds true here.
On Friday 22 July 2011 a 1500 page manifesto outlining ideas on immigration and how Muslims were taking over Europe and plans to stop them apeared on the internet. A few hours later a massive bomb exploded in Oslo, Norway at the government center. A short time later a man dressed as a cop walked on to an island near Oslo where there were young people from the Labor Party gathered for a camp. The man approached the gathered youth and began shooting. The bomber, the shooter, and the author of the manifesto are one and the same, Anders Behring Breivik.
On a Facebook page he created as well as in his manifesto Anders claimed to be a Christian. News reports say that he has tied to Christian fundamentalism. His own lawyer has called him an Christian extremist. The police have said the same thing. Seems that Breivik was desirous of reviving the Crusades, that dark splotch on the history of Christianity. He claims to belong to an organization called the Knights Templar. Breivik has said that he is not alone that there are at least two more cells of these terrorists wanting to purge Europe of the Marxist-Islamic Alliance. In his manifesto Breivik stated that peaceful measuers were over and that it was time for violence. His manifesto has been compared to similar ravings from Al Qaeda. The terrorist violence is the same as well.
Breivik and the new Knights Templar (if they exist) claim to be saving Christendom from Islam, they act in the name of Christ. But what is the difference between these paranoid extremists and their Islamic counterparts? Nothing except a label. Neither represent the system of faith in whose name they act.
I am no expert on Islam, but I do not think that the terrorist extremist represent the whole or even majority of its followers any more than Breivik and his Knights Templar represent Christianity and the majority of Christians. I have a dear friend who is a Muslim. He and I were working together at the University of Illinois in 1995 at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing (by Christian extremists). Amr was the president of the Egyptian Students Association, a national organization, and I recall how deeply hurt he was when the bombing took place. He wrote a letter for national publication condemning such acts. It was only later that we found out it was American Christians who were behind that attack. Amr, his wife and their families are very loving, peace loving people and I believe that that is the majority of those with in Islam. It is no more fair to judge all Muslims based on the hateful, deplorably violent acts of a few who claim Islam than it is to judge Christianity and Christians based on the evil acts from terrorists who claim the name of Christ.
I hear Christians say that there is not a strong enough Islamic voice condemning the violence of the terrorists. Non-sense! I just don’t think that those Muslims who are condemning the violence are listened to, nor are they afforded the airtime of those who want to blame them too. But where are the Christian voices condemning the violence of this past Friday? Eerily silent. Does this silence reflect a tacit approval of this act of terrorism? I wonder I really do. The couple of blogs I read doubted Breivik’s claim to “Christian”. One said that he thought all protestants should return to the Roman Catholic Church and because of that he just isn’t a Christian. What the fuck? Catholics aren’t Christian? Ohters have said that Breivik’s acts are not the type a Christian would commit, I agree, but he still acted in the name of Christ and Christendom. If we demand stronger language from moderate Muslims shouldn’t we be willing to use stronger language to condemn evil done in the name of Christianity rather than rationalize away that the perpetrator for whatever reason isn’t a Christian?
What Breivik did was horribly evil! As a Christian I condemn any such acts in the name of the God who IS love. Christianity does not allow for such acts in any of its doctrines, scriptures, dogmas, etc. However, some people twist the meanings and interpretations and believe they are acting for God. They are deceived. Those who bombed abortion clinics, shot doctors, killed women going to clinics are no different than Breivik.
That said, I pray for Breivik. I pray that he can be brought to see the error of his actions, the error of thinking he could advance the Kingdom of Heaven with bombs and a gun. I believe that he needs to face the full consequences of his actions, his horribly evil and devastating acts. Yet, I pray that God gets through to him. I prayed the same for Osama bin-Laden while I condemned his actions. Neither, IMHO, represent the religions in whose name they acted.
Terrorism is terrorism. Extremism is extremism. Evil is evil. There is no difference between an Islamic terrorist and a Christian terrorist.