Monday, July 25, 2011

Norway Terrorist was NOT a Christian, and don't say he was

The bullets in the tragic massacre in Norway had barely stopped flying before the words "Christian terrorist" started spreading in news reports and the blogosphere.And the Christians were equally quick to disown the murderer:So the atheists and Muslims want him to be a Christian, and the Christians want him to be an atheist and evolutionist.

What's the truth? The guy was just crazy. Mentally ill. This has nothing, nothing to do with religion. The world is full of problems that can be blamed on religion, but this isn't one of them. Once all the dust settles and the courts and psychiatrists have a chance to evaluate Breivik, we'll probably read that he's a classic psychopath, incapable of understanding the harm he caused, and that he has paranoia or possibly undiagnosed schizophrenia. The real tragedy is that the man wasn't diagnosed and helped before he took so many innocent lives.

All you have to do is read his manifesto (large PDF file), which apparently has huge parts plagiarized from 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczenski. After just a few pages, you'll realize that the man had no philosophy at all. His writing is nothing but rambling, disconnected short essays, none of which add up to anything.

If you really want to find out what happened in Norway, I strongly recommend Jon Ronson's new book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. There's also a great interview with Ronson on NPR that I almost guarantee will change how you think about murderers like Norway's Breivik (click on the "listen" button at the top).


  1. So we shouldn't consider someone who proclaims "Onward, Christian Soldiers!", advocates a new Crusade and uses the word 'Christian' 2,247 times in his manifesto amongst plentiful Christian iconography to be religiously-inspired?

  2. Anon - No. The man was insane. His religion was purely incidental. This should be a discussion about real mental-health reform, not religion! Mentally ill people fasten their fantasies to whatever comes by. If it hadn't been Christianity, it would have been the tooth fairy or Communism or something else that just happened to catch his attention. The man was insane. His insanity came first, and religion just happened to be nearby. If you don't understand this, you don't understand mental illness.

  3. What precisely is the difference between someone who's mentally ill fastening on to the fantasy of his religion as a basis for his actions and a non-mentally ill person fastening on to the fantasy of their religion as a basis for their actions? Especially in light of the fact that it could be argued that ANYONE who believes the fantasy of religion is mentally ill to some degree. Crazy is crazy.

    It seems like a distinction that wouldn't be being made had the Norway shooter been a Muslim, in which case no one would be thinking twice about labeling him an Islamic terrorist.

  4. Where is your evidence that he is insane? I certainly haven't seen any yet.

  5. vjack - Besides the fact that he killed a bunch of children and then sat calmly in court? But to answer your question, obviously I don't know that the courts will find him legally insane. But the book to which I referred is very enlightening. One of the most frightening things about true psychopathic killers is that they seem so utterly normal, before, during and after their murder sprees. In Jon Ronson's new book (link above), he goes into fascinating details about how psychologists have come to understand this condition and why psychopaths are so incurable. He also tells the fascinating tale of how a bunch of Scientologists' anti-psychiatry campaign might get some of the deadliest criminals in modern history released ... and why they'll probably commit more crimes.

  6. I think it's hard to maintain that bin Laden is an Islamic terrorist but this Norwegian guy is not a Christian terrorist. Clearly, there is a kind of xenophobic, cultural conservative, "yearning for glorious past" mentality at work here. There is also a fear of occupation by foreigners and outsiders.

    But I don't think it's helpful to deny that religion is an important part of their mental toolkit. And for very good reason. We know that one type of religion is very much engaged with ideas of cultural unity, purity and defence against out-group individuals.

    Of course, it's not helpful to call these people Islamic/Christian terrorists either. Unfortunately simple caricatures are always used.

    Calling them crazy probably is not right either. These sorts of actions are unusual but I don't think that the desire is that atypical. You just need to read internet message boards to realise that the desire is widespread. What distinguished this individual is the skill and perseverance to carry it out.

    Throughout most of human history, murderous destruction of people conceived to be weakening the group against an external threat would have been considered quite natural. What's different now is that we outsiders don't even perceive the group to exist, because they're no longer co-located in a particular place. Rather, they are spread out and connected via hate groups on the internet.

    A lot of the media reports are saying this guy was a lone wolf. Well, certainly in the respect that he did not share his plans. But he regularly communicated with like minded individuals.

  7. So when a Muslim shoots kids and bombs a building, he's a Muslim Extremist and a terrorist, but when a Christian does the same, they're just crazy?

    When someone wants to "Start a crusade" and says "onward Christian Soldiers", it's fairly ignorant to say that there wasn't a religious and christian motivation behind it.

  8. Wonder what the media would call him, if he had a muslim name, and was dark skinned? They would definitely not describe him as muslim....probably wouldn't characterize him as a terrorist!

    Don't know about you, but someone who believes in darwinism, and does not believe in God, is not a good description of a Christian.

  9. "Saturday June 11 I prayed for the first time in a very long time today. I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail."

    Source -

    Sounds like he is fighting for his idea of christianity to me. Wouldn't that make him a christian terrorist?

  10. He's completely sane and had a mission no matter the cost.

    Breivik: A Living Definition Of Christianism

  11. Speaking to CNN after Breivik's attorney said his client "may be" insane, Brian Levin, a criminologist with California State University, San Bernardino, rejected the suggestion. Based on what is known at this point, "he's not crazy," Levin said; he is a "sociopath," but "not crazy."

    Criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University echoed those sentiments. "The behavior is crazy, but not necessarily the state of mind of the person committing it," he said.

  12. Somebody posted about Darwinism and Christianity as if they are incompatible. That is nonsense. Only ignorant American fundies think that. In England, Charles Darwin is honored with his portrait on a ten pound note, and Darwin is buried in the most sacred burial place of the Church of England, Westminster Abbey. Creationism is a fundamentalist anomaly, not part of authentic Christianity.

  13. The real issue here is whether Breivik was motivated by Christian doctrine to what he did or not. If he felt it was his "Christian" duty to carry out these horrific acts, then he would clearly be a Christian Terrorist. However, if he felt it was his duty to preserve a Europe free from what he felt to be Islamic influence and its eventual overtaking, then it drifts more to what he sees as a form of counter reaction --- even if what he is trying to preserve is a Christian-based culture. Clearly he's a terrorist in either case ... but there is a difference, one that too few seem to be focusing on, especially in the media.

  14. Authentic Christianity is still backwards nonsense.


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