Monday, July 25, 2011

Please pray

for the people of Norway and the victims and their families in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack. Everyone thought that it must have been Muslim terrorists and some Muslim groups even tried to take credit for it. However, after a day or so it became clear that the person responsible was a Norwegian who described himself as a Christian and politically right-wing. When I heard the Christian claim I felt even more horrified than I already did. How could someone say they are a follower of the King of Life, the Prince of Peace, and then commit such horrific crimes? My revulsion has been slightly lessened -- and that may say something unfortunate about me -- as it is beginning to appear that his acts were more the product of his political views than his religious views. He was a nationalist, anti-Muslim, anti-multiculturalism right-wing zealot. Nevertheless, as a Christian I completely condemn these horrific actions of a man who has chosen to align himself with evil. He spit in the face of the very God he claims to worship.

One interesting thing is how this incident made people do abrupt reversals. Those who think Islam is inherently violent, and were pointing to this attack as further evidence, are now saying that we can't say that his political or religious beliefs had anything to do with it. Those who think Muslims are being persecuted in the West, and were insisting that we can't generalize from this attack to condemn Islam in general, are now saying that the attack was obviously the product of his right-wing politics and Christianity. Strange days.

Update (27 July): Sam Harris, one of the "new atheists" (a group I haven't paid attention to yet), finds some passages in the murderer's manifesto that make it difficult to say he was a devout or serious or (as some newspapers are saying) "fundamentalist" Christian. Here's the beginning of a longer quote:

I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment.

Via KBJ. Again, I'm a little disconcerted by the fact that I'm somewhat relieved to hear this. As if it brings any of the victims -- mostly children -- back to life to know that he wasn't doing it in the name of Christianity.

Update: More from Sultan Knish:

Breivik described himself as not a religious person and mentions praying only once. His plans leading up to the attacks involved multiple visits to prostitutes. ... Breivik did call himself a Christian, but meant that in a cultural sense, rather than a theological one. He emphasized that he was not seeking a theocracy, but a secular society. His idea of a Christian Europe had nothing to do with religion.

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