Photograph from the Facebook site of Anders Behring Breivik
WASHINGTON – A review of Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto shows the media’s quick characterization of the Norwegian terrorist as a “Christian” may be as incorrect as it was to call Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh one.
Breivik was arrested over the weekend, charged with a pair of brutal attacks in and near Oslo, Norway, including a bombing in the capital city that killed 7 and a shooting spree at a youth political retreat on the island of Utoya that killed more than 80 victims.
Piecing together Breivik’s various posts on the Internet, many media reports have characterized the terrorist – who says he was upset over the multiculturalist policies stemming from Norway’s Labour Party – as a “right-wing, Christian fundamentalist.”
Yet, while McVeigh rejected God altogether, Breivik writes in his manifesto that he is not religious, has doubts about God’s existence, does not pray, but does assert the primacy of Europe’s “Christian culture” as well as his own pagan Nordic culture.
Breivik instead hails Charles Darwin, whose evolutionary theories stand in contrast to the claims of the Bible, and affirms: “As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings. Europe has always been the cradle of science, and it must always continue to be that way. 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.”
The terrorist also candidly admits he finds no support within either the Catholic or Protestant churches for his violent ideas.
“I trust that the future leadership of a European cultural conservative hegemony in Europe will ensure that the current Church leadership are replaced and the systems somewhat reformed,” he writes. “We must have a Church leadership who supports a future Crusade with the intention of liberating the Balkans, Anatolia and creating three Christian states in the Middle East. Efforts should be made to facilitate the de-construction of the Protestant Church whose members should convert back to Catholicism. The Protestant Church had an important role once, but its original goals have been accomplished and have contributed to reform the Catholic Church as well. Europe should have a united Church lead [sic] by a just and non-suicidal pope who is willing to fight for the security of his subjects, especially in regards to Islamic atrocities.”
While Breivik says he considers himself “100-percent Christian,” he also expresses pride in his genealogical roots.
“I am very proud of my Viking heritage,” he writes. “My name, Breivik, is a location name from northern Norway, and can be dated back to even before the Viking era. Behring is a pre-Christian Germanic name, which is derived from Behr, the Germanic word for Bear (or ‘those who are protected by the bear’).”
And while characterizing himself as “Christian” and “Protestant,” Breivik says he supports “a reformation of Protestantism leading to it being absorbed by Catholisism.” [sic]
Likewise, media reports frequently characterized McVeigh as a “Christian,” though he adamantly denied any religious beliefs or convictions – placing his faith in science.
Breivik adds, “I went from moderately agnostic to moderately religious.”
In a question-and-answer section of his manifesto, Breivik asks himself, “What should be our civilisational [sic] objectives, how do you envision a perfect Europe?”
His answer is hardly the response of a “Christian utopian”: “‘Logic’ and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament [sic] of our societies. I support the propagation of collective rational thought but not necessarily on a personal level.”
Religious worship and study is never noted in the manifesto as part of Breivik’s routine in preparing for his mission of mass murder. In discussing his preparation for the attack, he writes: “It has been a long-term process since I first decided I wanted to contribute. But it’s not like I have been isolated for years. I have almost lived a normal life up until now. I still have a close relationship with my friends and family, just not as tight as it used to be. As for my current situation, I have been working on this book now for almost two years. It’s essential that you reward yourself and enjoy life in this period. You can do things you normally wouldn’t have done. You can basically live a normal life if you chose to; you just have to be extra careful. I have been practising [sic] certain rituals and meditation to strengthen my beliefs and convictions. For me, the most common ritual is taking a long walk listening to my favourite [sic] music on my iPod.”
Breivik also points out that his association with Christian cultural values is one of political expedience rather than religious commitment or faith
“My choice has nothing to do with the fact that I am not proud of my own traditions and heritage,” he explains. “My choice was based purely pragmatism. All Europeans are in this boat together, so we must choose a more moderate platform that can appeal to a great number of Europeans – preferably up to 50 percent (realistically up to 35 percent).”
Breivik also claims membership in the Freemasons, which many Christians consider to be a cultic organization.
More specifically, he calls himself a Justiciar Knight and explains what that means insofar as belief in Christianity:
“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,” he writes. “Being a Christian can mean many things; That you believe in and want to protect Europe’s Christian cultural heritage. The European cultural heritage, our norms (moral codes and social structures included), our traditions and our modern political systems are based on Christianity – Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and the legacy of the European enlightenment (reason is the primary source and legitimacy for authority). It is not required that you have a personal relationship with God or Jesus in order to fight for our Christian cultural heritage and the European way. 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). So no, you don’t need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. 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)). The PCCTS, Knights Templar is therefore not a religious organisation [sic] but rather a Christian ‘culturalist’ military order.”
Over and over again, Breivik goes out of his way to make clear to readers of his manifesto that he is not motivated by Christian faith.
“I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person, as that would be a lie,” he says. “I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment. In the past, I remember I used to think: ‘Religion is a crutch for weak people. What is the point in believing in a higher power if you have confidence in yourself!? Pathetic.’ Perhaps this is true for many cases. Religion is a crutch for many weak people, and many embrace religion for self-serving reasons as a source for drawing mental strength (to feed their weak emotional state [for] example during illness, death, poverty etc.). Since I am not a hypocrite, I’ll say directly that this is my agenda as well. However, I have not yet felt the need to ask God for strength, yet.”
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