“So long as there are differing interpretations of Christian Scripture,” writes Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in the Washington Post‘s On Faith section, “there can be ‘Christian terrorism.’
Anders Behring Breivik justified his views and actions through a lens of what is in my mind painful misunderstanding of biblical texts and a ‘Christian’ worldview to which very few Christians subscribe. Sure, he had political and racial ideologies that may have been fostered by studying non-Christian sources, but there seems to be no evidence contradicting his rooting in his religious faith – twisted as it might have been.
I notice that Bill O’Reilly says bringing up Breivik’s Christian beliefs is a scheme by the evil liberal media to vilify the faith generally. This is nonsense. Breivik says he is a Christian; he wrote a “manifesto” in which he attempts to link Christianity to opposition to Muslim immigration. Yet he failed miserably to understand the faith he claimed to champion.
Over the centuries, Christianity has inspired some people to end slavery, work for social justice and feed the hungry. A corruption of its views has inspired others to make war, hate others and slaughter perceived “infidels.” It useless to pretend that some people don’t claim the mantle of Christianity to do wicked things. We know they do. A more productive route would be to look for the warning signs that someone has perverted the doctrines of a faith based on love and peace (remember, one of Christ’s great commandments is to love your neighbor) and turned it into an excuse for violence. In our habitually connected online world, such signs are rarely hidden. They can be seen in any number of rambling manifestos devoted to violence and death on the web. More forceful challenges to the corrupters of Christianity (or indeed any religion) might prevent the next mass slaughter.