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A Word About Anders Behring Breivik’s Christianity

John on July 25, 2011 at 3:30 am

There is no doubt that Breivik described himself as Christian on his Facebook page and in his manifesto. I am not trying to deny it. However, looking more closely at his self-description helps flesh out what he means by that term. After examining his 1500 page manifesto as well as his video, I find that Breivik explicitly identifies himself as a “cultural” Christian (aka Christian Identity), not a religious believer. Furthermore, he says his organization, the Knights Templar, is made up of agnostics, atheists and secular Christians.

Let me present the evidence starting with the most clear statement of his personal beliefs from page 1307 of Breivik’s manifesto (8MB pdf file):

3.139 Distinguishing between cultural Christendom and religious Christendom – reforming our suicidal Church

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

I know a few pastors who would strongly disagree with that last statement, but this is Breivik’s statement of his cultural Christianity. On page 1344 the text turns to his personal beliefs again:

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. 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 f 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… But I’m pretty sure I will pray to God as I’m rushing through my city, guns blazing, with 100 armed system protectors pursuing me with the intention to stop and/or kill.

This is a man who considers himself pragmatic, secular and not very religious. He thinks that, maybe, he’ll pray before he dies in an attempted massacre.

Now let’s look at how Breivik defines the group he is promoting, the Knights Templar. This section is a bit longer but significant as to where the group stands on religious beliefs. From page 1361:

Q: Do I have to believe in God or Jesus in order to become a Justiciar Knight?

A: 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. 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.

This is reinforced in his video. Watch the whole thing if you wish. I’m going to pull one slide from near the end that caught my attention:

The first paragraph reads, in part:

KT is a “cultural Christian” (Christian Identity) military order and NOT a “religious Christian” (Christian fundamentalist) organization. Logic and reason will always take precedence over biblical texts. KT is open for members from all denominations of Christendom, even agnostic and atheist Christians. Our Christian profile does not mean that we oppose Odinism or Odinistic principles. KT believe Odinism make out a central and important part of Northern European culture and traditions…

If one can be an “atheist Christian” or an “Odinist” Christian this is not anything like the Christianity you would associate with your local church. This is supported by an excerpt found on page 820 of his manifesto. Speaking again of “Justiciar Knights” he writes:

Any European Christian conservative can act as a Justiciar Knight. This includes Christian agnostics and Christian atheists. Although the PCCTS, Knights Templar is a pan-European indigenous rights movement we give all Europeans, regardless of skin colour, the opportunity to become a Justiciar Knight as long as the individual is either a Christian, Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist.

Finally, I found on page 1363 of his manifesto:

Demanding that our members undergo a theological education would be pointless as today’s curriculum has been corrupted by Christian pacifists and suicidal humanists. Furthermore, creating a religious order would be counter-productive as a majority of Europe’s armed resistance fighters are agnostics, atheists or relatively secular Christians. The organisation is therefore considered a moderate Christian identity organisation and not a religious order.

I know the distinctions made here will hold little interest for many, however I think it may come as a relief to many religious Christians that Anders Breivik did not place himself among their ranks. He does not have a “personal relationship” with God in the protestant tradition. On the contrary, he describes himself as practical, secular, and not very religious.

Again, Breivik does label himself “Christian”, but that Christianity is of the Christian Identity variety, i.e. having to do with certain cultural norms and traditional holidays. To call him a “fundamentalist” as some news outlets have done is simply false. In fact, he has little in common with the explicitly religious Christianity taught and practiced in Christian churches around the world each Sunday.

Update: Eleven hours later the Christian Post is on to the story using one of the same excerpts listed above.

[HT: American Power blog for a copy of the manifesto.]

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Category: Crime & the Law, Religion & Faith |

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