Terrorist responsible for Norway attacks is not a Christian

Aas, Erlend AP People comfort each other outside Oslo City Hall as they participate in a “rose march” in memory … Continued

Aas, Erlend


People comfort each other outside Oslo City Hall as they participate in a “rose march” in memory of the victims of Friday’s bomb attack and shooting massacre Monday July 25, 2011.

In the wake of his depraved, ruthless murder of at least 76 innocent men, women, and children Anders Breivik has been called a “Christian fundamentalist,” “Christian terrorist,” and “Christian extremist.”

In fact, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (a fellow On Faith contributor) actually goes so far as to imply that “right-wing Christianity” as a whole bears some responsibility for this lethal attack. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To label Breivik a “Christian” requires a depraved understand of what it means to be a Christian. At a minimum, a Christian must profess to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior.

Breivik himself defiantly rejected true Christianity, claiming he did “not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God.” Instead, he claimed the “Christian” mantle “as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.”

Just because he described himself with the term “Christian” (which he then redefined) does not make his ideology comparable to the views of a right-wing Christian in the United States. A right-winger in the United States is basically a fairly mainstream, typically Republican, grassroots activist. In Scripture, Jesus Christ made crystal clear how we can determine if someone is a Christian: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” In other words, Christ is saying that a Christian can be judged by his actions.

Regardless of how one wishes to redefine the term “Christian,” there is no question that Christians in America reject the notion that Breivik’s actions are justified by Scripture. The Bible teaches: “love your neighbor;“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;” and “Do not murder.”

To actually believe that someone adhering to the tenets of Scripture would commit a vile act like this is ludicrous.

But this is exactly what Thistlethwaite claims. To her, it is the belief in the words of Christ that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” that can make Christianity so “lethal,” arguing that “making supremacist claims that Christianity is the ‘only’ truth,” can lead some people be “tempted” to “justify lethal violence.”

Aside from this incomprehensible jump in logic, Thistlethwaite fails to recognize that Breivik does not claim to adhere to the very principles, stemming from a literal belief in the Bible, that she finds so dangerous. Breivik stated in his manifesto that “it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings.” He goes on to say that he places his faith in “logic” which he defines in terms of “Darwinism,” welcoming those he calls “Christian atheists” to join his evil and perverted sense of reality.

Thistlethwaite attempts to extrapolate a connection between the Christian “religion and extreme violence” from the God-less actions of a man who said that he was “not an excessively religious man” and directly rejected the theology of what he called the “religious Christian.

Say what you will about those of us lumped into the “religious right” or “fundamentalist” category in the United States, but we are all very clear when it comes to theology and what it means to be a Christian. There is no way to be a Christian without faith in Christ.

Next time, I hope folks like Thistlethwaite – especially when the evidence is available – learn about the actual beliefs (or lack thereof) of a person before trying to smear 42 percent of U.S. voters who happen to have political beliefs they disagree with. Thistlethwaite fails to call attention to the fact that Breivik rejected the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is an inadequate analysis of the facts.

Simply put, Breivik is not a “Christian terrorist” because, according to his own description of what the word ‘Christian’ means to him, and his actions, he is not a Christian.


Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
  • Deist1

    Sorry, I forgot to mention the name of Thomas Paine’s very important book! It’s The Age of Reason, the Complete Edition.

    Progress! Bob Johnson

  • tojby_2000

    Sekulow writes: To label Breivik a “Christian” requires a depraved understand of what it means to be a Christian.

    No it doesn’t. It takes only a rudimentary understanding of faith-based behavior.
    You’ve fallen into the o’ No True Scotsman logical fallacy.

  • iihockey

    So is it Valid to describe a Terrorist “Muslim Terrorist’ or “Islamic Terrorist” if he is from Islamic faith?

  • Bippy

    This article is no more than Christian supremacy and it was Christian supremacy that got us into this mess in the first place. Someone can be a Christian and have doubts, but you can’t not be a Christian if you refer to Jesus as “the lord Jesus Christ”, as Norway’s Christian terrorist did several times.

  • Conrad7

    Breivik issued a manifesto in which he starts by instructing how to pirate software to help edit his manifesto. He was a confessed Freemason which is a religion that pretends to be compatable with Christian but actually has no acknowledgement of Christ in its doctrines, and has been revieled by those at high levels within to be luciferian in nature. Brievik also confesses in his manifesto to visiting brothels and having sex with 2 women whilst on a gun shopping venture in Europe. I would not consider him to be truly Christian. He appears quasi-Christian but not true Christian. I think the thing people are missing in this discussion is that he considered himself a freeedom fighter, like a Che Guevara of the right wing. The left wingers love to call Che Guevara a freedom fighter and put his face on teeshirts etc. However Guevara was a worse mass murderer than Breivik. So the left wing atheists who support Guevara might want to start thinking how murder is murder regardless of whether a political dissident attains power or not. Lets hope these sorts of terrible events can be avoided in future. Democracy works, let use it people.

  • playfulboyatl

    Although this mans acts are abhorrent to Christians to deny the roots of his insanity is to make a reflexive defense of Christianity that is not well thought out or helpful. To deny any responsibility for the daily ranting of Good Christians on Talk radio and in some ext ream press about the evils of Islam and to then disavow someone who acts on such notions because you disprove of his approach is a sad double standard. This man was Mentally disturbed however in his mentally disturbed state he took christian principals and accurate christian crusader history to justify his actions. Maybe he is not a good Christian but a 15th cen Pope would have condoned his approch

  • TopTurtle

    Surprise, surprise. Mr. Sekulow tells us that Breivik is not a true Scotsman.

    The real question we should be asking is not whether Breivik had a personal relationship with Jesus. (Where does the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus come from, by the way? I don’t think it’s Biblical.) The real question is how the teachings of right wing zealots who mix religious teachings with their politics affect deranged people.
    It’s a bit disingenuous to pick out only the kindest and gentlest passages from the Bible and say “These are the true teachings of the Bible.” Then agains, if you don’t expect Sekulow to be disingenuous, you haven’t been paying attention.

  • smitisan

    Simply put, Brevik is not a “Christian” because, according to your own description of what the word “Christian” means to you, and his actions, he is not a Christian.

  • JimTrott

    Matt19:24 “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a rope* to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

    Your boss, Pat Robertson, is exceedingly rich. I guess he’s not a true Christian, either.

    *Most people know it as “camel”. It was a mis-translation. The apologists made up an explanation about a gate known as the Eye of the Needle under which a camel had to get down on its knees to enter after dark. (Did that EVER make sense to anyone?) They persist in retelling the lie because it’s easier than revealing it.

    Thank God for the Seminary. You can’t come out of a seminary believing in the Bible.

  • ThomasBaum

    You asked, “(Where does the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus come from, by the way? I don’t think it’s Biblical.)”

    When Jesus was asked to teach His Apostles how to pray, He said, “When you pray, pray ‘Our Father’…”, did He not?

    Jesus also said to think of our Father as Abba which translates as Dad or Daddy.

    It is written, “This is My Beloved Son….”

    This, in turn, means that God-Incarnate is our Brother.

    Sounds kind of “personal” and familial to me, doesn’t it to you?

  • ThomasBaum

    Anyone who tries to bring about a theocracy on earth in Jesus’s Name goes completely against what Jesus taught.

    It is as simple as “My Kingdom is not of this world”.

  • TonyDiaz999

    I think a lot of believers do not want to admit; these days, with modernity and advent of science, the theist religions are merely associates of cultures for more and more followers .

    Christianity to more and more Christians is mostly ceremonies that emphasize cultural connectedness (just like a “constitutional monarchy”) and places of social gathering (to get a husband or wife with “Christian” values).

    If you really have faith in Christ, you are either ignorant, insecure in need of security, or diffident about the very basic trust in your intellect. In short, you are a fundamentalist Christian.

    How can one have faith in a god that does not love all? Can your god love you but hate the victims of tsunamis and earthquakes, and chain drowning? Why are you so special in its/hers/his eyes while it/she/he kills others. You do not have this very basic and completely obvious refutation that god loves all.

    Faith in Christ is like faith in a monarch.

    If a Brit, say, must have faith in Christ to be a Christian, than a Brit is not a Brit until he rejects “constitutional monarchy” and yearns for the old lady to have real royal power over her subjects.

  • TonyDiaz999

    For many Christians, Christianity has little to do with faith in Christ. Christianity is mostly an established and trusted link to morality, especially a system to raising kids to be moral individuals.

    The Church is a gathering place for perspective husbands and wives. The first utility pertains to the spouse’s proclivity for stable relationship. The second utility pertains to system for raising kids.

    Such Christian utilities do no harm and have their usefulness in society, as long as Christians realize that there are theist and atheist alternatives that are equal to the same task ; otherwise, such Christian utility to morality is the precursor to bigotry.

  • ThomasBaum

    “Such Christian utilities” may be fine and good but are not what Christianity is about.

    Christianity, which is part of God’s unfolding Plan, is about the reconciliation of God and man (humanity), ALL OF HUMANITY.

    This Plan, which God has had since before creation, will come to Fruition.

    God became One of us, Jesus in the Incarnation, and lived and died for ALL of us and He asked us to be active participants in God’s Plan when He extended the invitation to “Come follow Me”.

    Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except thru Me”.

    Jesus said, “to the Father”, He did not say “to God”, Jesus did not say how many ways there were to Him or to the Holy Spirit.

    Watered-down Christianity is not Christianity, Christianity, which is part of God’s Plan, is God reaching out to us.

    See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth.

    Take care, be ready.

    Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • TonyDiaz999

    “”Such Christian utilities” may be fine and good but are not what Christianity is about.”

    Well, to a lot of Christians such untilities is the main purpose. They may not outright admit, but by their lifestyle they show the indication.

    It is harder and harder for advanced thinking and confident people on earth to have faith in Christ. Christiianity in the developed world more and more lingers on by its utilities as a link to established morality that people trust and feel comfortable with, and as a social gathering place, especially for a potential mate.

    It is patently obvious Christ, if it/he/she exists, does not love all. If one has pride in one’s intellect, one has to acknowledge this very basic and unalterable truth. What makes you or me different from victims of highly moral acts of chain drowning–rescuers losing their lives. There CANNOT be an explanation and one has to have fundamental respect for one’s intellect.

    Christianity is in desperate need for the third world gullibles, the abjectly improvished too poor and too poorly treated for rigorous thoughts. This will be the major source of people who can have faith in Christ, but not Christians, who likely will remain plentiful for a long time.

  • david6

    Are you a Christian? Must I accept your claim just because you say so? Does it matter that you support political leaders who reject what Jesus taught about how we should treat people? Do leaders who worship what Ayn Rand wrote still count as Christian?

  • david6

    There’s no evidence that Christianity is valid, that any gods exist, or that the stories that are so important to Thomas Baum are true in any way. There is a huge amount of evidence that the Bible is chock full of stories about things that did not happen and claims that cannot be true.

  • david6

    Self-described Conservative Christians have no problem ignoring what Jesus taught even as they quote what He taught for their own personal uses.

    The central teachings attributed to Jesus are found in the Sermon on the Mount. Anyone who votes for the modern Republican Party, particularly their radical Tea Party contingent, have chosen to reject those teachings.

  • jenniferlovesriii

    Wow. So many of these posts don’t have anything to do with the subject.

    The subject is that this person who did these horrendous things was labled as a Christian, and then all of a sudden, the religion that was ascribed to him was the topic on fire. If all maniacs who claim to either love God (or even be Him) were really be put in the same pile as true people who follow (believe in, learn of, act like) Jesus, then that is something that needs to be rectified.

    I hope that people who were sort of on the fence about their faith were not swayed in any way by the woman who made this mistaken claim.

  • Rachelfriend

    Christianity does not claim that “gods exist.” It states that God exists. David6′s assertion that there’s “no evidence” that the Biblical “stories” are true “in any way” is demonstrably false and hyperbolic. There is direct historic/archaeological evidence available that validates many biblical events, people, and places. David6 obviously knows this, or should do research to find them. Start with whether or not Jesus lived (and read Josephus’ statements concerning the existence of Jesus as a historic figure). If even that one fact is true, David6′s assertion concerning what’s true “IN ANY WAY” is demonstrably false.

  • Rachelfriend

    Accepting anyone’s claim that they are Christian, just because they say so doesn’t make sense. People can make false claims. However, dismissing their claim because their political leanings differ from yours is a big mistake as well. Expecting people to not understand or acknowledge the truth in some of Ayn Rand’s work because she wasn’t Christian or espoused ultra-libertarian views is akin to expecting a black person to never quote or acknowledge anything Woodrow Wilson did that made sense because he was a racist who re-segregated the military and the rest of the Federal govt. You don’t have to agree with everything someone says just because you acknowledge they got some things right. Should Christians know more about Ayn Rand before they jump on her bandwagon? Yes, but even after they know her worldview they still can acknowledge when she was dead-on with some of her positions. Any Christian who “worships” anything any human being says is wrong, since worship is reserved for God. However, acknowledging the truth of a statement isn’t worship. You’re pretending it is. People can make mistakes. You’re attempting to force Christians into a position where they have to be perfect to be Christian, which is contrary to Jesus’ teachings. Now, why would you do that?

  • Rachelfriend

    Also, in your statement “Does it matter that you support political leaders who reject what Jesus taught about how we should treat people?” I thought of Woodrow Wilson (racist), FDR (internment camps), Al Gore, Sr. (opposition to the Civil Rights Act), Maxine Waters (yelling/degrading her staff), Harry Reid (“you could literally smell the tourists”), etc. If we have to reject political leaders based on “how they treat people” then citizens on all sides of the political spectrum will need to start voting a little differently. Finding political leaders that hold fast to Christian values is tough. It gets even tougher when anti-Christian atheists and agnostics insist that our political leaders must keep quiet concerning their Christian roots and values. David6, you’re trying to have it both ways, and you can’t.

  • ThomasBaum


    You wrote, “Well, to a lot of Christians such untilities is the main purpose. They may not outright admit, but by their lifestyle they show the indication.”

    I agree that to a lot of “Christians” that this is so but what I said was, “”Such Christian utilities” may be fine and good but are not what Christianity is about. Christianity, which is part of God’s unfolding Plan, is about the reconciliation of God and man (humanity), ALL OF HUMANITY.”, I think that this answer is clear and to the point.

    You then wrote, “It is harder and harder for advanced thinking and confident people on earth to have faith in Christ.”

    This doesn’t in any way, whatsoever, take away the “fact” that God’s Plan will come to Fruition.

    To be one of the “advanced thinking and confident people on earth” does one have to think the way that you think that they should think?

    You then wrote, “It is patently obvious Christ, if it/he/she exists, does not love all. If one has pride in one’s intellect, one has to acknowledge this very basic and unalterable truth.”

    By Christ, I take it you are referring to Jesus since “Christ” is a title, it is quite obvious whether one believes that Jesus was/is real that Jesus was a Male, and as far as “patently obvious”, this is merely your opinion.

    As far as “pride in one’s intellect”, I look at it as a gift and I thank God for the intellect that God gave me and I, also, thank God that in meeting God the Father, I came to realize that God Is a Being of Pure Love and that in meeting God the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit revealing to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus that God Is a Trinity.

    You then wrote, “Christianity is in desperate need for the third world gullibles, the abjectly improvished too poor and too poorly treated for rigorous thoughts.”

    As I have already said, Christianity is just part of God’s unfolding Plan which God has had since before creation and God’s Plan, even using us less than perfect people, to put it mildly, will come to Fruition, so

  • david6

    Why do we want our leaders to “hold fast to Christian values”? A century and a half ago, an entire section of our country declared that slavery was just fine with God and attacked the rest of our nation because many people there thought that it was time for our country to end slavery. I don’t recall Wilson or FDR or the rest saying that God told them to engage in those evil acts.

    I only want it one way. I want ethical leaders who care about treating everyone fairly and providing a safety net to those who need it. I don’t want any leader who appeals to the Bible for any reason, not even to defend such a safety net. It is part of America’s heritage but not part of our governance. The sooner people like Rep. Bachmann and Gov. Perry realize that, the sooner I will be happy.

  • antijingoist

    And ironically, thats exactly what Jordan Sekulow wants. A theocracy on this earth, in Jesus name, enforced by candy-coated violence. Almost makes him no better than that Oslo guy. Jordan might not be doing any of the shooting, but he willingly pays for the shootings, and his perverted teachings enable people like Oslo guy to take it a step further.

  • nnoel1

    I am a born again christian and have been one for eleven years now. I am a conservative right wing man and proud of it. I have spent the last eleven years of my life sharing the “Saving” gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone who will listen. The gospel is simple. We as the human race our on our way to hell. It does not matter where you were born, what race you are, what religious beliefs you have, what gender, color, or age. We are all in the same boat. God looked down on the earth two thousand years ago and sent His Son into the world to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Jesus came as a ransom, and to pay the price for our sins. Whether you believe in sin or not think of yourself as a good person or not the Word of God declares that we have all fallen short of the Glory of God and that we have all sinned. That being said where in any of that does it say that we should rise up and kill people that do not believe or bomb building of people who do not agree with us. Jesus said Love God with all your mind all your heart and all your soul and your fellow man as yourself. The God of the Christian is a God of Love and Mercy. We are His voice, hands, and influence in the world

  • Rongoklunk

    The way Christians rush to defend their religion; the phrase ‘the gentleman doth protest too much’ comes to mind. Does it have to do with the fact that atheism is on the rise I wonder? I mean can’t religionists just be satisfied with their personal relationship with the creator of the cosmos, and leave it at that?

    I sense a little insecurity; a dent in the groupthink perhaps. More and more atheists are speaking up and it clearly bothers Christians. And perhaps they really resent that they can’t throw us on a bonfire and watch us burn – as in the good old days.

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