Since the dark day news broke of the horrific killings in Norway in which Anders Behring Breivik allegedly set off a car bomb before gunning down attendees at a youth camp, members of the media have been in a tug-of-war about the troubled man’s so-called Christian faith.
While the mainstream press has been identifying Breivik as a “Christian terrorist,” “Christian fundamentalist,” and “Christian extremist,” several media commentators and actual Christians have been vehemently attempting to set the record straight about “Christian” being used so carelessly.
“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,” wrote Jordan Sekulow Thursday in an article on the Washington Post’s website.
Sekulow, a director with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), pointed out that the Norwegian man only “claimed the ‘Christian’ mantle” as a cultural, social, and moral platform."
In his op-ed, Sekulow reminded readers that Jesus Christ makes it “crystal clear” in Matthew 7:16 how Christians can be identified: by looking at their actions.
“To actually believe that someone adhering to the tenets of Scripture would commit a vile act like this is ludicrous,” Sekulow wrote.
Craig Parshall, general counsel of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), also spoke out this week, questioning why “most of the media” appear to be swallowing hook, line, and sinker uninformed claims about Breivik’s “Christian” leanings.
In a commentary posted Wednesday, Parshall disputed the "Christian fundamentalist" label for Bervik, saying that the media need to look no farther than the accused killer's 1,500-page "manifesto" to see why connecting the mass murder to Christianity was wrong.
Breivik referred to Jesus Christ 16 times in the manifesto but cited Thomas Jefferson a total of 18 times, the NRB representative noted.
Concluded Parshall, "Linking Breivik to anything Christian therefore makes as little sense as saying that the mass murderer was motivated by Jeffersonian democracy."
On his show Monday night, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly slammed skewed media reports identifying Breivik as Christian.
"They don't like Christians very much because we are too judgmental," O'Reilly said of the liberal media.
The Fox News host said much of what Christians have been saying since July 22: "No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”
“Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has questioned O’Reilly’s approach in attacking misconceptions about Breivik’s so-called faith, but admits that he agrees with the Fox News pundit on some level.
“Clearly, O’Reilly does not believe this killer’s actions or profile qualify him as Christian,” Steward said on his show this week, “which I would agree with.”
As information started trickling in about the violent July 22 rampage in which 77 people were killed, initial reports claimed the assailant was an Islamic terrorist.
Then, Norwegian police officers told reporters that Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old man who officials now say acted alone in the rampage, was a “Christian fundamentalist.”
On Breivik’s Facebook page, which was taken down within hours of the crime, the alleged madman described himself as a Christian. Yet, in his own 1,500-page manifesto the suspect describes a religious bent devoid of anything having to do with true faith in Jesus Christ.
Breivik wrote in his manifesto posted online hours before the attacks:
“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.”
Apparently, Breivik’s own words and actions exemplifying his curious faith do not mean much to some members of the media, as ongoing coverage of the devastating crimes continue to falsely apply “Christian” to Breivik’s character.
As Christian Post blogger Olabode Ososami noted, the violent rampage carried out by Breivik has nothing to do with Christianity. This case displays, according to Ososami, “a very sad manifestation of how undiagnosed and untreated mental malady” can wreak havoc on society at large.
Breivik’s attorney has said that he is considering an insanity plea for his client.
Breivik, accused gunning down youth campers on Utoya Island shortly after setting off a bomb in Oslo’s government district, has pleaded not guilty. As of yet, no trial date has been set, as investigations are still ongoing.