- (Photo: Reuters / Wolfgang Rattay)
Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly is appalled, along with many others, over the media's use of the word "Christian" to identify the killer responsible for dozens of deaths in Norway.
In his show Monday night, the outspoken host accused the liberal media of playing up the Christian angle in the tragic story because they want the public to believe that fundamentalist Christians are a threat like "crazy jihadists are."
Another reason for the Christian angle push from the liberal media: "They don't like Christians very much because we are too judgmental," O'Reilly observed.
But the Fox News host denounced the headlines over Friday's massacre and asserted that Anders Behring Breivik is not a Christian.
"That's impossible," he said. "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."
O'Reilly further noted that the 32-year-old suspect who was arraigned on Monday is not attached to any church and has criticized the Protestant belief system.
"Once again, we can find no evidence, none, that this killer practiced Christianity in any way."
Breivik has confessed to bombing a government building in Oslo and shooting nearly 70 people at nearby Utoya Island but he has pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges he faces. The tragedy has shocked the nation and the rest of the world.
His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said he may plead insanity.
Early reports from Friday's blast and shooting indicated that Breivik was a Christian fundamentalist. But Christians have been quick to distance themselves from the murderer, saying killing is in no way a Christian act.
At the same time, they acknowledged that others would quickly jump on the "Christian" identity to make a case against Christians and religion in general.
"Christian Terror in Norway: I Predicted Terror from the Religious Right in My New Book Sex, Mom and God," Frank Schaeffer titled his blog on Saturday.
"What we fear most from Islamist terrorists will be unleashed here as it was in Norway," he wrote.
"Terror is on the way on the way from our very own Christian and/or Libertarian 'Tea Party' type activists inspired by right wing 'Christian' intellectuals and political leaders like Bachmann who – after the killing starts -- will then disown them and express horror at their actions, actions that are in fact the logical extension of the anti-government rhetoric spewing from Congress and the religious right."
O'Reilly isn't buying such arguments.
"The left wants you to believe that fundamentalists Christians are a threat just like crazy jihadists are," he said, calling such a comparison dishonest and insane.
He went on to argue that "the primary threat to this world comes from Islamic terrorism."
Breivik, meanwhile, is "a loon" who acted out of rank hatred, he stressed.
"There is no equivalency to Jihad," O'Reilly asserted, "no Breivik movement, just another violent, pathetic legacy stemming back to Cain (from the Old Testament)."
So where do Christians go from here?
Tim Challies, author of The Next Story and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, said Christians have to accept the reality that there is no gatekeeper – anyone can claim to be a Christian and anything can thus be done in the name of Christ.
Christians must also accept the reality that there is a movement to paint believers and religion itself as violent.
This reality prompts Christians to examine themselves and the witness they offer to the world.
"Maybe this should lead us to ask how we represent Christ and his cause," Challies wrote in a blog post Monday. "Do our deeds leave a distinctly Christian legacy behind? Do we live in the way Christ taught us to live Taking Christ’s name upon yourself by calling yourself a Christian is a great privilege but also a great responsibility."
Still, the Toronto pastor reminded believers that even a testimony of love will not convince the world. The world, he stated as matter-of-fact, "hates us."
"Do not be offended when Christians are unfairly portrayed. Do not be surprised. The world hated Christ and the world will hate those who follow Christ, who act like Christ."
The latest tragedy, he lamented, will be used against Christians and will be used to curtail their freedom to worship.