Christianity, extremism and Anders Behring Breivik

By Phil Wood
July 23, 2011

Last week few people had heard the name of Anders Behring Breivik. Today he is trending on twitter for all the wrong reasons, along with 'Freemasonry' and 'Christianity'.

The carnage in Oslo and Utoeya Island will change Norway. What these attacks mean for understanding the relationship of religion and right-wing extremism, is a more open question.

We have a great deal more to discover about alleged murderer, Breivik. Much of the speculation is based on Twitter and Facebook accounts set up on the 17 July 2011. On that Facebook page he describes himself as a Christian and a conservative. He lists his interests as hunting, body-building and Freemasonry.

His internet posting seems to show far-right, nationalist and anti-Muslim views. Until we know more it seems unwise to make too much of the suspect's possible motives. Much of the Norway 'debate' on Twitter today amounts to Punch and Judy, Christian vs Atheist, head-banging.

So, what do we know? There is no unanimity on the political or religious far-right. This is a murky and convoluted world where resentment, racism and dogma mutate into bizarre and sometimes lethal configurations. It is hard enough to keep track of a myriad of sects and splinter groups, let alone individual psychology.

Christianity makes a poor civil religion. Allegedly it 'enfeebled' a people. The Nazis believed this, hence the attraction of Alfred Rosenburg's 'Positive Christianity'. Rosenburg attempted to rid the Bible of its Jewish heritage and claimed the 'Aryanhood' of Christ. His influence can still be traced in today's far-right groups, which espouse either outright paganism or a tractable and bastardised Christianity.

The Church has found trouble enough with barbarism committed by the orthodox, let alone our dogmatic, convoluted first cousins. I have no idea whether this has any relevance to events in Norway. As for Anders Behring Breivik, I hope to be proved wrong.


© Phil Wood has a varied background uniting community development, social entrepreneurship, housing and Christian mission. Phil is a Mennonite but has a Methodist background. His blog, from which this is adapted, is at:

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