Anders Breivik’s despicable act of Christian terrorism earlier this week is provoking right wing denial. For some on the right the notion of “Christian terrorism” is simply too much to handle. Christian terrorism shatters the comforting yet naive and simple minded world view of right wing conservatives, a world view that assumes Islam is the religion of terror, and that Christianity is the religion of peace.
Fox News on air personality Bill O’Reilly personifies this right wing denial. Both Monday and Tuesday night O’Reilly aired segments on his program dedicated to the proposition that Breivik was not a Christian. O’Reilly argues passionately that Breivik was not a Christian, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
And O’Reilly is by no means alone in his seemingly pathological denial of the patently obvious. A writer for Andrew Breitbart’s right wing BigPeace website writes:
Brevik (sic), the Norwegian mass murderer of non-Muslims, is an isolated monster with no Christian religious affiliation whatsoever.
Indeed, the right wing is busy trying to deny Breivik’s Christianity, despite Breivik’s own claims to the contrary. Breivik self identifies as a Christian over and over again in his writings, and claims his act of terrorism is in fact the beginning of a new era of Christian crusades.
Christian terrorism is nothing new
The U.S. has experienced numerous Christian terrorist attacks. Eric Rudolph’s bombing of the Atlanta Olympics, a gay night club and several abortion clinics; Scott Roeder’s assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller; Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City killing 186; and the Hutaree Christian militia plotting to kill police officers; are all examples of Christian terrorism.
Yet many Christians are angry with the media for reporting the truth, for reporting Breivik was a Christian acting on behalf of Christendom. O’Reilly and others on the right deny Breivik is a Christian by deploying the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. In this case the right wing claims that “No true Christian is a terrorist; Breivik is a terrorist; therefore Breivik is no true Christian.”
This fallacy is of course self-serving. The fallacy allows right wing Christians to preserve their denial, to preserve their naive black and white world view: Islam = bad; Christianity = good. Yet by preserving their denial at all costs, right wing conservatives like O’Reilly threaten our nation’s security.
If we are to be effective in dealing with dangers of terrorism, we must be be honest with ourselves. We must admit that no religion has a monopoly on terror.