Oslo shooter ‘Christian’ label questioned

Claims have now surfaced that the supposed Facebook page for Oslo terrorist Anders Behring Breivik may have been altered to make it appear that he had conservative Christian beliefs.

While the issue should not overshadow the grief and suffering of victims of the atrocity, the issue of why Breivik would act as he did is obviously important to those directly affected but also the millions world-wide trying to come to terms with the crimes.

And as news breaks of a 1500 page manifesto and video from Breivik that delve into his motivations (see below), the use of Facebook information initially and the labelling of the shooter as a Christian fundamentalist still warrant examination.

Utterance was first alerted to the fake Facebook claims by a commenter on our previous post, Oslo misery compounded by shooter ‘Christian’ claim. John Covert claimed to provide a link to the Google cached version of the page. It does not show a reference to Christian belief.

Other bloggers go further and display the Facebook page allegedly as it appeared just before being removed by Facebook with no reference to Christianity and another later version that contains the Christian belief and conservative politics references.

The issues this raises are:

  • It is dangerous when the media reports that crimes may have been motivated by certain religious or political beliefs (and that applies across the spectrum) when they have no corroborating evidence. (This evidence has reportedly now surfaced – see below).
  • Using people’s private social networking information as the basis for news reports is bad journalism as it may be an invasion of privacy and open to inaccuracy – how many people misrepresent themselves on Facebook etc?
  • The ability to manipulate internet information (as may or may not be the case here) means even if it is not considered an ethical problem to access the information, it should still be viewed as in need of corroboration.

People who regard themselves as conservative, Christian or fundamentalist obviously felt targeted, ashamed or unfairly associated with the crimes of Breivik and this might be useful insight into how people of other faiths or political persuasions feel when the actions of an individual or group are used to taint all those of similar beliefs.

It’s important for Christians to remember it is their actions day to day that will have the most influence on what people think of the Christian faith. Headlines come and go and are quickly forgotten, but our lives are daily on display.

STOP PRESS: New sources of information are appearing regarding Anders Behring Breivik’s beliefs and the motivation for his shocking killing spree. Reports indicate he left behind a 1,500 page manifesto likened to an al Qaede document except from a European Christian perspective and also a video summarising his views. 

Read the New York Times report

Fox News shows some of the manifesto

The original Facebook page of Anders Behring Breivik?
The altered page of the Olso shooter?

Oslo misery compounded by shooter ‘Christian’ claim

Ship of Fools, an alternate Christian website, summed up the feelings of many Christians when they tweeted yesterday, “Our misery is complete. The Norwegian gunman is reported as a ‘Christian fundamentalist’.” The enormity of terrorist tragedy was made worse by reports the gunman may have identified himself as a Christian.

It is unclear at this stage what evidence there is for this claim in the media apart from a Facebook page on which the shooter Behring Breivik identifies himself as ‘Christian’ with ‘conservative’ views.

But he also listed interests such as the game World of Warcraft, freemasonry, and the television series Dexter which is about a serial killer. The reality is that any group or organisation with which Breivik expressed an interest will be now horrified by the association.

As a sidelight to the issue, it is in interesting to see how quickly Breivik’s private social media entries were accessed by the media…

Hauntingly, the one message on his Twitter account dated July 17 was: “One person with a belief is equal to a force of 100,000 who have only interests.”

Regardless of the actual nature of his beliefs, it is distressing that the term Christian, first used to describe followers of Christ in Antioch in the first century, should be even remotely associated with this horrific act.

Anyone familiar with the ‘fundamentals’ of Christ’s life and teaching would know he is easily identified with those who were killed and not at all with the one who killed.

For a thorough analysis of this issue, visit The Christian Post’s story.

Read part of New York Times report:

OSLO – The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center here and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

The police said they did not know if the man, identified by the Norwegian media as Anders Behring Breivik, was part of a larger conspiracy. He is being questioned under the country’s terrorism laws, the police said, and is cooperating with the investigation of the attacks, the deadliest on Norwegian soil since World War II.

“We are not sure whether he was alone or had help,” a police official, Roger Andresen, said at a televised news conference. “What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist.” So far Mr. Breivik has not been linked to any anti-jihadist groups, he said.