The American blogosphere is falling over itself trying to put distance between “True Christianity” (TM) and Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. The general theme is familiar: “Good Christians” aren’t terrorists. If he claimed to be a Christian, he was either lying, mistaken, or crazy.
It’s probably easy for a lot of American Christians to dismiss Breivik. After all, he’s European, and all the True Christians (TM) broke from that religious tradition back at Plymouth Rock. To many, Norwegian Christianity might as well be Zoroastrianism for all the impact it has on their spiritual beliefs. American Christians are no less exclusionary than the C of E and the Vatican when it comes to proclaiming heresy by those “other pretend Christians.” You know, the ones who are just using Christianity for their own personal ends? (Consider my recent interview with a very well educated Christian who insists that Baptist and Church of Christ theologies constitute entirely different religions!)
Most Christians are also quick to dismiss the bloody history of the Christian Church. They don’t identify with the Crusades or the Inquisition. They don’t care that Oliver Cromwell‘s fierce hatred of Catholics was a powerful force behind the “Irish Campaign” of 1649. The wars of succession in France don’t register, even though all the blood on the ground was either Catholic or Protestant. And anyway, those were different times, and that wasn’t terrorism. So it doesn’t figure into the equation. (I suppose bloody war is somehow less morally reprehensible if the guy on the throne is a Christian, and the attacks are carried out by armies, not “cells.”)
American Christians are also quick to distance themselves from current Christian events if they’re too bloody. Uganda’s campaign to impose the death penalty on homosexuals, and the brutal regime that already imposes a 14 year prison sentence for a single homosexual act? Not Christian and certainly not terrorism. Never mind that American Christian politicians and pastors have been frequent visitors to Uganda and that disciples of Doug Coe have been acting as indirect “consultants” with David Bahati, the anti-gay bill’s sponsor.
But no. None of this matters to American Christians. Their brand of Christianity is different in kind. Christians don’t commit terrorist acts. They can’t possibly be terrorists. Only bad guys are terrorists, and Christians are the good guys. Because God is on their side. And that’s the end of the story. Except that it’s not…