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Norwegian Shooting Suspect's 'Manifesto' Inspired By American Right-Wing Thinkers

Norwegian shooter/bomber Anders Behring Breivik left behind a 1,500-page "manifesto," and its ideas bear an eerie similarity to American right-wing thought.

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The reality is, there’s a story that emerges when you read the entire manifesto. In the beginning, he says, you know, "I wasn’t particularly religious. Then I sort of glommed onto Christianity, and I realized I had to have a Christian identity." And by the end, he says he is religious. And, you know, as I said, he’s citing a lot of scripture, Bible verses. Bill O’Reilly says he’s not even Protestant. He agrees. He sees himself as being called back to Rome, to Catholicism. He described having high hopes for Pope Benedict early on, when Benedict said some very extreme anti-Islamic things, but he’s been disappointed. He doesn’t think Benedict is the right guy. But again and again, he says, "Look, I’m doing this for Christ." He even, at one point in the manifesto, talks about—he says, you know, "Some people have a personal relationship with Jesus. I don’t." So that’s being used to say, "Well, then, clearly he’s not a Christian." It’s worth noting that, by the end, he gets that personal relationship.

But it’s also worth thinking about the tradition he’s in. He’s not in the kind of American emotional evangelical tradition of Protestantism. He’s, in fact, very critical of that. And again, he goes to American sources. He cites a priest, Father Dwight Longenecker, a Bob Jones University alumnus who converted, and writes a very long critique of what he sees as "sentimental Christianity." He prefers what he describes as "Crusader Christianity." And in that, he’s not alone on the American Christian right.

AMY GOODMAN: In your book, Jeff Sharlet, your book  C Street, you talk about Chuck Colson. Can you talk about Chuck Colson and evangelical Christians here?

JEFF SHARLET: Yeah. He doesn’t—he doesn’t mention Colson. But, you know, ideologically, I think that’s really the kind of closest match. Colson, in a lot of ways, might be seen as advocating a Crusader Christianity, as well. He shares a lot of sort of ideas with Breivik—first of all, very militant anti-Islam. As Chuck Colson, who’s the head of something called Prison Fellowship, Christianity in prisons, told me at one point, he says, "You know, at this point, mainly we’re doing this to fight a war with Islam in prisons." Breivik actually proposes the exact same thing for Norway. He says we need to fight Islam in prisons by sort of this kind of aggressive conversion campaign.

But they also share a kind of a medieval fetish, a kind of idealization of knighthood and manliness, and an explicit and open antagonism toward the Enlightenment. And that’s what puts Colson in this sort of more interesting place than a lot of other Christian right leaders. He says—he comes out quite plainly and says the problem is the Enlightenment, as does Breivik.

And it really even comes down to their vision for what kind of society they see. So, for instance, these folks who are saying that Breivik is not a Christian aren’t reading the portions in the manifesto in which he describes the ideal society. They want to believe will be Christian government. He sort of goes back and forth and engages the arguments within the Christian right: should we call it "theocracy," or should we call it something else? But really, they’re sort of borrowing from a kind of a Colson idea of merging these things and giving Christianity dominion over all of society. But he says, with great generosity, that you don’t have to convert, you just have to allow schools, courts, government to be ruled according to the Bible.

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, Colson talks about—

 
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