It’s been about a month since the Olso bombing/Utøya shootings. Now that the initial shock is starting to subside, many commentators are have put forth more detailed analysis based on what we’ve all read from Breivik’s manifesto. It’s been a rare and terrible thing. Most everyone has been too emotionally sickened to say much of anything. It has, however, brought to light a few interesting opinions of which we’d all do well to take note in terms of our broader discussion about secular society and religion.
Can we separate Breivik’s actions from his goals? There has been some murmurings from Conservative Christians which seem to suggest that while (to their credit) they abhor his methods and ideology, they don’t particularly disagree with his overall vision of what Europe should look like. I mentioned part of the following quote in my previous post about the shootings, and I’d like to expand on this kind of thing for a bit:
“Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate. But clear thinking Westerners and every Christian I know believes these problems can be solved through public policy rather than mass murder.” -Bryan Fischer, American Family Association
Such a statement appears relatively benign for those who haven’t taken the time to delve into Breivik’s manifesto. But Mr. Fischer has read the manifesto. (He even skipped playing golf to read it, such sacrifice! Way to take this seriously Bry-Bry.)
Fischer goes on to distance the Christian faith from Breivik, attempting to illustrate that no “Real Christian” would do what Breivik did. However, to me at least, such denouncement comes up very, horribly, short.
It isn’t enough to just denounce Breivik’s actions. His ideology is wrong, horrible, and misguided. If you believe that all people are free and have the right to live and work and practice whatever faith they want wherever they damn well please then Breivik’s beliefs (and the ideologies that drive Christian reconstructionists and radical Muslims) are evil. There’s no other word for it. People who think that the solution to cultural tensions between Christianity and Islam is to build nations with their basis in nationalized religion, forcing values and laws based on a small group of people’s interpretations of ancient texts onto their citizenry, are wrong. Full stop.
Of course, I am an atheist. So I don’t have any scripture to cite in an appeal to authority. I don’t have any quotes from the man-god hybrid they told you stories about when you were a kid to tug on your heartstrings. No commands have been handed to me from down from on high ordering us to treat each other with a little fucking dignity. I’m just an ordinary person saying it would be nice for a change if people would stop being dicks to each other, and the only way that I can see to do that is to encourage rational, secular government and society.
Segregating the world into theocracies (in this case Christian nations, Islamic nations, Jewish nations, et. al.) does nothing to settle divisive ideologies that keep people from getting along with each other. It just moves the boundaries. And once the lines are re-drawn the whole mess starts over again with both sides scheming and conniving to increase their territory out of an ultimate quest for total dominion, both sides believing that they’ll ultimately be successful because they’ve been told as much by their preachers. It doesn’t work, it’s never worked, and it never will work to just move the pieces around the board. We need to change the ideas that are causing all these conflicts in the first place.
None of this is to say that the encroachment of Islamic Sharia principles in Europe is not a very serious and disturbing issue. It may well be the major threat to secular culture in the West, but Christian reconstructionism (dominionism) or Christian-Nationalism or Christian anything is not the answer. It’s an equal threat whose methods are more surreptitious and less violent (at least for now). Many heads of state in Europe either have or are beginning to express their belief that multiculturalism just isn’t working out. The truth is that multiculturalism isn’t failing. We are failing multiculturalism. We, as a species, are the ones failing to live up to the expectations of our own ideals.
There’s no way to put this delicately: Islam and Christianity are wrong. They are fundamentally and inexorably incorrect. We don’t need to find inconsistencies in their scripture to prove that. We don’t need to prove that God doesn’t exist to validate it. People—large numbers of people—are willing to kill and die for them. That’s all the proof anyone should need.
It is true that the failure of immigrants to effectively assimilate can cause a good deal of tension. The United States has seen that time and again, but we’ve survived (Heck, as far as I’m concerned you’re not in a ‘real’ city in this country unless it has a Chinatown). Yes, there were lots of, and still are, racial and ideological tensions. That makes me kind of sad, but it’s true. You’ve got to admit that things have gotten progressively better though. And I don’t see any reason why we should let a bunch of assholes buck that trend for the rest of us. The only thing keeping Christianity and Islam, Islam and Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, Christianity and Judaism, etc., etc. from getting past their differences is each other. It’s their unwillingness to see beyond their narrow view of the world and do what is right for humanity even if it doesn’t line up with their scriptures. And that is just plain bad for everybody.