The front-page headline in The New York Times last Sunday was stunning: "As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist."
That would be Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old who has confessed to taking at least 76 innocent lives apparently because he doesn't like Muslims living in Europe.
But why would the Times brand Breivik a Christian? He is not attached to any church, has no history of Christian activity, has openly criticized the Protestant philosophy and has admitted to committing acts counter to all Christian teaching.
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Defenders of the headline point to a Norwegian police officer who reportedly described Breivik as a Christian who desired to be a member of the Knights Templar, a medieval society that avenged anti-Christian behavior.
Perhaps The New York Times might watch out for the Knights.
According to reporting by the website NewsBusters, the Times wasn't so quick to brand the men who killed 52 people in the London subway bombings back in 2005. The Times story on that terror incident described the situation this way: "(T)he plot was carried out by a sleeper cell of homegrown extremists rather than highly trained terrorists exported to Britain."
Homegrown? The four London killers were all Muslim extremists, yet the Times avoided the religious label.
If the paper were consistent, it would have described Breivik as "homegrown," right? The guy was born and raised in Norway.
So why are The New York Times and some other liberal media playing the "Christian extremist" card?
Two reasons. First, some on the left want to make an equivalency argument between Muslim terrorism and other kinds of violent acts. The Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was often branded "a right-wing terrorist" in the media. Terrorism is terrorism the analysis goes. It's not fair to constantly emphasize Muslim terrorism without acknowledging the others. Besides, bad men like George W. Bush hype the Muslim threat and use it to do evil things such as invade Iraq.
The second reason is purely political. The left well understands that Christian opposition to things like abortion, gay marriage and drug legalization makes those liberal causes more difficult to achieve. Thus, anything that diminishes Christianity is fair game to be promoted. Every newsworthy sin committed by a Christian is highlighted with a sneering reference to hypocrisy. Any whiff of Christian intolerance is celebrated in the press.
Breivik did not kill in the name of Jesus. He was not a member of a Christian-based al-Qaida-like group. He was not funded by Iran or enabled by Pakistan. It seems he is simply a murderer, a man devoid of any spiritual conscience, a direct descendant of Cain.
Yet, somehow, Breivik is now a member of a peace-loving, compassionate group, at least according to some media. He's a Christian.