At first, the media called Anders Behring Breivik a Christian fundamentalist, some of them even a Roman Catholic. This shows the cavalier use of the word “fundamentalist” prevailing today in several quarters. In fact, Breivik is something different, as evidenced by his videos, his postings on document.no and his 1,500-page book 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence which, interestingly enough, was first made publicly available on the Internet by Kevin Slaughter, an ordained minister in Anton LaVey (1930-1997)’s Church of Satan which, by the way, has a sizeable following in Norway.
Looking at his Facebook profile, one immediately notices Breivik’s strong interest in Freemasonry and his photograph in full Masonic regalia. The apron identifies him as a member of a St. John’s Lodge of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons, the “regular” Masonic obedience in Norway. The circumstance that he was indeed a member of the Søilene St. John’s Lodge in Oslo has been confirmed by the Order, which proceeded to expel Breivik only after his imprisonment. St. John’s Lodges administer the first three Craft degrees and operate under the Swedish rite. Of course, no Fundamentalist would enthusiastically endorse Freemasonry as Breivik did. In addition, Breivik was a fan of online and offline role-playing games such as World of Warfcraft, Fallout and Bioshock and of the TV vampire serial Blood Ties, all anathema to the average Fundamentalist.
It is also true that, while endorsing in his book a traditional, patriarchal, male-dominated family, Breivik also mentions that in preparation of the attack “I have reserved 2000 Euro from my operations budget which I intend to spend on a high quality model escort girl 1 week prior to execution of the mission”, and explains that “screwing around outside of marriage is after all a relatively small sin”. No fundamentalist would subscribe to this theory, and all fundamentalists condemn abortion without exceptions. Breivik, on the other hand, is favorable to abortion “if the baby has mental or physical disabilities” and in some other cases, although he regards abortion in general as a negative phenomenon. On the document.no website he boasts about his friendship with the developer of the website “Deiligst.no, Norway's probably the most profitable online communities despite the frayed moral concept”. Deiligst is a Web site devoted to promote casual sexual encounters.
But, if not a Christian fundamentalist, what exactly Breivik is? One can simply argue that valuable time should not be lost trying to reconstruct the ideas of a madman. But the book 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence shows that there is a method in his madness, together with megalomania and self-contradicting statements. His main point, reminiscent of the assassinated Dutch populist gay politician Pim Fortuyn (1948-2002), is that Europe is in danger of being submerged by an Islamic wave through immigration, and that Islam is the most evil ideology in the world. One third of his book is an anthology of various anti-Islamic authors, some of them quite mainline while others are located at the paranoid fringe of Islamophobia.
In order to stop Islam, Breivik argues, you need to put together a broad coalition. Can the Christian churches become part of it? Breivik explains that he was not taken to baptism by his quite agnostic and upscale parents, but at age 15 elected to be baptized and confirmed in the Norwegian Lutheran Church. He later became persuaded, however, that Protestant churches have sold out to a leftist and pro-immigration agenda, and that they should merge into the Catholic Church, which has at least maintained a modicum of European tradition. However, by continuing the dialogue with Islam, “Pope Benedict has abandoned Christianity and all Christian Europeans and is to be considered a cowardly, incompetent, corrupt and illegitimate Pope”.
It will be, accordingly, necessary to get rid both of the Protestant and Catholic leaderships and to call a “Great Christian Congress” in order to establish a new European Church. This Church will be granted a religious monopoly in the new Europe but in turn, Breivik writes, “the Church and church leaders will not be allowed to influence non-cultural political matters in any way. This includes science, research and development and all non-cultural areas which will benefit Europe in the future. This will also include all areas relating to procreation/birth/fertility policies and related issues of scientific importance”. In short, Breivik’s is a cultural Christianity, an instrumentum regni for a new political elite which would confine the Church to purely spiritual and cultural matters.
If Islam is Breivik’a archenemy, Judaism – or, rather, a quite imaginary Judaism, represented as a force mainly devoted to fight Islam – is depicted as a main friend and resource. Breivik is fanatically pro-Israeli and anti-Arab. He believes that the Jews are the most noble and brave Westerners. As a consequence, he hates Hitler. “Whenever someone asks if I am a national socialist, he writes, I am deeply offended. If there is one historical figure and past Germanic leader I hate it is Adolf Hitler. If I could travel in a time-machine to Berlin in 1933, I would be the first person to go – with the purpose of killing him”. Not that the neo-nazis do not have some ideas Breivik regards as valid, and he did subscribe to at least one of their online forums. But Hitler committed the “horrible crime” of not realizing the ethnic, cultural and even racial high status of the Jews, the only allies the Northern Europeans could have enlisted against the real enemies, Islam and communism. For Breivik, Islam, nazism and communism are based on the same ultimate principles. On document.no he posted: “For me it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists differ [sic]. […] ALL hate ideologies should be treated equally”.
References to the “Nordic tribes” echo the oldest version of British Israelism, i.e. the doctrine that Northern Europeans, particularly British and Scandinavians, are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel (Danish, for example, take their name from the tribe of Dan), while the Jews descend from the tribe of Jude. The more well-known variety of British Israelism, which influenced the Christian Identity movement, argues that those normally called Jews are not ethnically Jews, but Khazars converted to Judaism in the 8th century, and is, as a consequence, anti-Semitic. But there is an older, pro-Jewish variety which recognized the Jews as members of the tribe of Jude and as brothers of the Nordic Tribes. This variety of British Israelism is very similar to some of Breivik’s ideas, although there are no explicit references in his writings.
There are more references to the British English Defence League and to other secular anti-Islamic organizations. And the most quoted author is the popular anti-Muslim Norwegian blogger Fjordman (who issued a statement after the attack denying he ever met Breivik). Fjordman, by the way, does not particularly like Christianity. He only saves the Second Vatican Council for its opening to other Christians and to Jews. In a text reproduced by Breivik, he writes that “the Second Vatican Council from the 1960s was good for reaching out to Christians of other denominations, Protestant and Orthodox, and for reaching out to Jews. The problematic aspect is in relations to Islam”. He also saves Medieval Christianity, whose military values were both useful against Islam and derived from paganism. Fjordman, quoted by Breivik, explains that “yes, medieval Christianity had no qualms about resisting invaders, but medieval Christians (as Protestants love to point out) had adulterated their faith with pagan beliefs. Over the past few centuries, Christianity has stripped itself of its pagan accretions. In the process, it has become as much a threat to ourselves and our loved ones as Marxism used to be, if not more so. That sounds like a harsh judgment. It is”.
Breivik calls for an alliance with literally everybody who is against Islam. On document.no he reminds homosexuals that Islam “supports the killing of gays” and calls on the organized Secular Humanist movement (which is more important in Norway than in other countries) to change its current leadership and join the fight against Islam, rather than concentrating on a useless critique of Christianity. In a way, it is not surprising that Breivik had friends even in LaVey’s Church of Satan. The latter became popular in Scandinavia by flirting with right-wing extremists with an anti-immigration agenda and, rather than occultism, emphasized a “rationalist” approach to a celebration of freedom and capitalism largely based on the writings of the Russian-born American novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982). Rand is listed by both LaVey and Breivik among their favorite authors (of course, this is not to suggest that the Church of Satan had anything to do with the Oslo tragedy). Among Breivik’s unlikely prospective allies, we can also mention Roma and Sinti. Unlike mainline scholarship, Breivik believes the theory that they were originally enslaved and reduced to their present predicament by the Muslims. He calls them to join the anti-Islamic campaign, and promises a reward in the shape of a free independent Roma state in the new Europe.
Breivik reports that in 2002 he allegedly established in London with eight friends a new neo-Templar order called PCCTS (Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici, in English Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon). There is a disclaimer that all he writes about PCCTS may be fictional, and perhaps it is, although the police is no doubt double-checking. Although he also reproduces material from the Middle Ages, Breivik’s immediate reference in its elaborate rituals and regalia is to the Templar Degrees as they exist in contemporary Freemasonry, an organization he describes (in its Norwegian variety, which is rather conservative) as a custodian of certain important traditions and still playing an “essential role” in modern society, although utterly incapable of any meaningful political or military activity in defense of the very principles it claims to embody.
Christians, “Christian agnostics and Christian atheists” may join the PCCTS – evidencing, once again, a reference to a cultural rather than strictly religious form of Christianity – and become “Justiciar [sic] Knights”. They should then act in three phases. During the first (1999-2030) a sleeping Europe should be re-awakened to the grim reality of the incoming civil war with Moslem immigrants through “lethal shock attacks” by small, and even one-person “clandestine cells”, targeting in particular “traitors” in political parties favorable to immigration, and infrastructures. For instance, for attacking Italy, a list of 16 oil refineries is offered as possible strategic targets, together with four main political parties, both conservative and liberal, and an estimate of 60,000 “traitors” in the country. Breivik realizes that very few people will sympathize with the “very cruel” shock attacks, and the perpetrators will be called assassins and terrorists, but this “psychological martyrdom” will complete the actual martyrdom of those Justiciar Knights who will die.
In the second phase (2030-2070) shock attacks will escalate into guerrilla warfare and coups overthrowing certain European governments. In the third fase (2070-2083), the real European civil war between genuine Europeans and Moslem immigrants will be fought. It will end in the killing or deportation of all Moslem from European soil. In this sense, Breivik claims to be a followers of the “Vienna School of Thought”, whose leading exponent is acknowledged in Fjordman and whose name is taken from the victorious battle against Islam fought in Vienna in 1683. The anti-Islamic blog The Brussels Journal is also identified as part of the Vienna School.
According to Breivik’s Templar narrative (fictional or otherwise), alleged Serbian “war criminals”, in fact true European anti-Islamic heroes, did support him and his friends, and he traveled to Liberia in order to meet an associate of Radovan Karadzic, “an honorable Crusader and a European war hero”. Whether there is a kernel of truth in this story is unclear. What is suspicious is the extensive knowledge Breivik, who never ever served in the army, displays in a large section of his book about weapons, explosives and bulletproof suits – including bulletproof socks, which he claims some too often overlook to their peril. It is also true that Internet today makes wonders, and that Breivik appears to be an adept of “open source warfare”, in itself a quite advanced notion of guerrilla strategy where most information is obtained by wannabe terrorists from the Web. But a question mark on Breivik’s possible external supporters remains.
Prof. Massimo Introvigne is the director of the Centre for the Study of New Religions from where this article is taken.