Over at Fox's answer to the Huffington Post -- Fox Nation -- we're informed of the marvelous news that Bill O'Reilly "shredded" the media for unfairly labeling terrorist Anders Behring Breivik a Christian. This is tremendously unfair, O'Reilly argues, because the man is "is not attached to any church."
This is Stupid Argument Number One. By this argument, the President who most wore his Christian religion on his sleeve was no Christian at all.
Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry has been more responsible than anyone for getting notoriously secular political reporters through the doors of churches on Sunday mornings. Ever since a few conservative bishops raised questions about Kerry's Catholicism, given his pro-choice positions, journalists have trailed the Senator to church, breathlessly wondering if this will be the week he's denied communion. Some have even snarkily commented that his Boston congregation--the Paulist Center--is insufficiently traditional, calling it "New-Agey." What they haven't done is take up the task of following President George W. Bush to his home church. That's because of one small problem: He doesn't have one.
According to O'Reilly, the "Christian angle came from a Norwegian policeman not from any fact finding." This is Stupid Argument Number Two, by virtue of being completely wrong. Not only did Breivik list his religion as Christian on his Facebook page, but according to the Associated Press, Breivik wrote about using "violent means to purge Europe of non-Christians and those he deemed traitors to Christian Europe" -- an odd self-destructive position for a non-Christian European to take.
Anyway, the whole thing is just a media conspiracy to make Christians look bad. "[T]the liberal media wants to make an equivalency between the actions of Breivik and the Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh and al Qaeda," O'Reilly complains. "The left wants you to believe that fundamentalists Christians are a threat just like crazy jihadists are." I guess this is unfair because so many atheists, Jews, and Buddhists have burned down abortion clinics, shot doctors, bombed federal buildings, had armed standoffs with the ATF, and have blown up so many Olympic parks.
But the core argument isn't that the media is treating Christians unfairly, but that a self-declared Christian was really no Christian. Christians just don't do these things, the Christian right argues, and -- using the "no true Scotsman" fallacy -- offer his Christian terrorism as proof that there aren't any Christian terrorists. No "true Christian" would commit these deadly acts, therefore no Christian does.
It took some doing, but I actually found an argument dumber than O'Reilly's. It probably won't surprise many to learn I found it at WorldNetDaily. In this particular bit of inanity, Breivik isn't a Christian because he believes in evolution. By this argument, there are only a handful of "real" Christians in Europe, where the superstitious notion of Creationism is overwhelmingly rejected. Again, we see a variation of the "no true scotsman" argument -- no "real" Christian would believe in evolution, therefore Anders Breivik is no Christian at all.
What both of these arguments (and they're just examples, there are plenty of others) ignore is the very basic tenet of Christian belief -- the absolute core and purpose of the entire religion; that no one is beyond redemption and that the only thing it takes to get into Heaven is acceptance of Jesus as your savior.If you accept Jesus as your savior, but kill dozens of people in Norway, you're a Christian -- by definition.
Now, imagine the situation is reversed and Muslims are saying a terrorist wasn't a "true" Muslim -- because it has been, plenty of times. Have the right bought that argument and, if not, why should we?