The Norway Attacks: “Marketing” the Christian Right Culture Wars

About Chip Berlet

On Friday, July 22, at least 76 people were killed in the Oslo bombing and the shooting rampage at a Labor Party summer training camp for young liberal political activists. Immediately following news of the Norway terrorism, the internet buzzed with speculation — much focused on so-called “Islamist” militancy and Muslims. It soon became apparent, however, that the terrorist was a homegrown Christian Right Islamophobe. Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian man who has confessed to the attacks, appears to have carried out the carnage as a “marketing” tool to advertise his manifesto calling for a white Christian revolution that would rid Europe of Muslims.

Breivik compiled the 1500-page manifesto, which asserts that “Political Correctness” is a conspiracy by “Cultural Marxists” to destroy sovereign Christian nations through multiculturalism that results in mass Muslim migration into Europe.

PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet reports that Breivik’s central thesis is drawn from theories propounded by U.S. Christian Right icons William S. Lind and the late Paul Weyrich , founder of the Free Congress Foundation, and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation. Weyrich, along with Lind, developed an aggressive theory of cultural conservatism as a way to save western culture. Breivik’s manifesto, compiled under the name “Andrew Berwick,” includes excerpts from Lind’s conspiracist “Cultural Marxism” essay for the Free Congress Foundation. By 2000, Lind had incorporated antisemitic elements into his claims.

As early as 1992 PRA warned that the Culture War brew of apocalyptic Christian Theocracy, White Racial Nationalism, and Xenophobic Immigrant-bashing could undermine democracy.

The broad theories outlined in Breivik’s manifesto reflect Christian Right cultural conservatism, a confluence of traditionalist claims from Europe and the United States. For example American conservative groups have sent representatives to Europe to attend the World Congress of Families, where speakers talk of a “Demographic Winter” — a coded racist warning that Muslims are outbreeding “white people” in Europe and the United States. [for background, see PRA’s “Exporting ‘Traditional Values’: The World Congress of Families” ].

Breivik’s manifesto contains right-wing rhetoric reflecting white supremacy and patriarchal misogyny. Much of his text is cut and pasted from the works of other authors. Among those whose views are highlighted by Brievik are U.S. Islamophobes Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Walid Shoebat.

Chip Berlet is a former senior analyst at Political Research Associates. He authored Eyes Right! and Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (with Matthew N. Lyons) and is a frequent contributor to Talk2Action and Huffington Post.