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Douglas Pratt's Vain Quest For Christian Terrorism in Christchurch

There have been many outlandish claims in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting tragedy, ideologues stacked up with grievances at hand – “it’s the whites and their supremacy” or “it’s the right" and their subjectively labelled “hate speech”. However, there has been no other claim more tangential than that of Douglas Pratt, "professor" of theological and religious studies at Auckland University.

Professor Pratt is a retired Anglican Priest, who incidentally once received an “inaugural Harmony Award for meritorious service to the Muslim community” (I guess he was done with his dying Anglican diocese and decided to back the winning horse). Pratt made an appearance on TVNZ1’s Breakfast five days after the massacre. During the interview he made a claim that the attacks in Christchurch were “a form of Christian terrorism”. He prefaced his claim with the following statement:

In this particular case I don’t know what the terrorists religious affiliations are (if any) but that’s almost not the point, the point is actually how it ties into the ideology that he’s drawing on to justify his actions.

That is a terribly garbled presupposition. If you are going to make a sound, logical link between the terrorist’s actions and Christian extremism, it would be wise to know what his religion is before making a claim. Don’t worry Doug, I can help you in this regard, having read the manifesto twice before it was made objectionable by our censors. The shooter posed a question to himself (and I’m paraphrasing here for very obvious reasons) “was I/ am I Christian” to which he answered “When I know, I will be able to inform you. It is complicated”.

In other words he is not Christian. A Christian by definition is someone who accepts Christ as the only begotten Son of God, who came down from Heaven and died on the Cross for the salvation of man, and who follows the teachings in the Gospels. In regard to the shooters political and social leanings (and I paraphrase), the belief “tied” to his “ideology”, (contrary to Pratt’s claim of Christian extremism), he named The Peoples Republic of China to be the nation which held values closest to his own, and ultimately labelled himself an “eco-fascist”.

The shooter was undeniably an ethno-nationalist. However, to claim that the heart of his “white” ethno-nationalism rested upon the bedrock of Christian extremism is just patently absurd. In Albert Speers Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, Speer detailed Hitler’s thoughts on Christianity and Islam. In the memoir, according to Speer, an Islamised Germany would have been better predisposed to warfare and he reported that Hitler said the following:

The Mohammedan religion would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?

Whilst nominally Christian in his youth, Hitler, an ethno-nationalist par excellence, was not at all a fan of Christianity and its docility.

Doug fails to frame his argument with any form of coherency, instead demonstrating that his point is not to truly know the shooters motivations, but instead makes the case from the old idiom “if the cap fits – wear it’! He also stated the following:

One of the main things with this kind of terrorism, which also links into Jewish terrorism, is a reference in the bible to the book of Numbers Chapter twenty five, and in there is an account of a particular action carried out by a priest by the name of Phineas. And that action has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing, on acting on behalf of God, but not being directed, acting from in oneself. It is the effective model of lone-wolf terrorism.

Great, it seems that the Jews are once again lumped in with their unusual bedfellows — white supremacists.

This is where Professor Pratt’s ontological understanding of scripture starts to unravel. In this particular biblical account, it details the final part of the Israelites journey before they cross the Jordan. Here they encounter the Moabites who are engaged in the worship of Baal (a fertility god). Worried about the encroaching Israelites, the women of Moab lure the men of Israel into acts of fornication and worship of false idols – therefore raising the ire of God. This is after failing to curse the Israelites – see the passage about Balaam and Balak. This is a rebellion against God (ignoring the First Commandment). God punishes the Israelites by sending a plague that kills twenty-four thousand of the Israelite men, and not the Moabites who lured the men in the first place! This account is hardly a hallmark of racial supremacy or terrorism, and certainly not a call to ethnically cleanse the people of Moab. Phineas, (whom Pratt names in the interview and who is not a priest during his “particular action”!) incensed by the disobedience of the Jewish people, takes a spear in hand and thrusts it through an Israelite man and Moabite woman who are in the middle of coitus. Phineas is then made a priest by God and a new covenant of priesthood is placed upon him and his lineage. God also announces that the wickedness of the children of Israel has been atoned for. Of note, Numbers 25:10-11 states: the Lord said to Moses that Phineas was “moved with My zeal” indicating his actions were not of his own volition.

The moral in this particular part of Numbers is that the Israelites cursed themselves, and suffered because they disobeyed God (to paraphrase Jordan Peterson “drifted away from the Logos”). A culture that loses its relationship to the Logos (worship of false idols) and which becomes consumed by wanton fornication is bound to crumble and suffer. This is a recurring theme for the Jewish people in the Old Testament, a constant breaking down and building up of their civilisation. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t calls to violence in the Bible – simply that this particular part is not one of them, and it certainly does not align ideologically with the Christchurch coward.

Professor Pratt also attributed chapter twenty five of Numbers to be part of the motivation for mass-murderer Anders Breivik and Yitzak Rabin’s assassin – he again links white supremacy and Jews. Upon searching the term "Numbers" in the Breivik’s fifteen hundred page ramblings, it only appears once within the weighty tome. Unfortunately for the professor, the only chapter of Numbers referenced is twenty-four and in the form of an in text quote from a book called "Continuations of Fredegar" (p. 149). This is where Breivik is detailing to the reader the historical account of the Franks battling the Moors in the south of France. It’s certainly not used in the context of a call to “lone-wolf terrorism”.

Breivik does have a very small segment (given the context for the size of his manifesto) on the “Christian justification of the struggle”. In which it details the early Church and the indulgence system it created in order to wage a defensive war. It is almost staggering to think that in response to three hundred plus years of Islamic invasion into Christian lands, that the Church had to create a complex system of indulgences to wage an effective form of total war – an example of how unbelievably peaceful Christianity is. To reiterate, this is a poor example for lone-wolf Christian terrorism as described by Professor Pratt. The Crusades are a topic for another essay, so I will not digress further here.

Interestingly, Breivik in his manifesto, extolled the non-Muslim minorities to pick a side (preferably to side with the indigenous European population) against his perceived threat of the on-coming Islamic invaders. Arguably, he was more an Islamophobe, rather than a xenophobe. Similarly, both Breivik and the Christchurch shooter almost certainly psychologically perceived the “white race” to be a body. Through their collectivist ideology they homogenised various distinct European cultures into one "being" under the banner of “white” – a dangerously ignorant proposition.

The weight of the Christchurch shooter's motivations were based on racial purity and, psychologically speaking, the white race as a singular global body infected with parasitic "outsiders". This idea has been recently articulated by Jordan Peterson as a way to help understand the motivations behind ethno-nationalist ideology. Alarmingly, leftist extremists, ignoring possibly the best sage advice available, still gleefully label perpetrators by the descriptor “white” further reinforcing the internal narrative of people like Breivik and the Christchurch coward.

This is what is so irksome about Professor Pratt’s gushing and biblically inaccurate interview. He wanted to attribute the attack to the Christian "identity group" in order to fit his narrative, which is probably motivated by the post-modern take, that Christianity is nothing more than hierarchical white privilege imposed upon poorer peoples of the world. Frustratingly he concluded with a contradiction that undermined the substance of his entire seven minute interview by stating, “admittedly he was an extremist that didn’t wave a particular religious banner, his targets were a religious community”. A religious community that Pratt particularly sympathises with – and rightly so given the current circumstances.

Professor Pratt would have been better served (and I plan to expand upon this in another essay) by talking about the fundamental similarities of importance that the Christian and Islamic faiths share, such as: the sanctity of life, marriage and the family, aversion to the vice of illicit drugs, sexual modesty, and the acknowledgement of a divine Creator, because they are us – right?