Christchurch attacks were a form of 'Christian terrorism', as well as racial hatred, says religion expert

The Christchurch terror attacks were a form of "Christian terrorism" and white supremacy, Honorary Professor theological and religious studies at the University of Auckland Douglas Pratt says.

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Professor Douglas Pratt gave his analysis on TVNZ1's Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

Friday's shootings that left 50 people dead and dozens more injured was an attack targeting a religious group, rather than a race or nationality, Mr Pratt told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

Mr Pratt outlined the dangers of Christian terrorism, and how it differs from what we've seen in previous deadly attacks.

"It actually comes out of Christian extremism," he says.

"Terrorism is the end point - if you will - of a line of ideological development that might begin with some kind of belief system, that moves into an aggressive kind of phase, and finally in position where the ideology seeks to impose itself on others."

Mr Pratt also says that while focus on religious terrorism is normally centred around Islam, the Christian ideology can be just as dangerous, citing the 2011 terror attacks carried out by Anders Breivik in Norway in which 77 people died.

"In recent times, everyone's been focused on Muslims and what's interpreted by their text. But what's been missed, is that there's an awful lot of a similar kind of dynamic going on within the wider Christian world, particularly with links to the alt-right, and highly conservative Christianity that is antithetical towards Islam for example - and that all comes together in this example.

"The intent is, to stir the white race against the invaders. That was [Anders] Breivik's basic platform, and it was the same as our one here in Christchurch."

A warning is also being issued that Friday's shootings could be just the beginning, with white supremacist terrorism now at the forefront of New Zealand, and indeed Western culture as a whole.

"In my mind the terrorism act on Friday - terrible though it was - is only act one.

"There is a whole pattern that will emerge, it's already been flagged by people's concern that [the man charged has] chosen to represent himself in court, and that will be used as a platform.

"This is a whole platform of trying to stir up race hatred premised on a particular world view that buys into a certain Christian interpretation."

A 28-year old Australian man has been charged with murder following Friday's mosque attacks that have left 50 people dead.