November 28, 2006

"Christianist."

With all this talk of the word "Christianist," I thought I'd do a Lexis/Nexis search to see how often it appears. In the Law Reviews & Journals database, "Christianist" (or "Christianists") is used only once, in an article by Robert J. Morris called "Intersections: Sexuality, Cultural Tradition, and the Law: Configuring the Bo(u)nds of Marriage: The Implications of Hawaiian Culture & Values for the Debate About Homogamy," 8 Yale J.L. & Human. 105 (1996)("Homogamy"? That's new to me.)
Despite the common law's formal deference to local custom, Anglo-Saxons in Hawai"i in the early 1800's hardly viewed Hawaiian custom as legitimate. Many of the foreigners who came to Hawai"i in the early 1800's called it (and its language) childish, simplistic, deficient, defective, heathen, pagan, native, and feudal. In doing so, they defined themselves in opposition to the Other and simultaneously changed the Other. They necessarily viewed Hawai"i as the despotic, barbaric Other; and a good part of this Otherness was the Hawaiians' sexuality.

Calvinist missionaries dealt with a culture that had aikane by calling christianist and capitalist culture "manly," Hawaiian society "feudal," and feudalism "effeminate." Any language other than the King's English was "emasculated."The discussion was in sexual terms, and the patriarchy-driven mission off-handedly acknowledged that "no nation on earth perhaps allows females a higher proportionate rank [than Hawai"i]." For Hawai"i, this was the "dawn of tyranny" under the new foreignization.
In the Major Newspapers file, there are only 25, with only one before 1990. It's in a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star, published on April 27, 1988:
Tom Harpur's column, New scientific views upsetting for atheists (April 17), may be amusing pap for the Sunday readers, particularly the smug christianists, but it is not an accurate or insightful depiction of the new physics....

PIERRE SAVOIE

Toronto
(Blame Canada!)

The usage is noted in a William Safire "On Language" column on May 15, 2005:
Two weeks after writing about the fervor of the late Terri Schiavo's ''Christianist 'supporters,''' Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker last month described Representative Tom Delay as a ''hard-right Christianist crusader.'' A few months before, soon after President Bush was re-elected, the conservative Weekly Standard reported that an Ohio cartoonist had sent out a communication deploring ''militant Christianist Republicans.''

Obviously there is a difference in meaning between the adjectives Christian and Christianist. Thanks to Jon Goldman, an editor at Webster's New World Dictionaries, I have the modern coinage of the latter with its pejorative connotation. ''I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right,'' wrote the blogging Andrew Sullivan on June 1, 2003, ''who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.''

Not such a new term. You have to be careful about claiming coinage, as I learned to my rue (my 1970's baby, workfare, turned out to have been coined earlier; same with neuroethics). In 1883, W.H. Wynn wrote a homily that said ''Christianism -- if I may invent that term -- is but making a sun-picture of the love of God.'' He didn't invent the term, either. In the early 1800's, the painter Henry Fuseli wrote scornfully that ''Christianism was inimical to the progress of arts.'' And John Milton used it in 1649.

Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist....

As Christianist, with its evocation of Islamist, gains wider usage as an attack word on what used to be called the religious right, another suffix is being used in counterattack to derogate those who denounce church influence in politics. ''The Catholic scholar George Weigel calls this phenomenon 'Christophobia,''' the columnist Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post. She noted that he borrowed the word from the American legal scholar, J.H.H. Weiler. The word was used by Weigel ''after being struck by the European Union's fierce resistance to any mention of the continent's Christian origins in the draft versions of the new, and still unratified, European constitution.''

Just some info.

ADDED: In the comments, amba asks for a definition of "aikne," which is not susceptible to Googling. Actually, it's printed in the article as "aikne." I'm not sure how that is meant to appear. I think it's aikane with a line over the middle "a." I've corrected that in the original text. Anyway, according to the article it refers to partners in a same-sex relationship:
Exact translation is not an easy task. Some concepts of the Hawaiian language were buried with the advent of Christianity and capitalism in Hawai"i. Aikane was among these. Aikane marks persons of any gender in a homogamous relationship. Despite Christianity, this meaning persists well into the twentieth century among those who know Hawaiian....

The traditional meaning of aikane as a same-sex lover is crucial. From the first day of Captain Cook's arrival in Hawai"i through the formative years of the American and other foreign presence in Hawai"i, the aikane of the chiefs (ali"i) of each island facilitated the foreigners' livelihoods, their use of land, their very existence.

86 comments:

Dave said...

""Intersections:Sexuality, Cultural Tradition, and the Law: Configuring the Bo(u)nds of Marriage: The Implications of Hawaiian Culture & Values for the Debate About Homogamy,"

Why I can't take academics seriously, part 289478328923.

Pretension, evasion, prevarication, equivocation--it's all there, right in that title.

Say what you want concisely and felicitously. Else suffer my withering condescension.

reader_iam said...

Oh, boy, now you're really going to make Sullivan mad: He's been mighty proud of "his" coinage... .

Zeb Quinn said...

Thanks to Safire three things seem true here. First, you add "ist" to a word when you go on the attack. Second, we can expect to see much more use of the term "Christianist." Third, Andrew didn't invent it.

Tim said...

Clearly the word "Christianist" is, as Sullivan stated when he first used it, intended to draw moral equivalence between the Islamists who are trying to kill us and the more outspoken and active Christians who wish to live in a culture and society reflecting fundamental Christian values. That's fine, as far as it goes, as he's distraught over the politics of gay marriage and seeks to impress others that those who oppose gay marriage are no different than the Islamic fascists who fly loaded jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and who knows what else. Demagoguery has a long pedigree, and Sullivan isn't the first, or the last, or even close to the best, to use it in the service of his political aims. So real Christians will most likely go about their business largely untroubled by the likes of Sullivan; after all, he is of slight consequence and Christians have had, and continue to have, real enemies of consequence.

However, the real disservice of Sullivan and other's use of the term "Christianists," (esp. in light of the fact that "theocrats" has a much longer history of accepted use) is that it distracts from the real enemy. "Christianists" are no more a real threat to the Republic than are the Quebec Separatists, monarchists or Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, but Islamists are - and the evidence is overwhelming. Sullivan has essentially created out of whole cloth a two-front war - one against Islamists and the other against Christianists who are, don'tcha know, one and the same? Sullivan is astute enough to realize that while the secular American Left has no stomach for real wars against real enemies trying to kill real Americans, it will enlist wholeheartedly in a noble cause to defend secularism against the vile threat of "Christianists." What Sullivan isn't astute enough to realize is that that diversion only divides us from focusing upon the real enemy, and suits the enemy's purposes far more than our own. Because, in the end, the "Christianists" aren't at all the threat that Sullivan and others like him portray them as; yet our enemy the Islamists are.

Paddy O. said...

my problem with the word is that it seems to be used not as a particular description but as a broad brush that paints anyone who votes out of a religious perspective.

Clearly there are people who use religion for purposes of power. But, then there are also religious people who are genuinely interested in the health of our broader society.

It is worrisome because underneath the word is the suggestion that some citizens should not be allowed to participate in civil life as they see fit, essentially making for a religious test.

They are called Christianists because they have the Constitutional right to vote and do so with particular perspectives in mind.

This word suggests, to me, that if given the power there would be a movement to disenfranchise anyone with religious convictions. Now it is only rhetorical. World history suggests that rhetoric often leaks into action.

LarryK said...

If Christianist is a valid term, then what about "homosexualist"? This has apparently been coined by Ace at the Ace of Spades blog, and is defined as "not homosexuality per se, but the militant perversion of homosexuality into a political doctrine."

Who can deny that such people exist?

Bissage said...

William Safire said: "Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist...."

This is welcome news as it will save me all sorts of time. In the past, my practice has been to color a word negatively by tacking it to the back of "dirty, stinking, no-good."

"Dirty, stinking, no-good humor person."

You get the idea.

Now, I can simply say "humorist" or "humorism."

By the way, if you search in Westlaw’s Allfeds you will get 24 results for "Islamist," 21 results for "humorist" and 0 results for "Christianist." In Allstates, you will get 0 results for "Islamist," 35 results for "humorist" and 0 results for "Christianist."

Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

This strikes me as a false moral equivalence. Christian bombings and other terrorist acts are thankfully quite rare. Especially if the largely political strife in Ireland is excluded. Then we are left with rare (thank God) bombings of abortion clinics and such.

I think it is most helpful to think of this as an extension of the use of homophobic or xenophobic. These terms are used indiscriminately to write off the ideas of people who disagree with left leaning social policies. Actually, some people ARE xenophobic or homophobic, and that is a problem. All bigotry is problematic. But pasting an ill fiting lable on people who disagree with you in order to dodge the disagreement is cowardly and problematic as well.

Full disclosure time: I am a Christian, it is the central identification of my life. But I don't blow things up or try to hurt people. It is just not Christian to do so.

Trey

kettle said...

"Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist...."

Well, this is qualified, but still one ought to make a distinction according to what those post-fix morphemes are doing.

-ist, as a noun-creator is pretty harmless; isms are usually abhorrent because they imply absolutes where we are really only justified in speculation.

kettle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Henry said...

I think of Andrew Sullivan as an enthusiaist.

kettle said...

--dave:
"Say what you want concisely and felicitously."

While I wholeheartedly agree with you on this in spirit, there are some topics which pithy synoptic comments do not do justice to.

To be clear though, I do not think that the title you refer to happens to be one of them.

res_ipsa_loquitur said...

So, "Christians" are people who follow what we like about Jesus/the Bible/the Catholic church. "Christianists" are those who follow what we don't.

bearing said...

If we need a suffix with negative connotations to denote "fanatical" philosophies, we should pick another one.

"-ism" is taken; it already means something else; and precisely because of its existing meaning, it's fated to lead to clunky coinages like

Yigal Amir was inspired by his Judaismism to assassinate Rabin.

Anonymous said...

Well, Christian is a word of derision in some circles. For me, terrorist covers Timothy McVeigh and the criminals who blow things up in the name of Jesus just fine.

Trey

Richard Dolan said...

"Christianist" -- an ugly and close to useless concoction. It is intended as a pejorative stereotype -- "a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right," says Sullivan -- but it fails because it doesn't fit the people it's meant to dismiss, the vast majority of whom aren't on the "fringe" of anything.

The effort that Sullivan, Hertzberg and others have put into peddling the term amounts to an attempt to exercise rhetorical control over acceptable speech in the public square. The few issues that usually come up when they are pillorying supposed "Christianists" -- e.g., gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, Terri Schiavo-like end-of-life issues, abortion -- evoke a fairly wide range of opinions among actual Christians. But there's no reason to let that reality get in the way of an effort to take control of the agenda for one's own pet projects. As a country, we're a long way from accepting the idea that traditional moral values inspired by Christian beliefs are beneath contempt. But there's more than a whiff of that kind of contempt when Sullivan gets rhetorically cranked up.

I wonder who the intended audience is for this "Christianist" stuff. Whatever Sullivan et al. may have intended, I think it's more likely to have a boomerang effect, in that the offensive stereotype will cause many more people to tune out Sullivan and Hertzberg that they might otherwise have reached at least part-way. After all, there are many more Christians running around in America than there are Sullivanists or Hertzbergians.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Clearly the word "Christianist" is, as Sullivan stated when he first used it, intended to draw moral equivalence between the Islamists who are trying to kill us and the more outspoken and active Christians who wish to live in a culture and society reflecting fundamental Christian values.

I agree that the term Christianist has been too widely and inappropriately used to describe people who strongly identify with their faith, but I think this description is unfair. Sullivan uses the word to describe the tendencies of fundamentalists to strive to make civil laws reflect their own and only their own religion and thereby impose their beliefs on others. It is based on a broader concern about the influence of fundamentalists on government and the effect on people who do not adhere to fundamentalist religious precepts, or belong to different religions or to no religion at all. The comparison is not to the 9/11 bombers. It is to those who control and promote the fundamentalism that dominates the societies from which those bombers came. And while there is no "moral equivalence" between Saudi Arabian leaders and fundamentalists in American government, the use of the term Christianist is a reminder of the dangers of allowing too much fundamentalism of any creed to weild excessive control over civil society here or anywhere.

bearing said...

From Wikipedia:

The -ism suffix can be used to express the following concepts:

o doctrine or philosophy (e.g. pacifism, olympism)
o theory developed by an individual (e.g. Marxism)
o political movement (e.g. feminism)
o artistic movement (e.g. cubism)
o action, process or practice (e.g. voyeurism)
o characteristic, quality or origin (e.g. heroism)
o state or condition (e.g. pauperism)
o excess or disease (e.g. botulism)
o prejudice or bias (e.g. racism)
o characteristic speech patterns (e.g. Yogiism, Bushism)
o religion or belief system (e.g. Mormonism)


Only one of those (e.g. "racism") has negative connotations of "belief system," and it's not an analogous formation to go from it to "Islamism" or "Christianism" --- we would have to say "religionism" to indicate bias based on religion, as we don't say, e.g., "blackism" or "whitism."

As I noted above, you have the problem that several religions' names end in -ism in their own right. Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Unitarianism --- those don't have negative connotations. This clunky ism = fanatic coinage only works because Islam and Christianity don't end in ism themselves.

If we need to adapt a suffix here, may I suggest -mania, which denotes an obsession with something? (And, I might add, connotes maniacs.

Bleepless said...

Use of the term "Christianist" says nothing about the purported topic, but much about the user.

rhodeymark1 said...

Which would make Sullivan a homaniac?

Kirk Parker said...

Joseph Hovsep,

"the tendencies of fundamentalists to strive to make civil laws reflect their own and only their own religion and thereby impose their beliefs on others."

And this is, of course, radically different from secular folks, who generally prefer laws contrary to their beliefs. Yeah, right.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Kirk, Fair enough point, but I guess it depends on how you feel about religious freedom vs. other freedoms. I would place a special emphasis on protecting our freedom to be religious or be free from religion. That's why there's a special place for it in the constitution.

Hey said...

This is just a reminder that the Left (Liberals, Democrats, and Leftists) will go to ANY and ALL lengths to destroy their class enemies and the Western Civilisation that embodies all that they hate. They celebrated their terrorists in the 60s and 70s, they celebrate those same people now, and they align themselves with Sharia expounding fanatics as a more solid ally than the USSR was.

If someone supported Baader-Meinhoff, the Red Brigades, the Weathermen, or the Black Panthers then, or supports their veterans now, you can be sure that they also support the Jihad. They think that they will come out ontop in the revolution, but they most want to destroy Western Civilisation and kill their parents and all of the "squares".

It is far past time to settle the debts from the 60s and to defend ourselves against this fifth column in our midst. We face enough of a threat from alienated 2nd or 3rd generation Muslims and radicalised converts, no need to exacerbate the situation by not cleaning up the Problem of the Left. Islam is not a pernicious, vile ideology that has been used to justify genocide around the world, while the Left has encouraged and celebrated its ideological champions who have done just that. We can rescue Islam and those Muslims who just want a better life. The Left, by their ideology, don't want a better life for themselves or anyone else. They must, and will, be dealt with as they deserve.

Aiding and abetting Genocide needs to be dealt with as the crime that it is, and those that we have on videotape and in their own books admitting this must be the first to be judged. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, Kos, Hamsher, etc are but the first in line. Firedog Lake and Daily Kos tell you what they want to do to anyone who does not wholeheartedly agree with them. Never mind my own business owning, successful, right-wing self, look at how they treat Joe Lieberman. Time to deal with them before they come for us and sell the world down the river of Sharia.

Alpha Liberal said...

It's interesting to see all these comments saying what people who use the term mean, while ignoring their own explanations for what they mean. This is a dishonest practice!

I've not seen anyone using the term claim equivalence between Islamic terorrists and US Christian theocrats. Please back up that claim, if you can!

As far as Ms Althouse trying to nail Sullivan over term coinage, you must have a lot of time on your hands!

Glenn Greenwald has done a fine job of laying out a definition from:

------------------
That term "Christianist" -- like the term "Islamist" (but unlike the term "Islamofascist") -- does not remotely denote violence or terrorism, as Sullivan, who coined the term, has repeatedly made clear. It merely refers to those who view Christianity not merely as a religious doctrine to govern their personal and private lives, but far beyond that, as a set of beliefs to which secular law must conform when constraining others, such as this:
------------------
I like that definition as it distinguishes Christians from those who want to (ab)use the faith as a political ideology. "In short, not only must we make a distinction between Islam, Islamism, and radical Islamism, I think it is important to distinguish between Christianity, Christianism, and radical Christianism."

OK, all you holier than thou types. How about debating with some integrity (looking at you, Ann, you name-caller) instead of name-calling, twisting what people say, putting words in their mouths and distorting the overall conversation, as Ann does:
http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/#postid-updateQ2

Alpha Liberal said...

Here's a link to Glenn (the good one) Greenwald's logical response to Althouse's meandering attacks on those who use the term "Christianist" (while she routinely employs "Islamist.")
http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/11/meaninglessness-of-tenure.html

Doyle said...

Re: Hey's comment

Daaaaaamn!

Why your fans so crazy, Ann?

Now if you'll excuse me, there are some squares I have to kill.

Troy said...

It's a hate word plain and simple. We can have all the info on the word you can find, but Sullivan uses it as a pejorative and he uses it broadly.

He plainly draws a moral comparison between Islamist and Christianist. We already have a perfectly good adjective "Christian". It's been in use for 2,000 years and aptly describes the belief. I'm surpirsed Sullivan can't just rely on that word. The PRC needs no new adjectives to drag my brethren into gulags. He's gone Progressive -- and of course if you are not within the definition of "progressive" then you are in the way -- an obstacle to be overcome or removed.

amba said...

a culture that had aikne

I'd like some info on what's aikne? I Google it up and get an island in the Marshall Islands.

GG said...

Joseph,
The problem with what you are saying is that it specifically restricts any values judgements consistent with one's religion. You are essentially giving those without religion a blank check in values debates, but anyone of a particular religion gets an asterisk next to their opinions. In countries where people are free to choose their religion, people will choose a religion consistent with their values. It is unfair to dismiss any Christian with strongly held views by saying their religion determines their values. They have the freedom to choose a different set of values and a different religion if they choose. The decision they have made should be respected just as much as the decision you have made. This is quite different in a country like Saudi Arabia where conversion from Islam can involve execution. THAT is a forced value.

Alpha Liberal said...

Someone said:
"This is just a reminder that the Left (Liberals, Democrats, and Leftists) will go to ANY and ALL lengths to destroy their class enemies and the Western Civilisation that embodies all that they hate."

You are bearing false witness. How do you come across this knowledge? Are you a mind reader?

Or, more likely, do you just make up stuff like this to attack people (liberals) whom you hate?

You are lying about us. And that's a violation of the Ninth Commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Maybe the Ten Commandments don't apply to conservatives?

Or are the Ten Commandments just for show and using as a political bludgeon by the Christianists?

Revenant said...

I view the word "Christianist" as a useful flag -- it lets me know, right up front, that I don't need to waste time paying attention to what the person using the label thinks. Either he's using the term because he's angry and not thinking rationally, or he's using it because he's ignorant enough to really think the American religious right shares significant enough traits with Islamists to be worthy of such a feeble attempt at guilt by association.

Really, though, Sullivan uses the term "Christianist" to mean "anyone who supported the gay marriage amendment". Harold Ford Jr, for example, earned Sullivan's support (and not the "Christianist" label) despite being openly homophobic and in favor of a strong role for Christianity in American government, simply by virtue of belonging to the correct political party.

Jay said...

Greenwald only has a New York Times Best Selling Book on the Bush Administration and its abuses of power. And he has one of the most-read blogs on the Internet, after 9 months of blogging. And Senators read from his blog at Senate hearings and his posts lead to front-page news stories in major newspapers.

Ellers Ellensburg Ellison

Alpha Liberal said...

"It is unfair to dismiss any Christian with strongly held views by saying their religion determines their values. "

I have never met one liberal, moderate or conservative who does this. That's a strawman you have erected to duel with, not an honest depiction of the views of the people you criticize.

And, for the record, the Christianist politcal agenda is turning people away from the Christian faith in droves. The Christianist political agenda is profoundly un-Christian, full as it of intolerance, greed, gluttony, avarice and mean-spiritedness.

For Pete's sake, the (un)"Christian" Coalition just fired their new director because he wanted to help the poor!! No, Jesus would never get behind THAT!

submandave said...

What AS et. al. generally miss is that there is a vast difference between trying to legally enact legislation that expresses one's morality that has a religious basis and trying to compel, by force and threat, compliance with religious dogma. I may belive murder is wrong because of an innate belief in the sanctity of life whole, another may believe it solely based upon the Ten Commandments and yet another may believe it out of a sense of Karma. The issue being dealt with is one of the morality or propriety of an action, not the underlying basis thereof for one's position.

Jay said...

OK, alpha-buddy, let's see some numbers.

And the CC president-elect's resignation was his own idea -- he wasn't "fired."

Please try for more accuracy in future.

Alpha Liberal said...

Troy, the words "Christian" and "Christianist" are 2 separate things. Christianist is a subset of Christian.

"Christianist" depicts a political dieology.

"Christian" depicts a religious faith.

For example, I am a Christian, but I will never be a Christianist. I find their politics to be un-Christian and very alienating.

(Jay, I don't know what numbers you are looking for. I'm posting over lunch break and am almost done. We'll disagree on how to describe how the CC guy was ousted, but the fact remains the CC cares not to focus on serving the poor, which the Big Guy made a pretty big priority.)

Jay said...

"And, for the record, the Christianist politcal agenda is turning people away from the Christian faith in droves."

What record would that be?

How big are those droves?

Alpha Liberal said...

Kirk said
"And this is, of course, radically different from secular folks, who generally prefer laws contrary to their beliefs. Yeah, right."

Yes, it is different. I know few secularists who want to tell people who to have sex with, who to marry, to stop using birth control, or to protect corporate polluters.

Most Christianists want to impose their religious doctrine on how to live one's personal life into law and our lives. THAT's the difference!

You live by your doctrine, I'll live by mine. (And, BTW, it is not contradictory to be BOTH secular AND Christian!)

p.s. Why so many Christianists fight policies that reduce pollution is a mystery. Best I can figure, they're being played by powerful economic interests.

Alpha Liberal said...

jay wise-cracked:
"And, for the record, the Christianist politcal agenda is turning people away from the Christian faith in droves."

(How do you do the eye-rolling emoticon again?)

rhodeymark1 said...

Gee A.L. (may I caaaall yoooo Al?) - too clever by half: Jay said what record, what droves?. So... you gonna cite that, or eat it?

PS - your name isn't Wilson, is it?

Fitz said...

Thomas Wolf is fond of saying (and I’m paraphrasing from memory)

“These are not “Christian Fundamentalists” or “the Religious Right” but rather, just plain Christians.”

He’s correct of course. What you have is main stream Christianity (belatedly) reacting to the sexual revolution. The tenants at work and the positions being espoused are what C.S. Lewis would call “mere Christianity”

That is: they are timeless positions that have always been held & continue to be held as generally excepted/historically correct Christian positions.

The ability of the media/intelligenceia to flip these positions and make the “Christianists” into the protagonists merely shows the power and success of the counter-culture.

Alpha Liberal said...

Sure, you can call me "Al."

The questions are inane. "Just for the record" is a figure of speech. "Droves" is a fanciful way of saying "lots." I base the comment on personal experience of people I know who are very turned off by modern Christianity, which features protection of child molesters, mean-spiritiedness, and a raft of issues Jesus never emphasized, such as attacking the gays, protecting the wealthy and showing intolerence. Absent from the Christianist ideology is concern for the poor or for creation (the latter turning around a little lately).

To bring this back to the thread, the Christianists are so doing a grave disservice to Christianity.

(Again, "Christianist" and "Christian" are two separate things).

Sl0re said...

I haven't read all the comments and it was probably said already... but I also think the whole 'religious right' thing is a pejorative and bunk.

For the most part 'right wing' came into use, in the US, as a similar insult. Eventually to be adopted by SOME of the people being called it (sort of akin the way the term queer came into use). Despite some people accepting it, it’s still an old put down and an attempt to lump them in with other unsavory groups... Then the religious got thrown in (as part of the 'right') since they moved away from the democrats after perceiving they were under attack from parts of the base...

So, much like Christianist, religious right is just an old false concept thrown around to devalue other people’s opinions and paint them as.. to use a term from the article you referenced, ‘the other’.

Fitz said...

Alpha Liberal (so you’re the best they got?)

“very turned off by modern Christianity, which features protection of child molesters,” If your referring to the Catholic Church Scandals perhaps you should do more reading. (to be brief)
#1. The church has always/does now condemn the sexual molestation of children (indeed any sex outside wedlock) so we can say its not a problem philosophical problem cant we?

#2. Failure to inform the NYT is not the same as “cover-up” and neither is the same as “protection”

“mean-spiritiedness,”
This is probably your perception, (to much popular journalism) Christ commands & Christians practice kindness


“and a raft of issues Jesus never emphasized,
If the measure was - “any thing goes unless Jesus himself specifically mentions it in the Gospel” – Then it bears no relationship to Christianity as practiced fro its inception.

“ such as attacking the gays,” If you mean physically – then yes, all Christian churches prohibit & condemn such actions. If you mean, the failure to capitulate to any and all demands of the homosexual left- then Yes, we stand with traditional teachings.

“ protecting the wealthy and showing intolerence.”
There is a preferential treatment for the poor in Christianity, and this makes up the bulk of what most Churches do. Just go to one and find out. He came to comfort the afflicted (as well as afflict the comfortable) so the wealthy need & are commanded to give tell it hurts.

“Absent from the Christianist ideology is concern for the poor or for creation (the latter turning around a little lately).”

See: to much main stream journalism (go witness a actual congregation some time) The former is part & parcel of what we do. The latter (keeping gods kingdom well/ or environmentalism) is always a responsibility, but you seem to be judging things according to a handful of evangelical leaders who signed a recent statement against global warming.

Like I said… go witness a actual congregation some time.

Henry said...

I base the comment on personal experience of people I know...

Why am I not surprised?

Revenant said...

a raft of issues Jesus never emphasized, such as attacking the gays, protecting the wealthy and showing intolerence

I'm not sure where you get the idea that the religious right favors "protecting the wealthy", except inasmuch as most strains of Protestantism have always favored the idea that people deserve the fruits of their labors. Jesus did not favor forcible wealth redistribution, last I checked -- and that's what high taxes are. He favored charity, an area in which the religious right beats the pants off the left and the non-religious right.

As for the stuff about gays, the rule of thumb is that laws unrevised by Jesus still stand. Homosexuality was a sin before Jesus showed up and he said nothing to suggest he felt otherwise, ergo the rational thing for Christians to believe is that homosexuality is still meant to be considered a sin.

Sullivan should grow some balls and stop calling himself a Christian. To this atheist, his flimsy attempts to force his own wishes onto a two thousand year old and deeply sexually conservative religion are pathetic in the extreme.

Bill Dalasio said...

I'd argue that the problem with the word "Christianist" or "Christianism" is that the terms are ultimately vapid propaganda trying to smear one's coservative reliously-motivated opponents. Islamism, by contrast, refers to a specific, defined ideology: the belief that the best way to organize a political system is to implement sharia law and base the political realm on the dictates of the Koran and hadiths. As such, it's essentially a neutral term. In contrast, we see the term "Chritianist/Chritianism" assigned to individuals/beliefs that the speaker believes are trying to impose their religious convictions on the polity. The choice of the term is designed to draw a comparison to the negative cannotation that Islamism has gained in our society. Nevertheless, those making use of the term rarely, if ever, apply the term consistently, only to those they disagree with. I might take the term a little more seriously if we were to hear of the abolitionists, the SCLC within the Civil Rights movement, religious pacifists, or even the believers of liberation theology referred to as "Christianist". I don't think I'm going to have to reverse my views any time soon, though.

Brian O'Connell said...

Glenn Greenwald has done a fine job of laying out a definition from...

Glenn Greenwald's dictionary is as elastic as the constitution, as you may remember from when he tried to redefine "chickenhawk" to suit his purposes.

But all the talk about the definition of the term is essentially besides the point. Sullivan et al are using it because it has the same form as Islamism and they want to make a link between the two. There are other words and phrases for the idea that have long been in use- it seems a bit too cute that "Christianist" comes into vogue now, when we happen to be fighting Islamists, wink wink.

The use of the phrase is on par with the "Taliban wing of the Republican party" quote we were treated to some time back.

And by the way, gay marriage (which I am for) is not facing electoral defeat after defeat because of some gang of Christianists. Or is John F Kerry one too?

Revenant said...

Greenwald only has a New York Times Best Selling Book on the Bush Administration and its abuses of power. And he has one of the most-read blogs on the Internet, after 9 months of blogging. And Senators read from his blog at Senate hearings and his posts lead to front-page news stories in major newspapers.

Ann Coulter has best-selling books, a column more widely read than any blog, and similar influence among politicians. But you're still an asshole if you take her seriously.

The same goes for Greenwald. He, like Coulter, is successful because he sells the right kind of hate to people who are in the market for it -- not because he's capable of reasoning his way out of a paper bag.

Alpha Liberal said...

Fitz,

Thanks for your condenscending post. I've attended many services in many churches, mostly Lutheran.

You make the common Religious Right mistake of assuming anyone who dsiagrees with you is an atheist. You are very wrong.

There is next to no daylight between the positions of the Christianists and the agenda of the Republican Party. This includes defending tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to social programs that serve the poor, opposition to environmental protection and hostility towards gays. (And, as we see here, lots of bearing false witness against their neighbors).

It's difficult to see that Christianist agenda in action, harming people in the name of Christianity, to see Christianists comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. It is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ as I learned them in my own traditional church teaching.

shake-and-bake said...

Does anyone remember the not-so-long-ago days -- before Bush announced his support for the constitutuional amendment banning gay marriage -- when Sullivan was one of the war's staunchest supporters, and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's most fawning cheerleader? Back then, he tried to coin the term "eagle" to describe those like himself; fiscally conservative, strongly pro-defense, socially progressive. If I recall correctly, Schwartzenegger was Eagle-in-Chief. It was all painfully embarassing, and went over like a lead baloon. If we would ignore the absurd "Christianist," rather than draw attention to it, it too would quickly die,

CB said...

Revenant,

You didn't get the (rather obscure )joke. The passage that jay wrote and you quoted is a comment that Mr. Greenwald wrote on his own blog pretending to be someone else.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alpha, I have enjoyed your posts and wanted to comment on one point you made. You spoke about "cuts to social programs that serve the poor." I think that one difference we have is that I do not thank that many social programs aside from Head Start do indeed serve the poor.

Head Start does serve the poor, it provide education, safety, and some food to poor children. The success is measurable and welcome! I want some programs cut or massively rewworked because I do not believe that they indeed serve the poor. I think that they bind the poor!

For instance, welfare programs should REQUIRE some kind of work. Work is good and healthy and everyone who can move or is not mentally incapacitated should work. Work gives health and hope and confidence. It is why so many healthy seniors volunteer, they benefit from the work!

I am a big fan of helping the poor, it is part of my religion. So I volunteer at my Church's room at the inn program, donate to charitable causes, support my church and its benevolences, and do stuff like that. I also oppose programs and institutions that support institutional poverty and dependence. That is because I care about the poor and have differing ideas about how they are best helped.

Trey

johnstodderinexile said...

I read Sullivan daily back then. He developed this unfounded belief that Bush would step back from supporting a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, and seemed genuinely disappointed when Bush went for it. I stopped reading Sullivan much after that. Pundits can be from the left or the right or the vital center, but they can't be from Big Rock Candy Mountain. Sullivan obviously has no grasp of reality.

"Christianist" -- the same thing. It's not just offensive in making the moral equivalence. It's also idiotic. Who is going to adopt this rallying cry to fight "Christianists"? Many committed leftists are Christians. The most successful "Christianist" of the past 100 years was Martin Luther King.

We secular folk for the most part acknowledge this is a nation dominated by Christians. My perspective is that Christians become activist about their religion only when it is directly threatened. There is no master plan to take over the government, declare Christianity the state religion (if they could even agree on which branch of Christianity to use), and force mass conversions at the point of a sword. There is only a desire that public institutions, like schools and military, don't aggressively flout and deny their values. There is lots of room for debate on these issues. What I've noticed is that more of the deeply committed Christians will tend to withdraw from these institutions whenever possible, and create their own parallel institutions whenever possible, rather than battling it out.

Alpha Liberal said...

"Pundits can be from the left or the right or the vital center, but they can't be from Big Rock Candy Mountain. "

LOVE IT! Hee-hee!!

"There is no master plan to take over the government, declare Christianity the state religion (if they could even agree on which branch of Christianity to use), and force mass conversions at the point of a sword. "

I disagree on the first two while accepting there is no "master plan" yet plenty of intention to force one version of Chrisitanity on everybody else via the government. That's why they want the Ten Commandments in public spaces, laws based on their interpretation of The Bible (but not mine!), and to kill the "seperatiuon of Church and State."

Your points on why the "Christianist" term is problematic are well worth considering, however. I guess I liked it bettere than "theocrats."

Jay said...

To clarify, I actually mostly agree with A.L.'s emphasis on how much the Right departs from, or perhaps has tacked onto, the Gospel -- I've repeatedly had the unpleasant experience of being told "you're the first Christian I've ever met who doesn't [espousal of nutty belief here]." But it's no good saying they're driving people away in droves when we all know what kind of churches are growing and what kind aren't (lots of sources here). And it's really no good comparing them to Islamists in the complete absence of terroristic murder and intimidation aimed at destroying free polities.

Al Maviva said...

AL writes:

I've not seen anyone using the term claim equivalence between Islamic terorrists and US Christian theocrats. Please back up that claim, if you can!


Okay.

http://patrioticpulse.org/content/view/315/4/

http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/2003/10/too-much-of-good-thingif-that-first.html

http://www.theocracywatch.org/

http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oId=17222

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-munro113001.shtml

And here, I'll save you some time on the retort, AL, because you Greenwald fans or sock puppets, same thing sometimes, are kind of predictable. Just cut & paste this into your response: "What I said is still true, because I 'never saw' any of those references, and what I meant was not that no such references exist, only that I never actually saw such references. I'm shocked and stunned that anybody could be so stupid as to interpret my statement as meaning 'no such references exist' and think that perhaps your 6th grade education at the Red State Mail Order Bible College was deficient.'

See? There. I've even made it easy for you so you don't have to hunt and peck your answer. BTW, did I mention that Glenn Greewald, who has been published in the New York Times and quoted on the Senate Floor after only nine months of blogging, is both a well known amateur constitutional scholar of titanic proportions, and a hotheaded sock puppet?

Good day, sir!

Thief said...

Christianist. A sect of Christianity followed only by straw men and incorporeal phobias, whose existence is, in turn, a belief held only by rubes.

Oh Ambrose Bierce, where art thou?

Pogo said...

Al Maviva is a god.

Not the God; a god.

David said...

Personally I have a deep seated fear of the radical Amishists.

Alan, Esq. said...

Wow... Sullivan waging war over the definition of a word? I'm shocked...

If you're spending paragraphs and paragraphs arguing over the use of word fragments, like "ist" or "ism", then you have become little more than a "semanticist".

No one can ever win those battles. Most combatants drop out out of sheer boredom. Although I suppose the person who is "committed" (i.e. more free time) enough to have the last word, will simply declare themselves the winner.

My money is on Sullivan...

Pogo said...

Russell Kirk has a far better synopsis of Chritianity's effects on government:
From Rights and Duties: Reflections on Our Conservative Constitution (pp. 142-147 )

What Christianity (or any other religion) confers is not a code of positive laws, but instead some general understanding of justice, the human condition being what it is.
...
The Christian doctrine of natural law cannot be made to do duty for "the law of the land"; were this tried, positive justice would be delayed to the end of time. Nevertheless, if the Christian doctrine of natural law is cast aside utterly by magistrates, flouted and mocked, then positive law becomes patternless and arbitrary.
...
Christianity is not "the law of the land" in the sense that Christian teachings might be enforced upon the general public as if they were articles in a code. ... Rather, ...Christian moral postulates are intricately woven into the fabric of the common law, and cannot be dispensed with, their being no substitute for them in ethical matters.
...
If all connection between the Christian religion and the verdicts of courts is severed in this country, the law will become erratic and unpredictable at best (when it is supposed to be regualr in its operation), and tyrranical rather than protective.

Alpha Liberal said...

Al Maviva:

I'll put my own words in my own mouth (broadband), thank you. Spare yourself the effort of doing so, so disingenuously, for me.

I don't doubt you can find comments on web pages where someone says, either intentionally or through slop, that US Christian Fundamentalists are the same as violent Islamic Fundamentalists. Taking one comment from the web and blowing it out of all proportion is, after all, a common tactic on the Right.

But most liberals take a more nuanced view. We know most Christian Fundies don't employ violence. But religious fundamentalists of different religions do seem to have some similar public policy positions, including supporting the same positions such as being anti-homosexual, anti-secular, intent on rewriting law to reflect their personal religious code, intent on regulating personal lives, having sexual laws, etc, etc.

I don't see any harm in comparing and contrasting. That's all part of an intellectual exploration. I just don't think the majority of liberals find miltant and violent Muslims to be equivalent with American Christian Fundamentalists who don't use violence. The whole violence thing makes a huge difference and destroys any equivalence. (Thoguh you have your own wing committing violence that your gang is awfully quiet about, ahem. See abortion clinic bombings, shootings, still-loose anthrax killer [who may not be religious but is certainly anti-left]).

And, I would know. I am a liberal and I live in a liberal town.

LoafingOaf said...

reader_iam said...
Oh, boy, now you're really going to make Sullivan mad: He's been mighty proud of "his" coinage... .


Hmm, it must've bugged him, because he just quoted Althouse without linking to her. I guess he expects his readers to find there way here by sifting through Greenwald's post? Or...he hopes they won't bother.

Bill Dalasio said...

Alpha Liberal,

You can take this suggestion for what its worth, but after indignantly retorting "I'll put my own words in my own mouth (broadband), thank you.", you might want to actually post an argument that significantly differs from Al Maviva's

Joe Baby said...

Just can't help thinking that Sullivan is driving (albeit unwittingly) a Trojan Horse.

An extended discussion on different worldviews? That by necessity will cause folks to dip back into the intent of the founders?

All while using the same smug and sanctimonious tone that he claims to deplore.

Sullivan seems to think it is a good thing to shepherd an endless discussion of faith + politics.

Like starting a land war in Asia.

Anonymous said...

The term "Antichristianism" is an old one that refers to anything contrary to the Christian religion.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Antichristianism

One of the consequences of Sullivan's twist would be that in Orwellian fashion "Antichristianism" is corrupted to mean "anything contrary to excesses of the Christian religion."

toecracker said...

I have always disliked the Christianist term. Andrew's subjective intent does not avoid the rest of us automatically making the link between Islamists and Christianists. Andrew coined Christianist to be provocative. It's the hyperbolic nature of the word that many of us do not like. Equating hypocritical and contemptible Christians with psychotic and murderous Muslims is not fair. Sullivan merely saying he didn't intend that is not much different than Mel Gibson saying he didn't intend to be anti-Semitic or Richards claiming he didn't intend to be racist. For example, Sullivan called Romney a Christianist for recently pandering to the religious right on gay marriage and right to life issues--how about just accusing him of pandering (which many of us did with John Kerry)? The use of Christianist also inadvertently waters down the true evil represented by the word Islamists. Perhaps we should scratch that word and go back to Islamo-fascist again.

If Sullivan want to use the term to describe the tiny group of evil Christians--such as Fred Phelps or the Army of God--fair enough. The Christianist label fits them. It does not fit Mitt Romney (who Sullivan has pointed out is not a Christian anyway--he just wears funny underwear and panders to Christians).

LoafingOaf said...

Many people say they used to love Sullivan's blog back before he started jihading over gay marriage (to be fair, Abu Graib (sp?) had a bit to do with it, too (* more on this in a sec)).

When I think back to the "good old days" of Sullivan's blog I can see now that I overlooked the problems in his blogging style simply because I felt he was on my side. Mickey Kaus is right that he was a self-righteous bully who demonized anyone who disagreed with him back then, too. And, as he overuses "Christianists" today to be provocative, he over-used the "fifth columnist" charge after 9/11, and the "Sontag Award," etc.

His main problem, no matter what positions he's taking, has always been his style and tactics.

* Back to his motives for changing: I saw the post where he finally kicked Bush to the curb way back when and it was indeed over gay marriage. But it's not 100% correct to say he changed exclusively over that issue.

When Sullivan was fully in support of Bush's foreign policy, he made statements about how our armed forces were doing God's work. I'm pretty confident he used those words, "God's work," or something very close (did this make him a "Christianist"?). When he saw the ugliness of war it was a rude awakening.

So, he had been living in a naive dreamworld where he thought war would be a cakewalk, and it turned out that he didn't have the stomach for anything other than a cakewalk. Sadly, someone like Sullivan can be held up by our enemies as an example of Western weakness.

Garage Mahal said...

BTW, did I mention that Glenn Greewald, who has been published in the New York Times and quoted on the Senate Floor after only nine months of blogging, is both a well known amateur constitutional scholar of titanic proportions, and a hotheaded sock puppet?

So tell us about your blog, your law degree, your book, and comments of yours that are quoted in Congress. I'll take one of any, of either category.

Tim said...

"Sadly, someone like Sullivan can be held up by our enemies as an example of Western weakness."

Agreed, with one exception: strike "can be" with "is." After all, as a vociferous supporter of the war early on, few prove the enemy's point about weak Western will better than Sullivan.

Alpha Liberal said...

Bill Dalasio:

Thanks for writing! You say I have not posted anything different than whatshisname. But I did. You see, it's nuanced.

You guys seem to imply that "equivalence" means everything from "comparing" to "saying they are the same." Those two things are different, can you see how one is not like the other?

It's a pretty clear distinction to me, but being a liberal means you see the world's nuances. I know conservatives tend to like it all black and white, but that's not the world we live in.

So, are you saying that there are no similarities whatsoever between the American Christian fundamentalist political ideology and Muslim fundamentalist political ideology? None?

Pogo said...

Re: "So, are you saying that there are no similarities whatsoever between the American Christian fundamentalist political ideology and Muslim fundamentalist political ideology? None?"

Well, none that include mass murder, suicide bombs worn by granny, sawing heads off, or coerced conversion.

But if you consider that merely a minor difference, then I would say Islamists are the same as Democrats, given their penchant for absolutism of the party.

See how fun slander by inappropriate juxtaposition can be?

Alpha Liberal said...

Pogo. We agree then. And you'd have to be pretty dense to read what I wrote as saying there's "a minor difference."

Pogo said...

Alpha Liberal said ..you'd have to be pretty dense to read what I wrote as saying there's "a minor difference."

Exactly. So maybe you can see why Christians might find the Sullivan-Greenwald effort to conflate them with Islamists offensive. No matter how tortured their logic at re-defining the word to absolve their motives, it comes out smelling pretty badly.

Otherwise, it'd be like saying Al Gore is alot like Charles Manson because both favored radical change and had a following. And then, when someone complains about such an unfair comparison, you say, "So, are you saying that there are no similarities whatsoever...?"

Sullivan needs to drop it, and shut the hell up.

Bill Dalasio said...

Alpha Liberal,

Let's consider a thought experiment. Suppose a commenter declaims, "You know, Alfa Liberal has remarkable similarities to a child molester. Now, I'm NOT saying that he is one. Clearly, there are differences. But one can't help but notice the similarities." Should we consider that fair game?

Tim said...

"Sullivan needs to drop it, and shut the hell up."

Yes, this is true, but then who with near-equal visibility and penchant for gross overstatement could we ridicule?

Kirk Parker said...

TMink, Head Start is a very poor choice for a program to laud; its effects turn out to be quite transitory.

And as for AL, I'm a Christian of a fairly evangelical persuasion (though a member of an entirely mainstream denomination), so it's no wonder I side with the well-known right-wing extremist Daniel Patrick Moynihan in thinking that not every transfer of wealth actually helps the poor.

Alpha Liberal said...

Bill, I don't think you should compare Christianists with child molesters. Ann's going to get upset.

Knemon said...

"being a liberal means you see the world's nuances. I know conservatives tend to like it all black and white"

Self-contradiction in consecutive sentences = impressive.

Knemon said...

Oh, I'm sorry, you used the word "tend." Yes, that was very nuancy of you.

Revenant said...

Yes, this is true, but then who with near-equal visibility and penchant for gross overstatement could we ridicule?

Alec Baldwin?

The Tensor said...

Here's a little help with the funny character. Try cut-and-pasting this:

aikāne

Alternatively, you can do what this page does and put an overline above the character using CSS. (I can't include an example, unfortunately, because Blogger doesn't allow it in a comment.)

Alpha Liberal said...

An,, Glen Greenwald has a pst up on the brouhaha over the Muslim who wants to take his oath of office on the Koran, not the Bible.

Perhaps this is a chance for you to display your bona fidea on separation of Church and State?

Or do you think Congress should establish a rule that only one religious book may be used for oaths of office? Don't ya just love th irony?

Knemon said...

"Or do you think Congress should establish a rule that only one religious book may be used for oaths of office?"

Bad faith? You're soaking in it!

Anonymous said...

OK, I am still a little muddy about this whole Christianist thing. Here are my some of my beliefs and how I voted, does this make me a Christianist?

Gay marriage, voted against it. I would vote for gay civil unions though. Marriage is a sacrament, civil unions a contract.

Abortion, against it except in case of rape, incest (which is rape) or to save life of mother.

Drugs - legalize marijuana, heavily increase penalities for meth, coke, etc.

Church and state, the establishment clause is clear, the state may not establish a religion. I support that. There is no separation clause.

Freedom of religion, absolute unless someone is being hurt or compelled.

Group marriage - really stupid idea, but I have no problems with stupid civil unions.

Display of 10 commandments, absolutley. Words to live by. Put em up. I would be happy to see more John Locke plastered on our public facilities as well.

So, am I a Christianist? Are you worried I will track you down and blow you up? (I am not a violent person, so I won't, the thought will not even pass through my little brain, but that does not mean that you are not worried.)

Trey