Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Nate Paxton uses a neologism that I immediately find very appealing: Christianists. The obvious parallel is to the "Islamists" that hawks love to talk about. I plan to refer to fundamentalist Christians as Christianists from now on and hope that others will too. Andrew Sullivan calls them "theocons," but I hope he starts using "Christianists," as they are both illiberal in the same way.

(Before anyone says that Christianists don't explode suicide bombs and so on, I was making the comparison to Islamists not in terms of acts of political violence, but in terms of worldview and ideology. Moreover, apocalyptic violence is part of the most radical of "Islamism," but not essential to it.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer the amiable and ecumenical "fundie" for white-eyed theists of whatever description, myself. I have to admit, though, that Andrew "theolib" Sullivan's "theocon" moniker certainly sounds more, er, businesslike.

But 'Christianists'? Jesus wept.

Ith juth tho theriously lithpy.  

Just try saying it three times fast. I dare you.


Posted by dan

4/20/2005 07:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I didn't think of that...

But I have to say that I am partly motivated by a desire to get at people who are always going on about the "threat of Islamism" to liberal democracy, while ignoring the threat of Christianism to the same. (Again, yes, I realize that Christianism doesn't involve an immediate threat to the security of the West, but it does represent a threat to liberalism just the same, perhaps the more dangerous for its insidiousness.) 

Posted by Andrew

4/20/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One merit of this proposal is that it avoids the absurdity of referring to conservative Roman Catholics as "fundamentalists." They have a quite different view of the source of spiritual authority from that of Protestant fundamentalists, but end up supporting many of the same policies. 

Posted by Alan

4/22/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, Alan!

Another thought related to that: "theocon" implies an analogy with "neocon" and "paleocon," i.e. "conservative" as defined in American politics - whereas again Catholicism often places a heavy emphasis on social justice (John Paul II said that unregulated capitalism was just (or almost) as bad as communism), a distinctly non-"conservative" value in the American context. Whereas using "Christianist" implies the elevation of a particular religion to an ideological pinnacle. 

Posted by Andrew

4/23/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently the term "Christianist" has other sources as well. See this article . 

Posted by Alan

5/04/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that link, Alan. Interesting interview. 

Posted by Andrew

5/04/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like "Christianists" too, particularly for the Evo-ID debate. I have found myself using "Evolutionists" because it's more specific and descriptive than simply "the scientists", but sadly that's the ID'er's term. So, the fair term for the opponent is, I now see, "Christianist".

While we're on terminology, (and ID) I just would like to throw in that I think it's really it's probably important to just say "scientists" vs. "pseudoscientists", and "pseudoscience" whenever we can. I recently have become appalled at how the mainstream media fails to frame the ID as pseudoscience that it is. (Meaning, use that exact, precise term. )

Wow I hope this ID bit wasn't completely off topic! 

Posted by Lizzie

5/05/2005 05:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently have become appalled at how the mainstream media fails to frame the ID as pseudoscience that it is.  

Yes, it's because journalists try to be objective, i.e. include both sides of a debate, even if one side is the vast majority of scientists supported by evidence, and the other side is a small number of cranks and charlatans. Alas, if the media framed ID as pseudoscience, we'd only get more whinging from the religious right about the "liberal media"... 

Posted by Andrew

5/05/2005 07:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right, of course. But, But, But.... Isn't it supposed to be different? Does the Flat Earth Society get their equal time in the headlines, too, just for the asking? I suppose they do. 

Posted by Lizzie

5/05/2005 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it should be different! This false objectivity is a real problem with the mainstream media - they are unwilling to come right out and say something like "Mr X said 'such and such,' but that statement is contradicted by the following facts: etc."

Sigh... it's a real problem... 

Posted by Andrew

5/06/2005 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Christianists will become a threat to our society in the same way that Islamists now are. Not the Christianists of this country (since they think that God's next revelation after Jesus Christ was the Declaration and the Constitution), but the Christianists of other lands, most in the Global South.

Pentecostal and evangelical Christianity are some of the fastest growing sects in the world today, and many of them have a fundamentalist cast. It doesn't seem altogether unlikely that some of these will turn radical, just as elements of Islam turned radical in the early-middle 20th century. And just as more "mainstream" Muslims aren't immune from the predations of Islamists, I don't think that we will be immune from the predations of Christianist terrorists.

I'll make a bet that we'll see Christianist terrorists in the next 50 to 75 years. 

Posted by Nate

5/07/2005 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, that's a fascinating (and terrifying) prediction. I wonder what issues might motivate them to turn radical? If you have further thoughts, I'd love to hear them... especially comparing the predicted rise of violent Christianism to the historical rise of violent Islamism. What grievances would Third World Christianists have? 

Posted by Andrew

5/08/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "ist" pointedly drives home the point that many who claim to be Christians in fact are not. I don't care if someone can recite the Bible forward and backward in Aramaic, that is not what makes someone a Christian in the most favorable sense of the word.

12/07/2005 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'll make a bet that we'll see Christianist terrorists in the next 50 to 75 years."

Make that 20 years ago.'s_Resistance_Army

6/14/2007 06:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I predict that in the not too distant future the wonderful "objective" and tolerant peoples of the North will - with great reluctance of course - finally have put an end to the mindless subjective and intolerably intolerant people of the South that refuse to bow their knee at the alter of rationalism...

(Next time you find yourself feeling all righteous and objective I suggest a healthy dose of Polanyi. It is the illusion of objectivity that leads to arrogance and unspeakable atrocities)


3/06/2008 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the illusion of objectivity that leads to arrogance"

Yes, plenty of both of these in this blogg. You can be sure the atrocities will follow.

-Objective Observer

3/07/2008 08:52:00 AM  
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