Christian is to “Christianist” as Muslim is to Islamist – Religious Believers vs Religious Political Ideologues

Islamists and “Christianists” are a minority in their respective religions and use their religion to promote a political ideology.

In an Andrew Sullivan article, Mr Sullivan suggests, “we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist.” Mr. Sullivan goes on to say,

Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

That’s what I dissent from, and I dissent from it as a Christian. I dissent from the political pollution of sincere, personal faith. I dissent most strongly from the attempt to argue that one party represents God and that the other doesn’t. I dissent from having my faith co-opted and wielded by people whose politics I do not share and whose intolerance I abhor. The word Christian belongs to no political party. It’s time the quiet majority of believers took it back.

In Mr. Sullivan’s blog, he adds the following clarification (bold added for emphasis):

Some readers have objected to my attempt to coin a new word to describe those who would deploy the teachings of Jesus as a political ideology as “Christianists.” They don’t like the analogy to Islamists, and think it imputes to politicized Christians an endorsement of terror or violence. The latter is not in any way my intent. In the war on terror, many have distinguished between Muslims and Islamists. The distinction made is between those who sincerely hold to an ancient faith, and those who are deploying that faith as a political weapon, who see no distinction between state and mosque, and who aggressively foist their religious doctrines onto civil law. And this is a critical distinction. It helps us to criticize regimes like the Taliban or Iran’s, while not tarring all Muslims with that label.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus Christ



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About Andy Hailey

Vietnam Vet, UT El Paso Grad, Retired Aerospace Engineer, former union rep, 60's Republican now progressive, web admin, blogger.