If you refrain from punching your fist in the air exuberantly over the holiness, the exaltedness, the eye-spinning splendiferousness of same-sex marriage, if you fail to demand this very nanosecond that courts make it the law of the land, Andrew Sullivan knows what you are: a bigot, a hatemonger, a torture-supporter, even a Bush-backer. If you happen also to darken the doorstep of a church, why, faster than Mr. Humphries scampering across the gentlemen’s department at Grace Brothers to inquire, “Are you being served?” he’ll have your number. You’re a “Christianist.”
“So let me suggest,” Sullivan pontificates in Time, “that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. 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.”
You know, Rick Santorum equals that nuke-loving Iranian guy, the one who looks like an older, Muslim Maynard G. Krebs. Jerry Falwell is a chubbier Osama bin Laden in a suit off the rack from J.C. Penney.
Of course Sullivan says that’s not what he means. Not at all. They’re not terrorists, they’re not violent. It’s only that Christianists have hijacked Christianity like Islamists have hijacked Islam. Except they haven’t slammed a plane into the Pentagon, leveled walls on homosexuals, stashed women in burqas, or rioted because Jesus appeared on the funny pages. But beyond that, I’m sure he has a point. Somewhere.
Frankly, the tone of political discourse distresses the self-described “gay, Catholic conservative” commentator. He finds it beyond the pale that Ann Coulter calls liberals “godless.” “The point,” he proclaims urbi et orbi in the Daily Encyclical, er, Dish, “is to portray your political opponents as part of a Manichean struggle against existential evil. And so ‘liberalism’ is literally demonized.”
I must have missed something. Is Christianist, then, a term of endearment? Of all people, Sullivan has to be beyond waging Manichean struggles against existential evil. Marcionite struggles maybe, Arian even, but never Manichean.
If one day he discovers Buddhists who have hijacked Buddhism, I beg him to think twice before he dubs them “Buddhistists.” Tongues from here to Kyoto will thank him.p>Last week, Sullivan appeared on Larry King Live with an orthodox Episcopal priest (I hope the show’s bookers contacted Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered Species Program with news of their rare find), the legendary gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, a Roman Catholic priest, the president of a Southern Baptist seminary, and a lesbian United Church of Christ pastor from Dallas. Sullivan explained : br> /p>