Pharyngula

Let’s keep agreeing

This is nice. Andrew Sullivan has a suggestion to exempt those wanna-be terrorists, the Hutarees, from the fold of the faithful.

Surely we can all assent to the notion that a Christian militia of the type now accused of planning domestic terrorism is not Christian. This is why I call them Christianist. Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

Good thing he threw in that specific bit about IEDs, or I’d have to mention all the innocents slaughtered in Christ’s name since, oh, the Dark Ages. They are spared by a technological technicality!

But OK, if we’re going to redefine Christians, let’s go all the way.

Anyone denying the evidence of the world around them, like, say, a creationist, is a Christianist.

Anyone who denies the joys of sex and abstains because they think God likes them celibate is a Christianist.

Anyone who uses their religious affiliation as a tool to acquire temporal power is a Christianist.

Anyone who prays in public is a Christianist.

Anyone who uses their faith as an excuse to peep into their neighbors’ bedrooms and tell them that they’re doing it wrong is a Christianist.

Anyone who begs for money so they can convert other people to their Christian faith is a Christianist.

Anyone who thinks women should be a subservient sex is a Christianist.

Anyone who threatens others with the wrath of God is a Christianist.

Anyone who believes that Jesus manifests himself in this world via magic tricks, like turning crackers into flesh, is a Christianist.

Anyone who believes that all they have to do is have faith in Jesus, never mind what they do in life, in order to get into heaven is a Christianist.

Anyone who uses the phrase “God and Country” non-ironically is a Christianist.

Anyone who hides behind their religion to rape anyone else is a Christianist.

Anyone who shelters a religious rapist is a Christianist.

Anyone who complains about those lazy poor people getting health care and food stamps is a Christianist.

I could go on and on, listing lots of things that I think are foolish and reprehensible, and declaring that those who hold those views are not True Christians.

Unfortunately, I think that it all means that there aren’t any Christians anywhere, and they’re all damned dirty Christianists. I can’t tell them apart from the Christians!

I’m afraid the Hutarees were Christian, real-live testifyin’ preachifyin’ Jebus-lovin’ Bible-readin’ Christians. They weren’t Andrew Sullivan’s preferred version of Christian, but then, a weird gay Catholic has about as much authority to define who gets to be Christian as an obnoxious and flamingly anti-religious atheist.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    March 30, 2010

    Amen.

  2. #2 The Otter God
    March 30, 2010

    I suppose that rape without the assistance of IEDs has kept the criminals in the CC safely confirmed as the right kind of Christians.

  3. #3 alysonmiers
    March 30, 2010

    The funny thing is that Sully would agree with most–certainly not all of it, but a lot– of your list. Stranger things have happened on his blog, though. Heck, stranger things have happened on his blog just today. I found myself nodding in agreement with Ross Douthat, FFS.

  4. #4 geoffmovies
    March 30, 2010

    Hmmmm… I wonder if Sullivan will call accomidationist atheists ‘atheistsists’?

  5. #5 PsychChick
    March 30, 2010

    Praying in public and homosexuality are condemned in the New Testament, but I see nothing advising people against IEDs…

  6. #6 Sili
    March 30, 2010

    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    Allowing for time progressed, I’d say that that Jesus dude is pretty pro-IED.

  7. #7 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 30, 2010

    Unfortunately, I think that it all means that there aren’t any Christians anywhere, and they’re all damned dirty Christianists. I can’t tell them apart from the Christians!

    Yes, yes, yes. Andrew Sullivan’s just waffling about as usual, and coming up with yet another wobble in the No True Christian&trade bowl of jello.

    I’m afraid the Hutarees were Christian, real-live testifyin’ preachifyin’ Jebus-lovin’ Bible-readin’ Christians.

    That’s the thing. Those who actually take the bible literally and are willing to put their beliefs into action horrify everyone, including all those other Christians. Christianists. Whatever. They show the inherent ugliness of god belief.

  8. #8 TGAP Dad
    March 30, 2010

    You have the makings of a Jeff Foxworthy-like routine here: “if , you might be a christianist…”

  9. #9 Paul
    March 30, 2010

    Seriously, I don’t get Sullivan. If we let churches get away with defining who can’t possibly be a True Christian, among the very top would be:

    1) Gays

    2) Catholics

    Yet he thinks he has the authority to declare who is and is not a True Christian?

  10. #10 akshelby
    March 30, 2010

    Not to mention, most Catholics and Christians (save some Anglicans and UCC) wouldn’t consider Sully a “Real True Christian” because of his active homosexuality.

    It’s all hogwash.

  11. #11 a.debaser
    March 30, 2010

    We must stop the tide of these Christianists, and their raging Christianistism! The next time you see a Christianistism-izer, going about Christianistismizing, you say “stop right there christianist! IEDs cause people to bleed and it is well known the BIBLE says spilling the blood of the innocent is a sin. That, is why you gotta burn them alive, silly Christianist!”

  12. #12 Celtic_Evolution
    March 30, 2010

    Praying in public and homosexuality are condemned in the New Testament, but I see nothing advising people against IEDs…

    Quite… in fact I often wonder why god didn’t make IEDs available to Joshua… might have allowed them to get those walls down a helluvalot lot quicker than riding the whole damn army around the city 7 times… and probably done the job of murdering every living inhabitant a whole lot more efficiently, too…

  13. #13 MoonShark
    March 30, 2010

    I like Jerry Coyne’s quip on Hutaree:

    I won?t blame this one on religion; to do that, you?d have to assume that if there were no faith, these people would be law-abiding citizens. I doubt it.

    This particular nasty group seem to be psychopaths first and foremost. The fact that they can justify murder conspiracies under the guise of a bloody death-cult religion is then no surprise.

  14. #14 Celtic_Evolution
    March 30, 2010

    OK… I know the point I made in #12 was based on the Old Testament… not the New… but really… same god, same point.

  15. #15 Holytape
    March 30, 2010

    The Hutarees are just an extreme example of the whole Christian-being-persecuted-in-America mentality. If you believe that your eternal soul is at stake, and that the enemy is ‘evil’, not just in action but actually the physical incarnation of evil, then there isn’t a good reason not to act like the Hutarees.

    I do take offense at “Anyone who shelters a religious rapist is a Christianist”. Surely Hasidic Jews aren’t Christianists. Nor are fundamentalist Muslims Christianists.

    Pac-Devil

  16. #16 Glen Davidson
    March 30, 2010

    What’s his problem with just saying “They’re not true Scotsmen”?

    Or would that cut a bit close to home?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  17. #17 black-wolf72
    March 30, 2010

    IEDs work quite well against iron chariots. The Hutaree people understood an elemntal weakness of their deity and worked on smoothing away the problem.
    Have their plans detailing the route of this year’s iron chariot parade been found yet? Or did they argue that SUVs, armored vehicles and battle tanks will do?

  18. #18 Paul
    March 30, 2010

    I do take offense at “Anyone who shelters a religious rapist is a Christianist”.

    Has Sully taken a position on Ratzi? I mean, as a Catholic, I’d hope he made it clear that the Pope should be considered No True Christian and marched right out of the Vatican.

  19. #19 Feynmaniac
    March 30, 2010

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Gandhi

  20. #20 SC OM
    March 30, 2010

    Ugh. When I was drawn into reading the Sullivan-Wieselter exchange a couple of months ago as someone unfamiliar with that whole scene, I quickly realized that they were incapable of having a social or political argument without bringing into it debates about the trinity and other abstruse rubbish. My patience wore thin very quickly, and that was the last I read of Sullivan’s till now. But I’m sure in the past he’s written lucidly on the Congo…

  21. #21 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 30, 2010

    But I’m sure in the past he’s written lucidly on the Congo…

    <snortle>

  22. #22 SteveM
    March 30, 2010

    re 15:

    I do take offense at “Anyone who shelters a religious rapist is a Christianist”. Surely Hasidic Jews aren’t Christianists. Nor are fundamentalist Muslims Christianists.

    I think it rather obvious from the context that “Anyone” is understood to mean “Anyone who calls himself a Christian”

  23. #23 NewEnglandBob
    March 30, 2010

    There is no reason to EVER pay attention to Andrew Sullivan. He went off the deep end long ago.

  24. #24 smartbrainus
    March 30, 2010

    @#6

    Sili, that sounds more pro-Assault rifle.

    And Sullivan, though I finally respect him, has turned up his apologeticism up to 11 thanks to this and the Catholic child-rapes (though he does give Ratzi a slap on the wrist in his blog).

  25. #25 Lynna, OM
    March 30, 2010

    Rachel Maddow has good coverage of this story:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#36091175

  26. #26 Kel, OM
    March 30, 2010

    If Christians wouldn’t set themselves up to an impossible moral standard, this wouldn’t happen. Again, the tight coupling between religion and morality needs to die. Not that I’m saying religion was a motivator here, from what has been said so far I don’t think it is.

  27. #27 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 30, 2010

    Speaking as an atheist, I do not have to defend an other atheist who commit acts that harm other people. That is because I do not have to tie one’s ethics to one’s belief or lack of belief in any deities. There have been plenty of atheists who have been and are moral monsters. But that is not because they are atheists, it is because they are following a philosophy that does not respect the rights of other people.

    That is one of the big differences between any defender of any faith and an atheist. The defender has to twist in any direction to redefine objectionable people who share a core belief. An atheist is more free to figure out why an other atheist is a moral monster without changing the definition of atheism.

    I suppose the Catholic general who said; “Kill them all. God will recognize his own.” was really a Catholicist.

  28. #28 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 30, 2010

    SC OM:

    But I’m sure in the past he’s written lucidly on the Congo…

    *snort* Well said. :D

  29. #29 Anni
    March 30, 2010

    This post is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to say amen to.
    (That after 18 years of Lutheran indoctrination. *Shudder.*)

  30. #30 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: NewEnglandBob | March 30, 2010 4:55 PM

    There is no reason to EVER pay attention to Andrew Sullivan. He went off the deep end long ago.

    Today or yesterday he admitted that he actually believed Bush and Cheney’s claims about Saddam’s WMDs. To do that he not only had to be gullible, he had to deliberately ignore conflicting information. Sort of like being a gay Catholic, I guess.

  31. #31 cuco3
    March 30, 2010

    A guy I used to know, who seemed otherwise rational was a member of some weird fundie sect that insistead that they were the only Christians, and that nobody else was entitled to that name. I can’t remember exactly what they called themselves, although I’ve got a vague feeling that they were an offshoot of the Plymouth Brethren.

  32. #32 alysonmiers
    March 30, 2010

    Has Sully taken a position on Ratzi? I mean, as a Catholic, I’d hope he made it clear that the Pope should be considered No True Christian and marched right out of the Vatican.

    He has been saying for the past few weeks that Ratzi should resign.

  33. #33 Everyday Atheist
    March 30, 2010

    I actually read and respect a lot of what Sullivan says, but he’s Exhibit A of what happens when otherwise intelligent people hang onto religious faith. He can be arguing along just fine until his faith comes under scrutiny and then *wham* he dissolves into blithering incoherence. He had an entire dialog with Sam Harris that boiled down to “well, no, there isn’t any good reason for me to believe. I just do because I want to.”

  34. #34 shonny
    March 30, 2010

    And them crazies of the Muslim faith are not really Muslims, but Muslimists?

    Sure, all the inanity disappears from all the religions by renaming the extremists within the religion. We should have thought of that earlier, because then lots of problems would have been solved. Like who to blame for terrorism.
    Which is done by terrorismists, wasn’t it?

  35. #35 mox
    March 30, 2010

    I know a guy who claims to be an atheist but is also a drug addict. I’m sorry, but atheists don’t do drugs. He is an atheistist.

  36. #36 KOPD 42.7 FM
    March 30, 2010

    Good thing he threw in that specific bit about IEDs, or I’d have to mention all the innocents slaughtered in Christ’s name since, oh, the Dark Ages. They are spared by a technological technicality!

    Obviously there weren’t any true Christians between about 400 AD and the Enlightenment.

  37. #37 smartbrainus
    March 30, 2010

    #33

    Well said. He’s a (usually well-articulated) case study in cognitive dissonance. Arguably, you can say that’s the same thing when smart people support conservative ideologies…Media Matters took him down hard for one of his posts announcing he couldn’t understand Republicans anymore.

    Btw, compare Sullivan’s response to a recent LA Times op-ed to Matt Taibbi. Shock vs. honesty.

  38. #38 MadScientist
    March 30, 2010

    Aye, No True Christian ™ …

    The funny thing is that jesus cultists really do these things and they genuinely claim they do it for their religion/god. Religions encourage the sort of unthinking behavior that leads to this stuff as well. It’s like being “unamerican” – it’s a very American thing. The Australians get riled when they yammer about something being “unaustralian” and I laugh and say “no, that’s very Australian”, which happens to be true. But for whatever reason, people like to deny the evil side exists. Of course folks like Joe McCarthy, LBJ, Tricky Dicky, and Dumbyah say “unamerican” when they mean “not a mindless sheep” and want to incite the thralls to bully some members of society.

  39. #39 Sir Eccles
    March 30, 2010

    Why am I thinking of a rehash of the lyrics to “That’s amore”??

  40. #40 Feynmaniac
    March 30, 2010

    No-true-Scotsman aside, I found a fairly good way to predict what conservative Christians will believe. Just take what Jesus taught and turn it’s meaning to the complete opposite.

    Let’s take a look:

    - “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
    But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” – Matthew 6:5-6

    Few display their piety more.

    - “Then Jesus said to him, ?Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword”"- Matthew 26:52

    You’ll have to pry my sword gun from my cold, dead hands.

    - “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.? – Mark 10:25

    Money, money money….money!

    - “Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called sons of God.
    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:9-10

    What brown people are we killing this decade?

    - “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5

    Ignore your own faults and stick to criticizing others.

    I could easily go on.

    I don’t think Jesus’ teachings (or at least what was written down about them) were perfect. His teachings on divorce were silly and then there’s the phrase: “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”. It might have been meant metaphorically, but it’s still an odd choice of words considering what he also had to say about peace and living by the sword. However, he is still an odd mascot for the right. No wonder certain people have to rewrite the Bible.

  41. #41 cag
    March 30, 2010

    Now that the RCC have been placed in Chapter 666 (moral Bankruptcy), will its adherents still be Christianists or can we hope that they turn out to be Escapists?

  42. #42 Feynmaniac
    March 30, 2010

    He had an entire dialog with Sam Harris that boiled down to “well, no, there isn’t any good reason for me to believe. I just do because I want to.”

    Here’s the link if anyone is interestd:
    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Secular-Philosophies/Is-Religion-Built-Upon-Lies.aspx
    (Warning: it’s a bit long.)

    The victory was so one-sided you almost have to feel sorry for Sullivan. He even admits at one point that he dropped the ball and is an “unworthy apologist for Christianity in many ways”.

  43. #43 arensb
    March 30, 2010

    This reminds me of the post all those years ago on Usenet, saying that the Rapture had already come and gone, but that the only True Christians™ on the planet were a family of three in Wyoming whom no one particularly liked. When they were raptured, the neighbors figured they’d gone on vacation.

  44. #44 Brownian, OM
    March 30, 2010

    He even admits at one point that he dropped the ball and is an “unworthy apologist for Christianity in many ways”.

    Sully shouldn’t feel bad: if YHWH really wanted to save everyone’s soul, he wouldn’t send humans to do a deity’s job.

  45. #45 negentropyeater
    March 30, 2010

    I won?t blame this one on religion; to do that, you?d have to assume that if there were no faith, these people would be law-abiding citizens. I doubt it.

    I don’t know, maybe not…
    But I think a culture of absolutist moral standards and exceptionalism favorises the emergence of this kind of stuff. And to me that’s all religion.

  46. #46 bart.mitchell
    March 30, 2010

    Funny, I just saw a true Scotsman yesterday.

    He was floating in space next to Bertrand Russell’s teapot…

  47. #47 Joffan
    March 30, 2010

    @geoffmovies #4

    Are you one of those dirty atheists? Us clean-livin’ athes can’t stand you guys.

  48. #48 Cimourdain
    March 30, 2010

    Andrew Sullivan’s an idiot, and “Christianist” is a completely useless term. So’s “Islamist”, for that matter. They’re both meaningless terms – there are only the followers of the religion and that’s that.

  49. #49 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: negentropyeater | March 30, 2010 6:07 PM

    I won?t blame this one on religion; to do that, you?d have to assume that if there were no faith, these people would be law-abiding citizens. I doubt it.
    I don’t know, maybe not…
    But I think a culture of absolutist moral standards and exceptionalism favorises the emergence of this kind of stuff. And to me that’s all religion.

    History shows that people can be motivated to kill civilians by a nationalist culture or an extreme tribal culture. Religion is a great tool for motivating violence but it is not the only one.

  50. #50 asidity
    March 30, 2010

    I agree with Cimourdain (#48).
    We came up with “Islamist” so as not to offend “moderate” Muslims by grouping them together with the Islamists, lest they get offended and start blowing stuff up or killing people too.

  51. #51 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    #34 “And them crazies of the Muslim faith are not really Muslims, but Muslimists?”

    I know you’re trying to be absurd, but that’s where it all started with Sullivan. He wanted to find a distinction between those who integrate their faith into their daily lives trying to be mostly harmless, and those who try to force (politically or violently) their belief on the rest of the world.

    For Muslims the words are “Islamics”, and “Islamists”, Sullivan observed. Hence, “Christians” and “Christianists”.

    He sees a distinction between the people who answer the question “can’t we all get along?” with “we can try” and those who answer it with a gun. I think it’s a useful distinction.

  52. #52 Paul
    March 30, 2010

    He sees a distinction between the people who answer the question “can’t we all get along?” with “we can try” and those who answer it with a gun. I think it’s a useful distinction.

    So why not “Muslims” and “militant Muslims”? Writing a critical book review makes you a militant Atheist, but somehow “answering with a gun” doesn’t match the obvious criteria to make one a militant? Why screw around with suffixes when there’s a perfectly obvious and suitable adjective to add to the religious faith.

  53. #53 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 6:18 PM

    He sees a distinction between the people who answer the question “can’t we all get along?” with “we can try” and those who answer it with a gun. I think it’s a useful distinction.

    I do too but he’s making it dishonestly. If he were honest, he would call the latter groups “traditional Christians” or “traditional Muslims” and the former groups “heretics”.

  54. #54 Hirnlego
    March 30, 2010

    If all the Christians who have called other Christians “not really a Christian” were to vanish, there’d be no Christians left.
    - Anonymous

    I’d like to know what Sullivan thinks about selling weapons all around the world…would it pass the WWJD test?

  55. #55 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    #52 – I think you answered your own question. He wants to use the term for those who would use political force, and he doesn’t want all the baggage that comes with “militant”.

    #53 – I don’t think “heretic” is much use to an atheist like me, but “Christianist” is useful. Not perfect, but useful. Like “skeptic” is useful, even though there are many things I don’t bother to question.

  56. #56 Brownian, OM
    March 30, 2010

    He wanted to find a distinction between those who integrate their faith into their daily lives trying to be mostly harmless, and those who try to force (politically or violently) their belief on the rest of the world.

    He sees a distinction between the people who answer the question “can’t we all get along?” with “we can try” and those who answer it with a gun. I think it’s a useful distinction.

    Sure, it may be a useful distinction, but why gives him (or anyone really) the right to co-opt the “positive” (as currently perceived) version as True™ly Christian or True™ly Muslim? If anything, the terms should be reversed. Proselytisation is inherent in both Christianity and Islam.

    They’ve saddled themselves with the turds; I see no reason we should agree that wet sheen is actually polish.

  57. #57 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 6:35 PM

    #53 – I don’t think “heretic” is much use to an atheist like me, but “Christianist” is useful. Not perfect, but useful. Like “skeptic” is useful, even though there are many things I don’t bother to question.

    But heretic is more honest. Someone who disavows using violence to spread their faith is going against centuries of Christian tradition (if they’re Christian) or centuries of Muslim tradition (if they’re Muslim). Call them the heretics, or nontraditionalists if you prefer, and call the ones who advocate violence by their traditional names, Christian and Muslim.

  58. #58 WowbaggerOM
    March 30, 2010

    As I always tend to say to anyone pulling the No True Christian™ card, it’s not us you need to convince these people aren’t ‘real’ Christians, it’s them.

    If Sullivan doesn’t want to be tarred with the same brush he needs to contact these people to explain the situation and present his arguments; if they then agree to stop calling themselves Christians he can let us know and we’ll stop referring to them as such.

  59. #59 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    #56
    Everyone has the right to see himself as the hero of his own story. We’ve evolved that way.

    Whether he has “the right” to force his classification on the rest of us is an open question. If enough people pick up on a meme, then he gets the right in retrospect. Just as someone gets the right to declare Pluto is not a planet, or that wolf is a different species from dog, or that metre is spelled “meter”.

  60. #60 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    But heretic is more honest. Someone who disavows using violence to spread their faith is going against centuries of Christian tradition (if they’re Christian) or centuries of Muslim tradition (if they’re Muslim). Call them the heretics, or nontraditionalists if you prefer, and call the ones who advocate violence by their traditional names, Christian and Muslim.

    If it’s down to what I prefer, I’ll continue using Christian and Muslim to refer to those I know in my day-to-day life and who don’t blow things up. That’s more useful to me, because it doesn’t seem as if I’m always trying to pick a fight with my family, co-workers, and friends. And I’ll use Islamist and Christianist to refer to those who want to bomb me or legislate me into oblivion.

  61. #61 negentropyeater
    March 30, 2010

    He had an entire dialog with Sam Harris that boiled down to “well, no, there isn’t any good reason for me to believe. I just do because I want to.”

    He even admits at one point that he dropped the ball and is an “unworthy apologist for Christianity in many ways”.

    I don’t know what to think about Sullivan.

    On one hand I actually like that he is at least honest about why he believes and doesn’t pretend he’s got any evidence for his faith and that he considers himself an uworthy apologist.
    If only he could stick to this, recognize the trappings of proselytization and that his faith shouldn’t influence any of his decisions about the real world, I’d see no reason to tell him what he should do about his longing for a God.
    Too bad he still fails in doing so.

    In many ways I feel close to Sullivan, he is an advocate for social liberalism, pro choice, anti guns, pro gay rights, he also recognizes Christian fundamentalism as a risk as big as Muslim fundamentalism which is all quite rare for an American Christian. Too bad he is still confused about other things and considers himself an economic paleoconservative with small government ideology.

  62. #62 Bribase
    March 30, 2010

    But what if I’m a humanist? Are human and humanist mutually exclusive?

    So confused

    B

  63. #63 Legion
    March 30, 2010

    Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Sullivan is pretending to be stupid by ignoring the fact that terrorist xtians can play the redefining words game as well. In this case, the key word here is ‘innocents.’

    Simply put, from the perspective of xtian terrorists, anyone who dies from the trauma of an exploding IED, obviously wasn’t innocent, otherwise Gawd would have spared them.

    See how that works? Guilt-free xtian terrorism is easy when you know how to play the game.

    And yeah, there’s a reason for the repetitive paring of the words ‘xtian’ and ‘terrorism.’ To date, we’ve not seen this Huta… Hooter… Hooterist, group described as the domestic terrorists they are.

  64. #64 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    March 30, 2010

    Seem like a sensible bunch.

    Fucking loonies.

  65. #65 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    In many ways I feel close to Sullivan, he is an advocate for social liberalism, pro choice, anti guns, pro gay rights, he also recognizes Christian fundamentalism as a risk as big as Muslim fundamentalism which is all quite rare for an American Christian. Too bad he is still confused about other things and considers himself an economic paleoconservative with small government ideology.

    I like my pundits a bit confused. Those who have everything figured out alternate from boring to downright scary.

  66. #66 negentropyeater
    March 30, 2010

    truthspeaker #49,

    History shows that people can be motivated to kill civilians by a nationalist culture or an extreme tribal culture. Religion is a great tool for motivating violence but it is not the only one.

    Never said that God based religions were the only tools, but the other ones were generally modelled around the same cultist principles with absolutist moral standards and a culture of exceptionalism. And if you don’t mind, I hope for a better world one day where none of those tools are there to encourage violent tribalism.

  67. #67 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    March 30, 2010

    Oh yeah, Sullivan is obviously forgetting Bishop Arnaud at Beziers during the crusades against the Cathars…

    Kill them all. God will know his own.

    Hmm.

  68. #68 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Kevin B, you’re just enabling their denial. They would like to deny history and their own scriptures and pretend that violence and cultural chauvinism are alien to Christianity and Islam. And you want to help them?

  69. #69 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Sullivan is pretending to be stupid by ignoring the fact that terrorist xtians can play the redefining words game as well. In this case, the key word here is ‘innocents.’

    I doubt that the people Sullivan calls Christianists are the target of his message. He isn’t even pretending that is the case.

  70. #70 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Kevin B, you’re just enabling their denial. They would like to deny history and their own scriptures and pretend that violence and cultural chauvinism are alien to Christianity and Islam. And you want to help them?

    I guess I kind of do. Because they are my friends, family, and co-workers, and getting them to embrace violence and cultural chauvinism is not in my interests.

    Getting them to reject those things, and to teach their children to reject them is in my interests.

  71. #71 steverino63
    March 30, 2010

    Sullivan recently came out with a new book, “The Bell Curve 2.0,” speaking of idiosyncratic. It’s reviewed here:

    http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2009/06/critic-agrees-with-take-of-bell-curve.html

  72. #72 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 7:28 PM

    Kevin B, you’re just enabling their denial. They would like to deny history and their own scriptures and pretend that violence and cultural chauvinism are alien to Christianity and Islam. And you want to help them?
    I guess I kind of do. Because they are my friends, family, and co-workers, and getting them to embrace violence and cultural chauvinism is not in my interests.
    Getting them to reject those things, and to teach their children to reject them is in my interests.

    How does helping them deny the history and scripture of their own religion advance those aims?

  73. #73 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 30, 2010

    (mildly)

    Poor Sully, hoist on the petard of all True Scotsmen. This spectacle couldn’t happen to a public intellectual whose version of Christianity is more at odds with the fundies.

    However…..

    If we simply ignore the certainty with which Sully makes his claim, and simply ask whether or not his gloss generally accords with how Christians see themselves, then most of the cognitive dissonance goes away. Most Christians don’t plan on killing one police officer so they can then kill more police officers at the funeral. Of course, the same thing can be said of non-Christians, but that’s not the issue. The question is, is there something especially “Christian” about the murderous plotting of these ‘militia’ groups?

    The answer, of course, is ‘no’. You need a different label to account for their pathology. Where Sully errs is in assuming that there is a need for some term, distinguishable from Christianity itself, to reference such folk, on the basis of a belief system.

    That’s silly and unnecessary. These are nutbags, pure and simple, who happen to be Christians. Religion is compatible with monstrous behavior, Sully, even the Christian religion. We can call them ‘Christian nutbags’ without saying anything one way or the other about Christianity….other than it is possible that its dogma can nurture nutbags.

    Of course, the flip side is true. The absence of religion is also compatible with bad behavior, such as the tendency to unjustifiably tar all Christians with the brush of wicked association. Thus, ‘Christian = evil’, or some such, which is no doubt the sort of trope that Sully wants to deny up-front. I find myself unimpressed with both attitudes, frankly. They both seem like knee-jerk responses to complex problems.

  74. #74 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    #72 It lets them teach that the true meaning of scripture and the the true desire of their god is peace and love.

    And it increases the amount of peace in my immediate vicinity.

  75. #75 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 7:46 PM

    #72 It lets them teach that the true meaning of scripture and the the true desire of their god is peace and love.

    In other words, it helps them lie. How does that incerease the amount of peace in your immediate vicinity?

  76. #76 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Sorry, blockquote fail. Trying again:

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 7:46 PM
    #72 It lets them teach that the true meaning of scripture and the the true desire of their god is peace and love.

    In other words, it helps them lie. How does that incerease the amount of peace in your immediate vicinity?

  77. #77 WowbaggerOM
    March 30, 2010

    It lets them teach that the true meaning of scripture and the the true desire of their god is peace and love.

    If the scripture was clear and unambiguous about such things in the first place we wouldn’t have to; really, these Christians shouldn’t be able to use the bible to justify what other Christians consider unChristian – yet they do, and no-one can demonstrate they’re wrong (by Christians standards) in doing so.

    Hence why it’s fairly evident that it was written by humans without any divine influence or inspiration whatsoever.

  78. #78 DaveWTC
    March 30, 2010

    @#47

    Can I be an athe too? I want to belong to the one true and pure non-church.

  79. #79 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    In other words, it helps them lie. How does that incerease the amount of peace in your immediate vicinity?

    When I don’t pick fights with people, and they don’t pick fights with me, I have more peace in my immediate vicinity.

    Telling them that true Christianity is violent and peace is heretical would be picking a fight. I’d be surprised if you can’t see that. Also since I don’t believe that, it would be a lie for me to make that claim.

    Some in my family are like you. If I pick a fight, they react. Then they just keep reacting. It’s not as fun for me in real life as it is here.

  80. #80 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    Nobody is suggesting you pick a fight. I’m just suggesting you call Christians who don’t murder people “Christians” and people who do murder people “Christians”. To pretend that the latter are not Christians is dishonest, but it does not pick any fights.

  81. #81 truthspeaker
    March 30, 2010

    I meant to say “To pretend that the latter are not Christians is dishonest. To acknowledge that they are just as Christian as the former does not pick any fights”.

  82. #82 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Won’t work for me. I don’t like it when people call people who don’t molest children “homosexual” and also call people who molest children “homosexual”.

    So I’m going to find terms that make more of a distinction.

  83. #83 raven
    March 30, 2010

    Kevin confused:

    Telling them that true Christianity is violent and peace is heretical would be picking a fight.

    What total nonsense.

    The hutaree were already violent and said so often on their website. They planned to kill as many cops as possible.

    Telling them were violent would be like telling someone water is wet. Except they would think it is a compliment.

    As for other the fundie xians. They are called death cultists for many good reasons. They already hate everybody especially atheists and including other xians. Telling them they are homicidal, lying, hate filled religious kooks is true but pointless. They’ve heard it a million times, they know it, and they could care less.

    FWIW, we didn’t pick this fight. We didn’t hand the hutaree automatic weapons and tell them to kill as many cops as they want. We didn’t tell the fundie xian Dominionist to try and take over the USA, destroy it, and set up a new Dark Age. THEY DECIDED THAT THEMSELVES. I suppose they claim god told them to. Meh, god says a lot of stuff, big deal.

    The only thing you can do with religious fanatics is watch them closely and when they break the law, try and convict them and send them to prison. Ask Kent Hovind or Scott Roeder how that works.

  84. #84 raven
    March 30, 2010

    Crosspost from the earlier hutaree thread:

    I did survey the xians for their reactions although it was predicted and predictable.

    1. The most common, They weren’t True Scotsmen, or rather True Xians. An excuse in other words.

    2. A fair number called them heroes and martyrs. It was all Obamas fault and the government’s fault and the commies and “those” people are at the gates.

    3. A fair number did the Cimourdain troll, change the subject thing, and started babbling on about the moslems and how it was all their fault that Xian terrorists want to kill cops.

    4. Some xians did condemn them. Not all that many and not all that coherently but you could see the rusty gears in their heads turning as they tried to think it through.

    #213Posted by: raven | March 30, 2010 10:36 AM

    Actually so far not a single Xian church has condemned the Hutaree wannabe cop killers that I’m aware of.

    Probably won’t. There is no such thing as the xian religion, there are many xian religions that have nothing in common. They all hate each other.

    The Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Mormons and so on look at end time terrorist cults as not their religion and not their problem. Correctly.

    The fundies either think the hutaree are heroes or are too embarassed to even pretend they saw them. Don’t forget that 24% of Republicans think Obama is the antichrist. When your world view is that warped, anything no matter how violent, sick, or evil seems to make sense.

  85. #85 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Raven’s confused. I’m saying that telling my non-violent Christian friends and family they they aren’t true Christians would be picking a fight with them.

  86. #86 Butch Pansy
    March 30, 2010

    People who molest children are pedophiles (or paedophiles). Or psychopathic monsters. More often than not they attack children of the opposite sex. So, perhaps you could generalize them as heterosexual.

  87. #87 raven
    March 30, 2010

    Raven’s confused. I’m saying that telling my non-violent Christian friends and family they they aren’t true Christians would be picking a fight with them.

    Well take it up with Andew Sullivan, the Catholic who invented christianist to describe christian terrorists who get caught by the FBI.

    I prefer fundie xian death cult kooks myself, much more descriptive and accurate.

    PZ Myers:

    I’m afraid the Hutarees were Christian, real-live testifyin’ preachifyin’ Jebus-lovin’ Bible-readin’ Christians. They weren’t Andrew Sullivan’s preferred version of Christian, but then, a weird gay Catholic has about as much authority to define who gets to be Christian as an obnoxious and flamingly anti-religious atheist.

    PZ agrees with you. Unfortunately thanks to the fundies, xian is becoming synonymous with liar, ignorant, hater, crazy, and sometimes killer. The hutaree did their share just yesterday. And more and more people don’t want to be one. Between 1 and 2 million people leave the US religion every year.

  88. #88 SC OM
    March 30, 2010

    The question is, is there something especially “Christian” about the murderous plotting of these ‘militia’ groups?

    The answer, of course, is ‘no’.

    ?

    http://www.hutaree.com/About%20Us.html

    Andrew Sullivan’s an idiot, and “Christianist” is a completely useless term. So’s “Islamist”, for that matter. They’re both meaningless terms – there are only the followers of the religion and that’s that.

    No. There are Christians. There are Muslims. There are theocrats and fundamentalists, Christian and Muslim. There are Christian terrorists and there are Islamic terrorists. Being any of these doesn’t make anyone not a Christian or a Muslim, but not all Christians or all Muslims are theocrats or fundamentalists or terrorists.

  89. #89 SC OM
    March 30, 2010

    *continues to wish for Venn diagram capabilities*

  90. #90 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 30, 2010

    That’s hilarious.

    How about it, Sciblogs? I’d love to have a toolkit like that. For that matter, how about embedding a box to simply highlight, bold, italicize text etc. without typing in html tags?

  91. #91 rogue74656
    March 30, 2010

    I think that I am a True Christian (c) based on PZ’s requirements….

    The only thing is, even though I try to follow his teachings (imperfectly, I might add) I do not in any way think that he was divine.

  92. #92 tsg
    March 30, 2010

    Won’t work for me. I don’t like it when people call people who don’t molest children “homosexual” and also call people who molest children “homosexual”.

    So I’m going to find terms that make more of a distinction.

    I don’t like it when you call people who don’t molest children “people” and also call people who molest children “people”. Try to make more of a distinction.

  93. #93 WowbaggerOM
    March 30, 2010

    rogue74656 wrote:

    The only thing is, even though I try to follow his teachings (imperfectly, I might add) I do not in any way think that he was divine.

    I look at the ‘teachings’ of Jesus as being basically a codification of changing morality, that which occurred because of human social evolution – or, in other words, what plenty of people at the time (and prior to) were thinking.

    It’s just they’ve been ascribed to Jesus as if he came up with them when that’s patently untrue, kind of like when a contemporary musician works an old folk song in their music and people think they came up with it.

  94. #94 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 30, 2010

    Won’t work for me. I don’t like it when people call people who don’t molest children “homosexual” and also call people who molest children “homosexual”.

    Many of the children who were (and are) molested were girls. Does this make the the molesters “homosexual”?

  95. #95 mfd512
    March 30, 2010

    Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

    Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

    Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

  96. #96 Crudely Wrott
    March 30, 2010

    “Let’s Keep Agreeing” is a most apt title. It’s the tie that binds small minded people to a grander whole, or at least furnishes the illusion.

    No matter how improbable a thing or proposition, if some critical mass of believers or rhetoric is reached, credibility seems to be spontaneously created. This is a providential moment for the faithful.

    “Everyone’s talking about it! The networks are running with it! Oh, joy! It’s all true! People are finally taking notice.”

    Curious behavior. I can think of two other examples that are similar, sports fans and party members.

    *in the interest of full disclosure I admit that I have cheered the Boston Celtics since Cousy was playing and I like to watch people racing cars, boats, airplanes or any other machine. I’m not very political though I can be insistent.*

  97. #97 ambook
    March 30, 2010

    Actually I do know a couple of actual Christians, but they are vanishingly rare, whereas Christianists are ridiculously abundant. And I’m totally with Feynmaniac (#19) with the Gandhi quote.

  98. #98 PZ Myers
    March 30, 2010

    I have a problem with the Gandhi quote, though.

    Who is this Jesus? He didn’t write anything down, he may not have even existed, and all the information we have about him is 2nd and 3rd hand accounts from evangelical zealots trying to establish a religion. We might as well say we aren’t too thrilled with Mormons, but that Angel Moroni dude — what a guy.

    The accounts we do have of Jesus are also weird and contradictory. He was (if he existed) an apocalyptic prophet who preached a radical message of detachment from our earthly natures. I don’t find much of value in the Jesus of the scriptures. The Jesus of popular imagination is as unbiblical as Santa Claus, I’m afraid.

  99. #99 tsg
    March 30, 2010

    Raven’s confused. I’m saying that telling my non-violent Christian friends and family they they aren’t true Christians would be picking a fight with them.

    I’m not telling you to tell your relatives they aren’t true Christians. I’m telling you to stop helping them think they are.

    There is no such thing as “true Christians”. There are as many version of Christianity as there are people who call themselves Christians and none of them have any authority over what Christianity “really” is. The best they can say is “this is what Christianity means to me”, which would be fine except they also have a tremendous propensity to finish that statement with “and what it should be to everyone else”.

    The guys with the IEDs are acting on their version of Christianity as are the people preaching love and tolerance. Calling the former “Christianists” is supporting the idea that there is a right version of Christianity. And neither you nor anyone else are in any more of a position to say that than the Hutarees are.

    If you want to condemn them for their actions do it based on something besides your differing opinions of, what Frank Zappa calls, “foolish rules of ancient date designed to make you all feel great while you fold, spindle and mutilate those unbelievers from a neighboring state.” The people you’re condemning with your Christianist label are doing the exact same thing to you for precisely the same reasons, and they have just as much right to do so. That is, none at all.

    Saying they aren’t Christian is precisely the same mindset that creates the Hutarees in the first place.

  100. #100 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Won’t work for me. I don’t like it when people call people who don’t molest children “homosexual” and also call people who molest children “homosexual”.

    I don’t disagree with any of the responses to this. In fact I agree wholeheartedly…but they’re missing my point, which was more on-topic.

    It used to be common to hear the phrase “homosexual child molester” used to describe a man who molested small boys. But you seldom if ever heard the term “heterosexual child molester”. So the word “homosexual” gets associated with the word “child molester” in people’s minds. That’s a bad thing, right? I think so, and I think reaction to the post out of context means many others do also.

    If you think it’s a good thing (or even a “meh” thing) to associate “homosexual” with “child molester,” just take my word that I disagree strongly.

    My point is just the following:

    I find it just as bad to say “Muslim Terrorism” or “Christian Terrorism”, for the same reason. I prefer “Islamist Terrorism” and “Christianist Terrorism”, because the first word already denotes extremism. This leaves the words “Muslim”, “Christian”, “Islamic”, etc. relatively neutral.

    I know some don’t want “Christian” or “Muslim” to be neutral (just as some don’t want “homosexual” to be neutral), but I do, and that’s why I like the terms Andrew Sullivan uses.

  101. #101 tsg
    March 30, 2010

    It used to be common to hear the phrase “homosexual child molester” used to describe a man who molested small boys. But you seldom if ever heard the term “heterosexual child molester”. So the word “homosexual” gets associated with the word “child molester” in people’s minds. That’s a bad thing, right? I think so, and I think reaction to the post out of context means many others do also.

    If you think it’s a good thing (or even a “meh” thing) to associate “homosexual” with “child molester,” just take my word that I disagree strongly.

    The problem with this analogy is that there was an effort to equate homosexuality with pedophilia which wasn’t true. The point I was trying to make in #99 (which I realize you may not have read before posting #100) is that the Christianist label is an attempt to say that being terrorist necessarily precludes them from being Christian, which isn’t the case. A more apt analogy would be trying to say that being a pedophile necessarily precludes one from being homosexual. That isn’t the case either.

  102. #102 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    #99 I don’t use the word “Christianist” to mean I think someone is not a real Christian. I use it to refer to those who try to force the values they call “Christian” on the rest of us, either through force or through politics.

    I expect most Islamists are true believers, as are most Christianists.

    So no, I’m not helping them think they’re true Christians, by using the term.

  103. #103 SC OM
    March 30, 2010

    I find it just as bad to say “Muslim Terrorism” or “Christian Terrorism”, for the same reason. I prefer “Islamist Terrorism” and “Christianist Terrorism”, because the first word already denotes extremism.

    Then it’s redundant, since “terrorism” clearly denotes extremism.

    I know some don’t want “Christian” or “Muslim” to be neutral (just as some don’t want “homosexual” to be neutral), but I do, and that’s why I like the terms Andrew Sullivan uses.

    Sullivan seems to be doing something dishonest. “Islamist” is recognized as a subcategory of Muslim, while he appears to be proposing “Christianist” as a category separate from Christian (“Surely we can all assent to the notion that a Christian militia of the type now accused of planning domestic terrorism is not Christian”). If the term were understood as parallel to “Islamist” – and had some useful meaning in designating a subgroup of Christians – then it wouldn’t be a problem. But it’s not really necessary, as we already have descriptive terms for both Christian and Islamic subgroups based on extremism and ideology.

  104. #104 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    tsg, you are correct that I hadn’t seen #99 yet, but I believe #102 answers #101 too.

  105. #105 tsg
    March 30, 2010

    #99 I don’t use the word “Christianist” to mean I think someone is not a real Christian. I use it to refer to those who try to force the values they call “Christian” on the rest of us, either through force or through politics.

    I expect most Islamists are true believers, as are most Christianists.

    So no, I’m not helping them think they’re true Christians, by using the term.

    Then why use a term that distinguishes them from Christians? Sullivan is, in his own words, using it to mean precisely that:

    Surely we can all assent to the notion that a Christian militia of the type now accused of planning domestic terrorism is not Christian. This is why I call them Christianist.

  106. #106 Kevin B
    March 30, 2010

    Then it’s redundant, since “terrorism” clearly denotes extremism.

    If it is, it’s preferable to me anyway, because it avoids tangling up a neutral word (a positive word, if you’re a Christian or a Muslim) with a very negative one.

  107. #107 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    Then why use a term that distinguishes them from Christians?

    Because just being Christian is not a threat to me, physically or politically.

    Sullivan is, in his own words, using it to mean precisely that:

    Sullivan has defined the word in other posts, and used it countless times to describe both violent and political acts (and activism). I’ve drawn my use of the word from his use of it, and not from the example you quoted.

    Whether Sullivan thinks they’re true Christians or not doesn’t interest me much. But I agree that they are Christianist.

  108. #108 steverino63
    March 31, 2010

    Largely agreed w/PZ on the Gandhi quote. If Jesus did exist, and at the time he did, the Gospels themselves paint multiple portraits of him ….

    WITH one of them being an apocalyptic nut expecting the end of the world.

  109. #109 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    If it is, it’s preferable to me anyway, because it avoids tangling up a neutral word (a positive word, if you’re a Christian or a Muslim) with a very negative one.

    It’s not neutral when it’s combined with terrorist, though. The terrorists are the ones doing the entangling, and it’s real (in that they’re explicitly basing their actions on their reading of the Bible and in that this is possible to do). If you don’t like it, tough. It’s not necessary to alter the word or invent a new one, as “terrorist” already designates a specific, extremist subcategory. “Christian militia group” has a fairly well-understood meaning. There’s no need to start calling them “Christianist militia groups.”

    If you’re not acknowledging what Sullivan’s trying to do with the term and how your idiosyncratic meaning differs from his and others’ then you’re not really being honest. Look, I’m an anarchist. I think that’s a positive word. I would love to say that anyone who’s committed terrorist acts in the name of anarchism in the past should be called an “anarchite” or something, but it wouldn’t change anything about the historical reality. “Anarchist terrorist” doesn’t mean “anarchist” and it doesn’t change the meaning of “anarchist.”

  110. #110 WowbaggerOM
    March 31, 2010

    PZ wrote:

    Who is this Jesus? He didn’t write anything down, he may not have even existed, and all the information we have about him is 2nd and 3rd hand accounts from evangelical zealots trying to establish a religion.

    With this in mind it would probably make sense for those who did write down the things he’s alleged to have said to have attempted to incorporate other positive messages into his teachings in order to convince people of his ‘goodness’ – since simply prancing around and claiming to be Messiah and annoying the local authorities wouldn’t really get you all that far. I can’t for a second believe that no-one had tried to explain the benefits of pacifism, charity, equality (of sorts) and generally being nice to each other before he showed up.

    It’s something that really irritates me about Christianity – we evolved to become what we’ve become; the idea that we were so useless we couldn’t come to such conclusions without a kindly man-god to hand them to us on a silver platter is actually quite offensive.

  111. #111 Menyambal
    March 31, 2010

    Agreeing with PZ on the Jesus of the bible being weirdly contradictory. I just saw, as I passed a Christian channel on my TV, the man called “The Prince of Peace” say, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword”. (I know he was an actor–it’s a metaphor.)

    But, then, most stuff that most folks think that they know about the bible is just not in there. And what is in there is a giant, confusing mess.

  112. #112 tsg
    March 31, 2010

    Because just being Christian is not a threat to me, physically or politically.

    I’m not suggesting it should be, merely that being a physical or political threat does not preclude one from being Christian.

    Sullivan has defined the word in other posts, and used it countless times to describe both violent and political acts (and activism). I’ve drawn my use of the word from his use of it, and not from the example you quoted.

    Not being a reader of Sullivan, I can only take this most recent example, where he appears to be clearly defining what he means, as what he meant. You are perfectly free to use the word how you see fit, but I think it’s a little dishonest to defend Sullivan’s usage of it by defining it as something other that what Sullivan himself said it was. The argument isn’t about what the word means, but what Sullivan is saying in the quote above: Terrorists, because they are terrorists, aren’t Christian, even if they claim to be.

  113. #113 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    Because just being Christian is not a threat to me, physically or politically.

    Neither is someone’s being a nationalist or a separatist. But it’s not necessary to alter “nationalist terrorist” or “separatist terrorist,” either.

    Sullivan has defined the word in other posts, and used it countless times to describe both violent and political acts (and activism). I’ve drawn my use of the word from his use of it, and not from the example you quoted.
    Whether Sullivan thinks they’re true Christians or not doesn’t interest me much.

    OK, this is dishonest. The example is from the post under discussion here. His use is very clear: “This is why I call them Christianist. Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.” Come on.

  114. #114 tsg
    March 31, 2010

    I have a problem with the Gandhi quote, though.

    Not that I disagree, but I think the Gandhi quote holds up just as well if you take “your Christ” to mean the currently held idea of Christ as opposed to the supposedly actual person. Christians don’t even act like they claim their Messiah wanted them to.

  115. #115 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    #113 A nationalist or a separatist may indeed be a political threat to me. Both words connote extremism.

    I wouldn’t try to make the case that every “ist” word gets the same connotation. “Islamist” is a word that already has a connotation, and “Christianist” is a recently-coined word that is intended to have a similar one.

    I would certainly want to alter “atheist terrorist”

    OK, this is dishonest. The example is from the post under discussion here. His use is very clear: “This is why I call them Christianist. Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.” Come on.

    Ah! So all of this is based on quote-mining! VERY honest, that.

    I use the word “Christianist” honestly, based on Sullivan’s general use of it.

    If the topic of this thread is limited to that particular quote, then I apologize for getting into it at all. It doesn’t adequately represent either me me or (IMO) Sullivan’s general use of the word.

  116. #116 tsg
    March 31, 2010

    Ah! So all of this is based on quote-mining! VERY honest, that.

    Quote mining? Really? This is the post in its entirety:

    Surely we can all assent to the notion that a Christian militia of the type now accused of planning domestic terrorism is not Christian. This is why I call them Christianist. Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

    May we also assume that every single one of these terror suspects is innocent until proven guilty, and shouldn’t be seized as enemy combatants and tortured until they confess? Will even Andy McCarthy concede that? Or not?

    Precisely what do you think was omitted to deliberately misrepresent what Sullivan said?

    I use the word “Christianist” honestly, based on Sullivan’s general use of it.

    If the topic of this thread is limited to that particular quote, then I apologize for getting into it at all. It doesn’t adequately represent either me me or (IMO) Sullivan’s general use of the word.

    That quote is Sullivan’s own words as to what he means when he uses the word and, more importantly, that he believes Christian terrorists are not Christian, which is ultimately the subject under discussion. I’m more inclined to take his word over yours.

  117. #117 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    #113 A nationalist or a separatist may indeed be a political threat to me.

    So might a Christian or a Muslim.

    Both words connote extremism.

    To you, perhaps, but that has no relevance as to whether someone’s simply being a nationalist or a spearatist somewhere inherently poses a threat.

    I wouldn’t try to make the case that every “ist” word gets the same connotation. “Islamist” is a word that already has a connotation,

    In fact, it has a denotation.

    and “Christianist” is a recently-coined word that is intended to have a similar one.

    No, it isn’t. (As I’ve said, “Islamist” isn’t particularly problematic as generally used – it’s just usually unnecessary and vague. If “Christianist” isn’t supposed to mean “theocrat” or “Dominionist” or “militia member” but simply “extremist” it’s totally redundant here; if it is supposed to mean something specific we already have more descriptive terms.)

    I would certainly want to alter “atheist terrorist”

    Point to some historical examples of terrorism committed in the name of and based on atheism and we can discuss. Even if you would want to do that, if this were a real phenomenon it would be dishonest to do so. By the way, someone’s being a Communist poses no inherent threat to you. Indeed, Communists in the ACLU were among the staunchest rights defenders in the McCarthy era. Nevertheless, there are and have been Communist terrorists. Do we have to come up with a new term for them, too?

    Ah! So all of this is based on quote-mining! VERY honest, that.

    I use the word “Christianist” honestly, based on Sullivan’s general use of it.

    The two quotes I and others have provided are almost the entirety of the post. Even if he uses it differently elsewhere – and you’ve provided nothing to show that he does – his meaning is extremely clear here.

    If the topic of this thread is limited to that particular quote, then I apologize for getting into it at all. It doesn’t adequately represent either me me or (IMO) Sullivan’s general use of the word.

    We’re all talking about this post by him, in which he’s explicit about his use of the word. Where is your support for this opinion about his general use? What is your response to this post by him?

  118. #118 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    I wouldn’t try to make the case that every “ist” word gets the same connotation.

    You’re confused about what I’m saying. Pretend “anarchist,” etc., didn’t end in “ist” – it’s not about the suffix, but about sets of ideas.

  119. #119 Feynmaniac
    March 31, 2010

    Who is this Jesus? He didn’t write anything down, he may not have even existed, and all the information we have about him is 2nd and 3rd hand accounts from evangelical zealots trying to establish a religion.

    Well, with all his faults, Jesus (or at least the one portrayed in the gospels) still looks favorable compared to most Christians today. He did preach about helping the poor, looking at your faults before that of others, and against greed.

    As you mentioned, even if he was real he was written about only decades after his death and with some contradictory accounts. So we don’t even know what he really said or believed. In any case, it doesn’t really matter to me (except for perhaps historical purposes). Even if he existed and the accounts of what he said were somewhat accurate I would still just consider him to have been a human being that lived centuries ago. What is important are (some of) the lessons. All the references to God and the magic tricks should either be ignored or put in the same category as Mother Goose tales.

    The problem is, I think, that morality has for so long been thought of largely as an area of religion. There may have been some great moral truths uttered, but they were interpreted it in the language of religion. The same way we took some of the effective treatments from folk medicine and tossed out all the superstitious garbage to get modern medicine I think we could take some of the good moral lessons from the gospels and toss out all the religious nonsense to get some good humanist values. This should by no means be limited to the gospels. You can take good moral lessons from a whole bunch of other people e.g, Buddha, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, etc. Like Jesus (assuming he existed), these people were only human and didn’t get everything right. The stuff they got wrong should either be ignored or criticized. Jesus was wrong about divorce being sinful and the extreme asceticism you mentioned isn’t healthy. What doesn’t get said is also troubling. As Russell noted, “there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence”.

    However, I don’t think we should toss out baby Jesus with the holy water.

    (Have I just blown any credibility I may have had here by defending Jesus?!)

  120. #120 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    Well, I suppose a spearatist might actually pose an inherent threat…

  121. #121 DLC
    March 31, 2010

    I’m kind of surprised that Sullivan would try to pull the old “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
    These people may be nuts or just evil or just stupid, but they’re Christians, just as sure as the Pope. So, you Southern Baptists, unchain your wives and un-gag your kids long enough to listen to this one: You own this group in Michigan and you get to own the Pope’s creepy child molesters too.
    Organized Religion: making decent people look like fools for centuries.

  122. #122 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    Well, I suppose a spearatist might actually pose an inherent threat…

    I was about to respond to this with a serious wall-o-text about the different kinds of separatism. :-p

    thank fuck for spellcheck, or I would have totally missed the relevant funny.

  123. #123 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    March 31, 2010

    @PsychChick:

    But,

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    Mathew 10:34

  124. #124 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    You’re confused about what I’m saying. Pretend “anarchist,” etc., didn’t end in “ist” – it’s not about the suffix, but about sets of ideas.

    Then I’m back to what I said.

    Basically if the set of ideas is benign or mundane or mainstream (e.g., homosexual, atheist, Christian, Girl Scout), then I’d avoid putting it as a modifier to a powerfully negative word like terrorist.

    I’d make an exception if the result were clearly ironic (Girl Scout Cookie Terrorism), but otherwise, I’d find another way of saying it.

    Other sets of ideas: anarchist, nationalist, Weather Underground, separatist, Tea Party, revolutionary, reactionary, etc, are not mundane or mainstream to me. So it doesn’t bother me to put them with other extreme words.

  125. #125 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 31, 2010

    The Bible is a grabbag of material, cobbled together from various sources by multiple editors over many centuries, and some of the source material’s original meaning is obscure, incoherent, contradictory and seemingly not all that relevant to modern life.

    As a result, you can find what you want in the Bible if you look for it. At the same time, though, there are clearly bits which are quite a bit more important both to the original sources and the editors. So, while can find what you want in the Bible, that doesn’t make it consonant with the larger themes of the Gospels. As Feynmanian points out, the Jesus of the Gospels is very much concerned with the poor and speaking truth to power. One does not have to believe that this Jesus is anything but a construct of later editors to appreciate the truth of this remark.

    How does it happen then, that so many who call themselves followers of Jesus continually side against the poor and with speaking truth to power? This article by Richard Hughes has an analysis that I commend to those who are interested in that question.

  126. #126 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    Basically if the set of ideas is benign or mundane or mainstream (e.g., homosexual, atheist, Christian, Girl Scout), then I’d avoid putting it as a modifier to a powerfully negative word like terrorist.

    I’d make an exception if the result were clearly ironic (Girl Scout Cookie Terrorism), but otherwise, I’d find another way of saying it.

    Other sets of ideas: anarchist, nationalist, Weather Underground, separatist, Tea Party, revolutionary, reactionary, etc, are not mundane or mainstream to me. So it doesn’t bother me to put them with other extreme words.

    so you’re going to be a hypocrite who depends on an ad populum for deciding which ideas are ok to combine with terrorism linguistically? that’s fucking lame. if there are “anarchist terrorists”, then there are “christian terrorists”. everything else is hypocrisy and/or special pleading.

  127. #127 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    also, homosexuality is not a “set of ideas”; it’s an inborn characteristic.

  128. #128 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    Here’s a quote from Sullivan in 2006 that explains what he meant when he coined the term:

    My use of the term Christianist similarly and simply describes those who believe that the source of any political system should be Christian revelation, rather than the secular principles of the Enlightenment and the American constitution

    Though I doubt he would restrict the term to Americans if given a chance to revise.

    The full post is here

    And you can find over seven hundred posts where he’s used the term if you go to the Atlantic website and search on the word.

    I think you’ll find that most are compatible with this definition.

    Given that context (I’ve been reading Sullivan’s blog since the 2006), I don’t read the quotes about the Christianist militia as being a definition of the term.

    I can understand how someone might jump to that conclusion if you only read the one post, but it would be a wrong conclusion.

    Knowing there is more to learn about the term, and where to find it, I hope no one would still claim “Sullivan CLEARLY says…” based on that post. Because that IS quote-mining.

  129. #129 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    there is no quote-mining here; quotemining is taking things out of context, and the entire context of his most current use of the word, and it’s unambiguous definition in that post, have been provided. all you’ve proven is that Sullivan is not using the term consistently, which is actually an argument against adopting it. it appears to be a weasel-word.

  130. #130 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    so you’re going to be a hypocrite who depends on an ad populum for deciding which ideas are ok to combine with terrorism linguistically?

    Roughly, yes, with a little bit of Political Correctness in the mix. And a preference for groups to which I belong or to which I have a connection.

    Being an atheist, I’d avoid using “radical” and “atheist” together. Being gay, there are any number of words I’d avoid using in conjunction with “homosexual”. There are words, like “niggardly”, that I tend to avoid in conversation despite knowing it has nothing to do with race. That’s the kind of hypocrite I am.

    also, homosexuality is not a “set of ideas”; it’s an inborn characteristic.

    Why the either/or? I have the inborn characteristic. You may not have any set of ideas about homosexuality, but I do. I have sets of ideas about a lot of things.

  131. #131 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    #129 It’s definitely quote-mining if you take one post as negation of potentially 700+.

  132. #132 Walton, Liberal Extremist Dumpling of Awesome
    March 31, 2010

    I always understood the word “Christianist”, by analogy with “Islamist”, to refer to that small subset of Christians who want to establish a Christian theocracy of one form or another. Christianism is, therefore, a political as well as a religious viewpoint. The term refers to people who believe that the state should be explicitly Christian and governed according to (their interpretation of) Christian morality. The most extreme example is Rushdooney and the Dominionist movement, but there are other groups, mainly fundie Protestant, who have an explicit desire to establish a theocracy. I don’t doubt that many of these “Christian militia” groups would fit within that category.

    Obviously, the vast majority of Christians are not Christianists, and I think Sullivan is over-using the term somewhat.

  133. #133 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    #129 It’s definitely quote-mining if you take one post as negation of potentially 700+.

    it’s not a negation; it’s proof of inconsistency.

    Why the either/or? I have the inborn characteristic. You may not have any set of ideas about homosexuality, but I do. I have sets of ideas about a lot of things.

    you can’t tell the difference between “something”, and “ideas about something”?

    That’s the kind of hypocrite I am.

    I don’t know what can be said in response to someone who openly admits that he thinks it’s ok to connect marginal groups with negative words, but not mainstream ones, even though it is accurate in both cases.

    but then, I am starting to get the impression language in general is not your strong suit.

  134. #134 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    #133 Not marginal groups. Where did you get that idea? Only the ones that are already radical or extreme by their nature. Mostly the ones that revel in being radical.

    I don’t want to radicalize a benign word by associating it with radical. From your post, I assume you would say “homosexual terrorist” to describe a terrorist that was homosexual and thought he was acting in the interests of gay rights. I wouldn’t do it. I would find some way to distinguish the radical impulse to commit an act of terror from the benign concept of being a homosexual.

    You might describe a string of “atheist church-bombings”. I would say that atheists don’t generally bomb churches, so I’d look for another adjective, something more radical, that didn’t hint that inside every atheist is a potential church-bomber.

    I guess with your strong language skills such direct descriptions come easy and without baggage. I don’t envy you though.

  135. #135 melior
    March 31, 2010

    Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus

    It seems inescapable that the problem here must be with the *Improvised* nature of these devices, since we know that cluster bombs and HE artillery didn’t disqualify Our Brave Troops in Bush’s Great Iraq Adventure.

    So if these unchristian christian people had simply purchased their armaments preassembled by an authorized DOD contractor instead of hastily configuring them out of whatever materials they had at hand, then Baby Jeezus wouldn’t be sobbing right now, and his cute wittle infant deity nose wouldn’t be all covered in holy green snot.

  136. #136 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    #133 Not marginal groups. Where did you get that idea? Only the ones that are already radical or extreme by their nature. Mostly the ones that revel in being radical.

    does this sound familiar: “anarchist, nationalist, Weather Underground, separatist, Tea Party, revolutionary, reactionary, etc,” ?

    those are marginal groups, and you not all or them are “radical or extreme by their nature”; not any more, and in some minds less, than atheists or homosexuals.

    I don’t want to radicalize a benign word by associating it with radical.

    language clearly eludes you. “environmentalist terrorism” doesn’t radicalize the word environmentalism; that’s why we use two words. If environmentalism was radical per-se, you wouldn’t need the word terrorism. and not using the word environmental, when it clearly is the correct descriptor, is lying.

    And picking when you’re going to lie and when not based on whether some idea is popular, or by whether you’re personally familiar with it, is rank hypocrisy and discrimination; it’s vile. At least if you’re going to lie like that to protect people’s feelings and not “associate” broad ideas with negative words, be consistent.

  137. #137 and7barton
    March 31, 2010

    I think all this naming and classifying is simply just muddying the water.
    There’s just TWO -
    a. People with their heads full of magic shit.
    b. People who are sensible.
    Case closed ?

  138. #138 Kevin B
    March 31, 2010

    That’s a terrible example. Environmentalist is already a word in common usage, so it brings its own meanings. “Environmentalist Terrorism” would have the opposite effect of what I want to achieve. I don’t want every environmentalist tarred with the idea of terrorism, so of course I would use a different word.

    But I don’t like “environmental terrorism” because it seems as though it’s the environment’s fault.

    I don’t go around adding “ist” to words to radicalize them. It works with Christianist because of the parallel to Islamist.

    Anyway, I’m going to sleep now. Enjoy your language skills!

  139. #139 Matt Penfold
    March 31, 2010

    Anyway, I’m going to sleep now. Enjoy your language skills!

    Envy is not a pleasant thing. Just because Jadehawk has decent language skills and you do not does not excuse your jealousy.

  140. #140 Cimourdain
    March 31, 2010

    Well, the one way one could divide this meaningfully is between the totalitarians and non-totalitarians. An Islamic totalitarian is one who wishes the Shariah to rule all aspects of life. BTW, that’s way more than the demands for creationism to be taught or opposition to gay marriage or whatever – those are much more mainstream. It’s parallel would be the dominionists.

  141. #141 watchingthedeniers
    March 31, 2010

    Methinks the points made by Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris are well made.

    Religion provides the cover and fuel for these acts. If they had read Lord of the Rings do you think they’d be planning to usher in the Fourth Age with Sauron installed as ruler of the universe?

  142. #142 coughlanbrianm
    March 31, 2010

    Religion provides the cover and fuel for these acts. If they had read Lord of the Rings do you think they’d be planning to usher in the Fourth Age with Sauron installed as ruler of the universe?

    Are you nuts? Sauron is evil!

  143. #143 watchingthedeniers
    March 31, 2010

    What me nuts! Why you, you… Tolkien hater you!!!!

  144. #144 GravityIsJustATheory
    March 31, 2010

    Re #134

    Also, “radical” is not the same as “terrorist” (or violent).

  145. #145 mattheath
    March 31, 2010

    Sullivan’s not wrong in asserting a difference between “Christian” and “Christianist” by analogy with that between “Muslim” and “Islamist”. It makes sense to have a name for those that want to make Christianity the basis of government. He is a world of wrong suggesting that Christianists aren’t Christians. He can reasonably call them bad Christians (jut as nice Muslims call UBL a bad Muslim), but they are still Christians.

  146. #146 Zabinatrix
    March 31, 2010

    I see one major problem with using words like Christian with only good connotations – calling people we like Christians while calling people that we don’t like (but who believe in the divinity of Jesus) something else.

    Let me use an example. One of my favorite people in the world calls herself a Catholic. I call her that too, since I respect the fact that she consider herself Catholic. But she is not a good Catholic – she is bisexual and doesn’t hate herself for it, she enjoys lesbian porn, she has no issues with premarital sex or birth control, and so on.

    But at the same time as she’s a very bad Catholic, she’s a very good person. She’s incredibly nice, she does a lot of volunteer work to help those in need and so on.

    Meanwhile, Pope Ratzi is probably considered a very good Catholic, but I think most people here consider him a very bad person.

    I see the same kind of thing often – those who adhere to the tenets of their faith best are often not the best people. So what should I call who?

    Well, I won’t stop saying that the Pope is Catholic, despite his attitude about covering up child rape, despite his campaigns against human rights and against responsible usage of condoms. And I won’t stop saying that my friend is Catholic either.

    The Pope says he’s a Catholic. My friend says that she is a Catholic. They both believe in God-Jesus and the tenets of Catholicism – they just choose to follow, interpret and believe in those things in very different ways.

    Ratzi has more “right” to be called a Catholic (and to be called a good Catholic) since he’s better at following literal interpretations of Catholic dogma. But according to the “call the people who are nice the word for the religion”-idea, my friend would have more right to be called Catholic, even though she’s a bad Catholic.

    The only thing that makes sense to me is to take both of their catholicism as a fact. If either of them turns terrorist I will call them a Catholic terrorist if and only if their Catholic faith spurred them to their ill deeds.

    Likewise with environmentalists and other examples above. I’m a staunch environmentalist, but if any person commits acts of terrorism in an attempt to further environmentalist goals I’ll call them an environmentalist terrorist – anything else would be dishonest. And if a person who happens to be an environmentalist bombs an abortion clinic I won’t call them environmentalist terrorist, because the two doesn’t seem related.

  147. #147 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    What Jadehawk and others said while I slept.

    1. You presented a hodgepodge of groups and organizations. Some are based on a characteristic, some a set of beliefs, and some are specific organizations with specific purposes and tactics. This is silly.

    2. Not all of them are “radical or extreme by their nature.” You’re simply ignorant.

    And you haven’t defined “radical” or “extreme.” Neither means “terroristic,” and “radical” doesn’t mean violent. Gandhi was a fucking Indian nationalist. Many Catalans are separatists. Are they a threat?

    3. Others can be adduced. [Ignore the "ist"- in this case it doesn't alter the word in the way you're proposing.] You can say “environmentalist terrorist” or “animal rights terrorist” or “antislavery terrorist” or “independentist terrorist” or “anticolonial terrorist.”

    4.

    That’s a terrible example. Environmentalist is already a word in common usage, so it brings its own meanings. “Environmentalist Terrorism” would have the opposite effect of what I want to achieve. I don’t want every environmentalist tarred with the idea of terrorism, so of course I would use a different word.

    What? So these other words aren’t in common usage? Our point is precisely that saying _____ terrorist does not change the underlying meaning of ______ – it preserves it. (As Jadehawk says, and as I’ve been trying to impress on you throughout, “If environmentalism was radical per-se, you wouldn’t need the word terrorism. and not using the word environmental, when it clearly is the correct descriptor, is lying.”) People are ___ and are inspired to or justifying the use of terrorist tactics in part by those beliefs. The beliefs are not incidental.

    5.

    I don’t want to radicalize a benign word by associating it with radical. From your post, I assume you would say “homosexual terrorist” to describe a terrorist that was homosexual and thought he was acting in the interests of gay rights. I wouldn’t do it. I would find some way to distinguish the radical impulse to commit an act of terror from the benign concept of being a homosexual.

    “Christian” is no more benign than “anarchist.” (Tolstoy, by the way, was a Christian anarchist.) No one would say “homosexual terrorist” because it would be confusing and dumb. The terrorism would have to be inspired by a set of beliefs, and homosexuality isn’t that. So a “gay rights terrorist” is not inconceivable, and, yes, would be absolutely acceptable to me (the term, not necessarily the tactic) as someone who shares these beliefs.

    6.

    You might describe a string of “atheist church-bombings”. I would say that atheists don’t generally bomb churches, so I’d look for another adjective, something more radical, that didn’t hint that inside every atheist is a potential church-bomber.

    What? This has nothing to do with what members of groups generally do. Atheism isn’t a set of beliefs, but a lack of a specific belief. It’s not a set of political ideas. You could absolutely, though, have “secularist terrorists” or “antireligion terrorists” or “anticlerical terrorists.” This wouldn’t hint anything about people in these broader groups.

    7.

    Basically if the set of ideas is benign or mundane or mainstream (e.g., homosexual, atheist, Christian, Girl Scout), then I’d avoid putting it as a modifier to [?] a powerfully negative word like terrorist.

    *One of these things is not like the others…*

    Fuck this “benign or mundane or mainstream.” A lot of ideas are considered these in a given place or time. It means nothing with regard to whether they can serve as the inspiration and basis for terrorism. [R]epublicanism is seen as mainstream in many places now, but was radical the past. There have been republican terrorists. Christianity is a set of beliefs (or a number of sets of them) that very obviously can be and has been an inspiration and basis and justification for all sorts of political violence, including terrorism.

    8. “#129 It’s definitely quote-mining if you take one post as negation of potentially 700+.” The hell it is. You don’t know what quote mining is. All your other example has shown is that Sullivan is inconsistent. From what I’ve seen of him, this is typical, and it smacks of sloppiness and/or dishonesty. In your link, he says:

    This is not a reflection on the utterly peaceful intent of Jesus of Nazareth, but, then, he was also adamant on separating religion from politics. It is a reflection on the profound danger of fusing faith and power. If I’m right, the offense is mainly taken by Christians who simply refuse to see their faith as equally valid as Islam. They are offended that a Christian could even be equated with a Muslim. Which means, I believe, that they have not begun to understand the meaning of toleration at the core of Christianity, let alone the central insight of liberal constitutionalism.

    This is bullshit. I’m so tired of these selective readings of the Bible. These terrorists, as their own site says, based their actions in large part on their reading of the NT. That is a fact.

    As you have acknowledged, you are hypocritically engaging in special pleading. As I’ve said, if Christianist were being offered in the same sense as Islamist, I wouldn’t find it particularly objectionable. Used with terrorist, it’s unnecessary (like saying “Christian extremist terrorists”), and really it is so in general. We already have other terms for different Christian political ideologies, and we really don’t need a vague term added to the mix for political purposes. (I also think it’s rather funny that people believe “Christianist” will have this distancing effect, as opposed to using more descriptive terms.)

  148. #148 Laurent Weppe
    March 31, 2010

    Brownian (#56 March 30, 2010 6:37 PM)

    why gives him (or anyone really) the right to co-opt the “positive” (as currently perceived) version as True?ly Christian or True?ly Muslim?

    Because of the difference between belief and coerced worship.

    Let’s say that a “Christian” militia invade your home and point guns at you, your family, your relatives, your friend, etc, and order all the person present to convert to Christianity otherwise they will be slaughtered and the house taken by the relatives of the militia’s members.

    You will certainly make the smart choice: you will go marrano (well, the atheist version of marrano): you will “convert” in order to protect yourself and your kin, but every profession of faith on your part will be faked: the priests you will kneel to will know it, as will the militiamen holding you at gun point. This is not a conversion, this is a violent submission: “Fake the One True Faith and Obey me or else I will kill you”: this is not faith, this is enforced worship, and it will without a doubt come with a bunch of stupid and perverse rules, some of them establishing the militiamen men as the nobility.

    When extremists are trying to establsih such a forced worship, they are not trying to save souls, they are trying to build an empire, not for God (you know: the Almighty, Eternal, Ineffable, Creator of the Multiverse and all that, needing a few square miles of absolute obedience: yeah, right), but for themselves.

    Now try to follow Sullivan’s logic here: an individual who force someone else to fake their belief does not, in fact, believe in said belief’s worth (otherwise said individual would choose more pacefull ways of defending their beliefs). Therefore, the more violent self-proclamed Christians (or Muslim, or Jewish, or wathever) are, the more likely they are, in fact hypocrites who are simply using “their religious affiliation as a tool to acquire temporal power” while not believing a word of “their” religion.

    The Hutaree group was obviously extremely violent (and thank goodness, they were stopped before they could act) and as the same time acted suspiciously like a white supremacist/survivalist group which used religion only to self-justify itself, so in the end Sullivan has a valid point.

  149. #149 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 8:31 PM

    Won’t work for me. I don’t like it when people call people who don’t molest children “homosexual” and also call people who molest children “homosexual”.

    So I’m going to find terms that make more of a distinction.

    so a homosexual who molests children isn’t a homosexual?

  150. #150 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: Kevin B | March 30, 2010 8:56 PM

    Raven’s confused. I’m saying that telling my non-violent Christian friends and family they they aren’t true Christians would be picking a fight with them.

    Nobody is asking you to tell your nonviolent Christian friends and family that they aren’t true Christians. We’re just asking you not to enable their false belief that the Hutaree terrorists aren’t true Christians. Each group is as Christian as the other.

  151. #151 Matt Penfold
    March 31, 2010

    The Hutaree group was obviously extremely violent (and thank goodness, they were stopped before they could act) and as the same time acted suspiciously like a white supremacist/survivalist group which used religion only to self-justify itself, so in the end Sullivan has a valid point.

    The problem with this argument is that there is no obviously right or wrong way to practice religion, excepting how such practices impact on others. There is no objective measure to decide that Hutaree are better or worse Christians than other groups.

  152. #152 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: Laurent Weppe | March 31, 2010 9:13 AM

    Now try to follow Sullivan’s logic here: an individual who force someone else to fake their belief does not, in fact, believe in said belief’s worth (otherwise said individual would choose more pacefull ways of defending their beliefs). Therefore, the more violent self-proclamed Christians (or Muslim, or Jewish, or wathever) are, the more likely they are, in fact hypocrites who are simply using “their religious affiliation as a tool to acquire temporal power” while not believing a word of “their” religion.

    By that reasoning, the vast majority of self-described “Christians” throughout history, and many alive today, aren’t Christians. And I don’t buy that.

  153. #153 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2010

    Think Kevin B’s concern has a place. The dumpster comes to mind. What a tedious and inane bunch of insipid and illogical prose.

  154. #154 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    To add to my last comment, the only reason my (and PZ’s) ancestors were Christians is because Charlemagne forced them to convert at swordpoint. Converting people by force was the accepted practice of Christianity for centuries, with support from the New Testament and the traditions established by Constantine and the Roman church. The idea that conversion by threat of violence is not a good idea is very, very new in the history of Christianity.

    Saying Charlemagne and people like him weren’t true Christians is like saying Stalin wasn’t a true Communist because he didn’t take Hugo Chavez’s approach to establishing socialism.

  155. #155 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    Because of the difference between belief and coerced worship.

    Let’s say that a “Christian” militia invade your home and point guns at you, your family, your relatives, your friend, etc, and order all the person present to convert to Christianity otherwise they will be slaughtered and the house taken by the relatives of the militia’s members.

    Doesn’t require any imagination, does it? This has basically been the history of Christianity around the world for centuries.

    You will certainly make the smart choice: you will go marrano (well, the atheist version of marrano): you will “convert” in order to protect yourself and your kin, but every profession of faith on your part will be faked: the priests you will kneel to will know it, as will the militiamen holding you at gun point. This is not a conversion, this is a violent submission: “Fake the One True Faith and Obey me or else I will kill you”: this is not faith, this is enforced worship, and it will without a doubt come with a bunch of stupid and perverse rules, some of them establishing the militiamen men as the nobility.

    And many actually will convert. And some will resist (“smart” or not). So?

    When extremists are trying to establsih such a forced worship, they are not trying to save souls, they are trying to build an empire, not for God (you know: the Almighty, Eternal, Ineffable, Creator of the Multiverse and all that, needing a few square miles of absolute obedience: yeah, right)

    *snort*

    , but for themselves.

    They say differently.

    Now try to follow Sullivan’s logic here: an individual who force someone else to fake their belief

    This is already a problematic premise. This is not what they’re saying they’re doing.

    does not, in fact, believe in said belief’s worth (otherwise said individual would choose more pacefull ways of defending their beliefs).

    You have just excluded millions of missionaries and church leaders from your definition of believers.

    Therefore, the more violent self-proclamed Christians (or Muslim, or Jewish, or wathever) are, the more likely they are, in fact hypocrites who are simply using “their religious affiliation as a tool to acquire temporal power” while not believing a word of “their” religion.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive, and people can understand the relationship between the political and the imagined supernatural in complex ways, as the Inquisition and the rest of religious history shows.

    The Hutaree group was obviously extremely violent (and thank goodness, they were stopped before they could act) and as the same time acted suspiciously like a white supremacist/survivalist group which used religion only to self-justify itself, so in the end Sullivan has a valid point.

    Are you arguing that they were consciously cynically using religious ideas to advance purely political aims? Don’t be ridiculous.

    This has become so pathetic – they don’t understand the Bible, they don’t really believe the Bible, and on and on and on. People have long committed violence and oppression in the name of Christianity, basing themselves on a reading of scripture. This has been intertwined with other political and economic motives. They are a Christian militia group. They have a mix of ideas that is religious and political, and neither cancels out the other.

  156. #156 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

    ‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law?

    a man?s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    Jesus, Matthew 10:34-39

  157. #157 raven
    March 31, 2010

    jesus Luke 12:47:

    The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.”

    jesus to the Jews John 8:

    for I proceeded and came forth from God;
    I did not come forth of my own accord,
    but he himself sent me.
    Why don’t you understand what I’m saying?
    It is because you are unable to hear my word.
    You are of your father the devil
    and it is the desires of your father
    that you wish to do.
    From the beginning he was a murderer
    and had nothing to do with the truth
    because the truth is not in him.
    When he speaks lies,
    he draws them from his own nature,
    because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    The jesus of the NT was a mixture of progressive values and retrograde savagery.

    In Luke, he has some advice on how and when to beat your slaves. It doesn’t seem to have ever crossed his mind that owning people as property wasn’t moral.

    In John, there are 35 derogatory references to Jews. Jesus comes across as a rabid antisemite who claims the Jews are decended from satan. The antisemitism of the NT was used by xians as justification to massacre Jews for 2,000 years in one pogrom after another.

    To be sure, the NT is a multiauthor fiction work written decades after jesus died and is being continually rewritten to this day. So we have little idea of what jesus actually said. Well, OK, then why call the bible magic and worship it?

  158. #158 raven
    March 31, 2010

    It makes sense to have a name for those that want to make Christianity the basis of government.

    OK. No need to make up new words though. We already have many such words.

    The fundie xian wannabe dictators call themselves Xian Dominionists. Sometimes Xian Reconstructionists but they are basically the same.

    The dictatorship of religion is theocracy.

    Their political party is the Theothuglicans, once known as the GOP.

  159. #159 Insightful Ape
    March 31, 2010

    I don’t know what you have been smoking Laurent, but no, Sullivan doesn’t have a point.
    Christianity was spread throughout the world at sword point and gun point. That includes Europe, Asia and the Americas. While the initial converts may not have been true believers, as you point out, all the generations that followed owed their faith to the actions of people who weren’t any less violent or racist than today’s Christian militias.
    And that is the coorect adjective describing them whether you like it or not.

  160. #160 bjstucker
    March 31, 2010

    …the good book- qualifies them as uber-christians…

  161. #161 Laurent Weppe
    March 31, 2010

    @ Matt Penfold March 31, 2010 9:22 AM

    The problem with this argument is that there is no obviously right or wrong way to practice religion, excepting how such practices impact on others. There is no objective measure to decide that Hutaree are better or worse Christians than other groups.

    Religions themselves being social constructs, I find it quite obvious that the way religious practices impact on others define their worth: If one is too tyrannical or violent in their practice, then their society will be weakened by the resulting conflict, which will in turn reduce the chances of survival of their religion. Christians shoold place the Perennity of their religion pretty high in their list of priority, and some behaviors, like terrorism, creationnism, hiding child molesters, and so on are certainly not helping Christianity to endure, so there is actually an objective mesure of good and bad religious behavior, except that it is not to be found in scriptures.

    @ truthspeaker #152/154 March 31, 2010 9:23 AM

    By that reasoning, the vast majority of self-described “Christians” throughout history, and many alive today, aren’t Christians. And I don’t buy that.

    “throughout history”, most members of religious community were followers and not proselytes, but if you count the people who have followed the dominant religions just to conform, I’d say that their is a real possibility that a majority of “Christians”, “Muslims”, “Jews”, etc… were, in fact, non-believers who were conforming to the tradition of their community. I would even go so far as religions are now facing a crisis because they cannot (at least in rich countries) retain their flock throught conformism alone while the old recipes of proselytism are not that efficient when used on today’s western audiences.

    The idea that conversion by threat of violence is not a good idea is very, very new in the history of Christianity.

    Not so new: “Love thy enemy” is pretty old itself. Christianity rose from the religion of a minority to a dominant religion, and the evolution of its behavior miror that. Threats of violence sowed the seeds of its current fragility and were always a very bad idea which was hurting Christianity in the long run: it was ignored by its leader for a long time, and now Christiannity itself is starting to pay the price.

    [...] is like saying Stalin wasn’t a true Communist [...]

    Good exemple: first, Stalin was accused from the start to not be a “true communist” but an opportunist who used the dominant ideology of his time to become the ruler of Russia. Second: what is Stalin legacy? the USSR is gone, the market-friendly European Union is slowy but surely eating away its sphere of influence, and what was one the most rapidly advancing and popular ideology of the early 20th century is now represented by weakened parties. Stalin policies granted him a personnal triumph, but nailed the coffin of communism.

    @ SC OM #155 March 31, 2010 9:45 AM

    They say differently.
    This is already a problematic premise. This is not what they’re saying they’re doing.

    There have been plenty of “Democratic Republic of the People” who were nothing more than old fashionned dictatorships, and of course, their leaders told the world otherwise.

    You have just excluded millions of missionaries and church leaders from your definition of believers.

    Kudos: This is precisely my point. And this is why someone like Andrew Sullivan is strugling: he wants his religious community to be made of and led only by sincere, honest-to-god believers who are here only to help their fellow human beings, while, quite obviously, this has not been the case for a very long time.

    Are you arguing that they were consciously cynically using religious ideas to advance purely political aims? Don’t be ridiculous.

    Of course I am saying that they were cynically using religious ideas to advance purely political aims. Having political aims and being able to reach them are two different things, and being cynical and being intelligent are also two very different things, otherwise the Tea Party movement would not exist.

  162. #163 Matt Penfold
    March 31, 2010

    Religions themselves being social constructs, I find it quite obvious that the way religious practices impact on others define their worth: If one is too tyrannical or violent in their practice, then their society will be weakened by the resulting conflict, which will in turn reduce the chances of survival of their religion. Christians shoold place the Perennity of their religion pretty high in their list of priority, and some behaviors, like terrorism, creationnism, hiding child molesters, and so on are certainly not helping Christianity to endure, so there is actually an objective mesure of good and bad religious behavior, except that it is not to be found in scriptures.

    The entire bloody point is that it is not found in scripture. There is no way to be able to say whether one interpretation of scripture is better than other. It therefore makes no sense to claim one person is a better adherent of a religion than another. It is true some adherents may pose less of a danger to society, but that it is not a theological criteria but a sociological one.

    However Sullivan’s point is that there is a theological basis for saying some people are better Christians than others. He is mistaken, because theology does not offer criteria against which to judge competing claims of adherence. One theologian can claim one thing, and another something else and there is no way to decide between the two.

  163. #164 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    That’s a terrible example. Environmentalist is already a word in common usage, so it brings its own meanings. “Environmentalist Terrorism” would have the opposite effect of what I want to achieve. I don’t want every environmentalist tarred with the idea of terrorism, so of course I would use a different word.

    Words do not have cooties! You can’t “contaminate” one word permanently by putting another one next to it. You can have pacifist anarchists, and militant anarchists, and terrorist anarchists, and purple anarchists, and they would be all different, mutually untainted sorts of anarchists.

    The Hutaree group was obviously extremely violent (and thank goodness, they were stopped before they could act) and as the same time acted suspiciously like a white supremacist/survivalist group which used religion only to self-justify itself, so in the end Sullivan has a valid point.

    bullshit. as a matter of fact, they were distinctly NOT a white supremacist group: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2010/03/video_of_maddow_appearance.php#more

    just because you would like to think Christians are all fluffy bunnies, it doesn’t actually make it so. Christian terrorists are real.

  164. #165 Insightful Ape
    March 31, 2010

    I am learning a lot, Laurent. So Stalin was not a communist?
    It is really a useful faculty, you know, that YOU get to choose who was what, while contradicting those same individuals claims.
    So I guess I can add my opinion: Moses was no Jew, Jesus was no christian, Mohammad was no Muslim, and Marx was no Marxist, and John Paul II was no catholic. Afterall if you look at the words or deeds of any of these people long enough you’ll find something that won’t fit your idea of their philosophy.
    And did I mention that Joseph Smith was no Mormon?

  165. #166 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    There have been plenty of “Democratic Republic of the People” who were nothing more than old fashionned dictatorships, and of course, their leaders told the world otherwise.

    not comparable, since “democracy” has a limited set of definitions based on its greek roots and historical usage; OTOH, Christianity’s definition is based on a book that contradicts itself in as many places as it agrees with itself. Anybody who says they are believers in Christ, and can justify their actions via the bible, is a Christian; it doesn’t matter whether you personally like their definition. And if we went by historical usage, then the fluffy bunnies you want to make into Real True Christians would be the non-Christians.

  166. #167 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    There have been plenty of “Democratic Republic of the People” who were nothing more than old fashionned dictatorships, and of course, their leaders told the world otherwise.

    Many Marxist leaders have been True Believers. It’s much closer to religion that you think. Your “old fashioned dictatorships” is simplistic; you need to read some Milosz or Havel or Figes or something. Many Stalinists were really Stalinists and sacrificed their careers and lives for the cause. Many profited in various ways from it as well (often before losing their lives to it), but this doesn’t prove that they didn’t believe. What I’m trying to explain to you is that there isn’t a clear line between these beliefs and political goals such that you can separate out the genuine believers from those with other motives.

    You have just excluded millions of missionaries and church leaders from your definition of believers.

    Kudos: This is precisely my point. And this is why someone like Andrew Sullivan is strugling: he wants his religious community to be made of and led only by sincere, honest-to-god believers who are here only to help their fellow human beings, while, quite obviously, this has not been the case for a very long time.

    What he or you want is utterly immaterial. You simply cannot exclude immense numbers of Christians (including the highest leaders) throughout history from the category of “honest-to-god believers” because you don’t like how they went about things or how they interpreted the Bible or that they had political motives. Of course some are cynical, but no one can simply make this assumption based on a desire to exclude them. Yes, he’s struggling, because he wants Christians to be something other than what many are. But calling those he doesn’t like by another name doesn’t change anything.

    Are you arguing that they were consciously cynically using religious ideas to advance purely political aims? Don’t be ridiculous.

    Of course I am saying that they were cynically using religious ideas to advance purely political aims.

    Again, this is ridiculous. Provide evidence that they do not believe what they say (providing quotations from the NT) they do.* Your only “argument” seems to be that because they have political aims/ideas and use coercive tactics they can’t really believe. The Catholic Church has political aims and uses coercive tactics. Are you and Sullivan arguing that they are not believers and should be called something other than Catholics?

    *Even if you could, this would simply be one case and not sufficient evidence to support any more general claim.

  167. #168 Matt Penfold
    March 31, 2010

    Actually Sullivan seems to be arguing just that in his reply to this post by PZ.

    “Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.”

    Now where do you think the Catholic Church fits in there ?

  168. #169 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them. Hence my distinction, which I make from no authority. I merely think that declaring a homeless, apolitical, non-violent hippie in first century Palestine as someone who would bless a twenty-first century terrorist militia in North America is a bit of a stretch.

    So now the definition of Christian is those who Sullivan’s reading of the (likely mythical) Jesus character (apolitical? what?) would, according to him, “bless.” (Yes, that would appear to leave the Catholic Church out.) I love how so many of these definitions – which have to ignore chunks of the NT in addition to enormous portions of the OT to present their “peaceful” interpretation – just ignore the Christian god. Did the power-mad, genocidal OT god die off? Are we talking about two different gods? How does this work, exactly?

  169. #170 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    And since when does someone with disciples flee power?

  170. #171 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    And this is why someone like Andrew Sullivan is strugling: he wants his religious community to be made of and led only by sincere, honest-to-god believers who are here only to help their fellow human beings, while, quite obviously, this has not been the case for a very long time.

    But he can’t remake his religious community just by changing the definition of what makes one a member of that community.

  171. #172 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    Christianity flees power as Jesus did;

    wtf? he’s a Catholic for fucks sake! The RCC is the most powerful religious organization in the world. What an idiot.

  172. #173 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    As a fan of the Grateful Dead, I’d love to be able to disassociate myself from all the Deadheads who don’t pick up their trash at shows. If I were Andrew Sullivan, I would claim that I am a true Deadhead but the ones who litter are Deadists. But that would be lying.

  173. #174 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 31, 2010

    You can have pacifist anarchists, and militant anarchists, and terrorist anarchists, and purple anarchists, and they would be all different, mutually untainted sorts of anarchists.

    And without having encountered these words in combination before,l I still know what they mean. They are effectively communicating an idea. Without access to Sullivan’s article (which I would NEVER have stumbled on)I would have not a clue what a Christianist was. The word does not effectively communicate meaning.

  174. #175 raven
    March 31, 2010

    “Christianity flees power as Jesus did; Christianism seeks it above everything else. And there is nothing more powerful than killing others, except for torturing them.”

    Besides the Catholics, where do the Christofascists, Xian Dominionists, religious right, the Theothuglicans, Robertson, Hagee, Parsley, Dobson, Sarah Palin and all the other wannabe theocratic dictators fit in with “Christianity fleeing power”?

    Sullivan is just out in la la land Making Stuff Up. Christianity didn’t lose power, the people took away their guns and armies because they got sick and tired of the endless bloodshed.

    The religion has been on a downhill slide ever since. Without the power to torture and kill people, they don’t have much of a case.

  175. #176 bernarda
    March 31, 2010

    Alexander Sullivan is the gay who used to put ads in gay magazines for “bareback sex”, i.e. without protection.

    I have copies of these on my computer, but they may be hard to find nowadays. Maybe the Wayback Machine will be of help.

  176. #177 SC OM
    March 31, 2010

    No one cares, bernarda. That has nothing to do with what we’re discussing. Take your ad hominem…elsewhere.

  177. #178 Walton, Liberal Extremist Dumpling of Awesome
    March 31, 2010

    Alexander Sullivan is the gay who used to put ads in gay magazines for “bareback sex”, i.e. without protection.

    And this is relevant to his opinion on Christianity how?

  178. #179 Walton, Liberal Extremist Dumpling of Awesome
    March 31, 2010

    I would also add that whether or not Sullivan is right in this particular case – whcih I don’t think he is – he is certainly not an idiot. Far from it. He’s one of the most intelligent and insightful political commentators out there, is willing to call out both left-wingers and right-wingers when they do flagrantly stupid things, and is mostly right on the key political issues.

    And it’s not fair to tar him with the brush of Catholic authoritarianism. Yes, he professes to be a “Catholic”, but he disagrees with the Vatican on just about everything, and says so regularly. He has some weird vestigial attachment to Catholicism – an attachment which I suspect is more aesthetic and emotional than intellectual – but, in substance if not in name, he’s an ally of the secular community and liberal values.

  179. #180 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Bernarda is just mad that Andrew never called him back.

  180. #181 truthspeaker
    March 31, 2010

    Posted by: Walton, Liberal Extremist Dumpling of Awesome | March 31, 2010 2:35 PM

    And it’s not fair to tar him with the brush of Catholic authoritarianism. Yes, he professes to be a “Catholic”, but he disagrees with the Vatican on just about everything, and says so regularly. He has some weird vestigial attachment to Catholicism – an attachment which I suspect is more aesthetic and emotional than intellectual – but, in substance if not in name, he’s an ally of the secular community and liberal values.

    But by continuing to identify with the Catholic church, he is choosing to tar himself with the brush of authoritarianism. A German citizen who lived during 1933-1945 might be able to honestly claim not to be a Nazi, but not if he has a Nazi membership card in his pocket and a swastika on his wall.

  181. #182 monado
    March 31, 2010

    The real problem is that religion can justify and camouflage insanity.

  182. #183 Tulse
    March 31, 2010

    whether or not Sullivan is right in this particular case – whcih I don’t think he is – he is certainly not an idiot.

    Not on all things, certainly, but on religion he has a bizarre intellectual blind spot.

  183. #184 Walton, Liberal Extremist Dumpling of Awesome
    March 31, 2010

    truthspeaker, et al: I think you have to take into account the nature of Catholicism as an identity.

    By all accounts (though I was never Catholic myself), being Catholic isn’t like being part of a Protestant church. The Protestant tradition is highly individualist: if you’re a Baptist or a Lutheran or a Presbyterian, and you don’t like what your church or your sect is teaching, you might well split off and form your own sect. Hence why there are thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations in the world, and why most of the major sects have split lots of times (hence why the US has, for instance, the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Churches USA, the National Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and thousands of smaller Baptist sects of varying theological outlook). And those denominations which do stay together, like the Anglicans/Episcopalians, mostly do so by tolerating a wide range of different beliefs on theological and moral issues.

    Catholicism, by contrast, doesn’t work like that. It’s as much about the institution as about the dogma. You’re either a Catholic or you’re not; it’s a choice between remaining within the Church or leaving it. So people who are practising Catholics and don’t want to abandon their faith, but are at odds with the Vatican’s stance on social and moral issues, don’t have anywhere else to go. I know plenty of practising Catholics who are gay, who are theologically liberal, and/or who oppose the Vatican’s stance on a whole range of issues, but who nevertheless still identify as Catholic and attend a Catholic church.

  184. #185 Jadehawk OM, Hardcore Left-Winger
    March 31, 2010

    I know plenty of practising Catholics who are gay, who are theologically liberal, and/or who oppose the Vatican’s stance on a whole range of issues, but who nevertheless still identify as Catholic and attend a Catholic church.

    which in no way changes the fact that by claiming christianity flees power he has eliminated his own church from being christian. it’s fucking dumb, and it’s cognitive dissonance.

  185. #186 Katharine
    March 31, 2010

    I have conversations with my mother about this all the time, mostly revolving around “Mom, why the fuck do you associate with these people if you don’t agree with them?” and “Mom, you yourself agree with me that these people are largely very deranged, why do you still hang around them?”

    She often responds with something like “‘Cause it makes me feel good/’Cause that’s what I was raised with/etc.” And then when she nods her head to me and agrees when I start explaining how the idea of a deity existing is about as plausible as an invisible purple unicorn and the fact that the majority of us (including myself) in the scientific community, whose career is figuring out what exists, are atheists, and the most well-esteemed ones have an even higher majority – the NAS is 93% atheist – she totally dissembles when I ask her why she’s still a religiobot and often accuses me of being insecure about my own atheism when I’m not and she’s clearly the one who’s insecure when she starts sounding more trembly and unsure of herself.

    She and I get along swimmingly well and our conversations are fairly calm, but by gum the woman’s a little nuts sometimes.

  186. #187 Laurent Weppe
    March 31, 2010

    @ Insightful Ape #165 March 31, 2010 12:26 PM

    Marx was no Marxist

    Actually, Marx DID say “I am not a Marxist”, so… yeah.

    Afterall if you look at the words or deeds of any of these people long enough you’ll find something that won’t fit your idea of their philosophy.

    This is my whole point: Ideological or religious “purity” does not exist: this is nothing more than rhetorical crap used to allow self-proclaimed “elites” to bully people into obediance. What remains is whether one’s behavior help one’s claimed system of belief to endure or not.

    @ Jadehawk OM #166 March 31, 2010 12:28 PM

    “democracy” has a limited set of definitions based on its greek roots and historical usage

    A limited set of definitions which can be easily twisted simply by playing with the notion of citizenship and historical usage which contradict itself more often than not.

    OTOH the Bible… is itself a product of history which contradict itself for the very same reasons.

    @ SC OM #167 March 31, 2010 12:38 PM

    What I’m trying to explain to you is that there isn’t a clear line between these beliefs and political goals such that you can separate out the genuine believers from those with other motives.

    Your only “argument” seems to be that because they have political aims/ideas and use coercive tactics they can’t really believe

    What I am saying is that we tend to overestimate the importance of systems of beliefs, that the other motives (power, monetary gains, sexual gratifications, or simply the very nice feeling of being part of an “elite group”) trump in the end the beliefs.

    Actually, I don’t even think you can find someone who is demonstrably sincere. What I think is that when the behavior of one individual or group of individual so obviously hurt the cause they claim to be fighting for while giving them an immediate satisfaction (like the satisfaction of killing people they hate), their lack of sincerely held belief becomes self evident.

  187. #188 Menyambal
    April 1, 2010

    Katharine, that was beautiful.

  188. #189 SQB
    April 1, 2010

    The same problem arises in other places as well, though. What to do when people claim to be a part of a group you identify with, while you vehemently disagree with them about the exact nature of that groups identity? What if Deepak Chopra said that he doesn’t believe in any personal god, but in something more like a force of nature and thus he is an atheist?

    Disclaimer:
    a) I believe the Hutarees to be Christian and not that much different from other Christians, except for the violence
    b) I trust that my concern is noted.

  189. #190 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkDvVBzC8AT2yWIGs6skEPNjIP2-KC8gTA
    April 3, 2010

    Hutarees are REAL Christians! They are wackadoos, to be sure, but unlike most so-called Christians, they actually read the Bible, know what’s in it and don’t cherry pick the “nice” parts. God is one son-of-a-bitch, after all!

  190. #191 Cimourdain
    April 5, 2010

    Well, there is, as I have pointed out before, a name for those Christians who want biblical law: Dominionists. That’s what they call themselves.

    Excitable Andrew still can’t get over the fact that, according to the fundamental teachings of Christianity, homosexuality is a sin. So is a great deal of heterosexuality. These are what the teachings are – you can reject them, sure, and I do, but you can’t pretend that the teachings aren’t what they are. That’s why he invents this ludicrous term, Christiantism

    He’s also wrong by using this stupid term “Islamism”, and trying to make some half-baked analogy with it. The reason that there are such problems with Islam that are not seen to the same degree with any other religion, and why there are so few who speak out against it from within the religion in a serious manner is that Islam lacks the way out for other religions. When Christianity was tamed, or Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Taoism – or whatever – the followers could say that the teachings of Christ/Buddha/Lao Tzu etc. didn’t endorse the tyrants.

    While they’re wrong generally – faith always leads to violence and tyranny – they’re right specifically. That door isn’t open in Islam, because its teachings are so clearly fascistic.

    Basically, Andrew Sullivan doesn’t know much about anything and is confused about the rest and loud about it all.