Posts Tagged “christianist”

Flip Benham, Director of a group called Operation Save America, leads members in a prayer Friday August 6, 2010 on Clinton Avenue outside the Bridgeport Islamic Society following a protest against Islam. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut PostLast week a strange event occurred in my home state, the Land of Steady Habits. Perhaps inspired by the ridiculous Religious Right attacks on the Cordoba Center (a cultural center — not a mosque! — which will soon be built near — not at, or over! — the site of the World Trade Center in New York City), a bunch of militant Christians protested at a mosque in Bridgeport. The Connecticut Post reports on this protest (WebCite cached article):

About a dozen right-wing Christians, carrying placards and yelling “Islam is a lie,” angrily confronted worshippers outside a Fairfield Avenue mosque Friday.

“Jesus hates Muslims,” they screamed at worshippers arriving at the Masjid An-Noor mosque to prepare for the holy week of Ramadan. One protester shoved a placard at a group of young children leaving the mosque. “Murderers,” he shouted.

My first inclination, upon reading this, was to say, “Here? In Connecticut?” This is a relatively progressive state, compared to the rest of the country. OK, so we have a bit of a parochial streak, as evidenced by our remaining Puritan-era “blue laws,” and of course we have the same sort of “lunatic fringe” one might expect to find in a state of some 3 million people. And the Roman Catholic Church has staged some massive protests, when the Connecticut bishops needed to distract people and squirm out of having to take responsibility for the things they’ve done and so they could desperately cling to all their precious money. But really … this kind of brainless Christofascism, I thought, is something one is far more likely to find down in the Bible belt. Well, it turns out I was correct — these wingnuts aren’t even Nutmeggers:

Flip Benham, of Dallas, Texas, organizer of the protest, was yelling at the worshipers with a bullhorn.

“This is a war in America and we are taking it to the mosques around the country,” he said.

I’m not too sure how truly proud of themselves they were, however, since they didn’t really protest too long, and they packed up and left fairly quickly:

After about an hour the protesters packed up their placards and fliers into a couple of vans and drove off.

Good riddance, “Flip,” and all your militant religionist pals.

Just to see what kind of a freak show these people are, I went to their Web site, and took a look (cached version). They seem to have a problem with the CT Post‘s coverage, as you can see in this screen-shot:

Operation Save America's complaint about the Connecticut Post

So, they admit the CT Post covers this “protest” correctly, in every detail but one … i.e. the accusation that they’d screamed “Jesus hates Muslims.” As evidence they did not, they proudly link to a PDF file of the brochure they said they handed out there. Unfortunately for them, this brochure does nothing to make them seem less extreme. If anything, it shows how insane they are. It includes such enlightened gems of “the Religion of Love” such as:

They are all inspired by the same liar who has come to the earth to rob, kill, and destroy. …

Unfortunately, Christianity in America has become so feminized, weak, and limp-wristed that these lies (abortion, homosexuality, and Islam) have come to prevail in a nation that was established and made great on the manly bedrock of biblical Christianity.

This brochure also claims the US was “founded on Christianity” — which is a lie, because it was not — a contention that they support using a quotation supposedly by Patrick Henry — which in fact, he never actually said.

Given the ferocious, irrational content of this brochure — capped by lies and fake quotations — on this matter, I find I must believe the CT Post over this delusional and militant crew.

Photo credit: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post.

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Jesus at Graceland, Plate 2An article a couple weeks ago by the New York Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, deals with an earlier Times Magazine article I blogged about in February (WebCite cached article).

A recent New York Times Magazine article about the Texas State Board of Education said it was driven by a bloc determined to ”advance a Christian agenda.”

The board’s ”Christian faction,” the article said, was dominated by Don McLeroy, a creationist convinced that separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. He and his allies believe the founding fathers meant for the United States to be a ”Christian nation,” though many historians, including conservatives, dispute that.

Benjamin Campbell, an Episcopal priest from Richmond, Va., wrote to say that The Times was helping ”a politicized minority of American Christians” hijack the generic name of the religion. ”A Christian agenda? Whose Christian agenda?” he asked. ”Christianity, like the other major world religions, is so old and so diverse that these various political and theological positions cannot properly be attributed to the religion itself.” He thought the McLeroy crowd should be called ”Christianists,” a term that has come to connote extremism on the religious right.

Hoyt’s correspondents bring up a salient question — one that Hoyt weighs carefully in the article. But I think the question is much less subtle than Hoyt makes it seem. He’s doing what he ought to as a public editor, conducting a “on the one hand, but on the other hand” analysis, but there’s a crucial point that essentially settles the matter more quickly than one might expect.

At the outset I admit that it’s very hard to say there is any such thing as a single distinctly “‘Christian’ agenda.” There are numerous Christian sects, cults, and denominations, and it can safely be said that they have very different “agendas.” Otherwise they would not be such markedly different organizations; there would, instead, be just one “Christian” church.

On the other hand, it’s clear that McLeroy and his cohorts in Texas — and their fierce religionist agenda — have a single motivation for what they are doing: Christianity. Their religion drives them. Their version of Christianity may not be the same as everyone else’s, but it is, nevertheless, a form of Christianity. A form of Christianity no more or less “Christian” than any other. It can safely be said that, if Christianity had not existed, they would not be doing what they’re doing (which is to rewrite American history so as to use it as a proselytization tool for their own vicious form of Protestant Christian fundamentalism).

So … does McLeroy have a clearly “‘Christian’ agenda”? Absolutely he does. His agenda is as “Christian” as the agendas of any other Christian on the planet.

Again, the agendas may not be the same … but they are no less “Christian” in their derivation.

I suspect what’s happening is that people like Hoyt’s correspondents are doing is to try to separate themselves from people like McLeroy. They are, no doubt, embarrassed that such people claim to espouse their religion, and don’t like that McLeroy-style religionists are making other Christians look like buffoons.

Unfortunately, an agenda driven by belief in Christianity is, by definition, a “‘Christian’ agenda.” That’s just the way it is. If Campbell and other Christians don’t like that that fierce religionist-Christians like McLeroy make them look bad, there’s something they can do … which is to stop McLeroy and his colleagues.

Sadly, though, it’s rare for more rational Christians to take on their irrational co-religionists. They appear not to want to “rock the boat,” as it were, and by their inaction, allow them to speak for them. So long as they do that, then in reality, McLeroy and his pals are — in fact — speaking for other Christians.

I will say one thing, however, and that is that I like the term “Christianist.” It vaguely reflects the term “Islamist” which is used to speak of certain extreme factions of Islam. This same resemblance is why I use the somewhat-wider term “religionist,” which as I define it, is someone who worships the religion to which s/he belongs, itself, in addition to worshipping whatever its deity may be. So I’m all for using “Christianist” to speak of McLeroy. Perhaps it’s time to give this term wider usage, even if Hoyt seems to think it’s too pejorative.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk.

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