In a nice essay in Time Magazine, Andrew Sullivan argues that we should not let the politicized Christian right co-opt the term ‘Christian,’ as their belief in the intermingling of politics and religion reflects neither the true message of Christ nor the beliefs of most Christians. Instead, he coins a new term for them–’Christianist’–defined as follows:
Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.