Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Religious Right Watch officially launched!


Today marks the official launch of Religious Right Watch. I think that this will do a lot to broaden the ability to educate the sleeping giant of the non-religious and moderate Christians in the US (and abroad) about the vipers in our corn crib.

There's a very interesting post there about the terminology used to describe this movement. Here, I use "dominionist" to describe it, because dominion is their major goal above others, but there are other ideas too. An excerpt:

When discussing the Religious Right, especially with people who are not yet well-versed on the subject, it's important to communicate effectively; many commentators use inaccurate or unhelpful terminology.

This was the topic of a recent correspondence between myself, Frederick Clarkson, and others involved in Talk To Action.

Fred summarized the discussion. I agree with his assessments of the terms, which are listed below for your information, and possibly entertainment:

Problematic terms (from most to least)

Christer - “Sounds too bigoted for use in anything other than certain kinds of polemical writing.”

Wingnuts - Probably alright for singing to the choir, but it’s really just “cheap name calling.”

Theocons - An “obscure and ultimately meaningless construct[, l]ikely to confuse and distort useful conversation, serious journalism or persuasive politics.”

Dominionists - A “good word, but...in need of some serious definition--it is fast on the road to becoming more of an epithet instead of a reasonably descriptive, resonant and valuable term.”

Intolerant - A “useful word with a...history...in efforts” towards inter-religious and inter-racial understanding.

Recommended terms (from most to least)

Equality - A la Stephen Carter, the term "equality" might be preferred, because “toleration” is the language of power; it suggests that “tolerance is the luxury of the majority and can be withdrawn.”

Religious equality vs. religious / Christian supremacism - These are useful terms.

Christianist - “could be of some utility.”

Another participant of the discussion, Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates, argues against the terms “Radical Religious Right” and “Religious Political Extremists.” He states that there’s nothing wrong with "Religious Right" or "Christian Right;" but, that the problem is the words "radical" and "extremist" tossed in as a label on top. The words "extremist" and "radical" are “difficult to justify when talking about people who are members of Congress and our neighbors and relatives.

He also warns against the term "Extreme Right," which for most people (and most scholars) means fascists and neo-Nazis. He thinks that "Far right" can be used sparingly, when it is descriptive.

Berlet also likes the terms “Religious Supremacist” or “Christian Supremacist,” and further recommends the terms “bullying” and its variants.

So, what are your thoughts? Is "Dominionist" too vague or specialized? I've considered using "Christianist" simply because it reflects the extremes of other 'isms'- like Islamism. It also demonstrates that not all Christians are religious supremacists.

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