Christian Right Trying To Rename Itself

Via Thuja in the diaries, comes this article from Slate:John Green, a political scientist and director of the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, examined the views of evangelical Christians, along with those of mainline Protestants and Catholics, in a survey for the Pew Forum titled "The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes: A Baseline for 2004." He assured me that the term "Christian right" has, indeed, been shed by the group it's meant to describe. Why? Partly because liberals, after years of hard work, have finally managed to attach extremist associations to the phrase "the right," in much the same way that conservatives many decades ago established that anything "left" was beyond the pale. (...)

But that isn't the whole answer, he said. (...) In ditching the term, "Christian right," Green summed up, the Christian right chose to associate itself with the pool of Christians from which it hopes to draw, not the folks who already belong.

As demographics change, the numbers are not there for the Christian right in the long-term. They know, as well as we do, that in order for them to survive as a powerful political force long-term, they will need to form alliances with other groups. Specifically, right now, they are targeting an alliance with devout Catholics, but by attempting to ditch the term "Christian right" in favor of "evangelical / born again," they clearly are also looking at peeling away a significant portion of the African-American vote.

Given this, rather than going along with their requested name-shift, I think it is obvious what name we should continue to call them. Christian right it is.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)

Comments

28 Comments

Alternatives
"Christian right" is okay, but both terms have positive connotations with many ("right" is a synonym with being correct, civil rights, etc., while it is "christian" to be giving, caring, etc.)

"Christian fundamentalist" is an improvement, as the term fundamentalist was embraced by this group not too long ago and has nothing but negative connotations.

"Religious fundamentalist" is even better, as it replaces the positive-connotative "Christian" term with the neutral "Religious" one.  But, that sounds to generic, and not specific to the American problem.  So perhaps a new label, one that is not as inflamatory as "extremist" or "Christofascist" but nevertheless frames the question exactly as it should be, would be:

"Christian hard-liner"

by AmberChaos 2004-11-09 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Alternatives
Fundamentalist is a good word to use. It groups them with their radical fundamentalist compatriots in other parts of the world. I like Radical Fundamentalist.
by gina 2004-11-09 01:20PM | 0 recs
"American Taliban"
is my favorite

"Christian White" would make a nice slip of the tongue.

"Fanatical Fundamentalists" is an alliterative mouthful

"Hate Wing Christians" is apropos for the leaders of many of the "family values" groups.

"Self-Appointed Popes" ditto

by Ottnott 2004-11-09 12:53PM | 0 recs
Not recommended for "official" use

Except perhaps the "accidental" use of "Christian White" when referring to attempts to suck African American evangelicals into the American Taliban.
by Ottnott 2004-11-09 12:54PM | 0 recs
Defending the Constitution is our goal
That's a wedge that might work. Here's my line:

Our Founders already had bibles. They created America when they created the Constitution.

by Ottnott 2004-11-09 12:59PM | 0 recs
Radical Evangelicals... let them have their name
I suggest that there has to be an all-out effort to "nounize the adjective "evangelical"... (this is what happened to the term, "liberal") and simultaneously demonize it (like liberal was demonized...)...  This should be easy, as evangicelical sounds like liberal, sounds like vengeful, sounds like radical... Always use the term "those radical evangelicals" (and never with the term "Christian" after it)...  It sort of rolls off the tongue... and contrast that with "Compassionate Christians" or something stupid like that.  

Using it in context, "I'm really scared of the radical evangelicals that have taken over our government.  It seems like compassionate Christians like (candidate X) don't have much of a voice these days, and that scares me."

by NCDem 2004-11-09 01:38PM | 0 recs
p.s.
and the Christian right has too many positive connotations... one may ask him/herself, "I'm a Christian, does that mean I'm wrong if I'm not agreeing with the Christian right?"
by NCDem 2004-11-09 01:42PM | 0 recs
the real problem
The extremist rightwing minority fringe of the Christian religion.

Now the real problem is getting most Christians, who are far more tolerant and sensible, to publically oppose these people who do extremist things in their name.

by QrazyQat 2004-11-09 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: the real problem
you mean... "getting Christians... to oppose Radical Evangelicals..."  Gotta start now.
by NCDem 2004-11-09 01:55PM | 0 recs
admit it
Why not call them what they really are?  People who talk to invisible beings.  Who get their marching orders from nonexistent fairy tales.  Why are we so willing to forget 200-plus years of The Enlightenment and allow religious fanatics to be part of mainstream discourse?  Who said it was OK for people with such a tenuous grip on reality to not only talk openly about their "beliefs" but to think they can reform the rest of our society into thier image?  Why do we never challenge the notion that our system of laws is based on the Ten Commandments?  How much jail time should I get for taking the Lord's name in vain? Or coveting my neighbor's wife?
It wasn't that long ago that when religious kooks came out in public and talked about what they believe that regular people would spin their index fingers around their right ears, making the universal crazy sign?  
We are simply too tolerant of the insanity of religion.  
By the way, I'm not an athiest.
by nittacci 2004-11-09 01:59PM | 0 recs
Problem is
The vast majority of people of people in the country believe in such fairy tales.  And we need at least some of them to vote for our side.
by Geotpf 2004-11-09 04:49PM | 0 recs
Another problem is...
...there is no edit no edit no edit no edit function on this blog.
by Geotpf 2004-11-09 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: admit it
This is so true. We should challenge their illogic and irrationality when they insert their fundamentalist premises into the realm of public policy. We, the media, and mainstream politicians have been far too polite and respectful of fanatical religious ideas. We need to consciously devise strategies for attacking religious literalism without alienating the mainstream moderate Christians.

The radical evangelicals are trying to create the illusion that all Christians are the same and through this recruit moderates into their movement. Hence their drive to capture "morality" and "values" for their side so moderate Christians can be lured into overlooking their literalist biblical leanings and voting with them.  It's important we make sure this doesn't happen. We need to keep the terms "radical" "minority" "fanatic" and "fringe" active in talking about fundamentalists.

by apenny 2004-11-09 06:12PM | 0 recs
Neochristian hard-liners
"Neochristian" has a lot of promise.  Not only does it tie them phonetically to the neocons, it also implies correctly that their interpretation of the bible is "new" rather than "traditional".  This is both accurate AND serves to challenge their fallacious justification that they are merely "interpreting the bible literally" (like hell they are).

Hard-liners stresses that they are uncompromising, which is an accurate depiction.

by AmberChaos 2004-11-09 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Neochristian hard-liners
I like Neochristian too.  It's tru that although the fundamentalists like to pretend they are the oldest, most traditional form of Christianity, they are actually a movement that's a little over a hundred years old -- very much newcomers among Christians.

So

Neochrisitans
radical fringe minority
freedom-haters

On some things that don't work: One is just poo-pooing all believers in god or God; that's not just wrong, it's a mistake.  There are some good people amongst Christians, a lot of them, and they're getting tarred by these radicals -- we have to help them realise that.  And "Evangelical" isn't good either, because there are also some good envangelicals, although that term has been hijacked even more than the more generic "Christian".

by QrazyQat 2004-11-09 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Neochristian hard-liners
You're right.  I'm a Christian, and a member of an "evangelical" denomination.  But not "evangelical" in the wingnut sense, rather in the traditional, non-political, non-fundamentalist definition of the word.  We're a pretty liberal, predominantly pro-Kerry bunch.  And our denomination dates back to Martin Luther (oops, I gave it away).

"Neo-christian".  The more I think about it the more it fits perfectly.

by AmberChaos 2004-11-09 06:19PM | 0 recs
Radical Evangelical...
Yes... "evangelical" is a fine word now, but google the word and it has 13 definitions that pop up, many of which have what "normal" Christians would perceive to be negative connotations.  As the word "liberal" is good, and there are good liberals... the same can be said for "evangelical".  While I whole-heartedly lay claim to the title "liberal"... I no longer am able to use it in polite society!  The same needs to be done for "evangelical"...  There needs to be a culture clash between "evangelicals" (who truly represent a small minority of people in this country... sorry but it's true...) and "Christians"... You can call them names... call them "meanies, jerks, neoChristians..." if you want to... that's cute and all... but it's useless.  Only the terms that they use to identify themselves will ever come back to bite them in the ass.  
by NCDem 2004-11-10 03:56AM | 0 recs
Christian Left?
A related question is what should the other Christians call themselves.  I advocate the term 'Love Thy Neighbor Christians'.  Maybe a simpler term for them is 'True Christians'.

Someone suggested that Conservatives should always be called 'Cons'.  I love this.  For example, 'The Cons want to privatize Social Security.'  In this vein, we could contrast the 'True Christians' with the 'Con Christians'.

by EdSez 2004-11-09 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Christian Left?
Attractive idea, but would lead to confusion.  Within their own echo chambers neochristians refer to themselves as "real christians" and people like me on the left as "pseudo-christians".  "True Christians" is too much like "Real Christians".

I'd like the term for liberal Christians to reflect the fact that we focus a lot more on the teachings of Jesus in the gospels than we do the rest of the bible ... and we pretty much ignore the old testament except the psalms and some of the stories we tell the kids in Sunday school.  By contrast, the neochristians love the old testament as well as the later writings.

Maybe the "Golden Rule Christians", since Jesus said that you don't need to follow the ten commandments per se, just follow two rules: the Golden Rule and to honor Jesus as Lord.

by AmberChaos 2004-11-09 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Christian Left?
Call Christians... Christians...

used in a sentence...

"Today, Christians should be concerned that Radical Evangelicals are hijacking our religion and our nation."

by NCDem 2004-11-10 03:59AM | 0 recs
a suggestion....
Theocons.
by global yokel 2004-11-09 06:25PM | 0 recs
I like theocons!
I like theocons. Theocratic conservatives describes them nicely and their dominionist agenda. It also uses the con in conservative to good effect.
by Porco Rosso 2004-11-10 04:19AM | 0 recs
A thought
In light of the fact that most of the so called evangelical traditions are just that and NOT commandments of God (i.e. Easter. Good family time but 'Easter' is really just a pagan deity) I would say the following are not only entertaining names but true :

NeoChristians
QuasiPharasies
QuasiChristians
NewAge Christians (Trust me, in the circle of "evangelicals" the term NEW AGE is one they wouldn't want to be labeled as)
False Prophets
HypoChrats (Hypocritical Christians) I know that would never stick
NeoRights

by Wiseprince 2004-11-10 08:28AM | 0 recs
Falwell says evangelicals control GOP, Bush's fate
The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election.

"The Republican Party does not have the head count to elect a president without the support of religious conservatives," Falwell said at an election training conference of the Christian Coalition.

See the entire article here:  
www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040925/news_1n25christ.html

by elscal 2004-11-10 08:37AM | 0 recs
I agree with NCDem
Radical Evangelicals has a very distinctive ring. Hard to say tho.
Maybe shorten to RaVans. Tied to a lil ditty using E.Allen Poe's "Nevermore"
Any poets out there?
by CFnAR 2004-11-10 11:39AM | 0 recs
RW Radio
Someone asked if the RW radio and TV gets grist for its mill from Delay.

The GOP "talking points" are faxed off daily from offices in the same bldg that houses Fox news in NYC. They then wind their way through wingnut radio, Fox and CNN's Fox Lite, Brit Hume etc.  That's why GOP surrogates like Novak, Scarborough, Hannity, Limbaugh sound so much alike.  They're literally singing from the same sheet of music.

by LeoIntl 2004-11-10 12:33PM | 0 recs
Re: RW Radio
In addition, any wingers who are scheduled to have media interviews are faxed, phoned, and emailed the talking points of the day.  They are given a toll free number to call for questions.

It is this mechanism that explains why all the wingers simultaneously start spouting the same falsifiable lies, like "machine counts are more reliable than hand counts".

by AmberChaos 2004-11-10 02:45PM | 0 recs
get tips from Walter Cronkite & others
Walter Cronkite has been fighting against radical born-again/evalgelicals for some time now. Go to this URL for recent news about the organization.
http://www.religionnews.com/press02/PR101504.html

Bill Moyers just won one of the awards. The above URL has story about the Interfaith Alliance. Why not put some of the money & energy behind this group?

by GreyLion 2004-11-10 01:01PM | 0 recs

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