I have the great fortune of being a subscriber to Time.com.Â Now that may not mean anything to many people, and it may mean something politically suspect to others, but for me it means that I have the opportunity to access and read a very interesting op-ed article on the political movement that has called itself "Christianity".It's a movement that has very little to do with actually loving and following Christ, apparently, which is a personal choice and commitment and which -- in part thanks to Gutenberg and Martin Luther and the Protestant revolution -- can be carried out in the privacy of one's own home and the privacy of one's own head.Â (Catholics, lest you get offended, admit that without Luther and Gutenberg most Christians would still be relying on clerics to tell them what and how they should believe instead of having the option of reading Scripture for themselves.Â Admit it.) Â Rather, it interests itself in what people -- believers and unbelievers alike -- do, and opts (as it did here with Brokeback Mountain -- yes, I am still harping on that) to force everyone to behave as believers should choose to behave.Andrew Sullivan, op-ed writer for Time, has proposed that a distinction be made between Christianity, which interests itself in following Jesus Christ and in believers' personal responsibility to please him in their lives, and Christianism, which is a political movement.Â Here's what he has to say on the subject:
... let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. 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.That's what I dissent from, and I dissent from it as a Christian. I dissent from the political pollution of sincere, personal faith. I dissent most strongly from the attempt to argue that one party represents God and that the other doesn't. I dissent from having my faith co-opted and wielded by people whose politics I do not share and whose intolerance I abhor. The word Christian belongs to no political party. It's time the quiet majority of believers took it back.(for fellow subscribers to Time.com, here's the rest of the article)
Of course, he's situated it in the USA and limited his observations to American political parties.Â He's American; can't kill him for that.Â That aside, though, his observation rings true for us as well, for those who believe that pastors have the right and the responsibility to set the agenda for all Bahamian citizens, regardless of their personal faiths and beliefs.I'm a Christian too, and I definitely don't believe that pastors have any such rights or responsibilities.But then, one of my favourite parts of Jesus' Gospels is the "Woes" (Matthew 23).