Well, there seems to be a new term of derision directed at those of us who follow the Christ. That term is “Christer”, used in a sense not unlike “nigger” or “kike” by bigots. Take this example, which is the source of the current controversy.
Today’s Christer protests are targeting a different kind of subversion. Chip Berlet, senior analyst at the labor-funded Political Research Associates, has spent over 25 years studying the far right and theocratic fundamentalism. He is co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. Berlet — who was one of the speakers at a conference last month co-sponsored by the N.Y. Open Center and the City University of New York Graduate Center on “Examining the Real Agenda of the Christian Right” — says that “What’s motivating these people is two things. First, an incredible dread, completely irrational, of a hodgepodge of sexual subversion and social chaos. The response to that fear is genuinely a grassroots response, and it’s motivated by fundamentalist Christian doctrines like Triumphalism and Dominionism, which order Christians to take over the secular state and secular institutions. The Christian right frames itself as an oppressed minority battling the secular-humanist liberal homofeminist hordes.”
The key to those doctrines is what fundamentalist religious primitives call the Great Commission, which is basically an injunction to convert everyone to Christianity. In the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20), it says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . .” The fundamentalist interpretations of these and other texts can be found on evangelical Web sites like Thegreatcommission.com, Transferableconcepts.com and Gospelcom.net. They have incredible motivating power for the religious right, and help explain the vehemence of the Christers’ intolerance of the freedom of others to think or act differently.
Says Berlet, “The re-election of Bush was a sort of tipping point for these people, who take it as a mandate from God — they see that the leadership of America is within their grasp, and when you get closer to your goal, it’s very energizing. It reaches a critical mass, in which the evangelicals feel they have permission to push their way into public and cultural policy in every walk and expression of life.” All that, says Berlet, is what is motivating the skein of Christer boycotts, protest campaigns and censorship drives bubbling from the bottom up — which get added emotional and pressure power from the fund-raising-driven crusades launched by political Christer organizations like AFA at the national level. The confluence of from-above and from-below is a powerful mix.
Of course, the point is that “Christers” take their religion so seriously that they constitute a threat to American freedom. They are aliens among us, and must be stopped before they destroy the purity of American culture (as defined by the Left). Freedom itself is at stake if they are permitted to engage in political activities that have long been the stock in trade of the American left – activities like political organizing, petitioning the government for a redress of grievances, and boycotting those who act contrary to their values. Such actions, lauded when engaged in by the forces of “progressive Leftism” (remember the Leftist boycotts of Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh, as well as the invention of the “Fox Blocker”), are the source of a potential theocracy when engage in by the Religious Right. It must therefore have its rights and freedoms sharply limited in the name of ensuring the greatest possible rights and freedoms – for the Left. After all, they are only “primitive Christers” (so much for toleration for cultural diversity).
Of course, there is something in all this that gives me a certain satisfaction. As a member of the group that is defamed, I am rather pleased that those who hate me and my beliefs have honored me by smearing me with the name of my Lord and Savior. And not only that, by implication they have created their own label, one which is the ultimate truth in advertising. They are “Anti-Christers” – and we all know who that means they follow.