A Christianity with no Christ

Because I write so frequently on issues of political marginalization and discrimination, I have often been obliged to make the point that words have meaning—not just their intrinsic definitions, but contextual meaning and sometimes varied meaning, depending on who uses them. But every once in awhile, I find that I write about a word that has no meaning at all—and this is one of those cases.

The word is “Christian,” and the person using it is Vox Day, who authors the blog Vox Populi and also writes for WorldNetDaily under the same handle. He calls himself “the Christian Libertarian commentator,” and because, in my experience, the definition of libertarian seems to be somewhat fluid, like most political identifications, his expression of libertarianism as social Darwinism may be odious to me, but not strictly inaccurate. On the other hand, the definition of Christian is not up for grabs. A Christian is someone who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ—and it has lost all meaning to a person who willfully ignores the exhortations of goodness, patience, and love that are central to its namesake’s message.

And I find someone who responds to a critique of a post in which they admit finding “a degree of humor in sex slavery,” and asserting that “if feminists are so concerned about it, then let them end it. It's not a problem for men,” by penning a second post directed at a female critic entitled “She will look beautiful in chains,” to be wholly devoid of any goodness, patience, or love. Someone who engages such hostile rhetoric against someone with whom they disagree, but continues to refer to themselves as a Christian, is also, by any measure, utterly lacking integrity—or, perhaps, a fundamental understanding of the tenets of the religion to which they purport to subscribe.

Ann Coulter calls herself a Christian, too. So do lots of the most prominent purveyors of contemptuous and hateful vitriol on the right. And yet we continually refrain from bluntly starting that you’ve got to act like a Christian if you’re going to call yourself one, because conservatives have been so successful at associating progressives with intolerance of religion. Part of ridding our culture of conservative extremists is refusing to treat with kid gloves hate speech that is shielded behind a cloak of averred Christianity. A Christianity with no Christ is not Christianity at all. It’s just a tool to deflect legitimate criticism, and it is not to be respected under some twisted definition of religious tolerance—because it doesn’t serve anyone, especially not actual Christians, except the people who demand our underserved reverence.

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