Are You a Christian Supremacist? Maybe You Should Be.
For the past few years, critics of Christians in America have been searching for a label that would catch on and advance their message of opposing Christian values and those who hold them.
For some time they’d tried “Christian extremist,” borrowing from Islamic extremists, but it faltered largely because few people see Christians strapping on suicide vests and blowing up shopping malls. Besides, what’s a Christian extremist going to do? Tell you Jesus really, really loves you?
More recently, activists have tried to label Christians as “supremacists,” presumably borrowing from the more commonly heard term “white supremacists”. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has been using the term for quite some time to malign Christians in the military, and Tom Carpenter of the homosexual activist Forum on the Military Chaplaincy recently used it to criticize Ron Crews and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
But what does it actually mean?
If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it has been that words have meaning — at least, they’re supposed to, until such time as the culture starts to skew what the words were meant to say (see: discrimination).
So what is a “supremacist”?
Well, it depends.
According to the dictionary, a supremacist is one who is
an advocate or adherent of a group highest in degree, quality, rank or authority
While slightly awkward, one might say that a religious “supremacist” was one who believed their faith was the one “highest in rank or authority.”
And that statement would categorize the majority of the known world, since Christians, Muslims, and Jews all believe their religious beliefs to be theologically authoritative. In fact, if you’re one of those three religions and you’re not a “supremacist” under that definition, you’re doing it wrong.
That would make most of the world “supremacist,” though.
That’s likely not the definition Mikey Weinstein, Tom Carpenter, and others who share their antipathy toward Christians mean to use. Rather, they are relying on the cultural familiarity with uses like “white supremacist,” where the connotation is one who believes they are “superior” to or better than someone else — or one who wants to establish superiority over someone else.
And that’s where the practice of labeling falls apart, and becomes little more than playground level name-calling.
As a whole, even many who do not agree with Christianity will acknowledge it is a faith of humility. The most common image of Christianity is that of sacrifice and marytrdom, not aggression. While some may not like the idea of a Christian stating a moral truth or telling them about their sin, even many critics will acknowledge Christians believe that everyone is a sinner — that is, Christians don’t believe they are better than someone else. They believe they’re the same.
Similarly, Mikey Weinstein in particular believes there is a vast, right-wing Christian conspiracy to take over the world and establish the Christian religion as “supreme.” Weinstein’s problem, though, has been that he’s labeled everyone a “supremacist” without ever providing evidence they were trying to usurp democracy in America. Weinstein has used the term as nothing more than a hollow and trivial buzzword, diluting it and making it ultimately worthless.
It is not an unnatural reaction to become offended or defensive when someone tries to communicate the Truth. Consider a man trying to change a tire on the side of the road, only to have a well-intentioned onlooker try to tell him he’s turning the lug nuts the wrong way. While many will at least consider the “advice” and perhaps even appreciate its motives, a few might become angry and proclaim they do not need to be told how to do something as simple as change a tire.
But the fact that the good Samaritan offers a Truth contrary to what the wrench-turning man believes does not mean he is a “supremacist.”
Besides, what if he’s right?
In the end, the label “Christian supremacist” is meaningless, except to act as a dog whistle to lemming-minded supporters who will crowd the comments section of a web site to proclaim their horror that someone should be so reprehensible as to be a “supremacist” — without bothering to try to understand what the person has actually done or said. In most cases, the label is applied for nothing more than the crime of holding or expressing Christian beliefs. “Supremacist” has gone the way of “homophobic” or “anti-gay”, perjoratives that now mean little more than someone not sufficiently promoting and celebrating homosexuality.
Mikey Weinstein — with Tom Carpenter now falling in behind — uses labels because it can be a convenient, pithy and — in this divisive, soundbite world — quick way to grab attention. But just like the bully on the playground, using a label to describe someone — or calling someone a name — doesn’t communicate a message about the person being labeled. It communicates a message about the person doing the labeling.
Categorical labeling is a tool that humans use to resolve the impossible complexity of the environments we grapple to perceive…
So if you’ve earned an affectionate appellation from Mikey Weinstein or one of his followers, wear it with pride. It means you’ve exceeded their comprehension.
And think back to those definitions.
Are you a “Christian supremacist”? Maybe you should be.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6