(Welcome Hugh Hewitt fans. Feel free to browse around the site and maybe find a few things to smile about. Aloha, Bird of Paradise)
The word "Christer
" (and "Christers
") is used repeatedly in today's article in the LA Weekly
entitled, "The New Blacklist," written by Doug Ireland. The word is not used in a complimentary fashion.
For me this is a new word. From the context of the article it appears that Ireland is using it as a synomym for "anti-gay Christian groups," a phrase that appears in the article's sub-title.
Elsewhere in the article he associates the word with "the Christian Right," specific organizations such as the "Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association," the "Illinois Family Institute," "Focus on the Family," the "Family Research Council" and "similar national groups," "far right and theocratic fundamentalism," "local pressure campaigns and boycott threats," and initiators of "censorship and pressure campaigns" and individuals such as "Ken Hutcherson — a conservative National Football League linebacker turned preacher."
Martin Kaplan (director of the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC), is quoted as identifying Christers as those who wish to move toward “theocratic oligopoly. The drumbeat of religious fascism..." (see Hugh Hewitt's reaction to this quote here
Chip Berlet (senior analyst at the labor-funded Political Research Associates... and co-author of "Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort") identifies Christers as having
"an incredible dread, completely irrational, of a hodgepodge of sexual subversion and social chaos...motivated by fundamentalist Christian doctrines like Triumphalism and Dominionism, which order Christians to take over the secular state and secular institutions."
Berlet further describes Christers as "fundamentalist religious primitives," who see Bush's reelection "as a mandate from God" and who "see that the leadership of America is within their grasp."
Ireland also speaks of those who read and believe in the Bible as though they were from another planet. Here is one example:
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.....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."
Wow. I had no idea that one word could mean so much!
A Google-search showed the earliest internet useage of this word to be in a beastiality story
posted on June 14, 2004. The first time the word appears with the sense used by Ireland, however, seems to have been November 16, 2004 in a posting at Unknown News
entitled, "Slouching Towards Gilead, where we find,
Fascists don't do elections.
Christers determined to set up a Christer Nation don't do elections.
Next, dated March 25, 2005, during the Terry Schiavo vigil there is a headline at the blogsite Direland
that reads, "SCHIAVO: NADER ALLIES HIMSELF WITH THE CHRISTERS."
The word also appears in an undated article that quotes the word as used by a member of the Church of Christ in a self-reflective manner--"Church of Christer
It also shows up as the name of a fictitious "Christian Band" in the recently released "spoof" movie, "Never Been Thawed." In a review of the movie
In the film, the Christers - made up of Anders and three local musicians - were created when a punk band called the Reach Arounds switched to contemporary Christian music purely for financial reasons, billing themselves as "the bad boyz of Christian rock.
"Their performances mix religion with profanity-laced banter by Anders' character, a frozen-food collector named Shawn, who's more interested in hooking up with "really hot Christian chicks" than finding salvation."
It would appear that the words "Christer" and "Christers" have been recently resurrected and re-constructed by liberal secularists so as to be used to lable and demean conservative Christians.
Curiously, neither of the words appear on any of the on-line encyclopedias (including Wikipedia
, which is always ahead of the game on most things), dictionaries or thesauri. A few sites devoted to idioms and slang did produce the following citations:
The word appears as an idiom from Carleton County, New Brunswick, Canada,
christer \'kryz-tur\ n - Also: christler; Term of disapprobrium generally applied to minors and (ironically) equivalent to "li'l' devil"; "C'm'ere you little christer, and stop makin' such a racket." Etymology is obvious, and typical of the indiscriminately iconoclastic County dialect.
Also, according to Bartleby
The word Christer has two meanings in England. It is used by printers to designate an exclamation point, and by other people in a sense which I can best explain by illustration. A Harvard professor, an Englishman, was discussing a certain English journalist then in this country, and he said to me: ‘Oh, he’s a simply fearful Christer; preaches in chapel every Sunday, and all that.”’
American poet, Allen Tate (1899-1976), used the word in his poem, "The Swimmers
," as follows,
the horsemen came
Again, all but the leader: it was night
Momently and I feared: eleven same
Jesus-Christers unmembered and unmade,
Whose Corpse had died again in dirty shame.
Also, at the Canadian Webzine "Barbed Wire
," in their final on-line issue described as "The Death Issue," a submission entitled, "Lady Dead Freshness versus the Greatest Race Driver Who Ever Lived," by William Harper, uses the word in this context (edited for obscenity),
WALLING: What kind of Celine f***g Dion fans do you take us for? Get out of here, Holy Man. Get out of my sight this instant or I'll f***g hammer you!
MONK: Good God!
WALLING: No. Angry f***g vengeful god. Now split, you stupid Christer!
The on-line Urban Dictionary
does, in fact, have a definition of the word, "christer,"
1. When you use the position in other words known as "doggystyle" (as in) "God i just christer'd that girl"
(Do you suppose this is in contrast to the "Missionary Position?")
A visit to the local library this afternoon took me to the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary where I found this listing:
Christer--U.S. slang; a term applied disparingingly to anoverzealous, over-pious, or sanctimonious person.
The OED lists the earliest known citation for the use of this word as, "1924 W. Fabian, Sailors' Wives vii 90 'You never were a Christer in college.'" Subsequent citations are listed for John dos Passos, Henry Miller and Ezra Pound.
I find it curious that this venerable tome finds the word to be of recent U.S. origin whereas Bartleby's offers two English usages for the word and none for North America! I suppose that more research is needed to determine the full etymology of this word.
In any case, it is clear that those who desire to demean and discredit conservative, evangelical Christians have now discovered a new set of words to work their verbal mischief. I fully expect the words "Christer" and "Christers" to rapidly become common usage in both the print and online media. Television will also soon be using these terms, first in cable shows but, not too far behind, network sit-coms as well.
In the New Testament we can read in Acts 11:26
that it was in Antioch (Syria) that Jesus' disciples were first called "Christians." I expect that the term, which means, more or less, "little Christs," was coined by local Jews or pagans to mock and deride those who had commited themselves to following the risen Jesus as Lord and Savior. In any case, the name stuck and was quickly worn by these disciples as a mark of honor.
Perhaps those of us who are Christians today should take the descriptive word "Christer" and wear it proudly, too! By embracing it and annointing it with the grace and power of the Spirit of Christ we will soon empty it of whatever imaginary power it may have to insult or demean us in the eyes of the world.
Maybe I shall wear a button reading, "I am a Christer! And I am not ashamed!"
I don't believe that Mr. Ireland has any idea what he has gotten himself into!