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Christianism had various definitions over the years. It was originally defined as "the Christian religion" or "the Christian world", with cognates in languages like Spanish (cristianismo) or French (christianisme) retaining this meaning. In recent years, Christianism (or Christianist) has also been used as a descriptive term of Christian political conservatives mostly in the United States, for the ideology of the Christian right, meant as a counterpoint to "Islamism". Writing in 2005, the New York Times language columnist William Safire attributed the term (in its modern usage) to blogger Andrew Sullivan, who wrote on June 1, 2003:
I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.
The bloggers Tristero and David Neiwert used the term shortly after. Sullivan later expanded on his usage of the term in a Time magazine column. Uses of the term can be found dating back to the seventeenth century, but these are unrelated to its modern meaning.
This word does not operate strictly within the etymology of the suffix "-ism" which means "doctrine, theory, system of principles" (the other meanings are not applicable to religions) whereas the suffix "-ity" means just "state, quality or condition". In other Latin-based languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, French, Occitan, Catalan, Italian, etc. the suffix "-ity" (-idad, -dade, -té, -ità) means Christians as a group, their geographical distribution, and their shared cultural identity, what in English is called Christendom, with its own suffix being of Germanic etymological roots.
- Safire, William (May 15, 2005). "Isms and Phobias". New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
- Walker, Ruth (May 20, 2005). "Onward, Christianist soldiers?". Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Massachusetts: The Christian Science Monitor). Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- When Semantic Differences Are Not: Part Two Tristero, June 2, 2003, accessed January 31, 2010.
- Neiwert, David (June 8, 2003). "How about Christianism?". Orcinus.
- Sullivan, Andrew (May 7, 2006)."My Problem with Christianism", Time, accessed January 31, 2010.
- Brown, Andrew (February 22, 2012). "Catholic Church leader rejects claim UK Christians are persecuted". The Guardian.
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