The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government

By Chris Hedges | 7 October 2013
OpEdNews

(Image: Emil Lendof / The Daily Beast)
(Image: Emil Lendof / The Daily Beast)

There is a desire felt by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment, radically diminish the role of government to create a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and force a recalcitrant world to bend to the will of an imperial and “Christian” America. Its public face is on display in the House of Representatives. This ideology, which is the driving force behind the shutdown of the government, calls for the eradication of social “deviants,” beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country.

Once these “deviants” are removed, other “deviants,” including Muslims, liberals, feminists, intellectuals, left-wing activists, undocumented workers, poor African-Americans and those dismissed as “nominal Christians” — meaning Christians who do not embrace this peculiar interpretation of the Bible — will also be ruthlessly repressed. The “deviant” government bureaucrats, the “deviant” media, the “deviant” schools and the “deviant” churches, all agents of Satan, will be crushed or radically reformed. The rights of these “deviants” will be annulled. “Christian values” and “family values” will, in the new state, be propagated by all institutions. Education and social welfare will be handed over to the church. Facts and self-criticism will be replaced with relentless indoctrination.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry — and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism.

This ideology calls on anointed “Christian” leaders to take over the state and make the goals and laws of the nation “biblical.” It seeks to reduce government to organizing little more than defense, internal security and the protection of property rights. It fuses with the Christian religion the iconography and language of American imperialism and nationalism, along with the cruelest aspects of corporate capitalism. The intellectual and moral hollowness of the ideology, its flagrant distortion and misuse of the Bible, the contradictions that abound within it — its leaders champion small government and a large military, as if the military is not part of government — and its laughable pseudo-science are impervious to reason and fact. And that is why the movement is dangerous.

The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the Christian right. The movement uses religion to sanctify military and heroic “virtues,” glorify blind obedience and order over reason and conscience, and pander to the euphoria of collective emotions. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and ultimately slaying nonbelievers.

This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is appealing to the powerless. It stokes the anger of many Americans, mostly white and economically disadvantaged, and encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is fostered by bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are prominent in the rhetoric of those leading the government shutdown. Believers, especially now, are called to a perpetual state of war with the “secular humanist” state. The march, they believe, is irreversible. Global war, even nuclear war, is the joyful harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms billions of apostates to death.

Dominionists believe they are engaged in an epic battle against the forces of Satan. They live in a binary world of black and white. They feel they are victims, surrounded by sinister groups bent on their destruction. They have anointed themselves as agents of God who alone know God’s will. They sanctify their rage. This rage lies at the center of the ideology. It leaves them sputtering inanities about Barack Obama, his corporate-sponsored health care reform bill, his alleged mandated suicide counseling or “death panels” for seniors under the bill, his supposed secret alliance with radical Muslims, and “creeping socialism.” They see the government bureaucracy as being controlled by “secular humanists” who want to destroy the family and make war against the purity of their belief system. They seek total cultural and political domination.

All ideological, theological and political debates with the radical Christian right are useless. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. Its adherents are using the space within the open society to destroy the open society itself. Our naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthen its supposed legitimacy and increase our own weakness.

Dominionists have to operate, for now, in what they see as the contaminated environment of the secular, liberal state. They work with the rest of us only because they must. Given enough power — and they are working hard to get it — any such cooperation will vanish. They are no different from the vanguard described by Lenin or the Islamic terrorists who shaved off their beards, adopted Western dress and watched pay-for-view pornography in their hotel rooms the night before hijacking a plane for a suicide attack. The elect alone, like the Grand Inquisitor, are sanctioned to know the truth. And in the pursuit of their truth they have no moral constraints.

I spent two years inside the Christian right in writing my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” I attended services at megachurches across the country, went to numerous lectures and talks, sat in on creationist seminars, attended classes on religious proselytizing and conversion, spent weekends at “right-to-life” retreats and interviewed dozens of followers and leaders of the movement. Though I was sympathetic to the financial dislocation, the struggles with addictions, the pain of domestic and sexual violence, and the deep despair that drew people to the movement, I was also acutely aware of the dangerous ideology these people embraced. Fascist movements begin as champions of civic improvement, communal ideals, moral purity, strength, national greatness and family values. These movements attract, as has the radical Christian right, those who are disillusioned by the collapse of liberal democracy. And our liberal democracy has collapsed.

We have abandoned our poor and working class. We have created a government monster that sucks the marrow out of our bones to enrich and empower the oligarchic and corporate elite. The protection of criminals, whether in war or on Wall Street, is part of our mirage of law and order. We have betrayed the vast and growing underclass. Most believers within the Christian right are struggling to survive in a hostile world. We have failed them. Their very real despair is being manipulated and used by Christian fascists such as the Texas senator. Give to the working poor a living wage, benefits and job security and the reach of this movement will diminish. Refuse to ameliorate the suffering of the poor and working class and you ensure the ascendancy of a Christian fascism.

The Christian right needs only a spark to set it ablaze. Another catastrophic act of domestic terrorism, hyperinflation, a series of devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes or massive wildfires or another financial meltdown will be the trigger. Then what is left of our anemic open society will disintegrate. The rise of Christian fascism is aided by our complacency. The longer we fail to openly denounce and defy bankrupt liberalism, the longer we permit corporate power to plunder the nation and destroy the ecosystem, the longer we stand slack-jawed before the open gates of the city waiting meekly for the barbarians, the more we ensure their arrival.

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.

Chris Hedges: “AMERICAN FASCISTS” The Christian Right vs USA

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8 COMMENTS

    • Cruz….absolutely a Dominionist, and many others are attempting (and succeeding) to gain positions in local and state government in order to push this agenda.

  1. Excellent reporting! The liberal establishment is rotten to the core. Had Bernie Sanders not brought this issue to light, many would have remained ignorant. If the GOP win this presidential election, the society will break down sooner rather than later. However, the radical Right-Wing has almost achieved its goal. 30+ states are deep red and have been completely destroyed. Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan are wastelands.

    • Bernie Sanders has educated millions. If we are fortunate enough to elect Clinton, perhaps it will give us the time we desperately need to reverse this horrifying trend.

    • Unfortunately, so is Oklahoma. I fear it may be in worse condition than the others you mentioned. Many years of a Republican super majority have reduced corporate taxes at the expense of the poor and uneducated. In a state rich with oil and gas production, which used to translate into a state operating in the black with a nice rainy day fund compliments of oil and gas taxes, during the last oil boom this state reduced taxes, and now the people are paying for it.
      The state has privatized several former state resorts. I grew up close to Lake Texoma Lodge and Resort. The buyers were contracted to rebuild a new, modern lodge, and use much of the land for private lake condos. They’ve done neither. And when they were sued by citizens to return the undeveloped land, state hucksters were quick to give the developers all the choice land, and no doubt some of that land will find its way to cheap ownership by current government officials. Same song, different verse. The previous multi-term GOP governor helped himself to some cheap land in downtown OKC because he knew of the planned reconstruction, and is making a fortune now with parking garages, in addition to his DC lobbyist job.
      Many jobs were lost in rural areas when the state decided to sell off the state lodges. In many situations, it was the end of businesses that hired many people. It matters not to these whores of capitalists that these locations were popular camping sites to families that could afford little more in the way of travel and vacation, or that these lodges were popular family, high school, and college reunion destinations.
      Do you hear that sucking sound? That’s Oklahoma. No money for education because the GOP supermajority cut corporate taxes. Tornado Alley. Earthquake capital of the world because of fracking waste water wells for the last 60+ years. Polluted ground water tables. So poor they’re having to close many public assistance offices and laying off social workers, increasing the burden on the remaining overworked case workers. Closing schools. Reducing school days. If states are labs of democracy, why do we keep repeating failed experiments?

  2. ~ The Separation Of Church And Hate:

    There is a good reason why Church and State must always remain separate. Let’s get something straight, right from the start: A theocratic state is not a free state, and never will be. I’m sure it was never Jesus’ intention nor was it His will that anyone should be dominated in His name, the name of Christ. That is the will of men. To be accurate, the concept in itself is anti-Christian. You can only follow Christ by choice, not by legislation.

    It seems some people are more intent on casting stones at perceived sinners than propagating the love of Christ. ~ “Above all else, I command you love one another”. ~ This was the message that Jesus preached, and as far as I can see, the worth of a soul will only be measured as such. But I can assure you of one thing, when your time of judgment comes, you won’t be asked to recite scripture, but rather, if anything, the question will be: Did you get the message and live by it?

    For all of you people out there on the religious right, you should try to remember that looking for sins to condemn, and people to persecute in the name of God, is simply Satan’s way of keeping you from seeing what is good and praiseworthy. It’s Satan’s favorite means of deceit; getting people to hate and kill each other in the name of God and Christ Jesus. Twisting scripture to incite hatred and division.

    Understand this; that by doing so, you are defaming the name of Christ, associating Jesus with bigotry and hate. Jesus was never cursed with these feelings, these sins that you commit in His name. It’s widely agreed that He rose above it all, and to use His name for the justification of spreading contempt and hatred for anyone is true heresy. It isn’t Pro-Christ by any means, but clearly Anti-Christ.

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    ~ It doesn’t really seem to matter at this point if you believe in God and Christ or not. What we have are Anti-Christians, the antithesis of the persona Jesus, and they are attempting, through legislation, to declare America to be a theocratic state and nation, legitimizing discrimination under the false guise of “religious freedom”. If you’re not one of the “chosen” you’re fair game for persecution, oppression and abuse. It’s a perfect “us” and “them” scenario. If you express opposing views to the “Order” or you’re a non-believer, or in any way perceived as a “sinner”, they’ll be coming for you.

    ~ Anti-Christians ~ The scriptures flow as sweet as honey from their lips, seducing and robbing in the name of God. These are the ones Jesus spoke of that would come in the End Times and deceive many in His name. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

  3. The religious right frightens me. I am trained and credentialed as a theologian and, as such, see legitimacy in sincere beliefs. I do NOT see legitimacy in coercion and in a falsely universalizing attempt to make one religion first among equals (or non-equals).

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