Onward Christian Fascists

Onward Christian soldiers!
  Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
  Going on before.
Christ, the royal Master,
  Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
  See, His banners go!

At the name of Jesus
  Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers,
  On to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver
  At the shout of praise:
Brothers, lift your voices,
  Loud your anthems raise!

Like a mighty army
  Moves the Church of God:
Brothers, we are treading
  Where the saints have trod;
We are not divided,
  All one Body we—
One in faith and Spirit,
  One eternally.

Crowns and thrones may perish,
  Kingdoms rise and wane;
But the Church of Jesus
  Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never
  ’Gainst the Church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise,
  Which can never fail

Onward, then, ye people!
  Join our happy throng;
Blend with ours your voices
  In the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor
  Unto Christ, the King;
This through countless ages
  Men and angels sing.

~ Sabine Baring-Gould (1865)

by Chris Hedges edited by O Society Jan 2, 2019

The great moral failing of the liberal Christian church is its refusal, justified in the name of tolerance and dialogue, to denounce the followers of the Christian right as heretics. By tolerating the intolerant it ceded religious legitimacy to an array of con artists, charlatans and demagogues and their cultish supporters. It stood by as the core Gospel message—concern for the poor and the oppressed—was perverted into a magical world where God and Jesus showered believers with material wealth and power. The white race, especially in the United States, became God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war became divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, became shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation.

The iconography and symbols of American nationalism became intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. The mega-pastors, narcissists who rule despotic, cult-like fiefdoms, make millions of dollars by using this heretical belief system to prey on the mounting despair and desperation of their congregations, victims of neoliberalism and deindustrialization. These believers find in Donald Trump a reflection of themselves, a champion of the unfettered greed, cult of masculinity, lust for violence, white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, religious intolerance, anger, racism and conspiracy theories that define the central beliefs of the Christian right. When I wrote “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” I was deadly serious about the term “fascists.”

The evangelical magazine Christianity Today, by stating the obvious about Trump – he is immoral and should be removed from office – became the latest recipient of the Christian right’s vicious and hypocritical backlash. Nearly 200 evangelical leaders, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Ralph Reed, signed a joint letter denouncing the Christianity Today editorial, written by the magazine’s president, Timothy Dalrymple, and outgoing Editor Mark Galli. Evangelical Christians who criticize Trump are as swiftly disappeared from the ranks as Republican politicians who criticize Trump. Trump received 80% of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 presidential election, and in a poll this month 90% of Republicans say they oppose impeachment and ouster of the president. Among Republicans who identify as white evangelical Protestants, that number rises to 99%.

Tens of millions of Americans live hermetically sealed inside the vast media and educational edifice controlled by Christian fascists. In this world, miracles are real, Satan, allied with secular humanists and Muslims, is seeking to destroy America, and Trump is God’s anointed vessel to build the Christian nation and cement into place a government that instills “biblical values.” These “biblical values” include banning abortion, protecting the traditional family, turning the Ten Commandments into secular law, crushing “infidels,” especially Muslims, indoctrinating children in schools with “biblical” teachings and thwarting sexual license, which includes any sexual relationship other than in a marriage between a man and a woman. Trump is routinely compared by evangelical leaders to the biblical king Cyrus, who rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and restored the Jews to the city.

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Trump filled his own ideological void with Christian fascism. He elevated members of the Christian right to prominent positions, including Mike Pence to the vice presidency, Mike Pompeo to secretary of state, Betsy DeVos to secretary of education, Ben Carson to secretary of housing and urban development, William Barr to attorney general, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the televangelist Paula White to his Faith and Opportunities Initiative.

More importantly, Trump handed the Christian right veto and appointment power over key positions in government, especially in the federal courts. He installed 133 district court judges out of 677 total, 50 appeals court judges out of 179 total, and two U.S. Supreme Court justices out of nine. Almost all of these judges are, in effect, selected by the Federalist Society and the Christian right. Many of the extremists who make up the judicial appointees are rated as unqualified by the American Bar Association, the country’s largest nonpartisan coalition of lawyers. Trump moved to ban Muslim immigrants and rolled back civil rights legislation. He made war on reproductive rights by restricting abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. He stripped away LGBTQ rights.

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Trump ripped down the firewall between church and state by revoking the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches, which are tax-exempt, from endorsing political candidates. His appointees throughout the government routinely use biblical strictures to justify an array of policy decisions including environmental deregulation, war, tax cuts and the replacement of public schools with charter schools, an action that permits the transfer of federal education funds to private “Christian” schools.

I studied ethics at Harvard Divinity School with James Luther Adams, who was in Germany in 1935 and 1936. Adams witnessed the rise there of the so-called Christian Church, which was pro-Nazi. He warned us about the disturbing parallels between the German Christian Church and the Christian right. Adolf Hitler was in the eyes of the German Christian Church a volk messiah and an instrument of God—a view similar to the one held today about Trump by many of his white evangelical supporters.

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Those demonized for Germany’s economic collapse, especially Jews and communists, were agents of Satan. Fascism, Adams told us, always cloaked itself in a nation’s most cherished symbols and rhetoric. Fascism would come to America not in the guise of stiff-armed, marching brownshirts and Nazi swastikas but in mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, the biblical sanctification of the state and the sacralization of American militarism. Adams was the first person I heard label the extremists of the Christian right as fascists. Liberals, he warned, as in Nazi Germany, were blind to the tragic dimension of history and radical evil. They would not react until it was too late.

Trump’s legacy will be the empowerment of the Christian fascists. They are what comes next. For decades they organized to take power. They built infrastructures and organizations, including lobbying groups, schools, and universities as well as media platforms, to prepare. They seeded their cadre into the political system. Meanwhile, we see our institutions and organizations destroyed or corrupted by corporate power.

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The Christian fascists, as in all totalitarian movements, need a crisis, manufactured or real, in order to seize power. This crisis may be financial. It could be triggered by a catastrophic terrorist attack. Or it could be the result of a societal breakdown from our climate emergency. The Christian fascists are poised to take advantage of the chaos, or perceived chaos. They have their own version of the brownshirts, the for-hire mercenary armies and private contractors amassed by Christian fascists such as Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos. The Christian fascists seized control of significant portions of the judiciary and legislative branches of government. FRC Action, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, gives 245 members of Congress a perfect 100% for votes that support the agenda of the Christian right. The Family Research Council, which calls on its followers to pray God will vanquish the “demonic forces” behind Trump’s impeachment, is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group because of its campaigns to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

The ideology of the Christian fascists panders in our decline to the primitive yearnings for the vengeance, new glory and moral renewal that are found among those pushed aside by deindustrialization and austerity. Reason, facts and verifiable truth are impotent weapons against this belief system. The Christian right is a “crisis cult.” Crisis cults arise in most collapsing societies. They promise, through magic, to recover the lost grandeur and power of a mythologized past. This magical thinking banishes doubt, anxiety and feelings of disempowerment. Traditional social hierarchies and rules, including an unapologetic white, male supremacy, will be restored. Rituals and behaviors including an unquestioning submission to authority and acts of violence to cleanse the society of evil will vanquish malevolent forces.

2 When I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up, I will not be ashamed of it.

~ Paul 2 Corinthians 10

The Christian fascists propagate their magical thinking through a selective literalism in addressing the Bible. They hold up as sacrosanct biblical passages that buttress their ideology and ignore, or grossly misinterpret, the ones that do not. They live in a binary universe. They see themselves as eternal victims, oppressed by dark and sinister groups seeking their annihilation. They alone know the will of God. They alone can fulfill God’s will. They seek total cultural and political domination. The secular, reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels, and magic do not exist, destroyed their lives and communities. That world took away their jobs and their futures. It ripped apart the social bonds that once gave them purpose, dignity and hope.

In their despair, they often struggle with alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions. They endured familial breakdown, divorce, evictions, unemployment and domestic and sexual violence. The only thing that saved them was their conversion, the realization that God had a plan for them and would protect them. These believers were pushed by a callous, heartless corporate society and rapacious oligarchy into the arms of charlatans. All who speak to them in the calm, rational language of fact and evidence are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to force believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them.

We can blunt the rise of this Christian fascism only by reintegrating exploited and abused Americans into society, giving them jobs with stable, sustainable incomes, relieving their crushing personal debts, rebuilding their communities and transforming our failed democracy into one in which everyone has agency and a voice. We must impart to them hope, not only for themselves but for their children.

Christian fascism is an emotional life raft for tens of millions. It is impervious to the education, dialogue, and discourse the liberal class naively believes can blunt or domesticate the movement. The Christian fascists, by choice, severed themselves from rational thought. We will not placate or disarm this movement, bent on our destruction, by attempting to claim we too have Christian “values.” This appeal only strengthens the legitimacy of the Christian fascists and weakens our own. We will transform American society to a system that provides meaning, dignity, and hope to all citizens, cares and nurtures the most vulnerable among us, or we will become the victims of the Christian fascists we created.

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats or How Donald Trump Stole My Old Church

14 thoughts on “Onward Christian Fascists

    1. How stupid are you? No really. Do you really not know Mao and Stalin were atheists or do you pretend to be this stupid? My friends have a bet going on this, so which is it? Really stupid or pretend stupid?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m not writing that Stalin or Mao were Christians.
        I’m writing that the Christian left has created a false dichotomy for itself. They won’t disclaim Stalin or Mao. How many Christians did Stalin kill? Who were the two biggest murderers of the 20th century or for that matter all time?
        It wasn’t the Christian right it was the left
        Yet the Christian Liberation theology retards still endorse marxist-leninist ism.
        How many people have Liberation theology goons killed?
        I assure you thousands more than the Christian right has.
        So just put me in the category of truly retarded

        Like

    1. My spell check changed AOC into son for some unknown reason.

      I’m moved to write because the Christian right is quite benign when compared to the New World Orders
      religion of technocracy.
      How many people were killed under this religious banner by the left❓

      Like

  1. What the hell are you talking about? Where the hell did I (or Chris Hedges) advocate technocracy? Where did I raise a religious banner or kill anyone? You are just making stuff up to construct some sort of straw man and change the subject from Trump and these right-wing fundamentalist fascists frauds and kooks.

    What I say is run like hell from all this “smart” tech infiltrating your houses and your phones and your minds. Hedges says the same thing about Bezos and Zuckerburg and the rest of these so-called “thought leaders.” I never told anyone to vote for Clinton or Obama nor did I sign off on any Elon Musk star wars fantasies.

    What I said is fuck them all. Every president we’ve had in America during my lifetime over the last four decades – from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump – can lick my salty balls and kiss my pimpled arse. That goes for the tech CEO charlatans of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram as well.

    This is what I (and Hedges) said:

    https://osociety.org/2018/12/27/a-history-of-neoliberalism-chris-hedges-david-harvey-and-michael-hudson/

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Ben. As stated many times previously, my only solid political belief is one of anti-authoritarianism, which is to say any sort of person claiming authority over others must justify itself to the people over whom it claims authority.

        This goes for right AND left wing governments, Christians AND non-Christians, black people AND white people, and so on. Doesn’t matter who is in charge if they are not looking out for the best interests of the people governed.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I might add that I also oppose all forms of hateful, cruel, unfair, unjust, oppressive, or otherwise harmful expressions of xenophobia, bigotry, prejudice, and bias. But a broad principle of anti-authoritarianism generally covers that already. As a point of discernment, I would clarify a distinction. Right-wing and left-wing can be muddled categories. Both Trump and Hitler used progressive rhetoric to gain power and promote socially conservative agendas. Then again, Clinton Democrats likewise use progressive rhetoric to get elected, only to then serve their corporate masters.

        That has stood out to me. Look even to so-called ‘left-wing’ governments like Stalinism. No different than Nazis, Stalinists also persecuted, banished, imprisoned, tortured, and killed not only those in many ways further to the left of them economically (Marxists, anarchists, Trotskyists, democratic socialists, social democrats, labor unionists, etc) but more specifically those who were further left on social issues (sexual ‘deviants’, feminists, radical artists, critical writers, freethinking journalists, free speech advocates, outspoken pubic intellectuals, liberal arts professors, etc).

        So, it is always an issue of what is the standard we are judging by. What kind of ‘left’? Or left of what exactly? If we look at US public polling on nearly every major issue or public policy, it’s obvious that the majority of Americans are to the left of the entire corporatist media, think tanks, lobbyists, and two-party system. Most Americans, when asked, want less inequality and greater democracy. What are the Clinton Democrats to the left of besides the outright fascists, inverted totalitarians, supremacists, and theocrats? Even on a social issue like same-sex marriage that supposedly defines the Democratic Party, most Americans were in support of it years before Democratic leaders such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stated support.

        In the end, authoritarians are reactionaries and don’t specifically care about standard ideological categories, much less partisan politics. The FBI was just as happy destroying the Second Klan as they were attacking the Black Panthers, as highly motivated to go after Mafia bosses as attempting to blackmail MLK into suicide. Authoritarians do hate civil rights, human rights, free speech, freedom to assemble, democratic process, community organizing, and self-governance in general. Yet in some ways what authoritarians hate most of all are other competing forms of authoritarianism, toward which they can be the most brutal. Sometimes both sides of a fight are authoritarian, which leaves genuine freedom lovers in an awkward and dangerous place.

        Liked by 1 person

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