American Fascists

The Christian Right and the War on America

by Chris Hedges

Free Press, 2006, paperback


Blaise Pascal

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies'

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them... We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

theologian Richard Fenn

Unless the churches, Protestant and Catholic alike, come together ... they will continue to make it legitimate to believe in the end as a time when there will be no non-Christians or infidels ... Silent complicity with apocalyptic rhetoric soon becomes collusion with plans for religiously inspired genocide.

The mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches, declining in numbers and influence, cannot hope to combat the hysteria and excitement roused by these prophets of doom until they repudiate the apocalyptic writings in scripture.

Human kindness is deeply subversive to totalitarian creeds, which seek to thwart all compassion toward those deemed worthy of moral consideration, those branded as internal or external enemies.

Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets - the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons - clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence. This is part of their attraction. They give us the rules by which we live. But once we hand over this anxiety and accept their authority, we become enslaved and they become our idols. And idols, as the Bible never ceases to tell us, destroy us.

Both the best of American democracy and the best of Christianity embody important values, values such as compassion, tolerance and belief in justice and equality.

... These values, democratic and Christian, are being dismantled, often with stealth, by radical Christian movement, known as dominionism, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism. Dominionism takes its name from Genesis 1:26-31, in which God gives human beings "dominion" over all creation. This movement, small in number but influential, departs from traditional evangelicalism. Dominionists now control at least six national television networks, each reaching tens of millions of homes, and virtually all of the nation's more than 2,000 religious radio stations, as well as denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention. Dominionism seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as it is defined by the scholar Robert 0. Paxton, who sees fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."'

Dominionism, born out of a theology known as Christian reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians.

Both the best of American democracy and the best of Christianity embody important values, values such as compassion, tolerance and belief in justice and equality.

... These values, democratic and Christian, are being dismantled, often with stealth, by radical Christian movement, known as dominionism, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism.

Dominionism, born out of a theology known as Christian reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians.

Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought that we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America's Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will be no longer a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the 10 Commandments form the basis of our legal system, creationism and "Christian values" form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil-rights laws and public schools will be abolished. Women will be removed from the workforce to stay at home, and all those deemed insufficiently Christian will be denied citizenship. Aside from its proselytizing mandate, the federal government will be reduced to the protection of property rights and "homeland" security. Some dominionists (not all of whom accept the label, at least not publicly) would further require all citizens to pay "tithes" to church organizations empowered by the government to run our social-welfare agencies and all schools. The only legitimate voices in this state will be Christian. All others will be silenced.

Joseph Goebbels

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

Robert 0. Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism

Hitler and Mussolini ... had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes for Stars and Bars and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy."

There are at least 70 million evangelicals in the United States, about 25 percent of the population - attending more than 200,000 evangelical churches. Polls indicate that about 40 percent of respondents believe in the Bible as the "actual word of God" and that it is "to be taken literally, word for word." Applied to the country's total population, this proportion would place the number of believers at about 100 million. These polls also suggest that about 84 percent of Americans accept that Jesus is the son of God; 80 percent of respondents say that they believe they will stand before God on the Day of Judgment. The same percentage of respondents say God works miracles, and half say they think angels exist. Almost a third of all respondents say they believe in the Rapture.

Dominionists wait only for a fiscal, social or political crisis, a moment of upheaval in the form of an economic meltdown or another terrorist strike on American soil, to move to reconfigure the political system. Such a crisis could unleash a public clamor, for drastic new national security measures and draconian reforms to safeguard the nation. Widespread discontent and fear, stoked and manipulated by dominionists and their sympathizers could be used by these radicals to sweep aside the objections of beleaguered moderates in Congress and the courts, those clinging to a bankrupt and discredited liberalism, to establish an American theocracy, a Christian fascism.

The gospel of prosperity - which preaches that Jesus wants us all to be rich and powerful and the government to get out of the way - has formulated a belief system that delights corporate America. Corporations such as Tyson Foods-which has placed 128 part-time chaplains, nearly all evangelicals or fundamentalists, in 78 plants across the country-along with Purdue, Wal-Mart , and Sam's Wholesale, to name a few, are huge financial backers of the movement.

The power brokers in the radical Christian Right have already 1 moved from the fringes of society to the executive branch, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the courts. The movement has seized control of the Republican Party. Christian fundamentalists now hold a majority of seats in 36 percent of all Republican Party state committees, or 18 of 50 states, along with large minorities in the remaining states. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives earned approval ratings of 80 to 100 percent from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups: the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council.

The 2004 Election Day exit polls found that 23 percent of voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians; Bush won 78 percent of their vote.

The Bush administration has steadily diverted billions of dollars of taxpayer money from secular and governmental social-service organizations to faith-based organizations, bankrolling churches and organizations that seek to dismantle American democracy and create a theocratic state. The role of education and social-welfare agencies is being supplanted by these churches, nearly all of them evangelical, and the wall between church and state is being disassembled.

The Bush administration has spent more than $1 billion on chastity programs alone. Thirty percent of American schools with sex-education programs teach abstinence only.

... abstinence-only programs can sometimes get teenagers to delay sex, they also leave young men and women unprepared for sexual relations, resulting in higher rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Christian Right and radical Islamists, although locked in a holy war, increasingly mirror each other. They share the same obsessions. They do not tolerate other forms of belief or disbelief. They are at war with artistic and cultural expression. They seek to silence the media. They call for the subjugation of women. They promote severe sexual repression, and they seek to express themselves through violence.

In an August 14, 2003 fund-raising letter, Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, told Republicans that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Tens of millions of Americans rely exclusively on Christian broadcasters for their news, health, entertainment and devotional programs. These followers have been organized into disciplined and powerful voting blocs. They attend churches that during election time are little more than local headquarters for the Republican Party and during the rest of the year demand nearly all of their social, religious and recreational time. These believers are encased in a hermetic world. There is no questioning or dissent. There are anywhere from 1.1 million to 2.1 million children, nearly all evangelicals, now being home-schooled. These children are not challenged with ideas or research that conflict with their biblical worldview. Evolution is not taught. God created the world in six days. America, they are told, was founded as a Christian nation and secular humanists are working to destroy the Christian nation. These young men and women are often funneled into Christian colleges and universities, such as Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Pat Robertson's Regent University, and a host of other schools such as Patrick Henry University. They are taught, in short, to obey. They are discouraged from critical analysis, questioning and independent thought. And they believe, by the time they are done, a host of myths designed to destroy the open, pluralist society.

General William Boykin after leading American troops against a Somalian warlord

I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his God was an idol."

Radical Christians now hold roughly 50 percent of chaplaincy appointments in the armed services and service academies, and increasingly use their positions to openly proselytize cadets and denigrate other religious faiths.

Major General Jack Catton, an advisor to the military Joint Chiefs of Staff

My first priority is my faith. I think it's a huge impact .... You have many men and women who are seeking God's counsel and wisdom as they advise the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs} and the secretary of defense."

The pain, the dislocation, alienation, suffering and despair that led millions of Americans into the movement [radical Christian fundamentalism] are real. Many Americans are striking back at a culture they blame for the debacle of their lives. The democratic traditions and the values of the Enlightenment, they believe, have betrayed them. They speak of numbness, an inability to feel pain or joy or love, a vast emptiness, a frightening loneliness and loss of control. The rational, liberal world of personal freedoms and choice lured many of these people into one snake pit after another. And liberal democratic society, for most, stood by passively as their communities, families and lives splintered and self-destructed.

These believers have abandoned in this despair their trust and belief in the world of science, law and rationality. They eschew personal choice and freedom. They have replaced the world that has failed them with a new, glorious world filled with prophets and mystical signs. They believe in a creator who performs miracles for them, speaks directly to them and guides their lives, as well as the destiny of America. They are utopians who have found rigid, clearly defined moral edicts, rights and wrongs, to guide them in life and in politics. And they are terrified of losing this new, mystical world of signs, wonders and moral certitude, of returning to the old world of despair. They see criticism of their belief system, whether from scientists or judges, as vicious attempts by Satan to lure them back into the morass. The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.

What is happening in America is revolutionary. A group of religious utopians, with the sympathy and support of tens of millions of Americans, are slowly dismantling democratic institutions to establish a religious tyranny, the springboard to an American fascism.

Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology

They attacked liberalism because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it: the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sensed in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.

The loss of manufacturing jobs has dealt a body blow to the American middle class. Manufacturing jobs accounted for 53 percent of the economy in 1965; by 1988, they accounted for 39 percent. By 2004 they accounted for 9 percent. This is the first time since the industrial revolution that less than 10 percent of the American workforce is employed in manufacturing?

The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states, which vote Democrat and have kept the evangelicals at bay. The lowest divorce rates tend to be found in blue states as well as in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The state with the lowest divorce rate is Massachusetts, a state singled out by televangelists because of its liberal politicians and legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2003, Massachusetts had a divorce rate of 5.7 divorces per 1,000 married people, compared with 10.8 in Kentucky, 11.1 in Mississippi and 12.7 in Arkansas

Couples in former manufacturing states such as Ohio have to find two jobs to survive. The economic catastrophe has been accompanied by the erosion in federal and state assistance programs, the cutting of funds to elementary and secondary education, the reduction in assistance to women through the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program, along with reductions in programs such as Head Start and federal programs to assist low-income families, elderly people, and people with disabilities who once turned to the government for rental assistance Federal abandonment of the destitute came at a time when these communities most needed support. As the years passed and the future began to look as bleak as the present, this despair morphed into rage.

The tactics of conversion come with layers of deceptions including, we soon learn, false friendships and cooked testimonies, the promise that the evangelists are giving the "free gift" of eternal life and that what they preach is the inerrant word of God and cannot be questioned. Conversion S supposed to banish the deepest dreads, fears and anxieties of human existence, including the fear of death. This is the central message we are told to impart to potential believers. But along with this message comes a disorienting mixture of love and fear, of promises of a warm embrace by a kind and gentle God that yearns to direct and guide the life of the convert toward success, wealth and happiness, and also of an angry, wrathful God who must punish nonbelievers, those who are not saved, tossing them into outer darkness and eternal suffering. The message swings the faces of this Janus-like God back and forth, one terrifying and one loving, in dizzying confusion. The emotions of love and fear pulsate through the message. God will love and protect those who come to Him. God will torment and reject those who do not come to Him. It becomes a bewildering mantra.

Conversion, at first, is euphoric. It is about new friends, loving and accepting friends; about the final conquering of human anxieties, fears and addictions; about attainment of wealth, power, success and happiness through God. For those who have known despair, it feels like a new life, a new beginning. The new church friends call them, invite them to dinner, have time to listen to their troubles and answer their questions. Kennedy tells us that we must keep in touch in the days after conversion. He encourages us to keep detailed files on those we proselytize. We must be sure new converts are never left standing alone at church. We must care when no one else seems to care. The new converts are assigned a "discipler" or prayer partner, a new friend who is wiser than they are in the ways of the Lord and able to instruct them in their new life.

The intense interest by a group of three or four evangelists in a potential convert, the flattery and feigned affection, the rapt attention to those being recruited and the flurry of "sincere" compliments are forms of "love-bombing," the same technique employed by cults, such as the Unification Church or Moonies, to attract prospects. It was a well-developed tactic of the Russian and Chinese communist parties, which share many of the communal and repressive characteristics of the Christian Right. This intense showering of affection on an individual, as psychiatrist Margaret Thaler Singer described in her 1996 book Cults in Our Midst, is often very effective:

As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love-bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was initially associated with one of the early youth cults, but soon it was taken up by a number of groups as part of their program for luring people in. Love-bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love-bombing--Or the offer of instant companionship-is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives."


The new convert is drawn gradually into a host of church activities by his or her new friends, leaving little time for outside socializing. But the warmth and embrace soon brings new rules. When you violate the rules you sin, you flirt with rebellion, with becoming a "backslider," someone who was converted but has fallen and is once again on the wrong side of God. And as the new converts are increasingly invested in the church community, as they cut ties with their old community, it is harder to dismiss the demands of the "discipler" and church leaders. "Backsliding" is a sin. Doubt is a sin. Questioning is a sin. The only proper relationship is submission to those above you, the abandonment of critical thought and the mouthing of religious jargon that is morally charged and instantly identifies believers as part of the same, hermetic community. The psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton describes this heavily loaded language, the words and phrases that allow believers to speak in code, as "thought-terminating clichés." 1' "Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior" or "The wages of sin are death" are used, in this instance, to end all discussion.

Rules are incorporated slowly and deliberately into the convert's belief system. These include obedience to church leaders; the teaching of an exclusive, spiritual elitism that demonizes all other ways of being and believing; and a persecution complex that keeps followers mobilized and distrustful of outsiders. The rules create a system of total submission to church doctrine. They discourage independent thought and action. And the result is the destruction of old communities and old friendships. Believers are soon enclosed in the church community. They are taught to value personal experience over reason, and to reject reason. For those who defy the system, who walk away, there is a collective banishment. The exit process is humiliating, and those who leave are condemned as "backsliders" no longer favored by God.

There is a gradual establishment of new standards for every aspect of life. Those who choose spouses must choose Christian spouses. Families and friends are divided into groups of "saved" and "unsaved." The movement, while it purports to be about families, is the great divider of families, friends and communities. It competes with the family for loyalty. It seeks to place itself above the family, either drawing all family members into its embrace or pushing aside those who resist conversion. There are frequent prayers during the seminar for relatives who are unsaved, who remain beyond the control of the movement. Many of these prayers, including one by a grandmother in my prayer group for her unsaved grandchildren, are emotional, and it is not unusual to see saved Christians weeping over the possible damnation of those they love.

This control, while destructive to personal initiative and independence, does keep believers from wandering back into the messy situations they fled. The new ideology gives the believers a cause, a sense of purpose, meaning, feelings of superiority, and a way to justify and sanctify their hatreds. For many, the rewards of cleaning up their lives, repairing their damaged self-esteem, and joining an elite and blessed group are worth the cost of submission. They know how to define and identify themselves. They do not have to make moral choices. They are made for them. They submerge their individual personas into the single persona of the Christian crowd.

Their hope lies not in the real world, but in this new world of miracles. For many, the conformity, the flight away from themselves, the dismissal of facts and logic for magic, the destruction (even with its latent totalitarianism) of personal autonomy amount to a welcome and joyous relief. The flight into the arms of the Christian Right, into blind acceptance of a holy cause, compensates for converts' despair and lack of faith in themselves. And the more corrupted and soiled they feel, the more profound the despair, the more militant they become, shouting, organizing and agitating to create a pure and sanctified Christian nation, believing that this purity will offset their own shame and guilt. Many yearn to be deceived and directed. It makes life easier to bear.

The most susceptible people, we are told in the seminar, are those in crisis: people in the midst of a divorce; those who have lost a job or are grieving for the death of a close friend or relative; those suffering addictions they cannot control, illness, or the trauma of emotional or physical abuse. We are encouraged to target the vulnerable. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James wrote that those who experienced dramatic conversions might have been born with a "melancholy disposition," a chronically "divided" mind-or else, he suspected, they had drunk "too deep of the cup of bitterness." 2 It is easier to bring about a conversion when the person being proselytized is in crisis.

The point the evangelists are instructed to make is that eternal life cannot be achieved through good deeds or even a good life. It I is impossible to earn your way into heaven. We must accept that we have sinned, will always commit sins, and ask to be born again so Jesus will take our sins upon Him. Once this is done we can learn to live a new way, a way that, while not totally free of sin, allows us to live a life approved by God, a life in which, with the help of the church, we learn to reject sinful acts. The believer can learn to condemn and avoid sinful acts-acts defined for him or her by church leaders as anything that doesn't please God or is a transgression of His law. The leaders determine these acts, rousing the believer against what they label as sins, such as abortion or homosexuality. The emphasis, once the conversion is made, is on acts, acts that please or displease God. The believer can delineate these acts only with the aid of church leaders. There is a calculated destruction of individual conscience. All must submit to the will of those godly men who define the communal good. Sin, in short, is anything the leaders do not like.

Karen McCarthy Brown

[Fundamentalism] is the religion of those at once seduced and betrayed by the promise that we human beings can comprehend and control our world. Bitterly disappointed by the politics of rationalized bureaucracies, the limitations of science, and the perversions of industrialization, fundamentalists seek to reject the modern world, while nevertheless holding onto these habits of mind: clarity, certitude, and control.

Popular Christian conservative leader and talk-show host James Dobson has built his career on perpetuating these stereotypes. Born to evangelist parents, Dobson grew up in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. He says he was born again when he was three at one of his father's church services. He attended Pasadena College and received a PhD in child development from the University of Southern California, where he went on to teach.' His first book, Dare to Discipline, encouraged parents to spank their children with "sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely."' It has sold more than 3.5 million copies since its release in 1970. He has built a massive empire based on his advice to families as a Christian therapist. He is heard on Focus on the Family, a program broadcast on more than 3,000 radio stations; runs a grassroots organization with chapters in 36 states; and runs his operation out of an 81-acre campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a campus that has its own zip code. He employs 1,300 people, sends out four million pieces of mail each month, and is heard in 116 countries. His estimated listening audience is more than 200 million worldwide, and in the United States he appears on 80 television stations each day. He is antichoice, supports abstinence-only sex education exclusively and is fiercely antigay. He calls for prayer in public schools, but only if led by students, since teachers might encourage Christian students "to pray to Allah, Buddha or the goddess Sophia." He has backed political candidates who call for the execution of abortion providers, defines stem-cell research as "statefunded cannibalism" and urges Christian parents to pull their children out of the public school system.

These male church leaders, as Susan Friend Harding observed in The Book of Jerry FalwelI, speak almost exclusively in their public pronouncements to other men. They implicitly privilege men in their rhetoric. She recounts a story of Faiwell joking in 1986 at Temple Baptist Church about surrendering unconditionally to his wife, Macel. FaIwell said he let Macel get what she wanted. This was a decision he made. As an aside he quipped that, while he had not thought of divorce, he had thought of murder a few times.

"The anger and the threat of force here were ironic," Harding wrote, "but still served as little reminders of men's ostensible physical authority, their 'power-in-reserve"':

More unambiguously, this flash of rhetorical violence revealed to whom the entire joke about his marriage was addressed. It was addressed to men. In this way it not only upheld public male authority, it enacted it. Indeed, the whole sermon, the entire Moral Majority jeremiad, and fundamentalism in general were addressed to men. The joke, the sermon, the jeremiad, and fundamentalism were essentially men's movements, public speech rites that enacted male authority. Not that they were "for men only" but that they, their rhetorics, were addressed primarily, or rather directly, to men. Women were meant to overhear them."

"These men suffered a loss of their own masculinity," Roberta Pughe says, "so they have taken on this extreme form of masculine power, the power to oppress and to dominate. On the extreme end of the masculine continuum, it is the oppressive force that kills, that destroys. There is no room for anything else. Everything else is a threat. The feminine is a threat. Children a threat. Homosexuality is a threat because it embraces a feminine, nurturing side between men. All power has to be concentrated at the top and be destructive."

"The goal of the movement is to create a theocracy, but they must dominate women first to keep the system in place," Pughe says, the late afternoon light spilling into the windows of her office. "They want to have one nation under God, based on their view of God and their interpretation of the rules that this peculiar God puts in place. They are doing this underground. They have huge networks. They are deeply connected, and they're connecting with people who have lots of money and lots of power, and these people are very smart and savvy. They know how to put forward a public front that hides the private agenda. They have found a niche to be heard, to provide something. They run home Bible studies. They offer people a sense of belonging and connection. They know the family's falling apart. The divorce rate is high. Families are in flux. Roles are in flux. Men and women are trying to figure out what we're doing together. And the church is filling the niche, providing the extended family. There is no extended family, so the church is providing it for these people. Their ticket to power is family values. That's the hook. People are hungry for that. But with this church family comes the imposition of an extreme male power structure. First, they use this power structure to control the family, then the church, and finally the nation."

The use of control and force is also designed to raise obedient, unquestioning and fearful children, children who as adults will not be tempted to challenge powerful male figures. These children are conditioned to rely on external authority for moral choice. They obey out of fear and often repeat this pattern of fearful obedience as adults. Refusal to submit to authority is heresy. Raised in a home and a school where he or she is taught to see the world as one where the possibility of attack and danger lurks behind every crevice, the child learns to distrust outsiders. The benign and trivial take on satanic proportions. There is no safety. Satan is always present. The pathology of fear, ingrained in the child, plays itself out in the constant search for phantom enemies who seek the destruction of the adult believer. These elusive and protean enemies, always there to lure the believer toward self-destruction, must be defeated to establish a world, ushered in by Christ's return, where no one will be able to do them harm, where the irrational is abolished and the binary lines of right and wrong are enforced by a Christian government. Only then will the /believers be safe.

... This conditioning of children to fear nonconformity and blindly obey ensures continued obedience as adults. The difficult task of learning how to make moral choices, how to accept personal responsibility, how to deal with the chaos of human life is handed over to God-like authority figures. The process makes possible a perpetuation of childhood. It allows the adult to bask in the warm glow and magic of divine protection. It masks from them and from others the array of human weaknesses, including our deepest dreads, our fear of irrelevance and death, our vulnerability and uncertainty. It also makes it difficult, if not impossible, to build mature, loving relationships, for the believer is told it is all about them, about their needs, their desires, and above all, their protection and advancement. Relationships, even within families, splinter and fracture. Those who adopt the belief system, who find in the dictates of the church and its male leaders a binary world of right and wrong, build an exclusive and intolerant comradeship that subtly or overtly shuns and condemns the "unsaved." People are no longer judged by their intrinsic qualities, by their actions or capacity for self-sacrifice and compassion, but by the rigidity of their obedience. This defines the good and the bad, the Christian and the infidel. And this obedience is a blunt and effective weapon against the possibility of a love that could overpower the dictates of the hierarchy. In many ways it is love the leaders fear most, for it is love that unleashes passions and bonds that defy the carefully constructed edifices that keep followers trapped and enclosed. And while they speak often about love, as they do about family, it is the cohesive bonds created by family and love they war against.

Joost A. M. Meerloo, the author of The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwäshing, wrote:

Living requires mutuality of giving and taking. Above all, to live is to love. And many people are afraid to take the responsibility of loving; of having an emotional investment in their fellow beings. They want only to be loved and to be protected; they are afraid of being hurt and rejected.

It is important for us to realize that emphasis on conformity and the fear of spontaneous living can have an effect almost as devastating as the totalitarian's deliberate assault on the mind. Trained into conformity the child may well grow up into an adult who welcomes with relief the authoritarian demands of a totalitarian leader It is the welcome repetition of an old pattern that can be followed without investment of a new emotional energy."

In the megachurches, the pastor, nearly always male, is obeyed by the congregation. It is the pastor who interprets the word of God. This pattern is established on a smaller scale in the home. The male leader governs through a divine mandate, a mandate that cannot be challenged since it comes from God... These concentric male fiefdoms, radiating out from the home, do not permit revolt, discussion or dissent. And once women buy into this message, one that supposedly protects their families, makes their boys into men, their husbands into protectors and themselves into godly Christian women, they cede personal, political and economic power. Those who are weak or different, those who do not conform to the rigid stereotype, those who have other ways of being, must be forced by the stern father to conform and obey. If they do not bend, they will be destroyed by God.

When Pat Robertson was asked by Jerry Faiwell if God had allowed the attacks on September 11, both the question and its answer stoked this fear of divine wrath and apocalyptic judgment:

I believe that the protection, the covering of God that has been on) this great land of ours for so many years, had lifted on September 11, and allowed this thing to happen. God apparently had good reasons for exposing the U.S.A. to such destruction, given the many sins that Americans have committed ever since the Roe versus Wade court case and the Supreme Court's decision to keep God out of the schools... The point is not just that Americans have been bad and forfeited their entitlements. It is that unless they reform themselves in a hurry, something far worse may happen to them.

Should another catastrophic attack occur, what will prevent these preachers from calling for the punishment, detention and quarantining of gays and lesbians-as well as abortionists, Muslims and other nonbelievers-to safeguard the nation? What will stanch the hate crimes and physical attacks against those deemed immoral by fearful and angry Christians, those condemned by these preachers as responsible for the nation's abandonment by God? How will the nation function rationally if homeland security depends on an elusive piety as interpreted by the Christian Right? And most ominously, the fringe groups of the Christian Right believe they have been mandated by God to carry out Christian terrorism, anointed to murder doctors who perform abortions and godless Muslims in Iraq. In a time of anxiety and chaos, of overwhelming fear and Uncertainty, how may more will be prodded by this talk of divine vengeance to join the ranks of these Christian extremists?

When [Americans are] asked for their views on human origins, only 13 percent of respondents in a 2004 Gallup poll said life arose from the strictly natural process of evolution. More than 38 percent believed God guided evolution, and 45 percent said the Genesis account of creation was a true story.

When Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology was published in 1830-1833, it challenged the prevailing views of how Earth had been formed. Lyell questioned the assumption that unique catastrophes or supernatural events-such as Noah's flood-shaped Earth's surface. He wrote that a once tumultuous period of change had slowed to today's calmer, more leisurely pace. The date of the Earth's sudden creation, up until then, had been widely accepted as 4004 BC based on the creation story in Genesis. When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, his findings further eroded the biblical account of creation. Lyell's and Darwin's works were catastrophic for biblical literalists. Evolution and natural selection shattered the comfortable worldview of many Christians, who saw themselves as created in the image of God. Evolution reduced the human race to the status of a species, one descended from primates. The scientific accounts of creation and the origin of species became in the eyes of fundamentalist believers the materialist foundation for the human race's moral and cultural decline. It dethroned Christians from their self-constructed platform of moral and ethical superiority. It challenged the belief that God intervenes in human affairs to protect and guide believers. The ideological pillars of literalist Christianity, which viewed the universe as revolving around and serving the interests of anointed Christians, were destroyed.

Literalist Christians believe that death did not exist before Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for disobeying God. Death and suffering were introduced by God as a punishment for living in a sinful, fallen world. Jesus' suffering and crucifixion, however, atoned for Adam's sin and made possible a return to a deathless paradise. But if the Darwinian account of evolution is correct, then death and suffering were always and always will be a part of human existence. Evolution implicitly challenges the possibility of miracles, the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection, and an apocalyptic end to human existence in which the saved are lifted up into heaven. For believers who have found in the certitude of Christian fundamentalism a shelter from despair, a despair that threatens to consume them again if they return to a reality-based world, evolution is terrifying. The miracles they insist they see performed around them, the presence of the guiding, comforting hand of God in their lives, the notion that there is a divine destiny specially preordained for them, crumbles into dust under the cold glare of evolution. Evolution posits what they fear most: a morally neutral universe. It obliterates the fantastic constructs of their belief system. And the steady efforts by creationists to erode the authority of evolution and discredit Darwin are, because of all this, unrelenting and fierce.

Walter Lippmann

There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the mean by which to detect lies.

The triviality of American popular culture, its emptiness and gossip, accelerates this destruction of critical thought. It expands the void, the mindlessness that makes the magic, mythology and irrationality of the Christian Right palatable. Television, the movement's primary medium, allows viewers to preoccupy themselves with context-free information. The homogenized empty chatter on the airwaves, the banal amusement and clichés, the bizarre doublespeak endlessly repeated on cable news channels and the huge spectacles in sports stadiums have replaced America's political social and moral life, indeed replaced community itself.

Vice President Henry Wallace asked by the New York Times in 1944 - What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? His answers were published on April 9, 1944

"The really dangerous American fascist ... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation."

Debate with the radical Christian Right is useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It is a movement based on emotion and cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school. Naive attempts to reach out to the movement, to assure them that we, too, are Christian or we, too, care about moral values, are doomed. This movement is bent on our destruction. The attempts by many liberals to make peace would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. These dominionists hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution, a world they blame for the debacle of their lives. They have one goal - its destruction.

We must dismantle the corporate state. American democracy has become a consumer fraud. If we do not halt the corporations that, in the name of globalization, are cannibalizing the country for profit, we will never blunt the appeal of the radical Christian Right to those the corporate state casts aside.

Corporations and their enraged and manipulated followers in the Christian Right, tens of millions of them, if left unchecked will propel us into despotism. The corporate state has now rigged our system, hollowed out our political process and steadily stripped citizens of constitutional rights, as well as federal and state protection and assistance. This may be the twilight of American democracy.

Russian novelist Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.

I do not believe that America will inevitably become a fascist state or that the Christian Right is the Nazi Party. But I do believe that the radical Christian Right is a sworn and potent enemy of the open society. Its ideology bears within it the tenets of a Christian fascism.

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