Religious People Sound the Alarm on Christian Fascism
Revolution #029, January 8, 2006, posted at revcom.us
There is a crying irony in American political life today. A growing and powerful fascist movement has increasingly set the terms for the political discourse in this country and has put its followers into key positions in the legislatures, courts, army, and White House.
This fascism dresses itself in religious, indeed Christian, clothing. And yet some of the people who take this threat of theocratic fascism the most seriously, and often sound the alarm the loudest, are from the ranks of the religious--while all too many secular people fail to get the depth of the threat.
Listen to these three thinkers and writers. First, Dr. Hubert Locke, the African-American theologian, and the former trustee and acting president of the Pacific School of Religion, speaking last May:
...I am persuaded we face in our country a movement that is trying its best to hijack this nation in the name of a set of ideals and values it claims to be Christian but which, on examination, are the very antithesis of the Gospel that our Lord preached and by which we, as Jesus' disciples, are challenged to live our lives in the world. If this movement is successful--if it is not stopped in its tracks--it will transform the United States into a political and cultural nightmare that not only turns its back on two hundred years of American history, it will also be one that leaves this nation unrecognizable from all that we have been and all that we might aspire to be as a democratic society.
Now Bill Moyers, speaking at the Union Theological Seminary, this past September. While conceding that religious people "have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American law and morals," he went on to say that:
...[W]hat is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of Americas great political parties--the country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is--and they are driving American politics, using God as a battering ram on almost every issue...
What's also unique is the intensity, organization, and anger they have brought to the public square. Listen to their preachers, evangelists, and homegrown ayatollahs: Their viral intolerance--their loathing of other people's beliefs, of America's secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge--has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power.
Moyers went on to say that the "radical Christian right... now control much of the United States government and are on the verge of having it all."
Finally, there is Chris Hedges, writing in the May Harpers on the immense power of the right-wing Christian media network:
I can't help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the "Christian fascists." He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Revolution has and will continue to highlight the voices of religious thinkers and writers, as well as clergy people, who are sounding the alarm on and exposing the depths of this threat.