There once was a time when America boasted of two major political parties that, although they rarely agreed on anything, at least were willing to work together on key issues and compromise when necessary. The last half century has seen those halcyon political days vanish as extremists on the right have taken over the Republican Party. The response of the Democrats has been, to put it bluntly, all but non-existent; rather than stand up for their traditional principles, the Democrats have watched as the Republicans have moved further and further to the right of the political spectrum, and slowly moved to the right themselves rather than risk being tainted with the epithet of “liberal.” Meanwhile, fundamentalist Christianity, formerly rightly consigned to the fringes of the Republican Party, has become the new mainstream, and Republicans can now say the most absurdly irrational things and not be called to task for it. Worse, they are enjoying multiple legal successes in their attempts to force their brand of fundamentalist Christianity on the rest of the country.
Even some Republicans acknowledge the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk. Consider the words of Christopher Shays (R-CT): “The Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.” This is a rare admission by a Republican of the current state of the “Grand Old Party;” if anything, it is an understatement, as the co-mingling of extreme conservatism and religious fundamentalism, which characterizes today’s Republican Party and influences virtually every stand they take, threatens every American’s way of life.
Let’s consider the words of another leading Republican. Tom Delay is a perfect example of a theocrat that rose high in his party and eventually acquired great political clout, in Delay’s case by becoming Majority leader in the House of Representatives. This ultra-conservative Texan feels personally chosen by God to turn the United States into a Christian version of Iran. Referring to god, Delay said: “He is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for a biblical worldview in everything that I do and everywhere I am. He is training me.” It goes without saying that those who hear voices in their head are not of sound mind and are usually incarcerated for their own and society’s collective well-being. Unless, of course, they are part of today’s fundamentalist movement in which case, no statement can be considered too extreme; the sky is the limit.
George W. Bush, Delay, and countless others represent a religious movement that seeks to impose an extremely narrow theological and political agenda on our society. What they want is an authoritarian society governed by biblical law and their interpretation of it.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, is perhaps the best-known national figure representing the Christian Right. The founder of television’s 700 Club told his audience in 1985 to: “Rule the world for god.” This ideology is shared by all the extremists in the Republican Party: No compromise is acceptable, since they imagine themselves to be doing “god’s work.” They want total, unchallenged control over all aspects of American life. The ends justify the means: Democracy, the Constitution, and the will of the people be damned. While they constitute a small minority of around twenty to twenty-five percent of the Party, this is an extremely active faction that has worked its way into the highest offices in the land.
The theocratic right exerts enormous influence and power over all three branches of government. It’s agenda threatens our educational system as well, and its control over the supposedly “liberal media” is so pronounced that, in listening to today’s political pundits, one would never imagine the power they actually wield. Yet the control is obvious: rarely is the right attacked or even questioned in the various media outlets.
So what is it exactly that these people want?
First, they want total control of government. Having attained this, they will begin implementing their agenda: Elimination of the public schools is high on the list, to be replaced with Christian schools. And not just any Christian schools: they must be fundamentalist in their orientation. Prayer will of course be mandatory, and science will be either watered down or else eliminated altogether. In particular, the theory of evolution will be discarded and replaced with the story of creation. Further agenda items will include favoring corporations over individuals; they will eliminate practically all regulations that protect workers, public safety and the environment. The rich will be favored over the poor. A woman’s right to choose abortion will be eliminated and abortion will become a criminal offense. In addition, the Right is quite gun-happy and favors the death penalty as well.
The administration of George W. Bush was viewed by the Religious Right as an opportunity to have the highest office in the land under their control; Bush was the first fundamentalist president. By 2005, 41 out of 51 Republican senators voted with the Christian Coalition 100% of the time. The seven top-ranking Republican Senators in the senate at that time were Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Mitch McConnell, Bob Bennet, George Allen, Bailey Hutchinson, and Jon Kyl, and all received a scorecard rating of 100% from the Christian Coalition. Meanwhile, none of them scored higher than 8% from the League of Conservative Voters, a coalition of environmentalist groups. Interestingly (and ominously), McConnell has now been all but ostracized by the Tea Party branch of the Republicans, since he dared to deviate from their hard-core stances on a couple of issues. Hard-liners tolerate no dissent; if you are not with them one hundred percent of the time, you are the enemy.
There was one lone Democrat, Zell Miller (D-GA) who also voted with the Christian Coalition 100% of the time. He revealed his true colors by speaking at the 2004 Republican Convention. After his retirement, he promptly began working with the Fox News Channel which, due to its extreme right-wing slant, has been referred to as “Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism.”
Clearly, the efforts of Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie and other founders of the New Right have borne fruit. Especially after the election in 1980 of Ronald Reagan, right-wing extremists have become a ubiquitous presence on the American political scene and their influence can be felt on virtually every issue. Religious Right Christians now hold a majority of seats in most of the Republican Party State Committees, and large and very vocal minorities in most of the others. These numbers are nearly twice that of the mid-1990s. While the most obvious goal of these groups is to elect their own kind to public office, they have become extremely competent leaders in their own right, chairing committees, building various organizations and think tanks, and setting platform agendas.
The National Reform Association is an organization that, while largely unknown to the American public, is an extremely effective organ of the Religious Right, primarily through its publication “The Christian Statesman.” The mission of the NRA is to “maintain and support in our national life the principles of Civil Government, which include, but are not limited to, the following: Jesus Christ is Lord in all aspects of life, including Civil Government. Jesus Christ is, therefore, he Ruler of Nations, and should be explicitly confessed as such in any constitutional documents. The Civil Ruler is to be a servant of god, he derives his authority from god and he is duty-bound to govern according to the expressed will of god. The Civil Government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments.”
“The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action,” written by former Coral Ridge Ministries Executive Director George Grand elaborates on this: “Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ and to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the gospel. And we must never settle for anything less. Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land—of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.”
With crystal-clear statements like this, it does not take too much imagination to envision what would happen to dissenters should the fundamentalists attain total control of our government.
One of the main reasons the Radical Right has gained such power and influence is voter apathy. Since the time of Vietnam and Watergate, more and more Americans have become disgusted with the political scene, and voter turnouts have gotten correspondingly smaller. The only faction of voters whose numbers have increased are the radical Republican theocrats. Although they remain a minority, they have shown how a small but well-organized group can exert influence out of proportion to their actual numbers.
Dictatorships arise out of despair and economic woes. We saw this in Nazi Germany and we are seeing it today. The middle class, which has historically constituted the majority of Americans, has all but disappeared as job outsizing, the loss of manufacturing jobs and other factors have impoverished America’s working class. The resulting despair dovetails nicely with the agenda of the right-wing idealogues who control the airwaves, preaching prosperity and Christian utopianism. Along with this, there is a truly frightening emphasis on the apocalypse, which is presented not in terms of mass death and destruction, but of “purification.” The Christian Right promises to destroy this sinful world and replace it with a blissful utopia run by truly moral people meaning, of course, themselves.
Under George W. Bush, the Environmental Protection agency was all but gutted, becoming an advocate for polluters. And, as might be expected, Bush gave hundreds of millions of tax dollars to the most extreme right-wing theocratic groups, including the Christian Coalition, the Eagle Forum, the Family Research Council, and other fringe groups. He also destroyed federal scientific programs and programs dealing in AIDS research and reproductive rights. His opposition to stem-cell research and global warming reflected the same views of his fundamentalist constituents. Like opposition to abortion and gay marriage, these and other views have only a religious foundation; there is no logical reason for such opposition. But in today’s religiously-saturated United States, faith calls the shots.
Bush and Chaney’s lies and deceit also got this country into an non-winnable war. Instead of being tried as war criminals, they were elected to a second term. So much for the nonsense about a “liberal media.”
How are the Democrats dealing with this? What are they doing to counteract this insanity? Surprisingly little. They too have abandoned the middle class in favor of massive corporate handouts. They have stood idly by while Christian extremists slander them with all kinds of derogatory names. Barack Obama ran his presidential campaigns promising to reverse the damage caused by the extremists of the Bush administration. Instead, he has kept most of Bush’s programs intact, and even expanded them, blithly assuring America that we have nothing to fear from drones and personal surveillance. He promised to shut down Guatanamo Bay and has reneged on that promise. Obama and Bush have thus proved themselves to be the two worst presidents in American history, eliminating more and more of our civil rights than all their predecessors combined and ignoring the Constitution whenever it gets in their way. As long as the American people refuse to raise their collective voices, the transition into an American dictatorship will continue unopposed. Those who uncritically support either of the two major political parties are only fooling themselves.
The Christian Right has been the main cause of the dumbing down of America. They have lured millions of Americans away from reality into a dangerously childish worldview where wishes really do come true, where angels, devils, and miracles co-exist with their imaginary sky-fuhrer and his son. In this cocoon-like mental state, education serves no purpose other than to indoctrinate: science is downplayed if not ignored altogether, reason and logic are abandoned in favor of blind faith, and progress is checked at every turn. All of our problems can be ignored because Jesus will be returning “soon” to sort everything out. Facts are no more valuable than opinions, and myths and lies are presented as “eternal truths.”
This conclusively demonstrates that the Religious Right is actively promoting a totalitarian Christian state. Unstated but certainly understood by those wielding the power, is the irrevocable license to seek out and destroy the “enemies” of the people, or of the state, or of Christ; dictatorships always need an opponent to demonize, and the Christian Right has made it quite clear who their opponents are. The same mindset that believes in absurdities can certainly commit atrocities, to paraphrase Voltaire. Just as we learned in 1933, the ascension of a tyrant is made possible, even inevitable, by society’s acceptance of nonsensical world views, whether they be they grounded in fascism, communism–or Christianity.
The Religious Right is winning the culture wars. We now have legalized torture, and the government can ignore its own Constitution and lock people up without a trial. The top one percent of the population owns more than the bottom ninety percent combined.
Today’s amalgamization of Christian extremism in the Republican Party is strikingly similar to the collusion of the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party. Both used despair and religious utopianism to pave the way for their rise to power. Liberals in both situations did nothing except to spout meaningless platitudes about “working together” and their country’s “greatness.” Liberals, then and now, simply do not understand the true nature of evil and, by their silence make its success inevitable. In both 1930s Germany and today’s United States, the media have been bought off and are/were unwilling to address the root causes of the moral crisis of the times.
Be forewarned, America. A complete takeover is imminent; we are rapidly heading back towards a new Christian Dark Age. All it will take is another terrorist attack, an economic meltdown, an environmental disaster, or some other catastrophic event to push the new theocratic fascists into power. The unrest and instability engendered by disaster will enable them to begin implementing their agenda, which will be presented to the American public as morally righteous, as well as necessary for their own good and for “national security.”
America’s new dictator may not be wearing a swastika, but rest assured he will be a fundamentalist Christian sporting a crucifix.
By: Jon Nelson