Jonah Goldberg, a right-wing religious apologist who writes for numerous newspapers has written a book entitled “Liberal Fascism” in which he predictably blames liberals for most of the evils in society. In addition to showing all the world how little he knows about either liberalism or fascism, the case can easily be made that conservative Christianity is much more closely aligned with fascist ideas than he would ever care to realize. This article will examine a few of these.
To begin, both are uncompromisingly racist. Hitler’s animosity toward the Jews obviously turned to genocide. Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority in 1979, had once been a most committed segregationist, and the same applies to numerous other leaders of the Christian right in America. Racism certainly underlies how many right-wing Christians view the Muslim world. Not surprisingly, neither Goldberg or any other right wing columnist makes note of this discomforting fact.
Both Christianity, at least in its fundamentalist form, and fascism are totalitarian in nature, brooking no compromise and completely intolerant of any diversity of thought. Both seek to first demonize their opponents, and then either to eliminate them outright, or else render them powerless. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and the subsequent history of Nazi Germany are stark testimonials to this truism. But the same mindset can be found in the United States today. Any reading of the literature produced by the Religious Right will illustrate this quite clearly. To cite two of many examples: Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue: “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hatred is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.” Or, consider Christian Reconstructionist Gary North: “So let us be blunt: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberties of the enemies of God.” By “enemies of God” North clearly means anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian. Neither of these men have ever been called to task for voicing such anti-human, extremist views. Quite the contrary; similarly anti-human and anti-American statements are omnipresent in the writings and utterings of Religious Right leaders.
Both fascism and Christianity have a convenient scapegoat figure to blame all the evils of the world on. With Hitler it was the Jews. With the Christian Right, it is liberals and Secular Humanist; their literature is filled will countless attacks on them. The strategy is invariably the same: set up a straw man and then go about knocking them down. Goldberg’s book is a case in point.
Fundamentalist Christianity, like fascism, employs linguistic euphemisms in order to hide its real agenda. The Nazis never referred to “murdering” the Jews, but rather of “special treatment” or “resettlement” or, eventually, the “final solution.” While the Christian Right has not yet descended to that murderous level, they are linguistically doing much the same thing. For example, despite repeated failure to promote school vouchers, they continue to try and bring them back, no longer calling them vouchers as voters will continue to reject them as they have repeatedly done in the past, but instead referring to them as “education enhancers” “opportunity endorsements” and the like. So much for the will of the people. More recently and ominously, they have hijacked the word “liberty” and use it to mean quite the opposite. For example on March 14, 2013, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed the “Mississippi Student Religious Liberty Act of 2013” which is nothing more than another attempt to force all students into mandatory Christian prayer at the beginning of the school day. There are multitudinous other examples of this dishonest sleight of hand.
Both are by their very nature inherently anti-intellectual. The intellectuals in Nazi Germany were most anxious to leave once Hitler took over and with good reason; the persecution against them was a top priority. The Institute for Creation Research, whose attempts to refute biological evolution constitute their main activity, is composed of a few quack scientists who, in utter defiance of scientific inquiry and intellectual integrity, all sign what is in effect a loyalty oath that they will continue to believe the inerrancy of the bible and of the creationist viewpoint no matter what evidence exists to the contrary. In a similar vein, the Religious Right has made it clear that their agenda is to shut down all public schools and replace them with Christian ones—-meaning of course their version of Christianity. At a more fundamental level, Christianity’s hostility to logic and reason is manifest throughout the Bible, which contains numerous examples of faith’s alleged superiority to “mere” reason.
Both have a history of book banning and burning. This needs no further elaboration other than to point out that many Christians today exert powerful influence when it comes to banning certain books from libraries and schools. Failing in this, fundamentalists will often check out the offensive books and fail to return them. In some cases, even in our own time, literal book burnings have taken place.
Both fundamentalists and fascists want all laws to reflect their viewpoint to the complete exclusion of any other. Today’s Christian fundamentalists are totally hostile to the constitutional notion of a separation between religion and government and will defy any ruling that doesn’t suit them. The case of Judge Roy Moore, who refused to follow a federal judge’s order to remove the Ten Commandments display outside his Alabama courtroom, is a well-known case in point. In an astonishing slap at justice, Moore in January 2013 was appointed chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court! This illustrates just how far removed from reality certain portions of the United States have become.
Both tend to be completely insensitive to the suffering of those outside the faith and yet wax poetic about any perceived martyrs to their own cause. Jesus is of course the supreme example; Christians can go on and on about the agonies poor Jesus suffered on the cross (which most likely never occurred anyway) and yet wave aside all the incidents of suffering, bloodshed, tortures, Inquisitions, homicides, and other evils that have been perpetrated by Christians down through the centuries. The Catholic Church for years protected pedophile priests while sanctimoniously carrying on as if nothing was amiss. The church made every effort to cover it up; the resulting scandal made Watergate look like a candy store break in by an eight year old diabetic. Hitler’s promotion of Horst Wessel to the status of national hero even though he was nothing more than a pimp, shows that fascism and Christianity share yet another common link in immoral behavior.
Both tend to re-write history, falsifying it to suit their needs. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, an early twentieth century fraud, was used by the Nazis (and numerous other groups) as proof that the Jews intended world domination. Today’s Christian Right has its own historical liars as well, perhaps most notably David Barton, who has no credentials as a historian but has nonetheless written extensively trying to prove that the founding fathers of the United States were all devout Christians and intended for this to be a Christian country. Even though he was exposed as a fraud many years ago he, after an initial quiet period, has resumed his activities, preaching the same false historical claptrap to eager fundamentalist audiences. What does this say about the intellectual integrity (or lack thereof) of the Christian Right? Does this not show a common ground between the Nazi’s love of Horst Wessel and fundamentalist Christianity’s love affair with David Barton?
Both fascist governments and the Religious Right thrive on secrecy (to be fair, this is ominously becoming more and more a trait of our government in general). As William Shirer in his monumental history “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” noted “A totalitarian dictatorship, by its very nature works in great secrecy and knows how to preserve that secrecy from the prying eyes of outsiders.” If you think this does not apply to Christianity, just try auditing a church!
Both are extremely conservative in nature (this will no doubt elicit howls of protest from Goldberg and his ilk!) and align themselves with right-wing political parties. In Nazi Germany, the burgeoning fascist movement aligned itself with the ultra-conservative Catholic Centre Party, while in the United States, the Religious Right has all but taken over the Republican party, pushing it further and further to the right of the political spectrum. To give but one example of how extreme the party has become, Barry Goldwater, who was viewed as being an ultra-conservative when he ran for president in 1964, to his credit spoke out harshly against the Religious Right in later decades; by today’s standards he would be labeled a moderate.
Both have leaders who are said to be the very embodiment of virtue. Mussolini and Hitler were both initially viewed as the “saviors” of their people. Many of the leaders of the Christian Right are viewed in the same way. All we need to do to refute this is to mention Jimmy Swaggart and his false alligator tears when his sexual peccadilloes were made public, the segregationist past of Jerry Falwell, the aforementioned intellectual dishonesty of David Barton, the homophobic Terry Dolan who died of AIDS, and countless other examples. And these are the men who are constantly preaching morality! The slogan of the right should be: Do as I say, not as I do.
Both are hostile to the idea of separation between church and state. The Vatican was the first to recognize Mussolini, in 1922, and signed a Concordat with Hitler in 1933. In Nazi Germany, the state owned the church. Here in the United States, the church, if it does not yet officially own the state, nonetheless exerts an influence far out of proportion to its numbers. The Christian Right’s hostility to separation of religion and government is too well known to require further comment.
There are many other examples of the similarities between fascism and Christianity: both have extremely backwards views of women; both tend to be extremely homophobic; both tend to be xenophobic; both actively seek to suppress civil liberties which are essential to our freedom; both tend to view and portray themselves as victims and both tend to be extremely resistant to change and/or progress.
Enough has been said here to show that Goldberg’s equating of liberalism with fascism is so far off base as to be laughable. It is not laughable, however, to realize the extent to which our rights and values are under attack by those who seek to impose their particular faith on the rest of us and, in so doing, drag us back by the scruff of the neck to those perceived halcyon days of the Christian Dark Ages.
By: Jon Nelson