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I Don’t Believe in Atheists

I Don’t Believe in Atheists

By Chris Hedges

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The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger

Posted on Jun 7, 2010
Truthdig collage based on a White House photo by Pete Souza

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

Many of the tens of millions within the Christian right live on the edge of poverty. The Bible, interpreted for them by pastors whose connection with God means they cannot be questioned, is their handbook for daily life. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and the struggle to keep their lives on track. The reality-based world, one where Satan, miracles, destiny, angels and magic did not exist, battered them like driftwood. It took their jobs and destroyed their future. It rotted their communities. It flooded their lives with alcohol, drugs, physical violence, deprivation and despair. And then they discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God intervenes in their lives to promote and protect them. The emotional distance they have traveled from the real world to the world of Christian fantasy is immense. And the rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and ultimately feared, for they seek to pull believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them.

There are wild contradictions within this belief system. Personal independence is celebrated alongside an abject subservience to leaders who claim to speak for God. The movement says it defends the sanctity of life and advocates the death penalty, militarism, war and righteous genocide. It speaks of love and promotes fear of damnation and hate. There is a terrifying cognitive dissonance in every word they utter.

The movement is, for many, an emotional life raft. It is all that holds them together. But the ideology, while it regiments and orders lives, is merciless. Those who deviate from the ideology, including “backsliders” who leave these church organizations, are branded as heretics and subjected to little inquisitions, which are the natural outgrowth of messianic movements. If the Christian right seizes the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, these little inquisitions will become big inquisitions.

The cult of masculinity pervades the movement. Feminism and homosexuality, believers are told, have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus, for the Christian right, is a muscular man of action, casting out demons, battling the Antichrist, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity, with its glorification of violence, is deeply appealing to those who feel disempowered and humiliated. It vents the rage that drove many people into the arms of the movement. It encourages them to lash back at those who, they are told, seek to destroy them. The paranoia about the outside world is stoked through bizarre conspiracy theories, many championed in books such as Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order,” a xenophobic rant that includes attacks on liberals and democratic institutions.


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The obsession with violence pervades the popular novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their apocalyptic novel, “Glorious Appearing,” based on LaHaye’s interpretation of biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ returns and eviscerates the flesh of millions of nonbelievers with the sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror and blood, of how “the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.” Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The Left Behind series, of which this novel is a part, contains the best-selling adult novels in the country.

Violence must be used to cleanse the world. These Christian fascists are called to a perpetual state of war. “Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ’s] return is heresy…” says televangelist James Robinson.

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as glorious signposts. The war in Iraq is predicted, believers insist, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelations, where four angels “which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men.” The march is inevitable and irreversible and requires everyone to be ready to fight, kill and perhaps die. Global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared, but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms hundreds of millions of apostates to a horrible and gruesome death.

The Christian right, while embracing a form of primitivism, seeks the imprint of law and science to legitimate its absurd mythologies. Its members seek this imprint because, despite their protestations to the contrary, they are a distinctly modern, totalitarian movement. They seek to co-opt the pillars of the Enlightenment in order to abolish the Enlightenment. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like eugenics for the Nazis or “Soviet” science for Stalin, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline—hence the rewriting of textbooks. The Christian right defends itself in the legal and scientific jargon of modernity. Facts and opinions, once they are used “scientifically” to support the irrational, become interchangeable. Reality is no longer based on the gathering of facts and evidence. It is based on ideology. Facts are altered. Lies become true. Hannah Arendt called it “nihilistic relativism,” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

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By Aaron Ortiz, June 7, 2010 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges, fascist is not a word you can use on your enemies and retain your

May I suggest a more accurate “insult”: theocrat.

Petty insult only reveals that you are angry and are unable or unwilling to use
accurate words to describe it.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, June 7, 2010 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

With no other modification, you could substitute the word “Muslim” for “Christian”, and all of the posts about it would read just as true.

From esi42: “The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction…”

From C.Curtis.Dillon: “They use Christian doctrine and belief to push normal people into a frenzy of hate and bigotry.  And they conspire to destroy the very democratic institutions that allow them to exist and protect their right to this vile behavior.”

And ITW: “What Hedges fails to warn us of is this anti-intellectual movement, if it succeeds will doom the USA to fall into the third world,”

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By Dave24, June 7, 2010 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

Lunatics.  And here, Carlin says it best:

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By yrwehere?, June 7, 2010 at 4:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone think Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale”? I don’t know if I agree this movement is as pervasive as Hedges, but I’ve personally been aware of this for years. Was living in Kansas when they took evolution out of the textbooks. I was stunned.

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By bogi666, June 7, 2010 at 4:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

INHERIT, the christian fascist movement leaders consist of several promiment alcoholics such as Falwell, Hagard, Beck, Bush 2,McCarthy just name a few of the most promient. Hagee, Falwell attest to their gluttony, Falwell dying of gluttony.That alcoholics, drug addicts are clever at lying is now mystery as their lives used lying to manipulate and deceive people, family, friends and so forth. The success of the christian fascists is attributed to mindlessness, the inability to discern thoughts from facts. The institutions of government, business, pretend christians all use mindlessness which gives mindlessness legitimacy. This christians facist movement is foretold in the bible as the Beast, the One Worlder’s System of globalization.  The Seventh Day Adventists also prophetically predict it in their teaching,as the One Worlders. KERRYROSE, FYI; the Family blatantly endorses totalitarianism for us, they being the totalitarianist.Their heroes; Hitler, Stalin, Sukarno, Mussolini just to name a few. Their goal for the USA is fashioned from Indonesia under Sukarno or Suharto and they believe in the 10 Commandments for all others, excluding themselves. Sanford from South Carlonia,Ensign from Nevada, Vitter from Louisiana are FAmilites. Since recorded history power and control have been a preeminent motivation for men, who haven’t even gotten over the fact of the female ovum existence, 150 year ago, and even the existence of dinosaur bones also about 150 years ago. The christians fascists are neo Platonists, disdaining science, whose teaching ushered in the dark ages which lasted 2000 years and ended only 500 years ago.

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By thebeerdoctor, June 7, 2010 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

Although I no longer feel my comments are worth the trouble of posting, I do direct you to a piece written back in 1998:
This concerns H.L. Mencken and “beer in our time”. Hope people check it out.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 7, 2010 at 3:47 am Link to this comment

As usual, Hedges is scaring us with his doom-and-gloom predictions.  He also makes his usual unprovable assumptions.

However, he isn’t far off in his analysis.  He’s also not saying anything new.  The Texas school book fiasco (ensuring I never live in Texas) and the Arizona Jim Crow laws (ensuring I never live in Arizona) are actual proof of this.

But it’s not new. It’s been going on a long, long time.  The Scopes trial in 1925(?) was a part of this struggle.  It seemed dead until around 1978, when the televangelist movement began to gain real strength.  Gerry Falwell, Jim Bakker and Bob Jones were part of the early ones.  Only Pat Robertson, of the first round, is still here plaguing us.

But Hedges’ assertion that this movement is made up of reformed alcoholics, drug addicts, hedonists and disenfranchised is a wild, gross distortion in an attempt to show the same people who made up Hitler’s Brown Shirts.

It’s just not that simple.  And there aren’t enough of them.  Nor does it explain their power and influence.  Starting in 1978, the Christian Right embarked on a plan that seemed silly in 1980, but doesn’t seem silly now.  It was to contest every possible election starting with the simplest local-yokel small town school boards and town boards. They started in the most conservative areas, like small-town Kansas, and built from there.  They took the fight to mainstream Liberals and Conservatives at every level, sustaining many losses, but never faltering.  Why should they? They “know” God is on their side.

Why does Hedges seem to think this is so strange? It’s happening in the Islamic world, it’s happening in the Jewish world, it’s happening in the Hindu world, it’s a typical reaction to modernity that has happened repeatedly throughout history.

What Hedges is describing is very similar to the rise of the early Roman Catholic Church, which brutally wiped out its rival the Arian Church and fought millennium-long wars with its only substantial rival, the Eastern Orthodox Church. It led the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, and continued up until the very recent, and very wary reconciliation between the two traditional churches.

But Catholicism’s history is EXACTLY what Hedges has described for the Christian Right.  As a friend of mine used to say: Without the Catholic Church we would have landed on the Moon 1000 years earlier!

What Hedges fails to warn us of is this anti-intellectual movement, if it succeeds will doom the USA to fall into the third world, as the technology of China and Asia and Europe surge ahead of us, as they already have in manufacturing and in rust-belt heavy industry.

Steve Jobs can’t make enough iPods, iPhones, and iPads to counteract that.  There isn’t ever going to be the “cool ap” the counters the leapfrog jump Asia is taking past us.

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By Anna Nomad, June 7, 2010 at 3:42 am Link to this comment

No cause for alarm, folks.  We’re experiencing just a brief period of self-correction.  As soon as the humans are eliminated, equilibrium will be restored and all will be well.  Until then, why not quell your apprehension with a refreshing beverage or two?  Be of good cheer!

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Anna Nomad's avatar

By Anna Nomad, June 7, 2010 at 3:41 am Link to this comment

No cause for alarm, folks.  We’re just experiencing a brief period of self-correction.  As soon as the humans are eliminated, equilibrium will be restored and all will be well.  Until then, why not quell your apprehension with a refreshing beverage or two?  Be of good cheer!

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, June 7, 2010 at 3:17 am Link to this comment

What I find particularly disgusting about this movement is the blatant hypocrisy it lives by.  I doubt most leaders are even believers.  They have discovered, as most con men do, that a sucker is born every minute.  They prey on the weak and downtrodden while enlisting the wealthy who ‘shop’ religion to find a church that allows their own hypocrisy to flourish.  Thus they find benefactors to build their mega-churches (testaments to their massive egos) and hordes of willing followers who do their bidding.  They use Christian doctrine and belief to push normal people into a frenzy of hate and bigotry.  And they conspire to destroy the very democratic institutions that allow them to exist and protect their right to this vile behavior.  I doubt the founders had this in mind when they created the country.

It will be interesting to see what happens when, down the road a bit, these Christian zealots turn on the conservative politicians who support their actions but do not believe in the Christian ideas that underpin the movement.  A ‘Christian politician’ is an oxymoron but the movement tolerates them, for now, because they serve a useful purpose.  I don’t think that will be the case in the future when the movement has seized power and is cleansing the flock of non-believers.  Politicians should be the first to go.

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By kerryrose, June 7, 2010 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

Are you convinced that the rise of the Christian right is so powerful?  I have noticed a strange backlash all around since Obama was elected.

First, there seems to be a racist backlash.  The shouts of ‘Take OUR country back,’  the Arizona immigration law, and the “Tea Party’ which is mainly about race. Racists like Palin leading the way, who would normally be laughed off the stage.

Now, there seems to be a feminist backlash.  In HP there is a woman named Siskind from The New Agenda that is actually promotin Palin, Bachmann, and others as ‘the new feminists.’  (To the horror of all the readers.)  She takes money from the right and Sarah PAC.

You didn’t mention The Family in DC, or Blackwater who have ties to the Christian Right, and who are subverting democracy. What do you feel their role is in current politics?  Are they the ones pulling the strings of the blue collar Christian right?

Beck has also been just called a ‘clown’ by those on the left… playing for ratings.  Your analysis is far more sinister.  Do you believe the doom that you are predicting, or is it fire and brimstone preaching?

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By esi42, June 7, 2010 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

You nailed it Chris:

“Ideological, theological and political debates are useless with the Christian right. It does not respond to a dialogue. It is impervious to rational thought and discussion. The naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthens its legitimacy and weakness our own. If we do not have a right to be, if our very existence is not legitimate in the eyes of God, there can be no dialogue. ”

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By bachu, June 7, 2010 at 2:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

American Christians believe that after one dies they go straight to heaven and then they try to watch over and help their loved ones on earth. Anybody who claims that they go to hell is officially commiting a hate crime.

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