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The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger

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

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

The Christian right has, for this reason, its own creationist “scientists” who use the language of science to promote anti-science. It has fought successfully to have creationist books sold in national park bookstores at the Grand Canyon and taught in public schools in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Creationism shapes the worldview of hundreds of thousands of students in Christian schools and colleges. This pseudoscience claims to have proved that all animal species, or at least their progenitors, fit on Noah’s ark. It challenges research in AIDS and pregnancy prevention. It corrupts and discredits the disciplines of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology and physics.

Once creationists can argue on the same platform as geologists, asserting that the Grand Canyon was not created 6 billion years ago but 6,000 years ago by the great flood that lifted up Noah’s ark, we have lost. The acceptance of mythology as a legitimate alternative to reality is a body blow to the rational, secular state. The destruction of rational and empirically based belief systems is fundamental to the creation of all totalitarian ideologies. Certitude, for those who could not cope with the uncertainty of life, is one of the most powerful appeals of the movement. Dispassionate intellectual inquiry, with its constant readjustments and demand for evidence, threatens certitude. For this reason incertitude must be abolished.

“What convinces masses are not facts,” Arendt wrote in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” “and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the masses’ inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time.”   

Augustine defined the grace of love as Volo ut sis—I want you to be. There is, he wrote, an affirmation of the mystery of the other in relationships based on love, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. Relationships based on love recognize that others have a right to be. These relationships accept the sacredness of difference. This acceptance means that no one individual or belief system captures or espouses an absolute truth. All struggle, in their own way, some outside of religious systems and some within them, to interpret mystery and transcendence.

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The sacredness of the other is anathema for the Christian right, which cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of other ways of being and believing. If other belief systems, including atheism, have moral validity, the infallibility of the movement’s doctrine, which constitutes its chief appeal, is shattered. There can be no alternative ways to think or to be. All alternatives must be crushed.

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. At this point it is a fight for survival.

Those gathered into the arms of this Christian fascist movement are desperately struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. We failed them; we owe them more: This is their response. The financial dislocations, the struggles with domestic and sexual abuse, the battle against addictions, the poverty and the despair that many in the movement endure are tragic, painful and real. They have a right to their rage and alienation. But they are also being used and manipulated by forces that seek to dismantle what is left of our democracy and abolish the pluralism that was once the hallmark of our society.

The spark that could set this conflagration ablaze could be lying in the hands of a small Islamic terrorist cell. It could be in the hands of greedy Wall Street speculators who gamble with taxpayer money in the elaborate global system of casino capitalism. The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.

Let us not stand meekly at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching toward Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for our working class. Let us reincorporate these dispossessed into our economy. Let us give them a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, will use this rage to snuff us out.

Chris Hedges, who writes a column every Monday for Truthdig and who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He was a reporter for many years with The New York Times. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”


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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
credibility.

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.

Examples:
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=MeSSwKffj9o

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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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thebeerdoctor's avatar

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:
http://beerdoctor.wordpress.com/
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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Anna Nomad's avatar

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!

Report this

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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kerryrose's avatar

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

Chris,
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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