Christian Fascism

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By CHRIS HEDGES*

An American fascism, draped in the flag and clutching the Christian cross, was organizing to extinguish our anemic democracy.

The US Supreme Court is relentlessly funding and empowering Christian Fascism. She not only overturned the Roe v. Wade — ending the constitutional right to abortion — but ruled on June 21 that the state of Maine cannot exclude private religious schools from a state-funded tuition program. She decided that Montana's state program to support private schools must include religious schools.

She decided that a 12-foot-tall cross could remain on state property in suburban Maryland. She confirmed the Trump administration's regulation that allows employers to deny birth control coverage to female employees based on religious principles. She ruled that laws against employment discrimination do not apply to religious school teachers. She ruled that a Catholic social services agency in Philadelphia can ignore city regulations and can refuse to consider same-sex couples as candidates to adopt children.

It repealed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It watered down laws allowing workers to fight sexual and racial harassment in the courts. It rolled back century-old restrictions on political campaign finance to allow private groups and oligarchs to spend unlimited funds on elections, which is a legal system of bribery, in the process of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

It allowed states to opt out of the expansion of the Medicaid do Affordable care [law of equity in health services]. It downgraded the ability of public sector unions to raise funds. It forced workers with legal grievances to submit their claims to private arbitration boards. She ruled that states cannot restrict the right to carry publicly concealed weapons. It ruled that criminal suspects cannot prosecute officers who neglected to read their Miranda rights [being able to remain silent so as not to incriminate themselves]. The criminalization of contraception, same-sex marriages and consensual same-sex relationships are likely to be next. Only 25% of people responding to polls say they trust the Supreme Court's decisions.

 

Fascism

I don't use the word 'fascist' lightly. My father was a Presbyterian minister. My mother, who was a teacher, graduated from a religious seminary. I received my Masters of Divinity at the Harvard School of Divinity. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. Most importantly, I spent two years reporting from megachurches, creationist seminars, right-to-life retreats, Christian broadcast networks, and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with members and leaders of the Christian right for my book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America [American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America] which is banned in most “Christian” schools and universities. Before the book was published, I had a long meeting with Fritz Stern, author of the book The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the German Ideology [The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the German Ideology] and Robert Paxton, who wrote the book The Anatomy of Fascism [The Anatomy of Fascism], two of the most prominent scholars on fascism, to make sure the word “fascist” was appropriate.

The book was a warning that an American fascism, draped in the flag and clutching the Christian cross, was organizing to extinguish our anemic democracy. This attack is very advanced. The connective tissue between disparate militia groups – the conspiracy theorists of the Qanon, the anti-abortion activists, right-wing patriotic organizations, Second Amendment advocates, neo-Confederates and Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 – is this frightening Christian fascism.

Fascists gain power by creating parallel institutions – schools, universities, media platforms and paramilitary forces – and by capturing internal security bodies and the judiciary. They bend laws, including electoral law, to suit their ends. They are rarely part of the majority. The Nazis never had more than 37% of the electorate in free elections in Germany. Christian fascists make up less than a third of the US electorate, about the same percentage as those who consider abortion murder.

This blatant manipulation of the law has been demonstrated in two of the most recent US Supreme Court rulings, whereby those who support this ideology have a five-to-three majority – with the less extremist Chief Justice John Roberts often adding a sixth vote. . By revoking the judgment in Roe v. Wade, the court - in a five-to-four vote - argues that states have the power to decide whether abortion is legal. On the contrary, this same court ruled against "states' rights" by overturning strict restrictions on the concealed carrying of weapons.

What ideology requires is law. What ideology opposes is a crime. Once the legal system is subservient to dogma, an open society becomes impossible.

Blow by blow, autocratic power is being solidified by this monstrous Christian fascism that is financed by the most backward forces of corporate capitalism – which looks poised to take control of the US Congress in the mid-term presidential elections. Should Donald Trump, or a Trump-like clone, be elected in 2024, what's left of our democracy will likely be extinguished.

These Christian fascists are clear about what society they intend to create. In your ideal of the United States, our “secular humanist” society based on science and reason will be destroyed. The Ten Commandments will form the basis of the legal system. Creationism, or "Intelligent Design" will be taught in public schools - many of which will be openly "Christian". Those who are labeled as social deviants – including the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, criminals and those dismissed as “nominal Christians”, i.e. Christians who do not assume this peculiar interpretation of the Bible – will be silenced, arrested or killed.

The federal government's role will be reduced to protecting property rights, securing the "homeland" and waging war. Most federal assistance programs and departments – including education – will be phased out. Church organizations will be funded and empowered and operate social welfare agencies and schools. The poor, condemned by sloth, indolence, and sinfulness, will be refused help. The death penalty will be expanded to include “moral crimes” – including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy and witchcraft, as well as abortion, which will be treated as murder.

Women will be denied contraception, access to abortion and equality before the law, subordinated to men. Those who practice other faiths will, at best, be treated as second-class citizens. The wars carried out by the US empire will be defined as religious crusades. Victims of police violence and those in prisons will not receive redress. There will be no separation of church and state. The only legitimate voices in public discourse and the media will be “Christian”. America will be sanctified as an agent of God. Those who defy “Christian” authorities, at home and abroad, will be condemned as agents of Satan.

How did historians of Weimar Germany and Nazism, Holst studies professors, sociologists, and religious scholars manage to miss the rise of our homegrown Christian fascism? Being immersed in the writings of Hannah Arendt, Raul Hilberg, Saul Friedländer, Joachim Fest, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Theodor Adorno, they never connected the dots. Why have church leaders not thundered in denunciations of the grotesque perversion of the Gospel by Christian Fascists as they have sacralized the get-rich-with-Jesus schemes of the prosperity gospel, imperialism, militarism, capitalism, of patriarchy, white supremacy and other forms of bigotry? Why didn't reporters see the bright red lights that went on decades ago?

Most of those who report and interpret history, social movements and religious beliefs have failed us. They talked about the past, vowing “never again” to Nazism, but refusing to use the lessons of the past to explain the present. It wasn't out of ignorance. It was out of cowardice. Confronting Christian fascists, even in universities, meant receiving accusations of bigotry and bigotry that ended up canceling careers. This meant receiving credible threats of violence from conspiracy theorists who believed they were called by God to murder abortion providers, Muslims and “secular humanists”.

As many academics in Weimar Germany did, it was easier to believe that fascists would not do what they said, that they were distortions within the movement that could be rationally argued with, that opening channels of dialogue and communication could tame fascists. , that fascists would not act on their extremist and violent rhetoric if they were in power.

Although my book was a bestseller in the New York Times, Harvard University told my editor that they were not interested in my presenting at their school. I gave a talk about the book at University of Colgate, in which I did my bachelor's degree, organized by my mentor Coleman Brown, an ethics professor. I held a seminar, also organized by Coleman, with the professors of philosophy and religion after my talk. Those professors wanted nothing to do with the criticism. As we left the room, Coleman muttered, "The problem is, they don't believe in heretics."

In 2006, I was invited to speak at the opening of the LGBT center at Princeton University, when I was the Distinguished Fellow on behalf of Anschutz in American Studies. To my dismay, the faculty-facilitators had invited representatives of the right-wing Christian student group to view any deviation from heterosexuality as a psychological and moral abnormality. Christian fascist pastors in Texas and Idaho – who have driven countless young people struggling with their sexual identity to suicide – called for the execution of gay people just a few days ago.

“There is no dialogue with those who deny your legitimate right to be,” I said, looking directly at the LGBTQ students. "At this point, this is a question of survival." The teacher who organized the event jumped out of her chair. “This is a university,” she told me succinctly. “Her lecture ended. You can't say these kinds of things here." I sat down. But I had already stated my point of view.

All those who are charged in our society with interpreting the world around us have forgotten – as Karl Popper wrote in his book The Open Society and Its Enemies [The Open Society and Its Enemies] – “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend the tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and, with them, tolerance”.

Victor Klemperer – who was removed from his post as Professor of Romance Languages ​​at the Technical University of Dresden when the Nazis came to power in 1933 because he was Jewish – daydreamed in his diary in 1936 about what he would do in post-Nazi Germany if “the fate of the vanquished is in my hands”. He wrote that he “would let go of all the common people and even some of the leaders… but I would hang all the intellectuals and the professors a meter above the others; they would be left hanging from the poles for the time compatible with hygiene”.

Fascists promise moral renewal, a return to a lost golden age. They use moral purity campaigns to justify state repression. A few days after taking power in 1933, Adolph Hitler imposed a ban on all homosexual organizations. He ordered attacks on gay clubs and bars, including the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin and the permanent exile of its director, Magnus Hirschfeld. Thousands of volumes from the institute's library were thrown into a bonfire. This “moral cleanliness” was applauded by the German public, including German churches. But illegal tactics quickly legitimized what would soon be done to others.

I studied at Harvard with the theologian James Luther Adams. Adams was a member of the underground, anti-Nazi Confessing Church in Germany, led by Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. Adams was arrested in 1936 by the Gestapo and expelled from the country. He was one of the very few who saw the deadly strains of fascism in the nascent Christian right. “When you reach my age”, he told us (when he was 80 years old), “you will be fighting Christian fascists”. And here we are.

The billionaire class, while sometimes liberal, has dispossessed working men and women through deindustrialization, austerity, legalized tax boycotts, plundering of the US Treasury, and deregulation. It detonated the widespread despair and anger that drove many of the betrayed into the arms of those crooks and demagogues. She is very willing to accommodate Christian fascists, even if it means shedding the liberal veneer of inclusiveness. She has no intention of supporting social equality, which is why she opposed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

Ultimately, even the liberal faction will choose fascism over the empowerment of left and organized workers. The only thing that matters even to the ruling oligarchy is unrestricted exploitation and profit. She, like the industrialists in Nazi Germany, will be happy to make an alliance with the Christian Fascists, no matter how bizarre and buffoonish they are, and will take on the blood sacrifices of the damned.

*Chris Hedges is a journalist. Author, among other books, of Empire of illusion: the end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle (nation books).

Translation: Rubens Turkienicz to the portal Brazil 247

Originally published on the website The Chris Hedges Report

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