IS THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT DANGEROUS?

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winner at the New York Times. He has written a new book called The Christian Right and the War on America. He calls the American Christian Right Dominionism i.e. a movement which seeks politcal power.

Hedges says that since the 1980’s people like Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer have exploited the despair of the American working class (and a good part of the middle class) at the same time they promise them that Jesus is looking over them and has a plan for them: “Once these people become removed from a reality-based world, they become impossible to reach in terms of rational discussion.”

Hedge argues when you break down fascism into its many elements, we will find many of those elements within the radical Christian right, within the Dominionists.

These elements would include … the attack on any kind of critical spirit or self-criticism as a form of heresy; the fight against diversity; the fact that it draws from social frustration; the fact that it recruits people who have been deprived of a clear social identity …. the notion that once you join the movement you automatically can achieve a kind of heroism; the fact that the final aesthetic of the movment is violent: “I mean the hard Christian right is apocalyptic and believes that massive violence is going to cleanse and purge the world. And these are all fundamental beliefs of fascist governments.”

The Dominionists are taught not to think but to obey. That is why they advocate the rigid hierarchy of the family with the male dominant, the woman subservient and the children obedient. And the want to insert that family hierachy into the Church and eventually into the nation. This is a movement that has identified American imperialism with the Christian state. It fuses the iconography and language of Christianity with the iconography and language of American nationalism.

Hedges says we are talking about tens of millions of households. The Dominionists control Christian radio and broadcasting. They form about 25 per cent of the base of the Republican party.

Should we be concerned by the growth of the Christian Right in the United States and its equivalent in Canada located, among other places, in the programs of the old Reform party?

Would the old Reformer Stephen Harper be tempted by any of this if he had a majority government?

19 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    Dominionists are a small fraction of the Christian Right. In Canada they are are even a tinier minority. The Christian Right in Canada tends to be dominated by Catholics and some Evangelicals.

    I think really this is fearmongering.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    “Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead” ordered the captain of a ship in a long ago war film. That is the spirit of extremists of all stripes all around the world. Yes they are a tiny minority…but very active, very vocal and ultimately very violent when resistance to their convictions becomes too strong. That makes them dangerous and we must be concious of that.
    Is Harper one of them? He is a reborn Christain I guess and could be tempted should he get a majority to apply some of the rightist agenda. He is also a pragmatist and would probably test the waters befaore acting. Lets be vigilant…and avoid a Harper majority if we can although, currently, the alternative is not quite evident.

  3. 3

    Suzanne:
    Those who originally supported Hitler were a small fraction too but look what happened.
    Paul:
    Vigilance indeed. That did Junius say? “The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures.”
    Even with the Liberals in disseray I expect an election now would only return a Harper minority government.

  4. 4
    Chimera Says:

    Yes, the Christian Right is dangerous. But then, so is any other group on one extreme end of the social scale or another. Unless you are One Of Them, you are in great danger.

    Size (ie, numbers) truly does not matter. They are philosophical meth addicts, and they need to be dealt with in no uncertain terms. They not only believe they are the world’s saviors, they are willing to kill you to prove it. Or let someone else kill you and call it justice. Or inevitable. Or The Will Of God.

  5. 5
    SUZANNE Says:

    Well, Neil’s sentence asks if the Christian Right is dangerous.

    But he confounds Dominionists with the Christian Right.

    That’s like making Muslims and Al Qaeda synonymous.

    Patently unfair.

    I am a social conservative member of the Christian Right. I am not a Dominionist. I do not believe in religious litmust tests for political parties or government.

    Let’s also keep things proportional. There’s a huge difference between Al Qaeda, Hitler and the average social conservative who believes in electoral democracy and will respect the will of the people. (And Harper is not “the Christian Right”). Even if he were, when his term is up, it’d be up.

    The rhetorical inflation has got to stop. I thought progressive types were against broad demonization of whole groups of people.

  6. 6

    Chimera:
    Isn’t it the truth. And they are all chosen by God for a mission. Remember George Bush. God chose him to invade Iraq. Dangerous is right.

  7. 7

    Suzanne:
    No religious litmus tests for political parties or government. What about the abortion issue? The Archbishop of St. Louis is again threatening to withhold the Eucharist from Catholic politicians who do not shape up on the abortion issue.
    Tell me this. What if a Catholic politician voted for a bill that reduced abortions? Wouldn’t he still be voting for some number of abortions? Would that disqualify him from Communion?

  8. 8
    Chimera Says:

    “The rhetorical inflation has got to stop. I thought progressive types were against broad demonization of whole groups of people.”

    Pot, I’d like you to meet Kettle…

  9. 9
    SUZANNE Says:

    “No religious litmus tests for political parties or government. What about the abortion issue? The Archbishop of St. Louis is again threatening to withhold the Eucharist from Catholic politicians who do not shape up on the abortion issue.”

    That is an internal Catholic issue. I am saying that no government or party should have a religious litmus test, i.e. to be a member you need to belong to a certain religion or church. Dominionists believe only Christians can properly govern.

    Tell me this. What if a Catholic politician voted for a bill that reduced abortions? Wouldn’t he still be voting for some number of abortions? Would that disqualify him from Communion?

    Again, that is an internal Catholic matter. I am saying that religion is not a barrier to public office. A Church should have the right to govern itself in any way it pleases, including disciplining anyone and everyone it deems worthy of that penalty, whether they are a politician or not.

    “The rhetorical inflation has got to stop. I thought progressive types were against broad demonization of whole groups of people.”

    Pot, I’d like you to meet Kettle…

    What exactly is inflated?

  10. 10

    Suzanne:
    You say these are internal Catholic matters as though that’s the end of it.
    It isn’t. Take the issue of homosexuality. In my book the institutional church is the biggest homophobic institution in the world.
    But the institutional church is not coterminous with the people of God.
    The Pope is not the church. The curia is not the church. The bishops are not the church.
    Do I give internal assent (or external for that matter) to the homophobic teaching of the institutional church on gays. I do not. Just as I hope I would not have given assent to usury or slavery, both once taught by the institutional church. Both these teachings were changed certainly in part because so many loyal Catholics opposed them. As I certainly expect the teaching on gays will be changed.

    Finally, about a loyalty test. I don’t think it appropriate for individual Catholics to excommunicate other individual Catholics for what the latter believe. Even the institutional church does that very rarely.

  11. 11
    SUZANNE Says:

    Neil, I’m a bit fuzzy about the direction of the discussion. I meant that that I do not believe in litmus tests for parties or government, and neither do most right-wing Christians. I was not talking about litmus tests for the Church.

    In your post, you basically said that Dominionists were synonymous with right-wing Christians, but they’re not. They’re a fraction.

    Why are we discussing the issue of the Catholic Church’s internal discipline, when the issue is whether the Christian Right is dangerous?

    The post says that Dominionists are dangerous (a dubious claim, but let’s leave that aside for now) and basically ignores all non-Dominionist right-wingers.

  12. 12
    Chimera Says:

    “What exactly is inflated?”

    Wrong point. “Broad demonization.”

    And as for trying to separate the Dominionists from the rest of the Christian Right…from the above description, supplied by both Neil and Chris Hedges, I don’t see any difference. That which we call a skunk cabbage, by any other name would still stink.

    And when “internal Catholic issues” affect only Catholics, and only internally, then I will agree to leaving out the litmus test for religion in politics. Until then, keep Suzanne’s church out of my government!

  13. 13
    SUZANNE Says:

    Dominionists believe that only Christians should rule the US and the Bible should be the sole authority in matters of government.

    Catholics and others are not opposed to non-Christians winning elected office, and all sources of knowledge (faith and/or reason) are acceptable as a means to knowledge.

    Huge difference.

  14. 14
    Chimera Says:

    Not so much, if you consider that your kind of Catholic wants to eliminate all except the Catholic lifestyle from others. Oh, sure…you’d allow non-Catholics to hold office, so long as they don’t get to institute non-Catholic laws and allow people to design their own lives. Like choice. Like contraception. Like same sex marriage.

    Difference? Really?

  15. 15
    SUZANNE Says:

    Oh, sure…you’d allow non-Catholics to hold office, so long as they don’t get to institute non-Catholic laws and allow people to design their own lives. Like choice. Like contraception. Like same sex marriage.

    Well, when you’re a majority government, you get to do that. You get to band together with like-minded people– Catholics– and non– who want to accomplish the same goals.

    So yes, I would establish fetal rights. Most of the Canadian population thinks there should be at least some protection for the unborn child, so that cuts across religious boundaries.

    And contraception: the only kind of contraception I don’t think should be allowed is that which causes death of the unborn. So yes, it would be a fetal rights agenda. I don’t think a ban on The Pill is feasible at this pill as their isn’t a climate of respect for the early embryo.

    And yes, I would repeal same-sex marriage because it serves no useful purpose to the state. No point in wasting resources on a relationship that cannot serve society.

    If two men want to consider themselves married, they would be free to do so, only the state resources wouldn’t be devoted to it.

    I am sure that in the days of White Supremacy, the white supremacists were scared that people who believed in equality would impose their religious, beliefs, too, and not leave people alone to do whatever they want, such as purchase slaves.

    Really, Chimera, you’re arguing like a defender of liberty, but really you’re defending some fairly unreasonable choices– an opinion that is held by people of all kinds of faiths.

    And the difference is that you are trying to make it sound like that social conservatives are only about Catholicism. They are for a given set of principles that cross religious lines, just like left-wingers are for a religious set of principles that cross religious lines. No one ever freaked out about Bill Blaikie or Fr. Raymond Gravel imposing their religious views, right?

  16. 16
    Chimera Says:

    “And yes, I would repeal same-sex marriage because it serves no useful purpose to the state. No point in wasting resources on a relationship that cannot serve society.”

    You are really un-bloody-believeable, you know that? No useful purpose to the state? Excuse me, missy, but nobody”s life should be judged by its “usefulness” to the state!

    You do what you want with your life. And take your bloody god with you. You leave me alone to do what I want with my life. I’m not your goddamn servant!

  17. 17

    Chimera:
    As you know, we like vigorous debate here but we prefer it to be couched in moderate language.

  18. 18

    Just came across a quote that seems relevant to our discussion. The American writer Sinclair Lewis warned: “When fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

  19. 19
    Chimera Says:

    Neil…still too strong, language-wise? Believe it or not, I was trying to keep it moderate. I can, at times, raise blisters on ceramic.

    My apologies. I shall endeavor to use more imaginative language. That, of course, will prompt the little heifer to mis-read even more of my comments, with the excuse that they are difficult to understand. In anticipation of that, I can only suggest that a good thesaurus can be had for very little money at any thrift store which has a book section.

    Sinclair Lewis was prescient.


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