The Christian Right is a convoluted mixture of social, and religious based beliefs and they believe the way to solve the issues they deem to be important is to rule politically. They are Dominionist in nature and their belief system is centered on the idea they must control the world. They possess an “authoritarian” mindset that permeates all of their activities. In understanding them, you must understand that the basis of their particular brand of religion/social/political activity is basically a good v. evil philosophy. While they may not subscribe to it, they are what some modern scholars have suggested is Manichaean in their belief and social structure, but again not in the purest sense of the religion. In fact when Christians first encountered Manichaeism they deemed it as heresy. It had developed in a heavily Gnostic area of the Persian Empire, however Roman Emperor Theodosius I issued a decree of death for Macichaeans in AD382, declaring that Christianity was the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire. Augustine of Hippo converted to Christianity in AD387 however Manichaean ways of thinking did influence some of his ideas such as the nature of good and evil, the existence of hell, the separation of groups into the elect, the hearers, and of course the sinners. Hostility to the flesh and sexual activity were added in to align with the Roman Empire religious philosophy. In these principles you can find the basis for attaching the title, Manichaean, to the Christian Right.The modern day Christian Right believe there are good forces constantly doing battle with evil forces and the battle will not end until all evil has been eradicated. Some would say, but hey isn’t that a good thing? Sure if you believe their rendition of Good and Evil is correct. The problem is their viewpoint is based on their own interpretation of scripture, mostly from the Old Testament. And is based on the idea that they are the ones who need to be in power to eradicate the evil. George W Bush was constantly reminding us of the utter evil in the world and based on the day of the week, any country could be included in his “axis of evil”. If you did not go along with his way of thinking(and the Christian Right) you were labeled as non-patriotic, subversive or a traitor. Paul Weyrich described evil in the following comment at a conference of Christian Right leaders in 1995:
“The real enemy is the secular humanist mindset which seeks to destroy everything that is good in this society. The fight that we are fighting, the battle we have joined, is one that encompasses our entire life span”
My question in response to that statement is: does becoming a Christian make you a better person than the secular person or does it just make you meaner?
And Pat Robertson:
“It’s going to be a spiritual battle. There will be Satanic forces…. We are not going to be coming up just against human beings, to beat them in elections. We’re going to be coming up against spiritual warfare.”
Their activity, religious, political and societial, adheres to the authoritarian mindset and they are fanatical in all aspects. Erich Seligmann Fromm, a German social psychologist, humanistic philosopher and democratic socialist referred to fanaticism as any right wing authoritarian movement, usually a hothouse of dysfunction. He wrote:
“Those who cannot endure the vertiginous new social, political and personal freedoms of the modern age, those who crave security and a feeling of belonging and of being rooted somewhere, might be susceptible to the siren song of fascism.”
This description provides an eerie but accurate look at the Christian Right and consequently, the Republican Party. Their Jesus is the exact opposite of the Prince of Peace most Christians believe in. Their Jesus is a stern, manly, overtly masculine patriarch charging into the fray with his sword drawn against secular foes. Their Jesus would not feed the poor and the Beatutides were never written because a Jesus who performs in the manner theirs does would certainly not put the people first. Their Jesus is going to come back to earth and miraculously take them all up to heaven where they will sit on the “right hand of the father” and watch as the rest of us secularists are tortured in the most horrendous ways imaginable. It does not matter that some of us are Christians as well, we are just not the right kind of Christian. In fact it was not until the early 1820’s when the “Rapture” fairytale was established. Prior to that time, there is no mention in history of this story. The person who is credited with generating the story reportedly said that he was reading Revelations and although had read it many times, this time the scripture and interpretation just “jumped off the page” at him. That interpretation has proven to be their “cash cow” in convincing millions of people to convert to their brand of religion. It is more like a grim fairytale, than a believable story for those of us who feel a higher power is a kind individual who wants the best for the entire universe. However, millions of people across the world have fallen into the belief that this story is real and will assure you it is real based on their “interpretation” of scripture. They claim that they have taken this fairytale straight from scripture, however prior to the 19th century there is no mention of this story in their history.
‘There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world.”
So, in his mind’s eye the only way there can be world peace is if the Christian Right usher it in and the way they will do that is to be in a leadership position or to have dominion over the world.
Another of the central organizing features of conservative evangelical Christianity is the perceived need for absolute standards of social order. They see all around them dangers to the social structure which uphold democracy, liberty, and especially Christianity. Whatever appears to threaten social stability and order is thus an offspring of Satan. Abortion, Gays, The Woman’s Movement, Separation of Church and State, radical Islam(alhtough some leaders have been known to use the term Islam alone)are all evils to be conquered or proselytized to. Now the financial collapse has provided them additional demons to chase. With the financial collapse a whole new world of trauma has opened up to them to be exploited. Now they have more desperate and embittered followers to manipulate and they are injecting a renewed anti-government resentment. America’s Christian Right is often characterized as a reactionary movement because it is reacting to modern developments and seeks to restore older, more traditional social structures. Although the Christian Right has much to say about religion and morality, a lot of its social and political programs can be explained by reference to what they are against rather than what they are in favor of. Most of what they are against has become fundamental to the modern way of life. And no matter what the majority thinks, it must be dealt with, preferably reversed 40 years or more.
- “When you start a war on false pretenses and then act as if your deceptions are justified because you are doing God’s will and that your critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral”
- Yet, the Christian Right will always claim the high road when it comes to morality and faith. Their “Family Values” tradition has been a failure over and over because even they cannot live up to the terms, yet they still cling to their ideas and will not enter into a civil dialogue with the rest of the nation. It is sad and that is the reason we must all remain vigilant. They are not going away, they will use tricks and deception to move their agendas forward. Be vigilant and I leave you with these words from Dr. Robin Meyers:
“It’s our country to take back, all of our citizens’ country. Don’t be afraid to speak out. Don’t back down when your friends begin to tell you that the cause is righteous and that the flag should be wrapped around the cross, while the rest of us keep our mouths shut. Real Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and real Muslims, and real Hindus, and real Buddhists–so do all the faith traditions of the world at their heart believe one thing: life is precious.”
P.S. I would add real Atheists and real Agnostics to that equation, but that is just me.
Part three is coming up and it will cover the players on the Christian Right, their organizations and their prominent leaders. Suggested Reading Material and Websites to follow:
Clint Willis/Nate Hardcastle – Jesus is Not a Republican, The Religious Right’s War on America
Linda Kintz and Julia Lesage – Media Culture and the Religious Right
Esther Kaplan – With God On Their Side
** It should be noted that the Congress amended the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in 2009, however I have not found any information that the Presidential power was affected.