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“If fascism comes to America, it will not be identified with any “shirt” movement, nor with an “insignia,” but it will probably be “wrapped up in the flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution,” wrote in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century. Nobel Laureate recipient Sinclair Lewis put it even more succinctly when he warned, “It [fascism] would come wrapped in the flag and whistling the Star Spangled Banner.”
No one who has followed the rise of the Christian Right in national politics over the course of the past three decades should be surprised by Monday’s Supreme Court decision to grant corporations religious personhood. It was as predictable as Pat Robertson saying something stupid about gay sex. The hyper religious conservatives on the bench of the nation’s high court, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, see the federal government as being controlled by ‘secular humanists’ who wish to make war against the purity of the Christian belief system. Like the 89 million Americans who count themselves as evangelicals, they seek total cultural and political domination.
Not only is the Christian Right the most politically agitated and reliable voting bloc of the Republican Party, but it is also emboldened like no other time in their warped history. With recent efforts to legalize discrimination against gay Americans defeated, the Hobby Lobby case against the Affordable Care Act has reenergized the theocratic wing of the GOP base — the wing that is now the party’s fuselage. Throw red meat to their holier than thou rationalizations and they won’t care what big business does to this great nation. They care for one thing – turning America into a theocratic regime. Don’t be fooled by the flag-waving and the obnoxious hyper-masculine jingoistic platitudes; the Christian Right does not love America unconditionally. They love America on the condition that representatives they help get elected are carrying out their political agenda.
There is no conspiracy theory here. Their strategy is evidently clear and unashamedly boasted. Their strategy is to control state and federal legislatures, and the courts – in a way that says, “We don’t care what the American people want. We write the laws, and those laws will not reflect the wishes of the center majority, but instead will cater only for the theological cranks within our ranks.”
In state after state, the nation’s theocrats are fighting and defeating America’s secular sense of self. The Christian Right has not only moved from the fringes to become the main strain of the Republican Party; it is the Republican Party. “The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians and Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public square by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs,” observes Mike Lofgren, who spent 28 years in Congress as a Republican.
These radicals continually surprise America for the fact that the mainstream media and casual political observers mistakenly believe these theocrats represent the minority fringe. You cannot sugarcoat the fact that it was a majority of Republicans in Arizona’s Senate who voted for the anti-gay bill. Likewise it was a majority of Republicans in Kansas’ House who voted for a similar bill. They voted for these religiously motivated discrimination bills because the Christian Right wish to discriminate against individuals they claim the Bible deems abhorrent.
The American Taliban is on a roll, and the Republican National Committee is seeking to capitalize on the Christian Right’s renewed energy, which has been fueled by victory in the Supreme Court. Last week, the RNC launched its first web-based effort to rally social conservatives and evangelicals as a key cornerstone of the party’s efforts to retake the Senate in the coming November elections.
“This shouldn’t be outreach, this should be who we are — it is who we are,” said Chad Connelly, director of faith engagement for the Republican National Committee and the force behind this new initiative, GOPfaith.com. Evangelicals, Connelly said, “are our biggest, most reliable voting bloc.” The aim of the website is “to build an army of conservative pro-faith activists” — that is sympathetic conservative Christians.
The RNC believes a big reason for Mitt Romney’s heavy defeat in the 2012 election was that the party didn’t do enough to court the Christian Right, with less than a third of the 89 million evangelicals casting a ballot. “Let’s overcome that myth of the IRS saying you can’t talk about this from the pulpit,” Connelly said. “Look, if there’s no freedom of speech in the pulpit, there’s no freedom of speech.”
“Now is the time of righteous indignation,” he said, a time to be the “turn-the-tables-over Jesus” and not the “meek, turn-the-other-cheek Jesus.”
The immediate goal of this renewed effort to “maximize the faith vote” is to help the GOP win in key Senate races, especially in battleground states like Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. With the GOP needing a net gain of seven seats to take unilateral control of the U.S. Congress, winning those seats is essential to the GOP’s 2014 prospects.
“Many Republican leaders are tired of losing, they see some real opportunities to win, and that means they have to fire on all cylinders, if you will. And this is a key constituency,” said John Green, head of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. “They don’t have to woo them to the party as much as they need to woo them to the polls,” Green said of conservative evangelicals.
Should the Christian Right help the GOP retake the Senate, the Piper will need to be repaid. This prospect should terrify every secular, liberal American to his bootstraps.
The Hobby Lobby case is yet another reminder that those who wish to transform America’s secular democracy into a tyrannical theocracy are on the march.
CJ Werleman is the author of "Crucifying America" and "God Hates You. Hate Him Back." You can follow him on Twitter: @cjwerlemanMore CJ Werleman.