As the Occupy Wall street movement spreads across the country and the
world, we must bring attention to the enablers of the top 1 percent
exploiting the 99. Fundamentalist religion made this exploitation
Evangelical fundamentalism helped empower the top 1 percent. Note I didn't say religion per se, but religious fundamentalism.
Why? Because without the fundamentalists and their "values"
issues, many in the lower 99 percent could not have been convinced to
vote against their (our) economic self-interest; in other words, vote
for Republicans who only serve billionaires.
Wall Street is a great target for long-overdue protest, but so are
the centers of religious power that are the gatekeepers of Republican
Party "values" voters that make the continuing economic exploitation
Fundamentalist religion -- evangelical and Roman Catholic alike --
has delegitimized the US government and thus undercut its ability to
tax, spend and regulate.
The fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice
with a bogus (and hate-driven) "morality" litmus tests of spurious red
herring "issues" from abortion to school prayer and gay rights. The
result has been that the masses of lower middle-class and poor Americans
who should be voting for Democrats and thus their own economic
interests, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self
This trick of political sleight of hand has been achieved by this process:
- Declare the US government agents of evil because "the government" has allowed legal abortion, gay rights, etc.
- Declare that therefore "government is the problem," not the solution.
- The government is the source of all evil, thus anyone the government wants to regulate is being picked on by satanic forces. The US government is always the bad guy.
- Good, God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because "the government" is evil.
- So unregulated corporations, banks and Wall Street are always
right and represent "freedom" while government is always wrong and
Like most evangelical/Roman Catholic fundamentalist movements in
history, from the Bay State colonies to the Spanish Inquisition, the
American Religious Right of today advocates the fusion of state power
and religion through the reestablishment of the "Christian America" idea
of "American Exceptionalism" (i.e., a nation "chosen" by God), the form
of government adopted by the Puritans' successors during the age of
early American colonialism.
Thus the division between "real Americans" and the rest of us is
the "saved" and "lost" paradigm of theological correctness applied to
politics. Thus President Obama isn't a real American, or even a born
American, he's "Other," a Muslim, an outsider, and above all not "one of
In other words you're not just wrong, but evil if you disagree with
the Elect over abortion, or for that matter peace in the Middle East
because you're "not supporting Israel."
"Bring America back to the Bible" is really no more subtle than the
claim of the Iranian Mullahs to rule in "God's name" so that Iran too
can come back to God. And if you can get Americans to worry about the
Bible and not fairness and justice, then you have handed a perpetual
victory to Goldman Sachs and company.
How Did We Get Here?
The unstated agreement went like this: Republicans will pander to
the Religious Right on the social issues -- abortion, gay rights, prayer
in schools, creationism in textbooks, and not so subtly the endorsement
of religious schools to help white evangelicals and Roman Catholics
avoid integration -- as long as the Religious Right turned a blind eye
to the fact that the Republican Party would sell the soul of the country
to corporate America, a country-within-a-country where 1 percent of the
population have more wealth than the 99 percent.
Deference to religion masquerading as politics must end, now.
Religion masquerading as politics is not true religion or
politics-- it is a theocracy-in-waiting. This charade of power grabs in
God's name needs to be exposed, and destroyed.
Democracy will not survive the continuing dirty combination of
theocracy and oligarchy. That's where we're headed: bankers running the
world backed by preachers who don't care about God but care about power.
The timely destruction of the economic elites and their religious
facilitators begins by calling fundamentalist/evangelical/Roman Catholic
"religion" what it is: a political grab for power based on literal
madness of the sort that makes many terrified of modernity, truth,
science and facts and leads them to deny evolution and global
warming while believing that Jesus will come back any day now.
To the post-Roe Religious Right, hating America became the
new patriotism. If it had not been for the evangelicals demonizing the
federal government over abortion and gay rights (as they did before over
civil rights) how else would the economic oligarchy have gotten away
with making the underclass vote against their own interests?
'I'm Pro-Life and I Vote' Bumper-sticker Says It All
The evangelical Right helped stall the Obama presidency. And they
are only getting going, as their 87 Tea Party congressional freshmen
proved by being willing to plunge the US economy over a cliff in order
to satisfy their hunger to clip the wings of the "evil" US government
and render it useless.
When my late evangelical father and I were running around back in
the 1970s and '80s signing up Republican leaders like Ronald Reagan to
"take a stand on abortion" we were outsiders and agitators. Today, the
agitators are now actually running the heart of the Republican Party.
Some of the most extreme of their number -- Perry and Bachmann -- are
actually running for president.
That's why no one was surprised that Rick Perry kicked off his
presidential race with a prayer meeting surrounded by extremist bigots
from the far, far evangelical right.
Protest Churches and Religious Organizations, Along With Wall Street
Fundamentalist religion of all kinds is the enemy of democracy and
thus of America. It is also the enemy of working people everywhere, when
its bogus moral crusades empower the rich to thumb their noses at our government.
Fundamentalist religion here and around the world must be stopped
in its anti-fact, anti-progress crusade. The alternative is chaos,
decline, oligarchy and theocracy.
Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times best selling author. He is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a (more...