"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross."
~ Sinclair Lewis
A small but extremely vocal sub-group of radical conservatives within the Christian Church, also known as The Religious Right, believes itself to be the savior of an American Republic which has lost its way. It envisions a theocratic form of government based entirely on "Christian" principles, which members incorrectly believe to have been the original intent of the country's founders. A look into the heart of this ideology reveals a greater threat to authentic American democracy than any present external agent.
Heaven or Hell?
The primary force motivating the Religious Right is fear, which gives rise to a preoccupation with issues of authority, power, and control. Its singular purpose is to promote a restrictive social agenda, based on a narrow fundamentalist understanding of Christian doctrine, cloaked in a fanatical form of pious patriotism that masks an intense fear and disdain toward anything seen as different or outside its sphere of influence. In short, it is a zealous form of modern-day puritanism, demanding primacy for its own authoritarian and parochial beliefs while denying the validity of all others. The Religious Right's own version of the Constitutional separation of church and state is not only intolerant of other faiths, it is in fact overtly hostile toward any perceived challenge to its sense of unique legitimacy.
Members of the Religious Right equate Godliness with the observance of a strict conservative morality, and while not always stating it openly, liberals are nonetheless regarded as instruments of the devil, doomed to the hell which is their deepest fear as well. That same all-consuming fear projects the image of a world contaminated by liberalism and its permissive secular excesses, whereby conservatives too are in danger of being swept into the abyss via guilt by association.
May I Ask A Question?
How is it that an ideology professing to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, can then ignore the biblical call to minister to the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, or the warning to avoid preoccupation with the accumulation of wealth, as well as the danger of elevating patriotism to the level of idolatry? Why the chasing after self-serving causes such as a misplaced pseudo-concern for the unborn, and a perverse adolescent-like compulsion to play with guns, disguised as a noble defense of constitutional rights? Why the push to increase the power and wealth of corporations that poison the earth and exploit the underprivileged? How is it that an ideology proclaiming the centrality of scripture, and strict adherence to it, can find ways to ignore so much of it?
The issue of hypocrisy concerning the disconnect between the Religious Right's stated beliefs and its conduct extends to its adherents as well, with the leadership being especially vulnerable. From the Swaggarts and Bakkers, to the Sanfords and Ensigns, individuals have been repeatedly exposed as ardently professing one thing while "living in sin" with a presumption of impunity. Invariably, after being caught in the act, the transgressor will play his trump card, making a grand display of repentance, thereby laying claim to God's limitless loving forgiveness. Once the penitent is back in the fold with the disturbance in the force removed, the reconstituted (albeit dysfunctional) family can settle back into its pietistic pretense.
In truth, the distorted ideas and values expressed publicly by members of the Religious Right as a virtuous love of country, conceal a layer of repressed anxiety-producing desires, as evidenced by the contempt shown for their own holy book, as well as the scandalous behavior of their moral exemplars. While they are quick to point out that liberal politicians have been guilty of misconduct as well, this argument fails to stand up by virtue of the fact that their liberal counterparts do not claim to hold the "family values" high ground. While all who cross the same moral or ethical line are equally guilty, an obvious betrayal of beliefs which an individual has openly advertised, tends to add weight to the transgression and signify deeper psychological issues.