1/More #courtevangelicalism w/ Tim Wildmon & Richard Land on the Todd Starnes Show. Wildmon is head of the American Family Association– a long time Xtian Right organization. Land is the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former SBC leader. https://radio.foxnews.com/2019/05/29/the-todd-starnes-show-may-29th-2019/
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
2/They are on Starnes’s show to talk about Franklin Graham’s June 2 call for prayer on behalf of Donald Trump. https://t.co/JhreR2mrh6
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
3/ Signers of Graham’s call for prayer include #courtevangelicals Robert Jeffress, Michelle Bachmann, David Barton, Gary Bauer, Mike Bickle, Tim Clinton, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, James Dobson, Mike Evans, Jerry Falwell Jr, Jentezen Franklin, Jim Garlow, Jack Graham, John Hagee,
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
4/ Mike Huckabee, Harry Jackson, Tony Perkins Cindy Jacobs, Greg Laurie, Eric Metaxas, James Robison, Darrell Scott, Steve Strang, Lance Wallnau, and Paula White. In this interview w/Perkins, Graham notes that other evangelicals refused to participate: https://t.co/duqFFd5VtD
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
5/ Notice some of the names that ARE NOT on this list of supporters: Beth Moore, Russell Moore, Tim Keller, Joni Eareckson, Karen Swallow Prior, Anne Graham Lotz, Max Lucado, Rick Warren, Michael Gerson, John Piper, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Tony Evans, TD Jakes, Andy Crouch
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
6/ Philip Yancey, the presidents of @CCCU Schools (such as Wheaton, Messiah, Calvin, or Westmont), the presidents of leading evangelical seminaries (such as Trinity, Gordon-Conwell, Southern Baptist, Fuller), and the leadership of the National Association of Evangelicals.
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
7/ Graham’s call for prayer reveals the ever-growing divide in American #evangelicalism. The Wildmon/Land interview with Starnes is revealing in the way it captures the nature of this divide. These #courtevangelicalsengage in all kinds of fear-mongering.
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
8/ Both Wildmon and Land (as well as Franklin Graham) believe that the criticism of Trump is a form of spiritual warfare. In other words, Trump is the anointed one. The forces of evil (“principalities and powers”) are threatening God’s will. We should obey authority and
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
9/ anyone who offers criticism–moral, Christian, or otherwise–of this POTUS is opposing the man God has picked to lead the country. In other words, to oppose Trump is sin. Of course, by this standard, Wildmon and Land would have been against the American Revolution.
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
10/ They would have thought George III was God’s anointed and would pray for him against all those revolutionary patriots who wanted to remove him from his God-given place of authority. To take this even further, Land & Wildmon would have to believe that the patriots were forces
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
11. of evil–Satanic “principalities & powers” out to undermine the British Empire. Yes, let’s pray for our president, whoever it is. Christians are called to do this. But Graham is using prayer here as a political weapon. This is not a Christian view of prayer for our leaders.
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
12/ But if one believes that Trump is indeed God’s anointed, then it makes perfect sense that the court evangelicals will pray that he might overcome his political and spiritual (they are one in the same) enemies.
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
13/ Land has long been the master of fear-mongering. In this interview with Starnes he suggests that the June 2 prayer for Trump will go a long way toward undermining the “deep state” that’s out to impeach the president. This reminds me of the section of my book *Believe Me*
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
14/ where I wrote about the evangelical fear of the Illuminati in the 1790s. Land then tries to divert attention away from the call for impeachment by talking about how Bill Barr will uncover this so-called “deep state” and when he does it will be
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) May 30, 2019
Here, Chris speaks with CBC Radio about his new book and predicts that the US empire will collapse within the next 20 years, probably within the next 10.
[00:00:00] The American Empire is coming to an end. Welcome to ideas. I’m Rachel Giza sitting in for Paul Kennedy. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state [00:00:15] governments is a Motley collection of imbeciles con artist thieves opportunists and warmongering Generals and, to be clear, I include the Democratic party. Christopher Hedges is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the author of America the Farewell [00:00:30] Tour — a book which dissects the body politic of American culture and whose prognosis is unambiguously stark, short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt. The death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning [00:00:45] the United States as we know it will no longer exist in a decade or at most two.
Predicting the disintegration of America has been something of an industry among the chattering classes for a while and it’s accelerated in the last couple [00:01:00] of years. But after the Sandy Hook school massacre, in which 20 children were fatally, shot Hedges wrote an article in 2013 for the Walrus magazine where I happen to be working at the time that article was uncanny in the way. It looked ahead at [00:01:15] the America which was to come in it. He quoted the late American philosopher Richard Rorty who said and I’m quoting here that when America’s breakdown begins, the gains made in the past 40 years, by black and brown Americans [00:01:30] section by homosexuals will be wiped out jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion all the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will [00:01:45] find an outlet.
That was in 2013 and those words now seem prophetic. Well, he wrote it even before that. Were they? Well, there are intellectuals in the United States who understood [00:02:00] what was happening, but they were pushed so far to the margins that their voices were not heard Sheldon Wolin, for example, we lost a couple years ago taught at Berkeley and Princeton, wrote Democracy Incorporated and these figures who [00:02:15] call as Rorty did of course called out the folly of neoliberalism were silenced in essence that critique was just unpalatable across the mainstream. So I think the [00:02:30] serious critics of culture Neil Postman they knew what was coming.
There have been other moments of deep division in crisis in America — the Civil War, the Great Depression, the Red Scare, Vietnam — on and on it goes [00:02:45] What makes this particular moment distinct and different we’ve trashed our economy. We’ve de-industrialized the country. We’ve allowed our economic system to be seized by global speculators.
And that [00:03:00] coupled with the century-long assault against radical and Progressive movements beginning in World War one, but with the Red Scare after World War 1 on the Palmer Raids, we saw a re-emergence of those movements and unions [00:03:15] because unions like for instance, the the old United Mine Workers Union was didn’t come back into existence until the 1930s when Roosevelt permitted it to come back into existence. So with a breakdown of capitalism, there was a resurgence, but [00:03:31] we were still in an industrialized country. We still had factories. We still made things.
And that’s where you get this kind of golden period of capitalist democracy in the 1950s, but alongside that was [00:03:46] a steady assault beginning with the 1948 Taft-Hartley Act which makes it very difficult for unions to organize. You saw a chipping away of New Deal programs. Remember Roosevelt with the massive unemployment said if the [00:04:01] private sector is incapable of providing jobs, then the government has to provide jobs, providing 12 million jobs, Social Security. And Roosevelt says that his greatest achievement is that he saved democracy. So we lost the radical Progressive and then after [00:04:16] the war in the name of anti-communism, they disemboweled liberal institutions themselves ending with this parody of what it means to be a liberal Democrat in the Clinton Administration. The Clinton Administration or the Democratic party under Bill Clinton essentially [00:04:31] became the Republican party it took over the issue of Law and Order which was really kind of code for the institutional racism which African Americans continue to suffer from.
It was Clinton who expand the prison system [00:04:46] from seven hundred thousand to over two million and the 1994 Omnibus crime Bill, deregulating the FCC. So now we have about five or six corporations that control what 90% of Americans listen to and watch. It was under Clinton that we destroyed our welfare program [00:05:01] and 70% of the original recipients of welfare were children. It’s under Clinton that we destroy Glass-Steagall which, and you don’t have a banking crisis in Canada because Chrétien didn’t allow it. He didn’t rip down the firewalls between commercial [00:05:16] and investment banks Clinton did which is what precipitated both our and the global financial crisis in 2008. So all of the it became like the late Roman Republic where the institutions and the language and iconography [00:05:31] of democracy existed, but internally had become so corrupted. It in essence been seized by corporate power as to render it a mirage and that of course sow the seeds [00:05:46] for Trump.
There’s this 1986 film by the Quebec director Danny Arkin and it’s simply called the decline of the American Empire don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s saw modern societies fixation [00:06:01] on self-indulgence as an indicator of its decline. You’ve been talking about governments and corporations. But in the book you also talk on the individual level this focus on self-indulgence. How are [00:06:16] self-indulgence and decline related? Well, that’s a very important point. Yes, it became a society consumed by hedonism and narcissism and it’s celebrated the qualities of psychopaths. [00:06:31] You see it on any reality television show that ability to manipulate use lie to others for your own advancement a lack of empathy or capacity for remorse the [00:06:46] idea that weath creates its own value. It doesn’t matter how you achieve it, the yearning for celebrity self-presentation, which is what Facebook and social media is fundamentally about it’s about what Neil [00:07:01] Postman called jife the movie and what happened is our political system are political campaigns became forms of reality television itself. So you manufactured personalities, you [00:07:16] know, George W Bush becomes somebody you’d want to have a beer with yeah and you confuse how you are made to feel with knowledge and Trump could play that game better. That’s the first part of the second part. Is that across the political spectrum the [00:07:31] American public realized that the elites had betrayed them and Trump’s caustic vulgar insults, whether it was directed at George Bush or Hillary Clinton. We’re kind of cathartic to an extremely I would [00:07:46] say legitimately angry.
In particular white working class population that had been lied to and and of course the anger was even greater at the Democratic party because figures like Clinton or Obama continued to speak and that feel your pain language [00:08:01] of liberalism while serving corporate power. And of course, we saw that in 2008 with Obama’s response, which was to bail out the banks and Goldman Sachs the people who carried out the fraud and turn his back on the victims. And [00:08:16] is that the moment that it hit home for you that America was on the decline or was it earlier than that that you were seeing the signs now much earlier. First of all, I spent 20 years overseas. So I was very rarely [00:08:31] in this country for two decades and the the changes that had taken place within the country where much more dramatic and starker upon my return
What corporations have done to former industrial cities like Camden, [00:08:46] New Jersey which per capita is the poorest city in the United States or the coal fields of Southern West Virginia where they have turned the Appalachian Mountains into a toxic Wasteland because they won’t stop and I think that comes from being a reporter and not sitting [00:09:01] around Manhattan and because if you get out there and listen, it’s grim and and I have to raise pornography. I mean if we are deeply pornified society which fits completely with heartless capitalism or everybody [00:09:16] and everything including the natural world becomes a commodity that you exploit until exhaustion or collapse. I wonder though if there is a conceptual trap within the very idea of talking about America’s decline at this moment because the [00:09:31] United States itself was founded on this contradiction a free and Democratic nation that was built on enslaving millions of Africans and
The genocide of indigenous people, you know, I think about the American the African American poet [00:09:46] Langston Hughes who wrote America never was America to me. So is it is America actually in decline or are these fault lines in these contradictions? Just much more visible and perilous now. Well the it is [00:10:01] in decline in terms of its economic and its political power mean China has overtaken it as the major manufacturing center of the world, but I think much of the Decay and James Baldwin writes about this comes from the refusal on the part of especially the white majority [00:10:16] to face who they were and where they came from to mythologize the National myth that whole notion of regeneration through violence. I mean, we as Americans are a deeply violent culture in a way that Canadians are not and [00:10:32] we still believe in the idea that violence is a form of purification.
We have failed to confront who we were and what we did African Americans who have never been paid reparations. Although they built the country and [00:10:47] that inability to see ourselves for who we are has created these monstrosities and Trump is a kind of case study for it. America was founded as you point out on [00:11:02] I mean the the quote-unquote founding fathers read what they wrote about Native Americans, they just wanted them all wiped out. It was a white slave holding male aristocratic Elite women were disenfranchised men without [00:11:17] property were disenfranchised, of course African Americans Native Americans and it was a closed system the Senate Senators, which did the real legislative work were appointed and so the entire battle for American democracy which Howard [00:11:32] Zinn writes about in The People’s History of the United States has been won by which many hundreds probably
Of Americans have lost their lives. We had the bloodiest labor wars in the industrialized World hundreds of American workers were murdered. So they’ve [00:11:48] won the it’s been quite effective John Ralston, Saul calls it the corporate coup d’etat in slow motion. I don’t always credit him. But right now in Canada, so Chris win for you then was America closest to [00:12:03] the ideal that it had for itself. Was there a moment or a period well, I would say the ideal that America had for itself was one that we had to destroy if we were going to have an open Society in a democratic system. And that [00:12:18] battle has one. How do you mean well the the people who envisioned I mean if you read The Federalist Papers, they were terrified of of popular will they were grounded and Locke who built an entire judicial [00:12:33] system on the Primacy of property rights as opposed to individual rights?
They were racist and so in that sense it was democracy for a few.
And autocracy for everyone else. So [00:12:48] that has been a constant battle since the founding of the country. We have had moments on the eve of world war one where popular movements the old wobblies the CIO you Communist [00:13:03] Party whose important Force the raced from US history of the Progressive Movement on and on and on and so it’s been a kind of seesaw. It’s been a kind of back and forth now and we are now at a point where we’ve been utterly disarmed. We don’t even have the vocabulary to [00:13:18] explain what’s happening to us, which is one of the most egregious class wars waged in the industrialized. We’d have to go back to the Louise of late France. No really to to find social inequality at this level. We it’s it’s the worst [00:13:33] income inequality in the United States since the Gilded Age and it’s worse than the Gilded Age and it’s getting worse. There’s nothing left Moon just saw a massive tax cuts, which will remove an
Made one point five trillion dollars over [00:13:48] 10 years from government revenue. It’s insane. And what are these people doing with their cuts and their money their hoarding the money or they’re buying back their stock. That’s how you get the inflated stock market which isn’t sustainable because the major managers and CEOs [00:14:03] their compensation packages are tied to the stock. So it becomes your Marx’s understanding of fictitious Capital money making money and at the same time after the 2008 crash they were lent who knows [00:14:18] for seven trillion, whatever the figure is dollars by the FED at 0% interest and we had central banks in Europe because this is Global Lending money at negative percentage why they’d pay you to take money, but the money has to be repaid. So since they’re not building anything or producing [00:14:33] anything. It’s through debt peonage and that’s where you get one point four trillion dollars in student loans, which even if you declare bankruptcy still have to be repaid. That’s where you get massive.
Credit card debt and you’re late on your credit card is [00:14:48] 28% our healthcare system, which even if you have insurance, you’re bombarded with Rising quote unquote co-payments costs that aren’t covered and it’s the most expensive and least efficient healthcare system [00:15:03] in the industrialized world. So they are extracting their pound of Flesh through austerity programs forcing municipalities. I write about this in the beginning of the book with Scranton to sell off sewer systems Parking Authorities [00:15:18] utilities to private corporations who then jack up the rates. And and so that predatory Nature has created a Karl polanyi writes about this. It’s a mafia economy and ultimately a [00:15:33] mafia political system. I mean Trump and and the people around him are it is just an unchecked kleptocracy both personally for the Trump family, but for the billionaire class, we see it with the
Privatization of public education why [00:15:48] because the Department of Education spends 63 billion dollars a year and the hedge fund managers want it? Well Chris. I want to I want to offer a counter argument to you. So ideas spoke with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker [00:16:03] about his book Enlightenment now and in it, he argues counter to what you argue that most things have actually gotten better for most people over the decades not worse. He says that Health longevity literacy income and so on have actually improved [00:16:18] and he takes to task a certain kind of intellectual who seems to be more committed to despair than to progress.
The enlightenment has worked. Perhaps The Greatest Story [00:16:33] seldom told you because this Triumph or so unsung the underlying ideals of Reason science and humanism or unappreciated as well far from being an insipid Consensus. These ideals are treated by today’s intellectuals with indifference skepticism [00:16:48] and sometimes contempt given the tremendous progress. We’ve made in the past quarter Millennium the past 250 years. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that it will suddenly do it do a U-turn there [00:17:04] have been predictions like that for as long as the enlightenment has been in existence. There’s been a counter Enlightenment which includes a kind of fatalism and pessimism Spengler wrote in the 19-teens and expected [00:17:19] that the West would decline and it didn’t happen. The world has been coming to an end for a very long time indeed if you were to go by
The predictions of these rather morose intellectuals. It’s not a guarantee that we will avert disaster known can make such a guarantee but you [00:17:34] have to take with a grain of salt the constant predictions that this generation is a special that the progress that we’ve seen is suddenly going to end.
Steven Pinker mentions [00:17:49] quote morose intellectuals and their constant predictions of the end. What do you think to see if a point? No, he looks like sounds like he’s reading from Candide. He should get out of Harvard a little more figures [00:18:04] like Pinker are popular because they tell us what we want to hear but every single Climate Change Report that I read has a subtext which is that it is accelerating at a rate far faster than anyone predicted.
I traveled [00:18:19] all over the country for this book from industrial Wasteland 2 industrial Wasteland and the book was in many ways modeled after Emile durkheim’s book on suicide that when you have a society [00:18:34] in Decay, it produces familiar pathologies suicide being one opioid addiction hate groups gambling and then having been a war correspondent. I just I just don’t know. I [00:18:49] just find pinker’s analysis to be completely unplugged from reality. The fact is Empires civilizations die. That’s something that Plato understood it. They [00:19:04] have natural life cycles.
The American Empire is coming to an end. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe Latin America Asia and Africa to do its bidding add the mounting destruction [00:19:19] caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. The Empire will limp along steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s Reserve currency plunging the United States into a crippling depression and [00:19:34] instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine many of the estimated 69 Empires that have existed throughout history lacked competent leadership in their decline. They ceded power to monstrosities such as the Roman emperors [00:19:49] Caligula and Nero or imbecile narcissist like Trump.
We’re not Immortal any more than any other Empire the difference this time is that when we go down will bring the whole planet with us and I find a figures like pink or very dangerous [00:20:04] because it is the perpetuation of the myth of human progress the idea that progress is inevitable. You know, he mentioned the enlightenment. Well, it was the Enlightenment that gave us the Jacobins and [00:20:19] ultimately the fascists and the Communists the idea that you could create a perfect world as dr. Pangloss said by eradicating certain elements of that world that comes directly [00:20:34] out of the Enlightenment. So there’s always been a very dark side to the enlightenment the utopian belief that we could create the perfect Society if certain segments of that Society were wiped out you you [00:20:49] talk about marks and quote marks at length in the book is
Marxism a kind of utopianism completely. I am not a Marxist but Marx’s critique of capital is probably the most important critique of capital [00:21:04] he and remember that it was heavily reported. He and angles angles, of course ran textile firm. He knew what he was talking about and marks used a lot of angles data. So if I was running a hedge fund on Wall Street Island only hire Marxist because [00:21:19] they understand that capitalism is about the exploitation of Labour the maximization of profit and and reducing the cost of Labor that that’s what marks got so Marxist solution is not something [00:21:34] that is as utopian. As any other kind of fantastic belief. I mean it the problem with marks and I graduated from Harvard Divinity School. So I kind of come out of Calvin is that he doesn’t grasp human nature. He’s you know, once he gets [00:21:49] into his solution. I’m not with him, but in terms of his study of
Capitalism he understood he understood the nature of capitalism. I understood how it worked and he understood where it was going Mark sworn that capitalism [00:22:04] had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. There would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse marks did not know when that day would come but he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable [00:22:19] unable to expand and generate profits at past levels. The capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it it would pray upon in the name of austerity the working class and the poor driving them ever deeper [00:22:34] into debt and poverty and diminishing the capacity of the state to serve the basic needs of ordinary citizens. It would as it has increasingly automate or relocate jobs, including both manufacturing and professional [00:22:49] positions to countries with cheap pools of Labor.
This would trigger an economic assault on not only the working class but the middle class the bulwark of a capitalist democracy that would be disguised by Massive personal debt as [00:23:04] incomes declined or remain stagnant and borrowing sword politics would in the late stages of capitalism become subordinate to economics leading to political parties hollowed out of any real political content and objectively subservient [00:23:19] to the dictates of Corporations. But as Marx warned, there is a limit to an economy built on austerity in the scaffolding of debt. There comes a moment marks new when there would be no new markets available and no new pools of people [00:23:34] who could take on more debt capitalist oligarchs. Meanwhile horde huge sums of wealth seven point six trillion dollars stashed in overseas tax Havens Executives tribute from those they dominate in debt and [00:23:49] impoverish capitalism would in the end Mark said,
On the so-called free market along with a values and traditions it claimed to defend it would in its final stages pillage the systems and structures that made capital is impossible. [00:24:04] It would Resort as it causes widespread suffering to harsher forms of repression to maintain social control. It would attempt in a frantic Last Stand to extract profit by looting and pillaging State [00:24:19] institutions contradicting its stated nature.
Well, I want to dig into corporatism and capitalism a bit more you write that capitalism would attempt quote in a frantic Last Stand to extract profit by looting [00:24:34] and pillaging State institutions contradicting its stated nature. What is capitalism stated nature that it that the market determines behavior that when capitalists entities are [00:24:49] unable to generate profit and collapse they should die.
And of course all of this was exposed as a lie after 2008 and of course with the impoverishment of the American working class, it’s [00:25:04] difficult to expand markets. Then as Marx understood these entities cannibalize the structures that make a capitalist democracy possible. We spoke earlier about the education system, but this is just now writ large throughout all [00:25:19] aspects of American government 70% of us intelligence is privatized corporations, like bows Allen Hamilton, which gets 99 percent of its revenue from the US government. We have Erik Prince the brother of Betsy [00:25:35] DeVos making a push to privatize the war in Afghanistan, which is not gone particularly. Well, in fact, of course we’re losing it, but that doesn’t matter because you have the War Industry is making a killing. It’s not good for anyone Afghanistan. It’s not good [00:25:50] for us. It’s certainly not good for stability within the Middle East but it is good for this.
Narrow segment of the country IE those corporations which profit from and War has always been a business. So capitalism the nature of capitalism [00:26:05] as its described by The Chicago School and others Bears no resemblance to the reality of capitalism the creation of monopolies so that you destroy competition the constant consolidation [00:26:20] of these Mega corporations, which then not only fix prices and Jack prices up but we know from SEC investigations fixed Libor rates, I mean, they fix everything so it’s not really capitalism and then when they get in trouble, [00:26:35] it’s corporate socialism. They go running to the state and loot the US Treasury well and you in this book you travel across America to communities and cities across the country. So where have you personally seen that frantic [00:26:50] Last Stand and that pillaging taking place on that ground level?
I write out of Anderson, Indiana. So Anderson, Indiana used to be one of the major manufacturing centers for GM Clinton passes NAFTA GM moves [00:27:05] to Monterrey Mexico. They leveled a lot of those giant plants. So there’s just these massive weed-choked feels 25,000 workers with good union jobs, 25 $30 an hour sometimes [00:27:20] more health benefits a pension plan a union gone and the city like all the industrialized pockets is in free fall with all of the attendant problems that I write about in the book including massive [00:27:35] problems with opioid overdoses and there, you know, I drove through the streets and it’s churches are for sale. I mean everything’s closing up whole section of the city doesn’t even have a supermarket. It’s this descent where everybody just eats processed food from a convenience [00:27:50] store.
And so I was with a lot of the old UAW workers and they told me that Bernie Sanders had huge support but once Sanders was denied the nomination, I would argue the Democratic establishment fixed it so he couldn’t get [00:28:05] it. They voted for Trump. They were going to vote for Clinton not after what had been done to them and Anderson like Scranton like you can just tick off almost every city in America, especially between the coase.
And you drive through [00:28:20] it and it’s potholed streets streetlights are burned out public libraries are closed in Camden. The library is gutted and there’s a tree growing out of it. And this of course gets into the whole issue on the failure of the part of the elites to address the social inequality [00:28:35] that is deforming and destroying the country and that created Trump Russia had nothing to do with it. And neither did Comey or the podesta emails. It had to do with a rapacious greedy myopic [00:28:50] Elite that embraced and ideologies which was ridiculous from its start neoliberalism is David Harvey points on is very good book to enrich themselves and their class.
You’re [00:29:06] listening to ideas on CBC radio Sirius XM and cbc.ca / ideas where you can always get our podcast. I’m Rachel Giza sitting in for Paul Kennedy. Christopher Hedges is a columnist for the website truthdig. He [00:29:21] spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent mostly with the New York Times in Central America the Middle East Africa and the Balkans, he was part of the team which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for its coverage of global terrorism. And in the same year. He [00:29:36] also received the Amnesty International Global award for human rights journalism. Chris Hedges has also written over a dozen books in this episode were talking about his most recent one America the farewell tour in which he argues that American society is [00:29:51] in Decline primarily because of systemic economic Injustice or what he calls Casino capitalism. Our Casino capitalism has merged with the
In Industry, the entire system is parasitic. [00:30:06] It is designed to prey on the desperate young men and women burdened by student loans underpaid workers burden by credit card debt and mortgages towns and cities forced to borrow to maintain Municipal Services Casino [00:30:22] magnets and hedge fund managers add nothing of value to society. They do not generate money. They redistribute it upward to the one percent.
Stiffer Hedges also studied theology at Harvard Divinity School and [00:30:37] is an ordained Presbyterian Minister his view of humanity as dark as he readily admits given his calvinist worldview and maybe it’s that worldview that makes America the farewell tour read like a set of disturbing [00:30:52] prophecies.
The most ominous danger we Face comes from the marginalization and destruction of Institutions including the courts Academia legislative bodies cultural [00:31:07] organizations in the press that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact helped us distinguish lies from truth and facilitated Justice Trump and today’s Republican party represent the last stage [00:31:22] in the emergence of corporate totalitarianism pillage and oppression are justified by the permanent lie, the permanent law is different from the falsehoods and half-truths uttered by politicians such as Bill Clinton George W bush and Barack Obama [00:31:37] the common political lie, these politicians employed was not designed to cancel out reality. The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that discredits [00:31:52] it. It is irrational those who speak in the language of Truth and fact are attacked as Liars.
Traders and purveyors of fake news they are banished from the public sphere once totalitarian Elites accrue sufficient power a [00:32:07] power now granted to them with the revoking of net neutrality the iron refusal by those who engage in the permanent lie to acknowledge reality no matter how transparent reality becomes creates a collective psychosis.
Chris [00:32:22] you write about something you call the permanent lie. What is that lie?
The permanent lie ignores reality completely and this of course is the danger of the Trump Administration where reality doesn’t matter [00:32:37] and it’s endemic to all totalitarian societies. Where are you perpetually broadcast falsehoods and it creates a kind of collective schizophrenia because what you see around you doesn’t have any relation [00:32:52] to what you hear and let them and yet the message is so overpowering that you’re kind of knocked off balance. You don’t know what what is true and what is false and that is a characteristic of all totalitarian societies. This so-called post [00:33:07] truth phenomenon, where as you’re saying the facts don’t matter we’re bombarded with lies memes like alternative facts and Truth isn’t truth or making the rounds you call this irrational and ominous. [00:33:22] How is this kind of a rationality ominous?
Well, because when you as we have done destroy institutions, that would be the press the courts Academia whose job is to keep civil [00:33:37] and political discourse rooted and verifiable fact once facts are interchangeable with opinions. Then it becomes an Alice in Wonderland kind of experience where nothing makes sense. I mean, what [00:33:52] does Alice say one point two cats eat my sort of my see cats or the cats eat mice will doesn’t really matter. Well, that’s Trump right there and and a society unmoored from verifiable fact is a society in deep distress and [00:34:07] it creates a kind of paralysis those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities Voltaire.
I found this in my book on the Christian, right you can have [00:34:22] a rational discourse with someone who believes that every living creature and the entire world was created in six days and that the T-Rex was in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve who are real people and they put a saddle [00:34:37] on T-Rex and rotate around which is in the diorama that’s in the creationist Museum in Peterborough, Kentucky and you laugh at it on the outside, but I went through that museum with crowds of people who believe it and then when a significant portion of your population [00:34:52] Retreats into this form of magical thinking you’re utterly unable to respond to reality itself in a rational or meaningful way well and I’m curious about that because there is this intense [00:35:07] loyalty by white evangelicals to Trump who is not in any way a Christian seeming person and how he can
Himself, it doesn’t appear rational the allegiance to Trump from a group [00:35:22] of people who are at odds with everything that he embodies. So how much do you think that the rise of the religious right has contributed to this Rise of irrationality and and post truth reality that were living. [00:35:37] Well, I mean remember they have their own universities their own systems of indoctrination through Christian television and broadcasting, you know, the New York Times when they run the bestseller list, they don’t include quote unquote Christian books because it would dominate every single [00:35:52] one on the list. I would argue that they are completely in sync with Trump. I covered these people these mega churches are run by pastors who are as Sleazy and corrupt As Trump. They can’t be questioned. They’re in direct contact with God. [00:36:07] That’s the first part. The second part is I don’t look at the Christian right as a religious movement. They’re Christian Heretics. They have used biblical language.
To sanctify the worst aspects of American capitalism white supremacy and [00:36:22] imperialism and fundamentally, they are groups that are about hate they are biblically illiterate. I mean as soon as they found out I graduated my father was a minister. I graduated from junior high school and I spent two years with [00:36:37] them. As soon as they found out. I came out of a Biblical tradition. They did not want to talk about the Bible with me because they’re selective literalists. They have been handed certain passages that they use to justify an ideology. So 81% [00:36:52] of quote/unquote Evangelical support Trump trump has no belief system of his own no aetiology. And so this ideologies is filling the vacuum, but they’re the same they are people who externalize evil. [00:37:07] They are absolutists who believe that they cannot be questioned. They are intolerant of anybody outside their cultish.
Belief system the a ostensibly present themselves as a moral Force. I [00:37:22] mean Sarah Sanders attempts to do this. If she lies every single day to the press in the American public, but what they are is a species of the German Christian Church, which was created by the Nazis. So you had a Christian cross on one side and a Nazi flag on the other. It’s the fusion [00:37:37] of the iconography and language of the state with the religion and that’s extremely dangerous. So so they use the sacral language of the Bible to deify the worst aspects of the United States [00:37:52] and it’s also a movement that is palpably angry. It seems to me and I feel like the anger you see coming from the religious right? We’re seeing its Echoes and and its counterparts around the world whether it’s Hindu nationalism and India [00:38:07] or the Burmese Carnage which has been inflicted on the rohingya. And and in fact, one of the one of the thinker’s that you mentioned in your book was featured on this.
Graham pankaj, Mishra is good who wrote The Age of anger a history of the [00:38:22] present?
Whenever you have an economic crisis, you have political dysfunction you have opaque forces of the global economy working on you. You can’t identify them and you [00:38:37] will you will again start channeling your rage against whoever is nearest to you immigrants Muslims Mexicans, and also women in a women have become in in in in recent years the target of whole lot of masculine [00:38:52] rage and again, you know, this is something we’ve seen before this particular phenomena of people being promised empowerment people being promised the emancipations [00:39:07] of the modern world and then discovering that this process of Liberation is much much harder than they imagined basically generates a lot of Rage which is then turned against [00:39:22] weaker people’s which is channeled into all
Names of compensate re fantasies of power whether its cultural nationalism or militant violence.
[00:39:38] I do militant violence and a mythologized romanticize past so often get paired together because you have an assault on identity. So I was walking through Montgomery, Alabama with Bryan Stevenson the [00:39:53] great civil rights attorney who defends death row prisoners. Most of them of course are poor and black and he’s pointing out all the Confederate monuments in Montgomery which and half the city’s black and he said most of these were put up in the last 10 years.
[00:40:09] And I said that reminds me of Yugoslavia where you had the economic collapse of Yugoslavia a sense of disempowerment instability a state that was unable to respond in a meaningful way to acute distress and people created [00:40:24] mythical narratives of the serbs or the cross or the Muslims to give themselves an identity and to sanctify their own hatred which ultimately became a fratricide. So yeah, I like me sure [00:40:39] a lot. I think he really understands it your critical throughout America the farewell tour of progressives and identity politics you right and I’m quoting here the liberal Church like the bankrupt liberal class holds up multiculturalism [00:40:54] and identity Politics as an ethical imperative and ignores the Primacy of economic and social justice. Now that term identity politics its gets used a lot and I don’t know that there’s a consensus about what it means. So what is identity politics?
I [00:41:09] mean to you it means the promotion of a particular ethnicity race gender and the belief that the elevation of someone who comes from that group is a form of empowerment.
[00:41:25] But of course that’s completely false the corporate Elites and we begin going all the way back to the advertiser Bennington Calvin Klein. I used to put up hiv-positive models and stuff to be kind of risque Obama’s was an [00:41:40] example of this you have just taken a page from colonialism where they push out a mbutu to do their bidding and what matters is the system that they’re serving. So the idea that a woman president is somehow beneficial to an [00:41:55] Empire run amok is an absurdity. It redefines what feminism should be which is about the empowerment of oppressed women.
Probably three-quarters of African Americans are living in worst poverty and worst violence [00:42:10] terms of what’s happening in these militarized marginal communities than when King marched on Selma. And so the elites have learned to diversify. I mean Trudeau did it with his cabinet, but that just becomes a kind of faint [00:42:25] a cover to maintain a system of institutional racism and corporate exploitation, which is steadily turning the lives of the poor and working men and women into hell, [00:42:40] you know, they are approaching conditions. They’ve already embraced conditions not seen in the industrialized world since the textile mills of Manchester at the end of the 19th century. They’ve [00:42:55] already reached those conditions in places like China and Bangladesh, but those conditions are increasingly defining what it means to be a worker in the United States and let’s not forget that
Operations in the United States we have 25% of the world’s prison population 2.3 [00:43:10] million people or 5% of the world’s population again mass incarceration is a form of social control of poor black and brown bodies discarded left behind in these D industrialized Pockets where they can’t create an income. They’re not creating [00:43:25] an income for corporations on the streets but lock him in a cage and they can generate fifty or sixty thousand dollars a year for prison contractors private phone companies private medical services private money transfer companies private commissaries on and on and [00:43:40] on but you are now seeing American corporations including big ones Hewlett-Packard McDonald’s will make its uniforms in the prison system because the argument the prison authorities make is you don’t have to pay 22 or 32 cents an hour and Bangladesh. You can [00:43:55] pay that in an American prison. They can organize they can’t complain about working conditions. They can’t get paid for sick days. And if they don’t if there’s any kind of a problem we throw them into
Sorry for a year. So that kind of return [00:44:10] to unbridled exploitive systems of capitalism. It’s already cemented into place. I mean, this is what Apple does with its subcontractors in China where people climb they you know, they fail to make their [00:44:25] quotas constant wage theft and they climbed to the top of these buildings and throw themselves off Etc. But that’s is increasingly defining working conditions in the first world, but isn’t there a way in a critique about economic [00:44:40] Injustice to talk about how identities based on race and gender?
Complicate and exacerbate the problem of social injustice. I hear your point about putting out [00:44:55] making a woman president or making a black man president doesn’t stop racism or sexism but isn’t it true that many people are oppressed worse because of the identities that they have that they’re [00:45:10] that that we know that you know, black women earn less than white women that but that’s economic Justice. I mean, that’s my whole point. But so you take the Occupy Movement the Occupy Movement was largely a white white middle-class kids who got out of college, there [00:45:25] was no pleasure. Well, they weren’t joined by people from marginal communities of color because these kids suddenly discovered that they couldn’t find meaningful employment. We’re dealing with issues of evictions police violence. When you went to these marginal communities, [00:45:40] they’ve been doing this for decades and the question they legitimately asked was where were you well you were
Involved in your boutique activism about Multicultural. So obviously I support diversity. I say, you know, I want the empowerment of these groups [00:45:55] but not divorced from economic justice. So do you think a movement like black lives matter ticks those boxes for you? Do you feel like a movement that is that it that is speaking specifically about the experiences of so, you know, economic Injustice [00:46:10] police brutality within African-American communities and against African American people. Is that movement problematic to because of identity politics or do you feel like it marries the the question of economic Justice to [00:46:25] racial identity. Well, there’s certainly aware of that. There’s a reason they’re in Ferguson.
Or Baltimore, but we have a crisis in the United States of police Terror 3.3 citizens a day. Almost all unarmed [00:46:40] are shot dead and almost all of them are poor people of color and they are responding to that crisis.\
Of police Terror and in Terrors the right word having come out of those communities. If you are a [00:46:55] mother with a teenage son, and it’s dark. You don’t know if they’re coming home.
And I teach in a prison system. So I see it up close the collapse of the judicial system 94% of our prisoners never get a jury [00:47:10] trial. They’re forced to play out and the senses are horrific three or four times longer what they would be in any other country. So I think that those groups are important but we’re not going to successfully [00:47:25] recreate a society whereby they have opportunity until we create an economic system where they can be integrated into that system. There are three forms of [00:47:40] social control against the poor mass incarceration evictions, which is often ignored. So you lock up the man and you evict the women and children and this gets into why I support reparations why I support a guaranteed income wise support the creation [00:47:55] of government jobs until that’s done that problem you can decree
Police violence all you want but until these communities and families are resurrected and given a place in the society those [00:48:10] forms of social control are necessary by the corporate state to keep these people in check.
Resistance entails suffering. It requires self-sacrifice. It accepts that we may be destroyed. It is not rational. It [00:48:25] is not about the pursuit of happiness. It is about the pursuit of Freedom resistance accepts that even if we fail there is an inner Freedom that comes with Defiance and perhaps. This is the only freedom and true happiness. We will ever know to [00:48:40] resist evil is the highest achievement of human life. It is the Supreme Act of love. It is to carry the cross as the Theologian James cone reminds us and to be acutely aware that what we are carrying [00:48:55] is also what we will die upon.
You write so passionately about the ideal of resistance is resistance a spiritual act. Yes how so it’s not the faith because empirically [00:49:10] everything you do in terms of resisting radical evil is Kang called it may show that all of your efforts have been futile, but it doesn’t invalidate resistance.
It’s the belief is Daniel [00:49:25] Berrigan once told me the great radical priest that the good drawers to it the good even though there’s nothing around us to justify that belief the Buddhists call it karma.
And I think that that’s true. I think that having covered the Revolutions [00:49:40] in Eastern Europe. I saw how these great dissidents I was in the magic lantern theater in Prague every night with us La Ville that you keep that other moral narrative alive and you don’t always know who hears it what effect [00:49:55] it has and it’s only sustainable by faith and I don’t mean in kind of any Orthodox religiosity. It’s what niebuhr called Sublime Madness the belief that you know, an act of resistance in itself.
[00:50:11] Confers freedom and I think that’s right.
Even if you fail and it’s Bleak out there, but we can’t use the word. Hope if we don’t resist I have children.
these corporate forces
[00:50:26] have us by the throat and they have my children by the throat. I don’t know if we’re even going to survive as a species.
And we may fail.
But you know as parents we have a duty to make sure that [00:50:41] at least our children say they tried and that will require forms of self sacrifice. It will be unpleasant maybe even dangerous. It means removing our faith and establish systems of power which have proven [00:50:56] unable to deal with the most significant challenge to human life, which is climate change, which was first identified as a problem in 1902 or 1905. I mean as the world devolves people [00:51:11] are going to look back at us and say where we the good Germans did we just sit there and watch the trains Roll by and do nothing and I don’t want them to say that about me.
Chris I just thank you so much. It was a pleasure to talk with [00:51:26] you. Thank you. Christopher Hedges is the author of America the farewell tour. You can find a link to it and to his other books on our website [00:51:41] cbc.ca / ideas where you can always get our podcast. You can also hear all our episodes on the radio player Canada app. And of course the CBC app Liz Nagy is the associate producer of ideas [00:51:56] technical production Mitch Stewart and Danielle Duval Greg Kelly is the executive producer of ideas, and I’m Rachel Giza sitting in for Paul Kennedy.
We do not become autonomous and free human beings by [00:52:11] building pathetic tiny monuments to ourselves. It is through self-sacrifice and humility that we affirm the sanctity of others and the sanctity of ourselves.
Those who fight against cultural malice whether squatting in [00:52:26] Old warehouses or as the Occupy Movement did and taking over a public space resisting and standing rock or refusing to be broken by our prison system have discovered that life is measured by infinitesimally and often unacknowledged acts of solidarity and [00:52:41] kindness these acts of kindness like the nearly invisible strands of a spider’s web spin outward to connect our atomized and alienated souls to others this belief held although we may never see empirical proof [00:52:56] is profoundly transformative but know this when these acts are carried out on behalf of the oppressed and the demonized when compassion defines the core of Our Lives when we understand that Justice is a manifestation of [00:53:11] love. We are marginalized and condemned by our sociopathic Elites.
those who resist effectively in the years ahead may not be able to stem the economic decline the mounting political dysfunction the collapse [00:53:26] of Empire and the ecological disasters, but they will draw from acts of kindness and the kindness of others the strength and courage to endure it will be from these relationships ones formed [00:53:41] the way all genuine relationships form face to face rather than electronically that radical organizations Will Rise From the Ashes to resist
The month before the 2018 midterms, a thousand theaters screened “The Trump Prophecy,” a film that tells the story of Mark Taylor, a former firefighter who claims that God told him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be elected president.
At a critical moment in the film, just after the actor representing Mr. Taylor collapses in the flashing light of an epiphany, he picks up a Bible and turns to the 45th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which describes the anointment of King Cyrus by God. In the next scene, we hear Mr. Trump being interviewed on “The 700 Club,” a popular Christian television show.
As Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author and speaker who appears in the film, once said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”
Cyrus, in case you’ve forgotten, was born in the sixth century B.C.E. and became the first emperor of Persia. Isaiah 45 celebrates Cyrus for freeing a population of Jews who were held captive in Babylon. Cyrus is the model for a nonbeliever appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful.
The identification of the 45th president with an ancient Middle Eastern potentate isn’t a fringe thing. “The Trump Prophecy” was produced with the help of professors and students at Liberty University, whose president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been instrumental in rallying evangelical support for Mr. Trump. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News has picked up on the meme, as has Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, among many others.
As the Trump presidency falls under siege on multiple fronts, it has become increasingly clear that the so-called values voters will be among the last to leave the citadel. A lot of attention has been paid to the supposed paradox of evangelicals backing such an imperfect man, but the real problem is that our idea of Christian nationalism hasn’t caught up with the reality. We still buy the line that the hard core of the Christian right is just an interest group working to protect its values. But what we don’t get is that Mr. Trump’s supposedly anti-Christian attributes and anti-democratic attributes are a vital part of his attraction.
Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.
Ralph Drollinger, who has led weekly Bible study groups in the White House attended by Vice President Mike Pence and many other cabinet members, likes the word “king” so much that he frequently turns it into a verb. “Get ready to king in our future lives,” he tells his followers. “Christian believers will — soon, I hope — become the consummate, perfect governing authorities!”
The great thing about kings like Cyrus, as far as today’s Christian nationalists are concerned, is that they don’t have to follow rules. They are the law. This makes them ideal leaders in paranoid times.
This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core.
- They aren’t fighting a culture war.
- They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.
They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.
One of the current complaints of the Trump right concerns the treatment given to Alex Jones by Facebook, which has temporarily banned the Internet radio host for videos that violated “community standards.” According to Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network, “freedom of speech [is] under attack.” Fox News television personality Tucker Carlson has also come to Jones’s defense, saying sarcastically, “I know we’re supposed to think Alex Jones is way more radical than, like, Bill Maher.”
.. Well, yes, that is precisely what we should think. At various points, Jones has promoted the belief that
- 9/11 was an “inside job,” that
- Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizzeria, that
- NASA had built a child slave colony on Mars in order to harvest blood and bone marrow, that
- the Oklahoma City bombing,
- the Boston Marathon bombing and the
- Sandy Hook school shooting were government “false flag” operations, that
- some shooting survivors were “crisis actors,” that
- “globalists” are intent on committing genocide and that
- Democrats are on the verge of launching a second civil war.
.. President Trump has made a great many unpleasant things unavoidable. He has appeared on Jones’s Infowars program and assured Jones that his “reputation is amazing.” The White House briefly gave Infowars a press credential. And Donald Trump Jr. has retweeted Infowars stories.
.. It represents not only a certain approach to political strategy but also a certain approach to morality, pressed to its logical extreme. Trump is not a dogmatist; he is an egotist. He judges others not by their convictions, or even by their hold on reality, but by their fidelity to his person. It is a form of identity politics in which all that counts is one man’s identity. So Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), being faithless to Trump, is an enemy. And the revealer of child slavery on Mars is a friend.
.. Remember when a white man in Boston, spouting Trump slogans, beat up a homeless man outside a subway station? Trump responded: “People who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”
.. Remember when a Trump supporter punched an African American man at a rally? Trump said that his follower “obviously loves his country.”
.. Remember when the alt-right provoked violence in Charlottesville? Trump pronounced some white nationalists to be “very fine people.”
.. The president has a nearly impossible time criticizing his fans, even when they are guilty of hate crimes and violence. In Trump’s own private creed, they are absolved of guilt by their loyalty to him.
.. This commitment
- transforms their cruelty into the proof of passion; their
- prejudice into an expression of patriotism; their
- lawlessness into the embrace of his higher order. ‘
Just ask former Phoenix area
- sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned after his abuse of Hispanic migrants. Or
- Oregon cattle ranchers Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, pardoned after defying the federal government.
All were justified and sanctified by their devotion to Trump.
.. Any political movement is defined not just by what it aspires to, but also by whom it excludes. And the alt-right, the Alex Jones right, the white nationalist right know that they are fully included in Trump’s definition of his movement.
.. They know that their loyalty to him has been rewarded with a legitimacy they have craved for decades. And they are full, enthusiastic partners in the Trump project — to delegitimize any source of authority and information but his own.
- .. Genuine populists are discredited by consorting with people who accuse elites of arming for mass murder.
- The religious right is caught in bed with a diseased, seeping moral relativism. And
- Fox anchors come to the defense of a man who verbally defiles the graves of murdered children.
What does “pro-life, pro-family” really mean?
.. being “pro-life, pro-family” is not a euphemism for opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. It acknowledges that protecting children, including ones not yet born, often requires protecting and supporting their mothers and families too.
.. He called the policies intrinsically evil. Because it regularly forces children into places where their lives are under threat, Bishop Flores argued, it is “not unlike driving someone to an abortion clinic.”
.. Where is the Susan B. Anthony List?
.. after his nomination, the group promoted him as someone its supporters should vote for. Going well beyond “the lesser of two evils” language, it even made Mr. Trump the keynote speaker at its annual gala last month.
.. This presents a real threat to the broader movement’s capacity to be taken seriously by young people and people of color.
.. If the traditional pro-life movement is to regain credibility as something other than a tool of the Trump administration, it must speak out clearly and forcefully against harming innocent children as a means of deterring undocumented immigration.
These groups have extraordinary access and influence in the White House. They have to use it.
Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South were not merely outlawed, they were a death sentence.
.. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina’s William Henry Brisbane, were forced to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister Anthony Bewley, who was lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at local store to be played with by children.
.. Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state. Principled critics were exiled or murdered, leaving voices of dissent few and scattered. Southern Christianity evolved in strange directions under ever-increasing isolation. Preachers learned to tailor their message to protect themselves. If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could either abandon them, obscure them, or flee.
.. What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. Biblical emphasis on social justice was rendered miraculously invisible. A book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was reinterpreted. Messages which might have questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate could not be taught from a pulpit. Any Christian suggestion of social justice was carefully and safely relegated to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers.
.. Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness
.. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race.
.. Graham never made any difficult statements on race, never appeared on stage with his “black friend” Martin Luther King after 1957, and he never marched with King. When King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech,” Graham responded with this passive-aggressive gem of Southern theology, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.”
.. There is no changing the white evangelical movement without a wholesale reconsideration of their theology.
.. Why is the religious right obsessed with subjects like abortion while unmoved by the plight of immigrants, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, and those slaughtered in pointless gun violence? No white man has ever been denied an abortion. Few if any white men are affected by the deportation of migrants.
No doubt some Christian leaders have gone too far in rationalizing Trump’s past personal behavior and excusing his offensive comments while in office. He is a deeply flawed man. But Trump does have one moral quality that deserves admiration: He keeps his promises.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to defend religious liberty, stand up for unborn life and appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. And he has done exactly what he promised. The abortion-rights lobby NARAL complains that Trump has been “relentless” on these fronts, declaring his administration “the worst .?.?. that we’ve ever seen.” That is more important to most Christian conservatives than what the president may have done with a porn actress more than ten years ago.Trump’s election came as religious liberty was under unprecedented attack. The Obama administration was trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their religious conscience and facilitate payment for abortifacient drugs and other contraceptives. During oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, President Barack Obama’s solicitor general told the Supreme Court that churches and universities could lose their tax-exempt status if they opposed same-sex marriage.
Hillary Clinton promised to escalate those attacks. In 2015, she declared at the Women in the World Summit that “religious beliefs … have to be changed” — perhaps the most radical threat to religious liberty ever delivered by a major presidential candidate. Had Clinton won, she would have replaced the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia with a liberal jurist, giving the Supreme Court a liberal judicial-activist majority.
The impact would have been immediate, as the court prepares to decide two cases crucial to religious liberty.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Court will soon determine whether the government can compel a U.S. citizen to violate his conscience and participate in speech that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs.
In National Institute of Family Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Court will decide whether the state of California can compel pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advertise access to abortion to their clients, in violation of their conscience.
.. The president is moving at record pace to fill the federal appeals courts with young conservative judges who will protect life and religious freedom for decades. He also fulfilled his promise to defend the Little Sisters from government bullying, by expanding the religious and conscience exemption to the Obamacare contraception mandate to cover both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
.. Trump ordered the creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the civil rights of doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who refuse to take part in procedures such as abortion, reversing an Obama-era policy that required them to do so. And his Justice Department issued 25-page guidance to federal agencies instructing them to protect the religious liberty in the execution of federal law.
While Clinton promised to repeal the Hyde Amendment barring federal funds for abortion, Trump has been a pro-life champion. He became the first president to address the March for Life when he spoke by satellite video from the White House’s Rose Garden. He reinstated and expanded the “Mexico City policy” — which prohibits U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that perform or promote abortion. He signed legislation overturning an Obama-era regulation that prohibited states from defunding abortion service providers.
.. Indeed, Trump has arguably done more in his first year in office to protect life and religious freedom than any modern president. Little wonder that religious conservatives stick with him despite the Daniels revelations. This is not to say that Christians don’t think a culture of fidelity is important. But the culture of life is important too. So is a culture that is welcoming to religious believers rather than waging war on them.
No one upholds Trump as moral exemplar. He is not the most religious president we have ever had, but he may be the most pro-religion president. Christian conservatives are judging Trump not by his faith, but by his works. And when it comes to life and liberty, his works are good.