Obama is like Hitler; his healthcare reform legislation includes a provision to create an army of Marxist brownshirt thugs; the hour is late, the church now faces what German churches faced, with the rise of the Nazis, in the 1930s - we must fight now, or never; taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's ovens; stop Obama, or face another Holocaust.
The 2012 election may pivot on evangelical turnout, and now that the IRS has ceased enforcing its rule that prohibits tax deductible religious nonprofits such as churches from making political endorsements, evangelical leaders are free to openly warn their flocks that a horrific fate awaits unless they vote for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Typically dismissed by the left as mere lunatic hyperbole, there's a vast, dark ideological underside to such warnings.
At an October 30, 2012 pastors rally in Tampa, Florida, with the election only days away, prominent Texas Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who in 2011 attacked Mormonism (Mitt Romney's faith) as a cult, informed his audience that failing to stop President Barack Obama from gaining a 2nd term in office would be like failing to stop Hitler and could lead to another Holocaust.
From the far-right fever swamps of the Internet, to the leadership of the potentially revolutionary Christian right, to the heights of elite evangelicalism, at the Fellowship-sponsored yearly National Prayer Breakfast (attended by U.S. presidents since Eisenhower), conservative evangelicals paint a picture of America on the verge of full-blown, left-wing fascism.
Their evidence ? - the Obama Administration's health care reform efforts, including an HHS rule that some religious charities must offer birth control in their healthcare plans. Plus the existence of legalized abortion, and the spread of legal same-sex marriage.
While that might sound insane to American unfamiliar with such culture war tropes, these claims make eminent sense to millions of conservative evangelicals.
Pastor Jeffress' warning, of a looming 2nd Holocaust, was not an aberration - he was merely reinforcing a narrative that has been told to millions of evangelical Christians: from megachurch pulpits, from the pulpit of the Glenn Beck Show, via evangelical broadcast networks, through secular rightwing books and magazine articles, by Internet conspiracy theories.
As I wrote in an early 2010 article published by Zeek, an imprint of the Jewish Daily Forward,
"Who killed Europe’s Jews? Millions on the American evangelical right have grown up believing the culprits were liberals and leftists, homosexuals, evolutionists and atheists, occult worshipers and even Jews themselves. "While many observers have noted that American culture has split into culturally antagonistic factions, few have noted the extent to which these factions hold wildly conflicting views of reality.
Books like Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, pseudo-documentaries like MAAFA 21, and of course inflammatory TV and radio monologs Glenn Beck fit into a preexisting uber-narrative in which Hitler and the Brownshirts never cracked the skulls of communists and leftists in Germany's streets because the Nazis were communists, or socialists at least, and gay as well; and all the horrors of World War Two, especially the Holocaust, were natural outgrowths of secular, Darwin-inspired eugenicist thinking. This grand narrative also presents both legal abortion and civil rights for homosexuals as signs of incipient fascism.
Here are some examples of how these themes are deployed :
-- New Apostolic Reformation prophets such as The Call cofounder Lou Engle warn that legal abortion has caused the holocaust of our time and declare that the death of "fifty million little babies" will require repayment in blood. Before late-term abortionist George Tiller's assassination, Engle compared Tiller to an Auschwitz death camp worker.
-- Evangelical propagandist Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, warns Christians from America, to Africa, to Eastern Europe and Russia that Hitler and his top Nazis were gay, and that homosexuals are, by nature, sociopaths. Lively's ideas have been cited as a key inspiration for Uganda's so-called "kill the gays" bill that has loomed before Uganda's parliament since late 2009.
-- Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee broadcasts to the world that Jewish Rothschild bankers based in Europe control America through the Federal Reserve and are scheming to bankrupt the common man, and declares that Hitler was sent by God, to chase Europe's Jews toward Palestine, the only home God even intended for the Jewish people according to Hagee.
-- Demons under Illuminati sway have have infiltrated liberal churches, says a military pastor whose overseer controlled six to seven percent of active duty pastors in the U.S. military and who toured America in the 1990s promoting anti-government conspiracy theories, broadcast out over TV and radio networks that could in theory reach 10% or so of Americans, in which Bill Clinton was ready to sign the U.S. over to UN control, after which Chinese, German, and UN troops would rampage out from their secret lairs in national parks, to rape, pillage, and round up good Christian citizens, packing them into boxcars en route to secret, razor wire-ringed concentration camps. Behind the plot ? Rothschilds and other Jewish banking families, the Illuminati, and the antichrist.
Of course, conspiracy narratives are anything but new to American politics - in the 1800 presidential election, New England press and Christian pastors tarred Thomas Jefferson as an infiltrator linked to a dark conspiracy of Illuminati and Freemasons that would bring the horrors of the French Revolution to America. In the 1960s, anticommunist conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society permeated the U.S. far-right.
If anything distinguishes this new evangelical conspiracy oeuvre, it is in the supple, sophisticated quality of its narratives, that can be used at will to selectively attack, scapegoat and demonize targeted populations and organizations - Muslims and liberal Jews, gays, abortionists, liberal Christians, the Federal Reserve and the federal government, the National Park system -- all of which are reduced to minions, witting or not, of a world banker/Illuminati conspiracy that will soon be controlled by an antichrist figure who will kill up to 1/3 of the Earth's population and will be, according to pastor Hagee, homosexual and "at least partially Jewish".
The intended victims of this vast apocalyptic end-time conspiracy will be, of course, good Christians who must, it goes without saying, arm and organize themselves and be ready, at a moment's notice, to fight back. As I wrote in my Zeek story,
"In 1990 [Pat] Robertson, responding to criticism from the Miami Herald for his involvement in the Florida governor’s race, vented “Do you also have a ghetto chosen to herd the pro-life Catholics and evangelicals into ? Have you designed the appropriate yellow patch that Christians should wear… ?”In the 1990s, such prophetic warnings helped give rise to the militia movement. But, largely unnoticed even by acknowledged experts who study the growth of the militant far right, starting in the late 1980s evangelicals, some with relatively high-level military backgrounds, began crisscrossing America warning of a looming, eliminationist dictatorship. Their tales were as shocking as they were unprovable - twenty thousand Chinese boxcars, fitted out with shackles and guillotines, had arrived at a West Coast port, ready for the great round up. Trust us, these former military evangelicals told their audience, We've seen it with our own eyes..
Robertson’s views were no aberration. A video version of the Left Behind series narrative first released in 2001 by John Hagee Ministries, titled “Vanished - In the twinkling of an eye,” portrays born-again Christians suffering their own “Kristallnacht” in which gays, Jews, and Catholics, led by the Antichrist, attack born-again Christians and set their churches ablaze. One burning church is identified as being in Berlin."
Their warnings went out via videocassettes and tapes, by fax machine and small-scale radio and television broadcast networks, sometimes even by growing evangelical broadcast networks too. Then, the rise of the Internet made the project far easier.
Former Undersecretary of Defense William Boykin was only the latest in a two and a half decade long lineage, when he stated, in a video promoted by the New Apostolic Reformation group The Oak Initiative, "Remember Hitler had the brown shirts and in the night of the long knives even Hitler got scared of the brown shirts and killed thousands of them...", then claimed that Obama's healthcare legislation was,
"laying the groundwork for a constabulary force that will control the population in America. You need to understand that this is happening in America and its fits the model that has been used when societies move to Marxism."Why are so many conservative evangelicals hostile to the federal government ? One possible reason is the cumulative impact of such conspiracy theory narratives, which function like a CIA style infowar destabilization campaign, but directed against the United States government itself.
This essay continues here, at Talk To Action