Tuesday, 30 September 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

How Christian Fundamentalism Helped Empower the Top 1 Percent to Exploit the 99 Percent

Monday, 17 October 2011 10:07 By Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet | Op-Ed

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 possible.

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 possible.

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 interest.

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 represents "tyranny."

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.

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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 us."

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" Bumpersticker 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

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.


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How Christian Fundamentalism Helped Empower the Top 1 Percent to Exploit the 99 Percent

Monday, 17 October 2011 10:07 By Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet | Op-Ed

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 possible.

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 possible.

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 interest.

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 represents "tyranny."

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.

Fight corporate influence by keeping independent media strong! Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to Truthout.


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 us."

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" Bumpersticker 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

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.


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