Driving to Sunday School one cool March morn, Hank and Mary Lou discuss the current primary contest between Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul. “I don’t give a flip about Mitt’s Mormonism just so long as he can beat the shit outa Obama,” comments Hank. “ ‘Drather have a guy wearin’ magic boxers than a damn Kenyan Muslim wearin’ the country down. Hell, I’d vote for Darth Vader over that nigger,” he crudely remarks.
“Oh, hush, Hank! You know better than to use the N-word around the kids,” chides Mary Lou as if any other setting would be okay. Billy (11) and Lou Ellen (8) are in the backseat intently soaking it all in.
But Hank and Mary Lou both agree: Barack Obama is a socialist liberal – an imposter whose birth certificate was forged so he could be placed in office – then conspired with ACORN to illegally register a bunch of aliens and ethnics so he could seal the deal and steal the election. How do they know? Because FOX and chain emails from friends across the country told them so. Plus their pastor confirmed by sermonizing from the pulpit, “Any vote for a Democrat is a sin against Almighty God.” What more evidence does a true born-again Christian need? Jesus hath spoken.
Ever since Obama won in ’08, the rightwing machine had been busy pounding the airwaves, “Obama is a Machiavellian candidate whose presidency is illegitimate for too many reasons to list.” Their efforts in spreading falsehoods fall on fertile ground: evangelicals that constitute the base of modern Republicanism.
Hank voices appreciation to Ted Nugent, Rush Limbaugh, and Toby Keith for their contributions blasting Obama. The family feels the anger (“righteous indignation”) gushing from Hank. Where’s Jesus in all this?
Little do Hank and his family know they’re victims of a massive con job. The unindicted Karl Rove and fellow rightwing operatives target evangelicals for several reasons, not the least of which are gullibility and proportion of the population. Those disposed and willing to embrace absurdities will soon commit atrocities due to their unsubstantiated anger and fear manufactured by professional operatives behind-the-curtains who employ focus groups for highest impact.
Rove should be serving an extensive sentence for treason since he is the alleged principal conspirator in stealing elections, lying the nation to war, WMD, and planning the Iraq invasion as exclusive political fodder long before seizing office in 2000. But because the incoming Obama Justice Department was too timid to investigate, much less prosecute, the man is still at liberty to further damage American democracy. Ironically, Obama’s second term is at risk of being sabotaged by the most high-profile person they failed to bring to justice.
Rove’s #1 weapon, on the other hand, is the evangelical movement, ahead of Koch connections, American Crossroads, and Citizens United. For without their blind loyalty, there’d be no chance of Republican resurgence. Rove is famous for his ability to sell refrigerators to Eskimos, so to speak. Thus, marketing a Mormon to fundies (who brand LDS a cult) is effortless. Besides, it’s a no-brainer, the choice between a Black Christian and White Mormon; WHITE wins every time. (“Give us Barabbas!”)
Hank pulls into the parking lot of Muskogee’s Victory Family Worship Center, a non-denominational Pentecostal church which is experiencing astonishing growth. Although he’d been speaking trash the whole drive, he puts on a smiley face to greet seemingly-sweet church folk.
But his Christian life wasn’t always so conflicted. Neither was the evangelical, Pentecostal movement from back in the day. Hank had accepted Christ at 13 – undergoing a genuine born-again experience where his life was transformed from one of hate and fear to love and peace. It was a miraculous paradigm, ostensibly unforgettable. As with Hank, the evangelical movement in general was based on the same Agape, unconditional love that saw all races and peoples equal – as God sees the whole of humanity. The biblical principles were reinforced by supernatural encounters that couldn’t be explained away by purely rational thought. Jesus’ life was the model to live by, and the Holy Spirit empowered them to follow.
But that was before Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and other religious charlatans politicized the movement. No longer were evangelicals leading by example, they became front-line “warriors” against evil secularism that supposedly threatened American tradition and family values. Anti-abortion, anti-gay-rights, anti-liberalism, anti-government , and pro-gun became the sole mantras. Discarded in the process were mercy and grace. Certainly, God’s love was supplanted by fear and hate, because a soldier on the spiritual battlefield could no longer be governed by love, could he or she? Because love shows weakness and non-masculine traits.
Carrying a concealed weapon to church substituted putting on the armor of God. Peter cutting off the ear of the centurion became the example rather than disgrace.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17
Neither could they any longer trust God to fulfill prophecy by His unassisted sovereignty, but injected themselves as “partners with God” in influencing world events to speed the Second Coming and Advent of Apocalypse. They proudly championed themselves as “Christian Zionists” with hateful rhetoric against Muslims, Palestinians and liberals that attempted in any fashion to generate Middle-East negotiations instead of combat. By this stand, they assumed to be on “God’s side.”
They were primarily looking for the Antichrist rather than the Lord Jesus Christ. And by doing so, they lost their first love and became what they feared most – an antichrist cult being manipulated by wealthy outside political opportunists. Simply put, they became Mammon’s merchandise, no longer guided by the love of God. The spirit of fear drove them further into deceit and anger, which they piously brushed off as “righteous indignation.”
Absolutism and polarization set in as the movement degenerated into something other than what Christ taught. Anyone not adhering to the straight-and-narrow dogma was of Satan, a legitimate target sanctioned for scorn. The movement more resembled Phariseeism than Apostolic Christianity.
Hank is caught up into this web. He no longer sees his “first-love” Christian experience as exemplary but superseded by the new militant spirit fighting for a return of “American moral values” and an apocalyptic Christ to butcher unbelievers. Democrats, liberals, unionists, feminists, the NAACP, and environmentalists are all thrown into the pile of evildoers allied with Satan. Furthermore, anyone associated with “them” are ungodly.
Hank and Mary Lou vote against their own interests because they view the ruling class as empowered by “the sovereign will of God” established to make order out of chaos. The wealthy are respected while the poor are demeaned as free-loaders. “Why should I give my hard-earned money to welfare queens?” asks Hank. (Meanwhile his family relies partially on public assistance and medicine since they live in Oklahoma, a right-to-work state that detests unions.)
Republicanism is Robin Hood in reverse while the religious right is Jesus Christ in reverse. The like-movements are married, resulting into a national “Handmaid’s Tale.”
Hank is blind to his own judgmental religious McCarthyism – as are the majority of the religious right. The lies about Obama are readily accepted so that truth is not allowed access to any thought pattern.
America’s political climate is, thus, made ripe for turmoil. Nearer to November, as polls reveal Obama’s narrow lead expanding, “God’s soldiers” on the right sense they must take matters into their own hands rather than relying on Providence. They call for “Second Amendment remedies” as the FINAL SOLUTION to Obama winning a second term. FOX and friends don’t hesitate capitalizing on this fallacy.
The majority of Americans must resist and reject this religious and political heresy if we are to survive as a great power and land of liberty.