As regular readers know, in my view, the "Christian Right" has sold its soul to Donald Trump in exchange for promises of special rights for Christofascists which would in essence exempt religious extremists from the laws that bind other citizens. Now, these zealots, particularly those that I refer to as "professional Christians" who use religion as a guise for enriching themselves and seizing political power are engaging in dangerous rhetoric that could well prompt extremists and the mentally unstable to resort to violence against those being depicted as enemies in a religious war. History is full of examples of the horrific consequences of fusing religion with a self-serving political agenda: the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris when thousands of Protestants were murdered by Catholics, the wars of religion in Tudor England, the Thirty Years War in 17th century Europe that claimed 8 million lives, the persecution of "Old Believers" in 17th century Russia, the years of religious based violence in Northern Ireland, and, of course the violence and murder done by Islamic fundamentalists and ISIS. Just as disturbing is the statements of U.S. Attorney General William Barr - a strident opponent of LGBT rights - that appear aimed at inciting religious extremists. A piece in LGBT Nation looks at this dangerous development:
Religious right leaders, struggling to maintain power and influence – even in the chaotic White House – have been avowing lately that anyone who opposes Donald Trump is in league with the devil—literally.In a conversation with fellow evangelical Eric Metaxas, Franklin Graham said that resistance to Trump was “almost demonic,” to which Metaxas replied, “It’s not almost demonic. You know and I know, at the heart, it’s a spiritual battle.”
Graham and Metaxas are hardly alone. Lesser known, but just as dangerous figures like Stephen Strang and Frank Amedia are making the same claim.
It’s easy to brush these claims off as the usual hysterical claims from the religious right. But in fact they represent a new—and dangerous—escalation in rhetoric. Saying you’re waging a culture war is one thing; but to say we’re locked in a battle between the forces of heaven and hell sets the stakes at the highest possible level. It makes sense that the same people who have unequivocally worshipped Trump, are doing whatever it takes to keep his affection – even if that means mimicking his incendiary words.
Moreover, it’s not only religious right leaders who are making this argument. No less a figure than Attorney General William Barr is echoing the sentiment . . . Barr went on a tear about “militant secularists” who are destroying society by removing religion from the public square.
Even worse was a speech that he subsequently gave to the Federalist Society . . . After claiming that Trump’s opponents — which Barr calls the “Left” —are “waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration,” Barr accuses them of essentially worshipping a false god.
Barr then goes on to say that conservatives haven’t responded in kind, which puts them “at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war.”
When the nation’s lead attorney says that the nation is engaged in a holy war and anyone opposed to the president is on the wrong side, we have entered into frightening territory – and just to be clear, Barr likens to cite LGBTQ progress as an example of secular assault.
Barr, Graham and the other would-be warriors are essentially using their increasing influential beliefs to suggest to conservatives that the political stakes are so high that only a nuclear, violent response will suffice.
The logic of a holy war leads to the inevitable conclusion that any means are acceptable to stop the assault on God’s side. Trump’s violations of practical every political norm is not seen as a sin. It’s a virtue. He’s trying to save the Republic (or at least the Republicans) from the heathen barbarians who are fighting on Lucifer’s side.
This apocalyptic belief is going to be the main theme of the right’s leading into the 2020 election. Instead of trying to adjust to the Modern Age so that they can recruit new members, conservative evangelicals (and their Catholic counterparts, like Barr), prefer to circle the wagons and start shooting.
As the exodus of younger generations - and even some older age groups - from religion accelerates, expect the vitriol of these modern day Pharisees and hate merchants to increase. Sadly, sooner or later people will lose their lives or suffer serious harm because of this rhetoric which is really about retaining political power and not furthering Christ's gospel message.It’s a losing battle, because their numbers keep shrinking,which will only make them fight harder. After all, it’s a fight to the death.