WHAT EXACTLY IS CHRISTOFASCISM?
The Urban Dictionary defines ChristoFascists as this:
Christian religious extremist. Often a person who believes in forcing a right-wing Christian agenda on the rest of the world. Also known as a ‘fundamentalist’ or more recently ‘evangelical’.
Since many Christofascists bristle at the term ‘fundamentalist’ there has been a movement to get the media to refer to them as ‘evangelicals.’ However the term ‘evangelical’ is a misleading one as many Christian sects are evangelical in nature and not all evangelical Christians have such extremem views or political agendas. Christofascist is a more descriptive term for these right-wing extremists.
The following definition comes from Wikipedia:
Christofascism (a portmanteau of Christian and fascism) is a concept in Christian theology first mentioned by Dorothee Sölle, a Christian theologian and writer, in her book Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future in 1970. To Sölle, Christofascism was caused by the embracing of authoritarian theology by the Christian church. According to Sölle, it is an arrogant, totalitarian, imperialistic attitude characteristic of the Protestant Reich Church that she believed to be alive and well in the theological scene of the late 20th and turn of the 21st century.
Interpretation of Soelle
Tom Faw Driver, Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, expressed concern “that the worship of God in Christ not divide Christian from Jew, man from woman, clergy from laity, white from black, or rich from poor”. To him, Christianity is in constant danger of Christofascism, stating that “[w]e fear christofascism, which we see as the political direction of all attempts to place Christ at the center of social life and history” and that “[m]uch of the churches’ teaching about Christ has turned into something that is dictatorial in its heart and is preparing society for an American fascism”.
Christofascism “disposed or allowed Christians, to impose themselves not only upon other religions but other cultures, and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ” – as Knitter describes Sölle’s view.
George Hunsinger, director of the Centre for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, regards the conception of Christofascism as being an attack, at a very sophisticated level of theological discourse, on the biblical depiction of Jesus. He equates what is viewed as Christofascism with “Jesus Christ as depicted in Scripture” and contrasts it with the “nonnormative Christology” that is offered as an alternative by some theologians, which he characterizes as extreme relativism that reduces Jesus Christ to “an object of mere personal preference and cultural location” and that he finds difficult to see as not contributing to the same problems encountered by the Christian church in Germany that were noted by theologian Karl Barth.
Douglas John Hall, Professor of Christian Theology at McGill University, relates Sölle’s concept of Christofascism to Christomonism, that inevitably ends in religious triumphalism and exclusivity, noting Sölle’s observation of American fundamentalist Christianity that Christomonism easily leads to Christofascism, and that violence is never far away from militant Christomonism. (Christomonism, accepts only one divine person, Jesus Christ.) He states that the over-divinized (“high”) Christology of Christendom is demonstrated to be wrong by its “almost unrelieved anti-Judaism“. He suggests that the best way to guard against this is for Christians not to neglect the humanity of Jesus Christ in favour of his divinity, and to remind themselves that Jesus was also a Jewish human being.
American history and politics
American historians and political commentators have also used the term to refer to politico-religious tendencies in American society.
Chris Hedges and David Neiwert contend that the beginnings of American Christofascism was during the Great Depression, when Americans espoused forms of fascism that were “explicitly ‘Christian’ in nature.”:88 Hedges writes that “fundamentalist preachers such as Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L. K. Smith fused national and Christian symbols to advocate the country’s first crude form of Christo-fascism.” Smith’s Christian Nationalist Crusade said that “Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism.” Hedges also considers another prominent advocate of Christofascism was William Dudley Pelley.:88
By the late 1950s, followers of these philosophies became the John Birch Society, whose policy positions and rhetoric have greatly impacted modern dominionists. Likewise, the Posse Comitatus movement began with former associates of Pelley and Smith.:90 The 1980s saw the Council for National Policy and the Moral Majority carry on the tradition, while the patriot movement and militia movement represented efforts to mainstream the philosophy in the 1990s.:90
Episcopal priest Carter Heyward, professor of theology at Episcopal Divinity School, uses the term to describe political and social policies that exclude nontraditional families in the name of Christianity, a practice she described as “arrogant and blasphemous.”
The term caused controversy in 2007, when Melissa McEwan, a campaign blogger for then-presidential candidate John Edwards, referred to religious conservatives as “Christofascists” on her personal blog.
This article originally appeared on TCS Daily, and appears here in a modified and shortened version.
“Christofascist”–used to describe the accused Scott P. Roede in the killing of Dr. Tiller, has been met by protests from Christians who say the term is an insult to their religion. The meaning and origin of the concept, as well as the legitimacy of complaints about it, have become relevant — perhaps urgently so.
Christofascism refers to use of the faith of Christianity as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among American Christians today in the various Militia movements, White Supremacist, and Christian Identity movements, and where these radical, armed, and Christian racist groups overlap with the Pro-Life movement and the right wing of the American political landscape, including the fringes of the Republican party.
Political typologies should make distinctions, rather than confusing them, and Christofascism is neither a loose nor an improvised concept. It should be employed sparingly and precisely. The indicated movements should be treated as Christofascist, first, because of their congruence with the defining characteristics of classic fascism, especially in its most historically-significant form–German National Socialism.
Fascism is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law. As such it represents a radical departure from the tradition of ultra-conservatism. The latter aims to preserve established social relations, through enforcement of law and reinforcement of authority. But the fascist organizations of Mussolini and Hitler, in their conquests of power, showed no reluctance to rupture peace and repudiate parliamentary and other institutions; the fascists employed terror against both the existing political structure and society at large. It is a common misconception of political science to believe, in the manner of amateur Marxists, that Italian fascists and Nazis sought maintenance of order, to protect the ruling classes. Both Mussolini and Hitler agitated against “the system” governing their countries. Their willingness to resort to street violence, assassinations, and coups set the Italian and German fascists apart from ordinary defenders of ruling elites, which they sought to replace. This is an important point that should never be forgotten. Fascism is not merely a harsh dictatorship or oppression by privilege.
Christofascism similarly pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of (global) society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of the peace between states . In its long and inglorious history, the KKK frequently made recourse to the former weapon. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, white supremacist Ku Klux Klan members in the Southern United States engaged in arson, beatings, cross burning, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, and whipping against blacks, other social or ethnic minorities, and whites who stood in their way. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence. The Army of God shows fascist methods when executing attacks against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States. A number of terrorist attacks, including the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics, were carried out by individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements; including the Aryan Nations and the Lambs of Christ. Christofascism is not limited to America, and American Christofascts is not limited to America: a group called Concerned Christians unsuccessfully planned to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999, believing that their deaths would “lead them to heaven.”
Christofascism has global reach. The fascist Iron Guard in Romania during the interwar period and in the second world war was explicitly Christian–its official title was the “Legion of the Archangel Michael;” Christian fascism also exists in the form of Ulster Protestant terrorism, and was visible in the (Catholic) Blue Shirt movement active in the Irish Free State during the 1920s and 1930s. Both the Iron Guard and the Blue Shirts attracted noted intellectuals; the cultural theorist Mircea Eliade in the first case, the poet W.B Yeats in the second. Many similar cases could be cited.
Fascism rested, from the economic perspective, on resentful middle classes, frustrated in their aspirations and anxious about loss of their position. The Italian middle class was insecure in its social status; the German middle class was completely devastated by the defeat of the country in the First World War. Both became irrational with rage at their economic difficulties; this passionate and uncontrolled fury was channeled and exploited by the acolytes of Mussolini and Hitler. The Army of God and the Militia movements are, like the KKK before them, based largely the middle and lower classes of the Southern and rural United states fearful of losing their unstable hold on prosperity and angry at the many obstacles, in state and society, to their ambitions. They believe themselves to be Real Americans, and the victim of discrimination by forces larger then themselves that are destroying America: secularism, socialism, sexual and moral lassitude, or in their words: the Godless, the nanny state and the fags. Anti-semitism varies.
Fascism was imperialistic; it demanded expansion of the German and Italian spheres of influence. While many Christofascist are anti-government, many also see the power of the state as useful to its aims, and these contradictory streams [similar to the brown-shirt schizoid worship and abhorrence of power and hierarchy] of Christofascism have similar fascistic ambitions: the occupation of Iraq being stage one in the domination of the middle east under a War on Terror that in the words of George W. Bush, “a Crusade.” — which if you don’t know means Holy War.
Fascism was totalitarian; i.e. it fostered a totalistic world view–a distinct social reality that separated its followers from normal society. Christofascism parallels fascism by imposing a strict division between Christians and alleged unbelievers. I think I do not need to belabor the point, other then to point out that we all are familiar with those streams Christianity that condemn to hell all others who do not adopt their rigid interpretation of Scripture. Fuse that religious bigotry with white power, and you have a potent mix.
Fascism was paramilitary; indeed, the Italian and German military elites were reluctant to accept the fascist parties’ ideological monopoly. The Army of God, the KKK, and the Militia movements are all paramilitary.
But what of those primitive Chrisians who declare that “Christofascim” is a slur? I do not believe these characteristics are intrinsic to any element of the faith of Christianity. Christofascism is a distortion of Christianity, exactly as Italian and German fascism represented perversions of respectable patriotism in those countries. Nobody argues today that Nazism possessed historical legitimacy as an expression of German nationalism; only Nazis would make such claims, to defend themselves. Similarly, Christofascists and their allies argue that their doctrines are “just Christianity.” But German culture existed for centuries, and exists today, without submitting to Nazi values; Christianity created a world-spanning civilization, surviving in a healthy condition in many countries today, without the Army of God or the KKK.
In anticipation of a counter to that last point, I will stress that authoritarianism and fascism are not the same. To emphasize, fascism is something different, and much worse, than simple dictatorship, however cruel the latter may be. That is a lesson that should have been learned 70 years ago, when German Nazism demonstrated that it was a feral and genocidal aberration in modern European history, not merely another form of oppressive rightist rule, or a particularly wild variety of colonialism.
Similarly, the violence wreaked by the Army of God, and Scott P. Roede, and the KKK before them, has been different from other expressions of reactionary Christianity, conservative Christianity or violent corruption in the post-colonial world. Between democracy, civilized values, and normal religion on one side, and Christofascism on the other, there can be no compromise: there is bright line, our republic on one side and the Christofascists on the other, and you are either with us or against us. An earlier President was eerily correct when he foresaw “our young Democracy is fragile . . . this may be Christian Intolerance’s last and best opportunity to stop the advance of Liberty.” As with the Nazis, nothing short of a victory for democracy can assure the world’s security.
NOW HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF CHRISTOFASCISM…PRACTICED BY THOSE WHO PROCLAIM THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS:
Aug 31 2011 Published by Hrafnkell Haraldsson
“No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.” – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson and his idealism be damned. What internet pastor Mike Stahl wants is an “atheist registry” to keep track of these dangerous elements in our society, like people who don’t believe in god, or any gods. This is a story right out of Nazi Germany. What’s next? Will we have our children “outing” us as atheists and pagans and heretics, and turning us over to the fundamentalist morality police to be conveniently culled from the herd?
Now as a disclaimer, I’m no atheist myself. I’m a polytheist. I should make that plain at the outset. But I don’t lose any sleep over people believing or not believing in my gods. I take Thomas Jefferson’s attitude toward the whole belief thing: “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Live and let live. I really don’t care what other people believe unless they try to force their belief or non-belief on me. Then we have a problem.
Here’s Stahl’s logic, which we have thanks to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture War because the cowardly Stahl is in hiding: he opens his blog to invitees only:
Brothers and Sisters , I have been seriously considering forming a ( Christian ) grassroots type of organization to be named “The Christian National Registry of Atheists” or something similar . I mean , think about it . There are already National Registry’s for convicted sex offenders , ex-convicts , terrorist cells , hate groups like the KKK , skinheads , radical Islamist’s , etc..
This type of “National Registry” would merely be for information purposes . To inform the public of KNOWN ( i.e., self-admitted) atheists . For example , let’s say you live in Colorado Springs , Colorado , you could simply scroll down ( from the I-Net site /Blog ) I would have , to the State of Colorado , and then when you see “Colorado Springs” , you will see the names of all the self-admitted atheist(s) who live there ( e.g., if an atheist’s name happened to be “Phil Small” ) . The individual’s physical address , and other known personal information would NOT be disclosed ( though , perhaps a photo could be ).
If this all seems completely incomprehensible and pointless to you, Pastor Stahl has his reasons:
Now , many (especially the atheists ) , may ask “Why do this , what’s the purpose ?” Duhhh , Mr. Atheist , for the same purpose many States put the names and photos of convicted sex offenders and other ex-felons on the I-Net – to INFORM the public ! I mean , in the City of Miramar , Florida , where I live , the population is approx. 109,000 . My family and I would sure like to know how many of those 109,000 are ADMITTED atheists ! Perhaps we may actually know some . In which case we could begin to witness to them and warn them of the dangers of atheism . Or perhaps they are radical atheists , whose hearts are as hard as Pharaoh’s , in that case , if they are business owners , we would encourage all our Christian friends , as well as the various churches and their congregations NOT to patronize them as we would only be “feeding” Satan.
Frankly , I don’t see why anyone would oppose this idea – including the atheists themselves ( unless of course , they’re actually ashamed of their atheist religion , and would prefer to stay in the ‘closet.’ ).
The dangers of atheism? Seriously? Shouldn’t we be more worried about the dangers of theocracy, the threat posed to the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment and the possibility of morality police invading our homes?
So why is it anyway that fundamentalists get so riled up if we don’t all believe in their god and their god alone? Well, they seem to think that their god is going to punish everyone, including (especially) them if we don’t all obey the rules – that Old Testament collective guilt thing with America as the next Sodom and Gomorrah.
Personally, I think a better solution is jettisoning any god who is going to punish us for any reason whatsoever. I wouldn’t waste spit on such a deity. That was one of the reasons I left Christianity behind in the first place. And seeing obscene ideas like this just makes that decision seem ever better in hindsight.
Maybe we should have a list of fundamentalist Christians. Why would any fundamentalist Christian oppose this idea? I mean, why would they unless they’re ashamed of their religion and want to stay in the closet (to use Stahl’s own words)? I mean, don’t we all have the right to know if our neighbor is a right wing lunatic who might open fire one day because he thinks his god told him to? I don’t know about you folks, but I’ve yet to hear of an atheist (or a polytheist for that matter) opening fire on folks because a god told him to.
I’ve known atheists and I’ve known Satanists and they were all much more reasonable and well-adjusted folks than Pastor Rick.
What’s amusing about Stahl’s attitude is he talks about being fearless and above board unless you have something to hide. Then when it all explodes in his face and people get angry with him for being a bigot, he makes his blog private and deletes his Facebook link. Even the cache is gone. I guess only atheists are supposed to have the courage of their convictions, eh, Pastor Mike? Some witness for your god you are! Seems like a lot of cowardice going around lately, what with Bryan Fischer, as I reported here this morning, refusing to stand up for his beliefs in open debate with the public he wants to force to go along with him.
Christian Pastor Calls For Atheists And Gays To Be Put To Death
Blogger, author, troop-hater, and rape apologist, and all-around good guy “Reverend” Michael Crook feels there is a rape problem in America. The problem? The problem is that we think it exists. Oh, and atheists and gays should die.
Crook may be remembered for his website that demonized the troops for their choice to fight for their country, claiming that they are overpaid for their work (among a number of other awful things). Shortly following, he posed as an eighteen year old girl on Craigslist and, after learning prospective men’s personal information, proceeded to harass them–even posting their information on a web site dedicated to shaming men who sought sex on Craigslist.
After being thoroughly embarrassed by Sean Hannity of all people, Crook waged war on bloggers who posted screenshots of what must have been an overwhelmingly embarrassing experience for him–filing false DMCA complaints in an effort to take down anyone who spoke in any way ill of him. As part of a lawsuit settlement, Crook issued a public apology for his harassment.
Crook, who has referred to rape as “surprise sex,” said of the Steubenville rape victim, “She wore clothing that could, in my opinion, be reasonably perceived by those in her age bracket as inviting sexual contact, and by others as just plain “slutty,” which is an element that conveniently seems to exist in many accusations of “rape.” After her assailants received a slap on the wrist for their actions, Crook lamented that two young men’s lives are ruined.
It was once reported on his now-defunct blog that he had died, but rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated.
But what is he doing now?
Crook is still around, maintaining a Twitter feed with a whopping roughly-150 followers in which he spews his hatred–and if this is the first time you’ve heard of him, you’re going to be amazed that one human body can contain this much malice for humankind!
Crook covers a wide variety of topics in his veritable barrage of bigoted ramblings: from how rape isn’t real, to how atheists are worse than child molesters. Please enjoy (read: try not to vomit while looking at) what is quite possibly the most high-speed spewing of hateful garbage on the internet!
TO ALL THESE
CHRISTOFASCISTS. I WILL LET THE WORDS OF PRESIDENT THOMAS JEFFERSON SPEAK FOR ME.