I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

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I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.

 

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Trump Administration takes the first steps towards implementing theocracy in America

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This is terrifying and all too real. Yes, it’s true — the Trump GOP wants to replace democracy with a Christian theocracy.  But only “their” kind of Christianity is acceptable. It’s happening much faster than I would have expected.  Gilead really is happening in America. These dominionist evangelicals are zealots who will stop at absolutely nothing to implement their theocracy.   They will not compromise because they believe God is on their side and they have a “mandate” to force their religious dogma into law.   Nothing is too evil or cruel if it furthers God’s mandate.  The ends always justify the means.

It looks like LGBTQ people and women will be the next victims of this regime.

Empathy and humanity are not only not required, they are considered bad or even evil  because they get in the way of carrying out the mandates they believe God has given them.   That Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, Erik Prince (Betsy DeVos’ murder-for-hire brother), Jim Jordan, Roy Moore, Franklin Graham, Paula White, Sarah Sanders, and many other sociopaths and sycophants within the Trump regime and its unholy orbit are self proclaimed “anointed apostles” favored by God tells you everything you need to know about this dangerous, totalitarian, and anti-life cult.

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Their insistence on “religious freedom” doesn’t mean the same thing it did back when our leaders still respected democracy and the rule of law.    Back in the day, it meant the freedom to worship (or not) as you chose.   But Sessions and the far right dominionist evangelicals have redefined it  — “religious freedom” now means both the “freedom” to inflict your religious beliefs on others, the “freedom” to discriminate against the “Other,” and it also gives you, the oppressed victim of theocracy, the “freedom” to not sin (because sinning will eventually become criminalized).

These dominionists must be stopped — somehow — before there is no longer a such thing as “separation of church and state” and we turn into a Christian Saudi Arabia (of course, these “Christians” care nothing about anything Christ actually taught).

The MSM spends no time at all covering this, but it’s a very serious problem that will soon completely alter what it’s like to live in this country — and NOT for the better.

I wish this was fake news.  But it’s not.

Scary times.

We must ALL vote in the midterm elections in November.  Nothing but a straight Democratic ticket will do.   We MUST oust the Republican Congress and Senate to get rid of the one party rule we have right now under Trump.

These Christo-fascists scare me much, much more than the rather disorganized white supremacists and Koch-funded greedy oligarchs.  Of all the different factions of Trump’s GOP, the dominionists frighten me the most and I also think they are the most dangerous.

Of course, they would say that my “resistance” and “negativity” just means I’m being influenced by Satan to be disobedient and I probably have a “jezebel spirit.”    They don’t like people who think for themselves.  They don’t like “uppity women.” They don’t like people who prefer real freedom instead of the fake “freedom” they’re trying to shove down our throats.  They prefer mindless sheep and robotic Stepford-people.

I really don’t care, do u?

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

The very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as part of the Bill of Rights ratified in 1791, states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This separation of church and state was intended and repeatedly affirmed to ensure two things for the new nation:  1) that the United States government would be formally secular, and 2) that United States citizens could legally practice their various religions freely and without interference from other religions.  In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, President Thomas Jefferson wrote:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes…

View original post 403 more words

13 red flags of a dominionist church.

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I’ve written about Christian dominionism before, especially as it relates to our current political situation here in America, but what exactly is it, and how can you tell if your church has gone dominionist or has dominionist tendencies?

What is dominionism?

First, we need to define dominionism.  What exactly is it anyway?  Basically, it’s a postmillennialist theology that was started by Rousas Rushdoony in the 1960s, with the publication of his tome, Institutes of Biblical Law.  It has its roots in Calvinism, and is in fact Calvinism on steroids.   It’s a form of theonomy, or theological totalitarianism, that teaches that God has mandated humans to prepare the world for Christ’s return by “christianizing” the “7 mountains” of society: government, family, media, education, religion, entertainment/arts, and business.   They seek to do this by installing only Christians (specifically, dominionist evangelicals) into the top echelons of each of these seven “mountains”  who will then work on changing them.   One of the tasks of the people mandated to transform the “government” mountain is replacing the Constitution with Old Testament biblical (Mosaic) law.   In fact, they’re busy doing this right now, which is why there are so many dominionist Christians in the Trump administration.  Dominionists (and many “normal” evangelicals also)  believe that Trump has been “anointed” by God as a “wrecking ball” to help bring about God’s kindgom on earth.   Many people have compared dominionism to ISIS and the Taliban, two extremist factions of Islam that also don’t recognize the separation of religion and government and have made laws based on the Q’uran (sharia law) the law of the land in some Middle Eastern countries.

Dominionism isn’t a denomination.  It’s an authoritarian theology that has infiltrated a variety of Christian denominations in America, mostly evangelical, fundamentalist, or pentecostal (you’re pretty safe from it if you’re in a mainline or liberal Protestant or Catholic church — for now).  Dominionism has flown under the radar for years and has gone under several different names:  New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  Manifest Sons of God, the Latter Rain movement (an early incarnation from the 1970s), Kingdom Now,  Kingdom Theology, Joel’s Army, and other names.    It’s actually a fascist and nationalist political agenda wrapped up in Christian piety.  As a post-millennialist doctrine, it has a different eschatology from “normal” evangelicalism, which is traditionally pre-millennialist and therefore teaches that the Tribulation and Rapture will occur before Christ returns.   “Normal” evangelicals (and mainline Christians who believe in the Second Coming) adhere to the biblical teaching that we have no way to know when Christ will return, and there is no way to “prepare” for it, since God’s kingdom is not of this world.

Dominionism is heretical for many reasons but mostly because it says Jesus can’t return until the planet is “Christianized.”   For Americans, this means a installing a theocracy based on Old Testament laws.   If that sounds a lot like radical Islam to you, that’s because it is.  Their agenda is eventual world domination (dominion) and a One World Religion.  This is unbiblical.  We were never called to force certain religious beliefs on others, only to spread the Gospel.  To force a religion on society by way of its laws negates the concept of free will.  It also corrupts both the religion and the government.   This is why the Founding Fathers were clear about the separation of church and state.

The Bible also never says that only Man can change the world for Christ.  In fact, we cannot facilitate Christ’s return ourselves because we can’t even know when He is returning (Mark 13:32).

God’s kingdom, according to John 18:36, is not of this world.   But dominionists believe it very much is and to be pleasing to God, the world must be changed to Jesus’ liking.   Dominionism is also extremely authoritarian and very cult-like.    Many survivors of spiritual or religious abuse came from churches that embraced tenets of dominionism and reconstructionism.

Here’s an excellent (and scary) description of dominionism from a political research website:

Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight 

Dominionism has been working its dark magic within American evangelical churches,  and even some charismatic Catholic churches.  Now that it’s infiltrated our political system, it threatens the integrity of our Constitution and our freedom.  Many of the current GOP in high level positions, and some members of Trump’s staff are actively trying to install dominionist doctrine into our laws.   Here are 13 red flags to look for.

1.  The church uses military imagery or language.  This is a very visible and immediately obvious red flag of a dominionist church.  Such symbolism indicates a church that has no respect for the separation of church and state — and even believes it is mandated to change the law of the land to its liking.  Ads and educational materials include military imagery such as shields, swords, guns,  images of soldiers at war, sometimes combining the cross with nationalistic symbols like American flags.   They use terms like spiritual warfare, warrior for Christ, soldier for Christ, prayer warrior, POTUS Shield, Joel’s Army, etc.   God himself is portrayed not as a loving Father, but as constantly angry, full of wrath and vengeance, intolerant, and punishing for the smallest infractions.    Extreme nationalism is prominent too.  America is believed to be God’s chosen nation (the “new Israel”) mandated to convert (by force, if necessary) the world.

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2.  The church tells you how you should vote.   In America, this nearly always means voting for the “pro-life” candidate, regardless of how immoral that candidate may be in other ways.   Abortion and to a lesser extent, homosexuality, are the two pet “culture wars” issues given outsized importance by these churches.    This red flag alone though does not indicate a dominionist church, since many conservative and fundamentalist/evangelical churches frown on abortion and homosexuality.  But taken in context with other red flags, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.    Be wary of any church that tells you to vote Republican, says Trump is “God’s anointed,” or rails on about abortion and homosexuality constantly but doesn’t seem to care  very much about other moral issues such as greed, pride, pedophilia, poverty, racism, human rights abuses, adultery, dishonesty, or cruelty.

3.  The church encourages you to leave your non-believing loved ones.   Dominionist churches operate very much like cults because in fact they are cults.  Cults such as Scientology very often coerce their adherents into disconnecting with non-believing friends or family members, who are demonized.  Enemies of Scientology are called “Suppressive Persons” or SPs for short (here’s more about my own short foray into Scientology, in case anyone is interested).    In dominionist churches, anyone who isn’t a believer — even other kinds of Christians — are said to be doing Satan’s work.   In fact, some dominionists believe that non-dominionists are naturally evil because they come from Cain’s bloodline (they believe that the “right kind” of Christians are from Abel’s bloodline) so they are predestined for Hell no matter what (I told you this was Calvinism on steroids!)

So if your church leader tells you a relationship you have is sinful or accuses your friend or family member of being of the devil because they believe differently or have a lifestyle the church disapproves of, and they tell you you must cut off that person to avoid God’s wrath,  run away as fast as you can.  Dangerous people and organizations both attempt to isolate their prey from the people they love in order to control them.   It’s a form of divide and conquer.

4.  The church says we can and should seek signs and wonders.  Many evangelical churches emphasize “signs and wonders” (spontaneous healing, “glory clouds,” speaking in tongues, deliverance, exorcism, laying on hands, etc.) as a physical manifestation of the holy spirit.  Pentecostal and charismatic evangelical worship services focus on attempting to bring about these supernatural phenomena and as a result, it’s hard to not get drawn in by all the intense and uncontrolled emotion.  Dominionism goes a step further, saying humans are mandated by God to “manifest” signs and wonders, since God is in each of us.   This is very similar to New Age teaching.  In fact, many dominionist churches, such as the Bethel megachurch in California, are a strange hybrid of Christian fundamentalism and New age religion (Bethel is also known for an odd and disturbing practice known as “grave sucking.” ).    Dreams are also given great importance, and even quasi-occult practices such as astral projection are practiced: there are dominionist preachers and authors who claim they have traveled to heaven (and hell).   Signs and wonders (miracles) may be real for all I know, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to be conjuring them for their own sake or as “proof” God exists.   I think it could even be dangerous (not all supernatural occurrences come from God), so if you belong to a church that says you must take part in such occult activities or that something’s wrong if you can’t speak in tongues, conjure a “glory cloud,” or heal people spontaneously, find another church.

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Attendees at Bethel Church catching manifested gold dust from a “glory cloud.”

 

5.  The church says certain people are “anointed,” or chosen by God — and says you must obey those people.   In this regard, dominionism has been compared to the Roman Catholic Church, which believes in intercessors between us and God, such as popes, priests and bishops.   In dominionist churches, certain people are “anointed” (often self-proclaimed) as prophets or apostles, and they have dominion over everyone else.    To disobey or resist such an “anointed” person is considered a sin.   Since these churches consider Trump to be “anointed by God” (regardless of his continued immorality and lack of repentance for his sins),  to disagree with Trump means you disagree with God himself and have a “jezebel spirit.”

If your heart tells you something is wrong, I think it would be immoral not to disobey.  We were given a conscience which is a gift of God, and helps us manifest the holy spirit in the world (the same way our minds do — it is godly to use our critical thinking skills!)  While good works may or may not be necessary for salvation, they certainly are a “good fruit” proving we are using the conscience and thinking ability we were given and acting in a Christlike manner (even if we are not Christians).  Who can argue with that? It sure wasn’t Satan who gave us brains and a conscience!

If you know your leader is doing something immoral,  I think it’s the godly thing to call it out or at least refuse to take part in it.   What if your pastor asks you to perform a sexual act on them or cheat on your spouse?  Is to refuse to do so immoral? I certainly hope not!  I think there are always circumstances in which disobedience is not only the correct thing to do, it’s the only moral thing to do.

6.  The church puts great importance on blind obedience.   This ties closely with #5.   Dominionist churches put an inordinate amount of emphasis on unquestioning submission to authority, often quoting Romans 13, which says that every man in a position of power was put there by God, and therefore we are not to question God’s will.   Using this logic, even Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were placed in power by God.   You could also ask a dominionist why Barack Obama was so vilified by the religious right, since according to their doctrine, he must have been put there by God as well.   Not only is blind obedience valued over critical thinking (which is a sin), to insist on “rights,” including civil rights, is considered to be satanic.

Here’s a thought experiment.  Dominionists might want to ask themselves if undergoing an abortion in China is the godly thing to do, since Chinese law mandates a couple must not have more than one child — and therefore to refuse an abortion is to disobey the law.    Likewise, would the American Revolution have ever happened — or any revolution in all of history ever happened — had disobedience or resistance to authority not come into play?

On a side note, I’ll add that dominionist child rearing methods are extremely authoritarian and oppressive, even cruel.   The goal of such draconian and harsh parenting is to “break the child’s will,” as you would “break” a horse — but really what happens is the child grows up to be a broken person unable to think for themselves, afraid to experience genuine emotion — and all too often becomes an abuser themselves.

7. The church preaches the “prosperity gospel.”  While not all prosperity gospel churches are dominionist, all dominionist churches preach the prosperity gospel.   Dominionism is really a sort of hyper-Calvinism, which states that God blesses those who please him with financial and material rewards (“name it and claim it”).   So if you are poor or struggling,  then you deserve your poverty.   You’re displeasing to God in some way, or your faith isn’t strong enough and God is trying to “awaken” you to the error of your ways.   It would therefore be wrong to offer such a person help because that’s interfering with God’s will.  The prosperity gospel also puts a great deal of emphasis on tithing, which I describe in #8.

8.  The church puts great importance on tithing and “donations.”   Even if you are poor and can’t feed your family, you are told you must tithe a large portion of your income to the church.  Failing to tithe the right amount is considered sinful.   This is another red flag of a cult, because cults always find ways to extract large amounts of money from you, often promising you nebulous things such as greater prosperity, happiness or peace of mind in return.    Failing to attain those goals means you have failed — or are displeasing to God.   The church is like a gambling casino: the house always wins.   It is always right, you are always wrong.  If you belong to a church whose leader is extremely wealthy and flaunts that wealth, and the poor are blamed for their own financial condition,  run.

9.  Women are treated as second class citizens.  Women are held in very low regard in dominionist churches, though not all churches that order women to be “helpmeets” and submit to the authority of their husbands, fathers, and other male relatives are necessarily dominionist.  They could just be ultraconservative.   But again, this is something you will see in dominionist churches.   Of course, abortion is forbidden in most conservative churches, but if birth control is also frowned on (outside the Catholic Church), and women are told their only value is to have as many children as God gives them, or if having many babies is referred to as “building an army for Christ,”  that should be a howling red flag.   The Quiverfull movement, which the Duggar family is a part of, is a fairly recent manifestation of dominionist theology at work.    The Taliban in Islam has very similar views of women and their proper roles in society.  In such a misogynistic environment, abuse is rampant.

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Scene from the Hulu TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

10.   Abuse is concealed, denied, or excused.   Women and children are extremely vulnerable to abuse because of their second class status.   Since the man is regarded to be biblically mandated to have headship over his wife and children — and because questioning authority is frowned upon and even condemned as sinful — reporting abuse or defending yourself or your children against it can be dangerous.   Many women who tell their preachers about the abuse are shamed and coldly ordered to go back home and try to be better wives, or to “make the best of it.”  Sometimes they are even accused of bringing it on themselves, and told they can stop the abuse by being more pleasing or obedient to their husbands.    Because a woman may be saddled with many children, or have been cut off from her family and friends (see #3), she may have nowhere to turn to get any help or relief, which takes us to #11.

11. Disdain for psychiatry, psychology and the mental health profession.   This attitude toward the mental health professions is very similar to that of Scientology, which also takes a very dark view of them.   In many dominionist churches, the only acceptable kind of therapy is that given by a Christian (dominionist) practitioner, who is rarely trained in psychology and counseling, and will often give advice that is not based on the client’s best interests but rather on obeying the religious doctrine.  For example, they might tell a gay person their sexuality is an abomination to God, and they need to undergo “conversion” therapy, or they might tell a wife she must obey her husband and try to “make the best of things” even if she and her children are in danger.  A secular therapist would encourage the gay person to accept themselves as they are, and urge the woman to leave her abusive husband and connect with people who can help her.

12.  The church demonizes the vulnerable.   I’ve already discussed the way dominionist doctrine demonizes the poor, blaming them for their lack of prosperity.  But it also demonizes the disabled, the sick, and other vulnerable groups of people.  Because dominionist doctrine holds that God blesses his elect with perfect health and wealth, a godly person would never become poor, sick or disabled.  Misfortune is only visited on those who don’t believe or who are morally offensive to God.   To suffer misfortune then, means you are doing something wrong.  The fault is always your own.  This is an extremely narcissistic, even sociopathic, worldview — and nothing at all like Christ, who loved the “least of these” the most.    Dominionists apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount.

13.  The people are just…weird.   When people join cults, if they stay any length of time, eventually the indoctrination and mind control tactics begin to take a toll on their personalities and even their appearance.   Many people have noticed, for example, the “Scientology stare” so common in Scientology adherents like Tom Cruise.  This is a creepy blank stare, often combined with a fake smile that fails to reach the eyes.   I’ve never spent time in a dominionist church, but my fascination with it has led me to watch Youtube videos of dominionist preachers and public speakers, and almost all of them have that weird, robotic, predatory, almost psychopathic stare.  Watch videos of Paula White (Trump’s “spiritual advisor”) if you want to see a real world example of what I mean.

If you’re still not sure whether the church you attend has dominionist leanings, there’s an easy way to tell if it’s a good church or a bad one:  ask yourself if it bears good or rotten fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).   If the church is doing good works and helping others (without coercing them to convert),  its leaders seem humble and kind, and the congregants seem happy and contented without repressing their real desires and emotions, then it’s probably a healthy church environment.  If the leader seems distant (or “above” his congregation), the congregants seem fakely perky and happy (or miserable and afraid), and the overall feel of the church is one of fear, negativity, and anger,  it may not be a dominionist church, but it definitely could be a toxic one.

False prophets.

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I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.

– 2 Corinthians 11:3-15

 

A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis

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I rarely share religious articles, since I know many or even most of my readers aren’t religious, but I think this one is so important I couldn’t let it pass by.  I also think the truths described in it are things we all need to remember in these confusing and dark days of our nation, regardless of your belief system.  If nothing else, they will help keep you sane.

I’ve been growing increasingly disturbed and even upset by what I see happening not just in our government, but in many of our churches, especially evangelical churches.  The Founding Fathers were wise to demand the separation of church and state, not because they were all atheists (they weren’t), but because when religion and state merge, they tend to corrupt each other.  It’s not just government being protected from religion, but also religion being protected from government.   As long as churches stayed out of politics, they tended to stay true to the teachings of Christ.   But something dark and unsettling is happening within Christian evangelism and it’s way too serious for us to ignore, because, Christian or not, it affects all of us.

Dominionism is a growing movement within evangelism that claims to be Christianity, but is more like what would happen if Christianity was turned inside out and stood on its head.  It’s an authoritarian, intolerant, unloving, unforgiving, punitive, and sociopathic belief system which seems to be equal parts Old Testament biblical law and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness.  It’s the Prosperity Gospel with an angry, narcissistic, and unloving God.  Christian dominionism is not actually a religion at all — it’s a fascist political movement which is to real Christianity what the Taliban or ISIS is to Islam, and like the Taliban, it hides its anti-woman, anti-gay, white supremacist, violent, and oppressive ideology behind a facade of “Christian” religion.

We are close to a rewriting of the Constitution (Constitutional Convention) by these sick control freaks.   The Republican Party and Trump’s cabinet in particular are infested with these zealots.   They cannot be reasoned with.  They will not compromise.  They will not back down.   There is nothing they won’t do to achieve complete domination over all of us and of the planet.   Their doctrine dictates that doing evil things is okay as long as the end result (Christ’s return and the rapture) is achieved.    These people believe they are prophets and apostles who have been anointed to be earthly rulers and have been given permission by God to oppress and abuse the rest of us who are not part of God’s ruling class.   There’s nothing biblical or remotely Christian about any of this.

The dominionist movement is aided and abetted by the Koch Brothers and other oligarchs (both American and Russian) who aren’t religious themselves but whose insatiable lust for even more wealth and power dovetails perfectly with what dominionists want (complete control).    If they ever do gain full control over our government or are able to rewrite our Constitution, we’ll be living a real life Handmaid’s Tale.   The Kochs, Mercers, and other oligarchs working in cahoots with the dominionists will be either be exempt from the oppressive and draconian laws the rest of us will be subject to, or they can just skip off to another country.

As I said in the first paragraph, I’ve been getting upset about this abusive belief system and the threat it poses to my freedom and my life, and the lives, rights, and freedoms of the people I love.    Some days I feel like they really are going to win and I start to get anxious and depressed.   So I’ve been praying a lot about it.

The following article feels like an answer to my prayer  — a reminder of what it really means to be Christian in these times and what is expected of us (because it’s easy to get confused these days with all the misinformation), and at the same time a manifesto against the heretical perversion of Christianity called dominionism.    I feel strongly that if Jesus were here sitting next to me, these words would be exactly what he’d say to me.

A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis

 

 

The unholy alliance that is ushering in a new Dark Age.

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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. –Sinclair Lewis, 1935.

This article is going to be dark.  I wasn’t looking forward to writing it, but I must do so. Dark as the subject matter is, it’s the light within most of us that makes us able to know when darkness is descending and take the necessary action to avoid being annihilated by it.

Education and science are under attack by an unholy alliance between right wing evangelical Christianity and far right politics.    This has been going on since the late 1970s (The Moral Majority was the first obvious sign this was beginning to happen), but only now has the situation in America become critical, so critical we are fast losing our democracy and becoming a fascist state.

Protecting democracy and liberty is the primary reason why the Founding Fathers made sure the Constitution protected the separation of church and state.   It’s not because these men regarded religion as a bad thing.   In fact, some of them were personally quite religious.   It’s because mixing the two always corrupts both.   Enter politics into religion, and religion becomes authoritarian and punishing; enter religion into politics and  government becomes the same way.   Religio-fascist, authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan became that way because religion (in their case, Islam) was allowed to infiltrate politics without regulations to keep its excesses at bay.   Islam itself became corrupted due to the influence of radical Islamists (ISIS and the Taliban) who wanted to make their religion about politics and use it as an excuse to control the people.    The same thing is happening in America with certain factions of evangelical Christians (dominionists) who believe their Godly duty is to force others to think and behave the way they do.

Christian Taliban1

I realize not all conservatives are like this — if I made this table, I would substitute the term “Trumpist GOP and Dominionism” for “Republicans and Conservatives.”  I’d also leave out the term “Muslim” since most do not support ISIS and Sharia Law.

Unfortunately — but not surprisingly, given their belief that they have been chosen by God to “take dominion” over other mortals and the planet itself —  the highest echelons of government are now populated by toxic dominionist Christians who believe tyranny and oppression is the God-ordained way to rule a nation and the only way to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.    I’ve come to believe the real reason so many right wing Christians hate Muslims is because they see radical Islam as competition for their own desired Christian Taliban — it’s the same damn thing with a different name!   Trump and his cronies don’t seem to hate Saudi Arabia or its richest, most powerful rulers at all (Trump seemed to be having the time of his life when the Saudis treated his arrival last spring like the arrival of a beloved king) — they only hate powerless Muslim refugees coming to America to escape from that oppressive regime.    Radical Christian extremists and malignant narcissists like Trump who crave and admire only power and wealth have far more in common with regimes like Saudi Arabia’s than they do with western democracies where the people have a say in how they are governed.

Authoritarian religion –whether Christian, Islam, or some other faith system — tends to attract people with narcissistic or sociopathic personalities, and research has shown that people with these personality types also score high in authoritarian traits.    Authoritarian religion provides a handy way for people without a conscience or with sadistic tendencies to justify their abuse and judgment of “the Other” — anyone who they believe is inferior to them — or anyone who threatens to shine the harsh light of the truth on them.    It’s easy to say, “Well, it’s what God wants” or “it says right here in the Bible” (which more often than not, is a faulty interpretation of Scripture anyway) than to say, “I’m a sadistic SOB who wants to control you and make your life a living hell.”   Malignant narcissists do not want to take responsibility for their inhumanity; they’d much rather blame it on someone else.  If they can “blame” it on God, that’s even better, because then they can tell you “it’s for your own good.”

A few years ago, I had a falling out with another blogger who wrote about narcissistic abuse.   We are still not on speaking terms, and probably never will be again, but recently I started to read her blog again, not just because she happens to be a good writer, but because during the past few months I’ve actually found her blog inspiring.   I won’t go into all the details of what led to the falling out, but one of the reasons was because of the woman’s religion.   She had made some critical — even cruel — comments about and to me, using what I felt to be her fundamentalist Christianity as a weapon of judgment and intolerance.   From what I could observe from her older writings, she appeared to be stuck in a victim mentality, unable to move forward in her recovery due to her tendency to judge others harshly because of her fundamentalist Christianity.   I saw no evidence of any real self awareness or willingness to self-criticize.   So, at the time, I dismissed her as a covert narcissist masquerading as someone with “only” C-PTSD.

But apparently I was wrong.  It seems like Trump’s election changed her in a positive way.     She wrote about what she saw happening with politics and the religious right, and became increasingly critical of both.   She began to realize that her fundamentalist church was infested with malignant narcissists who judged her negatively for her poverty and health problems, believing, as they did, that wealth and good health were proof of God’s approval.   It wasn’t long before she ditched her fundamentalist church and began to seek answers outside religion.    This actually didn’t surprise me, since I always got the impression her religion was a bad fit and she was miserable within its confines.  This woman was clearly intelligent and well educated, but it was almost as if she had been trying to force herself to adapt to a restricting mold that didn’t allow her to grow as a human being.   She was telling herself lies that she knew were lies, because of the fear of Hell and judgment.   Freed of that, suddenly she was exploring and seeking answers in secular fields like science and psychology, and her mind seemed to blossom.  At the same time this happened, she seemed to develop more tolerance and empathy toward others.  Most impressive of all, she began to develop an ability to self-reflect and as a result, began to make changes to herself.   Her writings indicated a new insight into herself I hadn’t seen while she was under the thrall of toxic religion.    She seems happier than she ever did, and a lot less angry in general.   She’s exploring old interests and talents that she had neglected while she was in that church, and more positive things seem to be happening to her now too.    I’m sure being happy and using one’s mind to question and explore the world aren’t sins, and God is not judging us harshly for doing so.   If God didn’t want us to ask questions or think critically about things, he would not have given us brains!

I won’t link to her blog here or even name it, due to the fact we stopped speaking several years ago, but her most recent article about the religious right’s war on science was one of her most enlightening and insightful.    It was also very dark and unfortunately all too true.   In it, she criticized the religious right’s scorched-earth mission of squelching all independent thought and critical thinking, which has led to an all out war on secular education itself and an accompanying celebration of ignorance and superstition.

Religio-fascist societies always attack education and science as the enemy, because the ability to think and ask questions challenges their belief system.   This always leads to the decimation of civilized society and overpowering oppression, premature death, human suffering, and covert or overt genocide to “purge” the society of undesirable populations (I believe the current GOP’s tax bill and attempts to destroy the social safety net is a covert attempt to dispatch the elderly, poor, disabled, and sick).    Such rigid and cruel regimes held power during the European Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church doubled as government and forbade the questioning of religion and condemned scientific thought, even sentencing scientific thinkers to be burned at the stake (the Catholic Church has since renounced and repented for this dark period in its history, and today embraces science, and since Vatican II, this includes the acceptance of evolution).  It happened more recently in countries of the Middle East, with radical Islam taking over government and leading to the oppression of women, expansion of the death penalty to include personal or sexual “immorality” like homosexuality, abortion, contraception, adultery, and even a child’s disobedience to their parents; and other human rights atrocities.

Any religion whose dogma regards the fight for human rights as a sin (as dominionist Christianity and radical Islam both do), is one where God isn’t benevolent or good, but is a false entity made in the rulers’ own image:  their God has become a malignant narcissist who does not care about the well-being of his creation, demands adulation and worship, and only approves of and rewards narcissistic or sociopathic behavior.    Leaders of such religions shift the blame for their society’s ills to their most vulnerable or powerless members (the poor, women, immigrants, or others),  gaslight their followers and those under their rule by saying that we, as humans, are unable to determine what God deems good because we are so “depraved,” and hence the means, no matter how cruel, always justify the ends.   Dominionists believe that only certain “elect” (God’s “golden children”) have been given dominion over creation — with wealth and power being proof of God’s favor — and must do whatever it takes to destroy the old ways  (which includes jettisoning empathy for the vulnerable) in order to usher in God’s kingdom.   Apparently, they forgot about God’s grace and mercy and the earlier fundamentalist belief in free will.

7-mountains

The 7 “mountains” of the New Apostolic Reformation (dominionism)

There are two glaring problems with this doctrine.  First of all, if humans are so depraved, why is the cruelty of certain powerful religious people okay to God but not the benevolence of others?  Second, their doctrine flies in the face of everything Jesus taught in the New Testament.   It’s interesting the dominionists rarely quote from the New Testament, unless it’s from the missives of Paul, who lived after Jesus and seemed to have harsher views toward women and sexual behavior than Jesus himself did.     They justify cruelty by misinterpreting Scripture to fit their harsh  narrative.   As one example, they often use the verse, “Those who do not work do not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) as proof that Jesus was a Republican who didn’t believe in helping the poor.    What Jesus actually meant was that if you are an able bodied person who can work, you shouldn’t sit on your ass expecting handouts.   This is common sense!   But Jesus never said we shouldn’t help people who truly are in need — in fact, the New Testament (and even parts of the Old Testament) are full of verses instructing us to care for the “least among us.”  Dominionist evangelicals cherry pick from the Bible and conveniently ignore the many passages telling us to be inclusive and loving toward the most vulnerable members of society, while glorifying the the most punishing parts of the Old Testament as God’s true nature.

America today is extremely narcissistic, and celebrates narcissistic, even sociopathic, values.   It’s become an orgy of malignant narcissism, and its associated traits and values (lack of empathy, arrogance, coldness, racism, sexism, sadism, bullying, dishonesty, cheating, unchecked power, greed, revenge, war, division, destructiveness, and hatred) have become synonymous with both the Trumpian Republican Party and far right Christian extremism.  These two groups, thanks to Trump and his far right evangelical supporters and donors, have become increasingly merged to the point it is sometimes hard to separate one from the other.    This, of course, is part of their plan — destruction of the separation between church and state would allow these sociopaths to carry out their plans to destroy or punish anyone they dislike, all in the name of God.   It’s heresy of the highest order, but there are people who really believe a white, conservative, Christian society is the only kind of society acceptable to God.   To them, science is a creation of Satan and critical thinking or questioning of any kind is flirting with the devil.   That’s why they hate education and science so much: because only the gullible and uneducated will unquestioningly believe — and obey — such a toxic and destructive doctrine.    They want obedient sheep without working brains.   That’s the most effective weapon they have, and the one that will catapult us into the new Dark Age.

The “prosperity gospel” used to be a seemingly harmless, feel-good vaguely Christian doctrine that gave people permission to not feel guilty or ashamed of achieving great success or wealth, or about their desire to have those things.   It held that God wanted his people to be successful in life and in fact it was their duty to strive for that.   While I can’t argue that there’s anything wrong with ambition or wanting to be successful (who wants to be a poor failure?), the real problem started when the prosperity gospel (and other “positive thinking” belief systems) began to regard the emotions of guilt, remorse, and shame as something shameful in themselves.  Anything went, even if to get what you wanted, you had to exploit or hurt others (which is why Ayn Rand became so popular in recent years).   It wasn’t okay to feel guilty — unless you felt guilty!   But guilt, though unpleasant (and unhealthy when excessive) is necessary for civilized society.   The ability to feel guilt (and the related ability to feel empathy) is what separates sociopaths and narcissists from people who care about other people.

At the same time the more new-agey positive thinking movement (which also eschewed guilt and shame) was gaining steam, the prosperity gospel (basically a Christian version of the positive thinking doctrine) and Christian evangelism/fundamentalism were beginning to merge.  It wasn’t long before having great power or wealth, rather than being a sign of a Pharisee or false prophet, became a sign of God’s favor.   Christianity as taught by Jesus in the Gospels was turned on  its head into its polar opposite!   Given that sociopaths and malignant narcissists tend to be attracted to any religion that tells them their power or wealth is holy,  soon the prosperity gospel took on a dark cast by demonizing those without such power or wealth as somehow sinful or even evil.  The Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement (which had been considered  “loony fringe” ever since Rousas Rushdoony published his Institutes of Biblical Law in the 1960s), now known within evangelical circles as the New Apostolic Reformation (don’t read late at night if you don’t want nightmares), exploded into the upper echelons of the Republican Party.  Suddenly, it was perfectly okay for a narcissistic sociopath like Roy Moore to run for Senate, regardless how immoral his personal behavior (in his case, alleged pedophilia and stalking teenage girls) because he also promoted the extremist Christian doctrine that fit in so well with far right Republican politics.

Both dominionist Christianity and Trumpian Republicanism are fascist movements that believe anything they do is alright, as long as it achieves their desired ends:  unlimited accumulation of wealth and power (which includes unbridled corporate power), ending the right to vote for anyone who isn’t a white male property owner (this is actually part of their overall plan and explains why they don’t seem to care anymore what the public thinks), repealing the First Amendment, putting women back in the kitchen without access to contraception, removing laws that protect women and children against abusers, decimating the social safety net (getting rid of Medicare and Social Security is a big part of their agenda), denying facts and science, rolling back all protective regulations, including those that protect our planet; building walls to separate us from our allies, revising history so it supports their fascist agenda (the insistence that the Founding Fathers intended to create a Christian nation is one example of revisionist history used to justify the legislation of Sharia biblical law), denying access to education unless it’s fundamentalist religious education, privatizing all public goods and infrastructure so nothing is free (anyone like toll roads or for-profit prisons and fire departments?), and oppressing, punishing, deporting, and killing anyone who isn’t rich, Republican, Christian, or white.    How very Christ-like of them.

The means to achieve their nefarious ends simply don’t matter, no matter how immoral or how many people they hurt.   It’s okay to lie, cheat, steal, break the law, deride the FBI and the Justice Department, collude or conspire with hostile foreign powers, even to the point of treason;  accumulate obscene amounts of wealth on the backs of the working and middle class, emotionally harass and abuse, gaslight, blame-shift, project onto, mislead, arrest without due process, and inflict draconian punishments on others who don’t fit their ideal or who dare to speak out against such harsh treatment.   They talk about “small government” but that only means small government for them — they are above the law,  you see.    They want to inflict a Big Brother government on all the rest of us lowly ingrates.

trump_supporter

This is all incredibly sad and scary, but what’s even more tragic is that one third of the country is seemingly so ignorant they support Trump and his billionaire, white supremacist, and evangelical cronies’ vision for America and the world.   I don’t really think they are as ignorant as they seem.   I think they are perfectly well aware of the fascist hell on earth that Trump and his minions are aiming for.    It’s even beginning to dawn on a few of them that maybe Russia was involved in the 2016 election, and maybe Trump did collude with them.   But that doesn’t faze them one bit:  now they say that maybe Russia is better than America, and that Trump was in his right to collude with them.   Far right extremists and trolls are still promising civil war against the rest of us if he is removed or impeached.

No, Trumpists are not all ignorant.  After reading many comments on right wing websites and studying the right wing mindset in depth over this past year,  I have come to believe that people who like Trump and the new Republicanism are attracted to it precisely because it is so sociopathic.    They love it for the same reasons the rest of us hate it.   They don’t care if they lose their healthcare or their rights — as long as they get to see the people they hate suffer.   Trumpists are people who are either narcissistic or sociopathic themselves (how else does one explain the preponderance of Internet trolls and neo-Nazis among them?), or who have severe codependency issues and look up to narcissists and sociopaths as viable leaders.   They want a strongman leader and admire dictators, either because they don’t want to have to think for themselves and gain a perverse sense of security from being told exactly what they have to believe and do, or because they are narcissists and sociopaths who regard higher human values such as empathy, kindness, fairness, compassion, civility, generosity, and love as “feminine” or weak.   On the contrary, it’s the strongest and most spiritually evolved people who are able to embrace these higher values and act on them.    If Jesus, the embodiment of these virtues, were to walk on Earth today, he would be despised by the religious right.  I’m pretty sure they would persecute him all over again.

It is not too late to nip this cancer in the bud and return to America as the land of freedom and democracy, even improving on what we had before — preferably with some new checks and balances put in place to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.   But the hour is getting late and the cancer is metastasizing.   One positive effect of Trumpism and the carnage it’s creating is that finally, higher human values like I mentioned in the last paragraph are being given the respect due them again.  There is a general recognition by two thirds of Americans — even by traditional Republicans (both Bushes are among them) — that these values have been devalued for so long that they are now are nearly nonexistent in American politics, and demonized where they appear (compassion and kindness are now “socialism”).  Narcissism has run amok, ignorance is admired, and greed has been glorified.   Sociopathy is now becoming acceptable.  Over time, these vices have been turned into virtues instead of the destructive forces they really are.  But there’s a painful awareness now, a passion for truth, and a desire to repair or reclaim what has been lost or damaged that I see now among most people.  Two thirds of us strive to be rid of the invasive cancer of societal malignant narcissism, a desire that wasn’t evident before 2017.    In addition, like the narcissism blogger I discussed in the beginning of this article, some of us have been transformed spiritually in the face of this existential darkness, and in spite of the ominous threat of being silenced held over us, we are finally finding our voices.

I have to believe that good will always “trump” evil (pun intended).

It always does, in the end.

Trump’s tax bill: we are in deep trouble.

fascisminamerica

Holy cow.   Trump’s tax bill is bad enough for the average person who isn’t a corporation or a billionaire, as well as threatening the ACA (by removing the individual mandate), but look what else is hidden inside it.

Every American needs to be aware of this.   There’s all kinds of horrible things (many which I’m sure I’m not even aware of) hidden inside the tax bill, but this is probably the most dangerous and scary thing I’ve heard yet.    The plan, if this bill passes, is to remove any remaining separation between church and state, allowing a free and uncontrolled flow of dark money between the evangelical right wing churches and the government.

I wonder if many of the Senators who are going to be voting on this bill are even aware of this hidden clause.  The GOP seems to do just about everything in secrecy and darkness, without transparency (typical of authoritarian regimes).

The intent is to establish a “state religion” (remaking America as a “Christian nation”), which will result in the marginalization (and maybe worse) of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their brand of toxic Christianity, which has nothing to do with actual Christianity and is really a political movement disguised as “Christianity.”

This is straight up authoritarianism & a great danger to democracy. These evangelical Christofascists are using Trump to carry out their wishes, and it’s all about money and power.   I wish this was just fake news, but I can tell you with confidence that this is real.

Hidden in GOP Tax Bill:  A Plan to Turn Churches into Dark Money Spigots

If you’re not freaking out about this, you’re either not paying attention or are part of the problem.  We cannot allow this to happen.  We are not Saudi Arabia.

Call your senators.  They may not be aware what they are about to vote for. 

Here’s another article, from Mother Jones.

Republicans Are Sneaking Right-Wing Social Policies Into Their Corporate Tax Cut. 

notaxbill

Should we be hasty about Trump’s impeachment or removal?

mikepence

Many people are demanding Trump’s impeachment, if not for probable Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, then for mental incompetence.   I certainly agree with that.   In fact, I just ordered the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a compilation of essays from 27 mental health professionals, including those who specialize in Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorder (there’s a consensus he has both — when they appear together we call it malignant narcissism), that explain why Trump’s impulsivity, general abusiveness, lack of conscience, and lack of empathy is all wrong for the presidency and is in fact extremely dangerous to the planet and all life on it.   I’m happy that so many psychologists and psychiatrists are abandoning the Goldwater Rule, which for decades meant that unless a leader was officially assessed in a clinical setting, a mental health professional could not offer a diagnosis.    The book, a project of Yale University’s “Duty to Warn” project, is gaining momentum in the mental health community and is a New York Times bestseller.   The conclusion of all the authors is that Trump must be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.

I wholeheartedly agree with these professionals, but there is one glaring problem I have with Trump’s removal:  Mike Pence.

On the surface, Pence appears to be a less dangerous choice to have in the White House.  He’s even-tempered, cool under pressure, doesn’t lash out at his real and imagined enemies on Twitter, and seems willing and able to work with others.   He’s probably a lot less likely to start nuclear war.

He’d also be able to get a lot more accomplished.   Hardline Republicans who dream of dismantling our institutions, removing healthcare from millions, and giving tax breaks to the most wealthy would be able to actually get their agenda through under a Pence presidency.

Pence would be dream come true for the religious right.   Pence has made no secret of his contempt for homosexuals and his desire to remove their civil rights and make them undergo conversion therapy, a brainwashing process that has been deemed by mental health professionals as both ineffective and traumatic.    Pence would also be able to pass legislation that would make womens’ healthcare, including birth control, harder to obtain (if not outright illegal).

Pence is a far right evangelical, and also a dominionist.  Christian dominionism/reconstructionism is an extreme form of Calvinism/neo-Puritanism:  it’s a religio-political cult whose ultimate goal is the replacement of our Constitution with Old Testament biblical law, including the return of slavery, the stoning of homosexuals and adulterers, capital punishment for dissenters, the abolishment of public education, and the dismantling of the civil rights women have gained, including the right to vote.   Dominionists believe that the wealthy are wealthy because God is rewarding them and has given them “dominion.”   They believe if you’re poor, it’s because of your “moral failures” and therefore it’s wrong to interfere with God’s will by providing governmental safety nets.  They believe environmentalism is a form of earth-worship or paganism and that’s why they think it’s okay to keep raping and pillaging the planet.   After all, God will clean it up.  Their attitude reminds me of entitled teenagers who trash the house while their parents are away and don’t think they should have to clean up their mess because “my parents will do that.”

There is a lot of rhetoric among far right evangelicals and dominionists about religious freedom, but this has been redefined from the freedom to worship as you choose, to the “freedom” to impose your beliefs on others.   They think their inability to enforce or legislate their religious beliefs means they are being persecuted.  They trot out phony non-issues like the “war on Christmas” or the teaching of evolution in schools as proof of how persecuted they are.  This is a dangerously Orwellian mindset and unsuspecting evangelicals have bought it hook, line and sinker.

Christian dominionism/reconstructionism  is basically a Christian version of the Taliban,  with its own terrifying form of Sharia Law.   Their “Christianity” isn’t based on the Gospels or the New Covenant; instead it borrows heavily from the harsh Judaic legalism of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.   Dominionists talk a lot about the need for Jesus, but rarely quote from the Gospels and certainly don’t follow anything Christ taught during his ministry.    In fact, what they propose is the opposite of anything remotely Christian, and their toxic legalism and religious fascism is turning a lot of good people away from Christianity (isn’t that the way Satan would operate?).

While overall this fringe group of Christians (really a cult) is a tiny minority of the population (even among conservative evangelicals),  there are many dominionists and reconstructionists very high up in government right now, including Mike Pence, and they wield a scary amount of power.     Donald Trump, in spite of his own beliefs (or lack thereof) is enabling these religious extremists (and vice versa) and he welcomes their support. They actually believe Trump is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom” and has been “anointed by God” to destroy our democracy, which they see as satanic.  This, of course, gives Trump massive narcissistic supply and the effect is to embolden him even further.   Trump, having no real ideals or positions of his own, embraces whatever group gives him the adulation he craves, no matter how damaging their agenda.   That being said, these extremist evangelicals haven’t been able to get much or any of their agenda through due to Trump’s combativeness, talent for creating chaos and discord even within his own party, and general incompetence.

There’s another group of hard right Republicans that are also a tiny minority and have an overwhelming amount of power:  hardline fiscal conservatives, or “federalists,” who aren’t so much religiously motivated, but are instead motivated by the gospel of Ayn Rand.  Instead of an angry, punishing old Testament God, they find their spiritual mentor in the Koch Brothers and other billionaire oligarchs.    Their goal is the same as the religious extremists: replacing our democracy with a “federalist” regime that would favor property owners and the wealthy — and punish and oppress the most vulnerable.   Nancy MacLean’s exhaustively well-researched book Democracy in Chains (you can read my review here), outlines their entire terrifying agenda.    The federalist oligarchs wielding all this power aren’t necessarily religious (in fact some are atheists, like their mentor Ayn Rand was).  They don’t concern themselves much with social issues or hard right “family values,” which has come to mean being anti-gay and anti-abortion and that’s about it.    They are willing though, to ignore this as a mere inconvenience and work with the dominionists if it means they can get their cruel agenda through and gain even more power and wealth than they already have.    To them, the end always justifies the means.  If that means they have to hold their noses and put up with religious oppression (which wouldn’t effect them anyway, because their wealth would give them immunity from oppression), then so be it.  The alliance between the federalists and the dominionists is evil to the core, and their agenda is frighteningly close to being fulfilled.  Religious demagogues and white supremacists like Alabama’s Roy Moore are becoming more common in high government positions and their outrageous claims and hatred of those not like themselves are becoming normalized.  This is extremely concerning to those of us who value our freedom and democracy.

Pence is fully on board with both groups of far-right conservatives.   He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,  and slimy as they come.   There’s something sinister about a man who addresses his wife as “Mother” and refuses to be in a room alone with another woman for any reason.  I believe if Trump were removed from office — whether through impeachment or the 25th Amendment — a Pence presidency could be even more dangerous to democracy, because the man is more politically savvy and less likely to sabotage his own goals.    I think he’s just as sociopathic as Trump, but more purely psychopathic than narcissistic,  and thus will be able to get Congress and Senate Republicans to work with him.   Trump’s narcissism and fragile ego stands in the way of his being able to pass any agenda.     Pence might be less likely to start nuclear war, and might be less appealing to Trump’s racist base, but he’d have a lot more clout with those who can pass legislation that would destroy our democracy.   So be careful what you wish for.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure if living in a real-life Handmaid’s Tale would be preferable to the threat of nuclear holocaust.      We can and should demand Trump’s removal, but Pence must go with him.  Better yet, the entire cabal must be taken down and a new election must be held.

If nothing else, we must wait this travesty out, but we cannot afford to be apathetic about the next election, or even the midterm (2018) elections.  The stranglehold the hard right has on both Congress and Senate must be loosened, and ALL of us voting is the only way to do that.

The benefits of socialism.

Twenty or even ten years ago, if you mentioned single payer healthcare, even to Democrats, people would look at you like you had three eyes.  Single payer healthcare, in case anyone doesn’t know, is the system the rest of the developed world enjoys — one that is more efficient, costs everyone less, covers everyone, is less complicated, and is far more humane than our profit-based system that relies on middlemen (the insurance companies) who interfere with and undermine the doctor-patient relationship (because they exist not to keep people healthy, but solely to make a profit off human misery — which is inherently immoral).  No one in the developed world envies our unnecessarily complicated, cruel, mercenary, immoral, and unfair “healthcare” system, in which the quality of care you receive (or if you receive any at all) depends on how much you can afford to pay.

But in 2017, things have changed.    Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (52%) support single payer healthcare, with 69% of Democrats, and 35% of Republicans supporting it (not a majority, but still pretty impressive).  Even CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are beginning to wake up to how single payer would benefit them by freeing them of the obligation to provide healthcare to their employees or pay a penalty if they don’t.

As the hardline (“Freedom Caucus”) Republicans and the Trump administration double down on their efforts to repeal and replace Obama’s signature achievement (his attempt to make healthcare more affordable for more people), many people are finally waking up to the fact that single payer is really the only option we have left — and the only option that will actually work.   Obamacare is definitely an improvement over nothing at all and now more Americans are covered than were before 2010, but since it was originally a Republican plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation (and later used by Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts constituents), it still is based on a system of delivery where healthcare is funneled through profit-oriented insurance companies instead of the government, as it is in all other developed countries.

Now that Senator McCain has said he will vote “No” on the latest incarnation of Trumpcare (which means “no-care” to most of us), the GOP Senate is in full panic mode.  They’re so desperate for a win that they are trying to scare people into supporting their abomination of a bill.  Their latest scare tactic is to scream about “Berniecare” (a reference to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill) being socialism and how it will destroy America.   They incorrectly insist that the ACA is a step toward socialism and a slippery slope to complete government control over our lives and everything we do.  They tell us that any kind of socialized healthcare or any socialism at all will lead to dictatorship and the removal of all our freedoms and the death of free enterprise.  They say that the only way to “freedom” is to kill the ACA and go back to the bad old days of having no healthcare plan at all where “personal responsibility” (code for ability to pay) was the only factor that decided whether you would receive care or not.

But they are gaslighting and projecting onto us.   It’s almost laughable how hypocritical these claims are.  It’s ironic that the party that is screaming about dictatorship and loss of freedom is the same one whose president is an intolerant, fearmongering demagogue who displays all the signs of being a budding dictator, who discredits and wants to silence the free press, who encourages police brutality and the militarization of police departments, who is backed by a party that is trying to roll back civil rights and freedoms, as well as consumer protections and protections for the environment. It’s laughable that the party that screams about freedom doesn’t want freedom for anyone but the rich, white, conservative, and Christian.   If you’re poor or even middle class, non-white, liberal, or don’t subscribe to a viciously authoritarian and aggressive form of Christian evangelism (Christian dominionism) that believes the “elect” have been favored by God with wealth and power (and aims to replace the Constitution with Old Testament law),  you aren’t worthy and you deserve to have all your freedoms and rights — or sometimes even your citizenship — taken away.

To these “federalists,” freedom means three things:   property rights, the right to bear arms, and “freedom of religion” (to them, this means not what the Founding Fathers — who were products of the Enlightenment and believed in the separation of church and state — meant by it, but the freedom to force your religious beliefs on others using the law to do so).   They talk about “small government” and believe the government should be responsible only for policing and the military (while closely monitoring and meting out punishment for the private behaviors of the people).   Concepts like freedom from harm, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” apply to them only.    If they had their way, they would outlaw any speech, press, or anything else that opposed their draconian, authoritarian, backwards views.  To them, freedom means if you’re wealthy, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes or contribute to the common good.   If you’re a corporation, it means you shouldn’t have to obey laws that require you to pay your employees a fair wage, not pollute the environment, or test products for safety before selling them to the public.

Capitalism works best when it’s leavened by socialism.   Uncontrolled capitalism quickly becomes tyranny.  What we have now is no longer a democracy.  It’s an oligarchy, where corporations are “people” with unlimited power, money is “free speech,” and the very wealthy and powerful are above the law and don’t have to abide by the same rules the rest of us do.  They can pollute, exploit, extort, abuse, and lie to the American people to their heart’s content.   They can infiltrate politics and buy votes.   That’s why the wealthiest .01% have so much power and we’re in the mess we’re in right now.   This sad state of affairs started insidiously with Reagan’s tax breaks for the wealthy, the war on labor unions, and removal of corporate regulations.   Now we have capitalism run amok, with our current government bought and paid for by the wealthiest corporate interests and assisted by an aggressive and powerful group of religious extremists.   Far from being a road to freedom, theirs is a culture of narcissism, entitlement, greed, and exploitation that oppresses everyone except themselves and their wealthy donors.

 

“The definition of fascism is the marriage between the corporation and the state.”

— Benito Mussolini

 

They have gaslighted us all along by convincing people the government is our real enemy, when all along it was the corporate and moneyed interests who were buying our government. Now we have all three branches of government hamstrung by the most hard right of Republicans to the point we are nearly a one-party country.

Think back to FDR and the New Deal.   After World War II, we became a world power like none before or since.  Of course, winning World War II helped our economy immensely, but had it not been for New Deal policies and labor unions that narrowed the gap between the richest and poorest, relieved people from the ravages caused by the Great Depression, and made it possible for young families to buy a home and move into the middle class (and also freed them from the burden of having to house and provide round the clock, at-home medical care to an aging parent thanks to social security and Medicare), I doubt we would have become as prosperous in the postwar years as we did and the envy of the free world.   These government programs and labor unions freed people from the burdens that kept people mired in toil, poverty, and hopelessness in the past, and allowed them to be able to move up into the middle class and even higher.    They allowed older people to live longer, which increased our collective life-span.   Hardliners rant about these programs being socialism, and they are right about that.  But these “socialist” ideas have helped millions of people live freer and healthier lives.

Do you like having a post office?  Do you like having access to libraries, parks, community pools, and museums, which are free to all?  Do you like the national parks and monuments that are the envy of the world and create a thriving tourism industry?  Do you like having bridges, tunnels,  interstate highways (instead of toll roads or dangerous makeshift dirt roads like they have in third world countries), police departments, fire departments, efficient air traffic control, and the assurance that your aging parent won’t have to move in with you and force you to quit your job so you can provide them round the clock care?   Do you like knowing that if your house is on fire, you don’t have to pay a private company to come put it out or watch it burn down and spread to other houses if you lack the money?  If you’re a person of limited or modest means, do you like knowing your child has access to a free public education?   Do you like knowing that the air you breathe and water you drink is safe, and that the food you eat is free of toxins that could kill or sicken you or your loved ones?   Do you like knowing if your area was affected by a natural disaster, that you and your family would receive help from the federal government to get back on your feet? Do you feel secure knowing that there are scientists doing research on deadly contagious diseases that could become plagues without their efforts to combat their spread?  Do you like the fact there are laws that keep factories from dumping toxic waste into your drinking water?  Do you like the fact that companies by law can’t make you work for whatever they want to pay, which might be a dollar a day?

“The test of our progress is not how much we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

All these things are socialism.  Now try to imagine what things would be like if these services and protections didn’t exist, or if you had to pay a private company or individual to get any of these things.    Not very pleasant to contemplate, is it?  You’d be looking at a country with a quality of life more closely resembling countries like Cambodia, dictatorships in central Africa, or banana republics in South America than to any developed western nation.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are the four happiest countries in the developed world.    They are also countries that are social democracies — which means they combine capitalism and socialism.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism as long as regulations to keep it contained exist, there is progressive taxation (the rich pay more), and there is a general recognition that not everything can or should be privatized.  Some things simply work better and are more morally sound when they’re not privatized and are administered by the government instead.  Things like police departments, fire departments, prisons, interstate roads, air traffic control, and the military  should never be privatized.  Some services (like long-term care for the elderly, treatment for serious chronic illnesses like cancer, and safety and environmental regulations) cannot be adequately administered by private charities either.

Healthcare and education should always have a public option, even if a private option is also available.  In America, we have both public and private education.   The right wing complaint about “school choice” is bogus, since no one is forced to send their child to a public school, if they’d prefer to pay for a private one, but the public option is available for those who choose it or cannot afford to pay for the private option.  And that is as it should be, even though our current government is actively trying to dismantle public education.  As for healthcare, in Germany, you can buy your health insurance on the private market if you wish, but most people opt for single payer.  Socialist policies keep countries humane and civilized, and they counteract the negative, oppressive, malignant effects of unbridled capitalism which eventually lead to fascism and tyranny, as it is right now in the United States.

I think the problem so many people have with socialism is they equate it with communism. The Cold War led many of us to take a dim view of communism, which was an extreme form of socialism in which people were not allowed to own private property and all services were centralized and run by the government.  So, instead of being able to choose a doctor and have the government pay the claim (as it works in social democracies who have single payer insurance), you’d actually see a “government doctor” in a clinic-like setting and receive less than ideal care.   You could only watch State TV or listen to state-run radio or read state-run newspapers.  You had to stand on long lines to obtain government issued food, and of course there were always shortages.  None of these things are the case with European-style socialism.

Some extremists on the far right argue that countries such as Canada with “socialized medicine” require long wait times and that people die before they get to see a doctor.  But this is a lie.     Most Canadians (and people in other countries with single payer healthcare) are happy with the care they receive and knowing they won’t go bankrupt or risk reaching a “lifetime cap” or be denied care at all because they have a “pre-existing condition.”    In fact, they laugh at us for being so backwards that we refuse to recognize that good health is a human right, and not a luxury that only the rich should be able to afford.   If there are “wait times” in social democracies, it’s for services like cosmetic plastic surgery, gastric bypass surgery, or hip replacements — procedures that aren’t life and death emergencies and where there may be less invasive options that can be explored.  In America, of course, there are long wait times too — even for medically necessary procedures in which you are forced to wait for a health insurance company that cares only about profit to “authorize” a procedure and possibly deny it.

Authoritarianism has no ideology.  It can arise on the left or the right.  Communism is on the extreme left; fascism is on the extreme right.  Socialism (or social democracy, if you prefer) is more in the middle of the scale, although more to the left than capitalism.  Extremes of any ideology lead to tyranny and oppression.   Socialism taken to its extreme becomes communism; capitalism taken to its extreme becomes fascism. Both are caused by (and lead to) government corruption and both lead to the same terrible outcome:  short and brutal lives dominated by oppression, hopelessness, fear, illness, violence, and widespread poverty.   Balance is necessary for a system to work, and for a capitalist society to work for all its people, it must be balanced with socialism.   Other developed countries recognize this, and until the Reagan years changed everything, so did we.

Supporters of unbridled, unregulated capitalism like to tell us “the markets” will fix everything, but this is not true.  It has only led to disaster in the past, the most recent one being the housing crisis of 2008.   The markets are not God, and leaving the markets alone to fix themselves only leads to both economic and social ruin.

When people scream about socialism, I wonder if they’ve ever been to western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand — countries which may not be world powers, and where people may have to pay higher taxes (but not as high as you might think), but where there is more equality, more tolerance of diversity, and where people enjoy better health, live longer lives, get paid a living wage, and are never burdened with the possibility of bankruptcy or being denied coverage should they or a loved one become seriously ill.   Countries where people are generally happier, have more peace of mind, and where there is less hatred, violence, sickness, poverty, and selfishness. Countries where the common good is still valued more highly than power and greed.  Countries that don’t deny scientific fact or the right of its people to have a free education, clean air and drinking water, and basic no-cost healthcare from cradle to grave.

People in these countries can start companies and engage in free enterprise and with a lot more ease too because they’re not burdened with the fear of losing their insurance if they quit a job to start their own business.  They can leave a job they hate for a better one without fearing a “gap in coverage.”   They are still just as “free” as we are, if not more so (and now they are leaving us behind as they move ahead in the global economy because they recognize that sustainable industry that respects the planet and all life is the wave of the future).  The difference is they recognize what real freedom and real morality is — not the fake version of “freedom” that has come to mean “I got mine, so screw you,” and the fake version of “morality” that condescendingly tells us, “I’m better than you, so the rules I impose on you don’t apply to me.”

The Frightening Close Relationship between Christian Nationalism and President Donald J. Trump

AMEN!

Also please read this article from ThinkProgress:  Why Christian Nationalists Love Trump 

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Flee from Christian Fundamentalism

Trump

Why do so many American Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals support Donald J. Trump and his Presidency—even though the man shows few signs of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and shows numerous signs of being a compulsive liar and immoral reprobate? There is a very good and highly detailed answer to this question. Author Jack Jenkins has begun laying it out in spades with a new article in a planned series at ThinkProgress. Basically, it has little to do with any sort of traditional faith in Jesus Christ per se and more to do with being spiritually deceived by an evil American theopolitical movement called ChristianNationalism.

Christian Nationalism has its deepest roots in three recent, man-made, heretical philosophies known as Christian Reconstructionism, Dominionism, and Theonomy—all being approximately synonymous with each other. Basically, these three philosophies call for turning the United States into a Christian dictatorship—based on Old…

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