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.

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Let’s party like it’s 1399.

Originally posted on December 30, 2017 as The Unholy Alliance That is Ushering in a New Dark Age. 

Although I have made few editorial changes and no factual updates to this article, I’m reblogging it in light of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ and Jeff Sessions’ quoting of the Bible to justify the inhumane separation of children and babies from their parents at our southern border (it’s not just illegal immigrants this is being done to, but to mothers and children legally seeking asylum) as well as the incarceration of children in what can only be called concentration camps. Using the word of God to justify these cruel atrocities and human rights abuses — inflicted even on innocent children — is the pinnacle of blasphemy as well as an egregious example of the Trumpian GOP’s constant gaslighting. In fact, the Bible takes a very dark view of those who would deny refuge to a stranger and inflict abuse on children. I won’t list all the quotes proving that here for lack of space, but anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Bible knows this. Jesus was himself a dark skinned immigrant whose parents were fleeing from persecution in their home country, and I have no doubt that in Trump’s America he would be separated from Mary and Joseph and thrown in a cage like an animal. Let’s not forget that the Bible was also once used to justify slavery and even by some Nazis to justify the extermination of six million Jews and other “undesirables.”

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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. And they have created a God — a cruel, narcissistic, sociopathic, constantly enraged God devoid of empathy or love — in their own monstrous image.

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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 personal story.

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.

The war on science and education.

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.

“We made God in our own image.”

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.

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

There are two glaring problems with dominionist 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 and positive-thinking movement’s connection to authoritarian Christianity.

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 about feeling 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.

What they really want.

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.

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Ignorance and moral bankruptcy.

Of course 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.

Going forward.

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.

Can we ever stop the hemorrhaging?

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America is sliding backwards in almost every way imaginable.   Like it or not, as a country we have become far more superstitious, fearful, intolerant, and tribal than we were twenty, forty, or even sixty years ago.   Such a worldview is incredibly dangerous to any real progress and the sustainability of democracy.

The following article will provide a background of why this happened, its historical roots, how our situation compares with the rest of the world, and what, if anything, we can do to reverse our destiny and restore democracy as we used to know it.

The Middle Ages.

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Hundreds of years ago, tribalism and irrational fear of the “Other” was the norm in the West. During the Middle Ages, the only form of government was basically a theocracy with “one party rule” by the medieval Catholic Church.  Feudal lords ruled over the serfs with an iron hand, with meager benefits, such as a small patch of land for a family to subsist on, handed out in return for loyalty and backbreaking labor.   There was very little to no chance of a common peasant or serf escaping their grim reality, or ever rising to the merchant class and certainly not the nobility (the oligarchs of those times).   For almost all who weren’t part of the nobility or merchant class,  life was “brutal and short.”  Harsh punishments were meted out liberally against those who dared question the regime or their overlords.  It was a life not much better than slavery.   Science was considered heresy and education was discouraged.  Higher education was limited to the clergy and the nobility, and even that was primarily religious education.

During these “dark ages,” which lasted approximately a thousand years following the fall of the Roman Empire, there was little to no progress, scientifically or otherwise.  Each generation lived pretty much the same way as the one that came before, and people did not live very long.   Daily life revolved around religion and the church and people were very superstitious.  Women were considered the property of men, their only role (besides backbreaking labor alongside the men) was producing as many children as possible as quickly as possible.  Most of those children died of illness before the age of 5 or so.   In fact, infant mortality was so common that medieval women didn’t bother to name a child until he or she was several years old, and more likely to survive.   Not naming a new child made it possible to not get too attached to the child and enabled the mother to take its death in stride without undue grief.

Modern feudalism and third world countries.

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Today, there are such societies. But they are not in the West. You can find feudal-like living conditions under harsh dictatorships and theocracies in third world countries in South America, Africa, and other parts of the undeveloped world.   Unlike advanced western democracies, these developing countries have not advanced in any discernible way, and do not contribute knowledge to the rest of the world. The vast majority of their people live much as Europeans did in medieval times.  The rulers and kings of these impoverished nations may themselves be very wealthy, but they keep their wealth for themselves at the expense of the populace, who have no chance to ever live a good life within their own countries.  These regimes are rife with corruption, oppression, sexism, and violence.  They are societies where hatred, fear, tribalism, and often religious superstition take the place of rational and enlightened thought and higher values such as inclusiveness and empathy for others.

Random violence and harsh and unforgiving laws are common in these societies, and people live in fear of their own government, who care nothing for them and treat them as vermin or at best, as inconvenient burdens.  Some people have been fortunate and able to escape from these regimes.  Many of those refugees emigratred to America for what they believed would be a better life, and for the most part, they have not been disappointed.

Tyranny outside the third world. 

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Islamic theocracies in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran are slightly better as far as quality of life than impoverished third world countries (most people have access to modern technology and generally have at least the basic necessities for survival), but are still rigidly authoritarian states that tolerate no dissent from the national religion and Sharia law. These regimes especially fear feminine power — a power which draws from the higher human values of empathy, altruism, and inclusiveness — and so women have been oppressed and denied a voice.    The rulers of such nations are always men, and they rule with an iron fist.   Toxic masculinity, where power, wealth, violence, and complete control are lauded as virtues, ensures that the “feminine” is kept silenced and where qualities associated with the feminine are dismissed or even considered evil (in medieval times, these qualities were usually associated with witchcraft).   Keeping women in line and obedient safeguards against the risk that the power of the feminine could ever threaten the hypermasculine regime’s control.

The Enlightenment.

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While these harsh conditions used to exist in the West during medieval times, since the Renaissance and Enlightenment they have gradually been discarded.   Since then, the West has come to embrace rational thought and democratic, humane values over superstition and religious intolerance — and has changed their beliefs and laws in keeping with that.   The recognition that science (over religious dogma) is about truth and secular and higher education is valid and desirable, coupled with the idea that different kinds of people can and should learn from each other — and that difference is not something to be feared but something to be celebrated — paved the way for western countries to establish new policies that greatly enhanced the quality of life for all their citizens.  Policies that recognize that each human being is intrinsically valuable and worthy (instead of valued only for what they own or the power they wield) and should therefore be nurtured and encouraged to develop their full potential instead of punished and controlled for attempting to assert that potential has led to greater happiness, prosperity, and longevity for almost all people who live in those societies.  This recognition by the west that the “feminine” is as important (or more important) to the advancement of humanity as the “masculine” is the foundation for democracy, the most spiritually advanced and humane form of government that currently exists.

“Manifest destiny” and the roots of American tyranny.

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America was, unfortunately, founded at least partly through the invasion and oppression of the native people who lived peacefully and sustainably on this continent for thousands of years.  This unpleasant reality has always hindered us as far as advancing in democratic values as easily as other western countries have been able to do. There has always been that undercurrent of violence and intolerance of the “other” that has darkened our path to true progress — even though our Founding Fathers did everything they could when writing up the Constitution to protect against tyranny, whether religious tyranny or some other form of it.

Since the Enlightenment, this reality has been concealed, even to ourselves.  We have convinced ourselves America is the most advanced, prosperous, and humanitarian democracy that ever existed, a concept known as “manifest destiny.”   We have long believed we are the one shining example of morality, liberty, and prosperity to the rest of the world — and that they should follow our example (even if by force at times).  But the reality is, while we lurched toward democracy with the rest of the west,  we were never a true democracy.   We have always been more hubristic and narcissistic than other countries, believing ourselves to be morally and in every other way better than anyone else, but it’s proven to be a slippery slope that has led to the serious problems we are facing right now.    In fact, our narcissism and belief in “manifest destiny” is causing us to slide back into a more medieval, almost feudal, type of society.   We are being sucked into a moral vacuum that was formed by our fear of the “other” and the feminine strengths that, for at least a while, forced us to face those fears and attempt to toss them on the ash heap of history.   The Roman Empire fell for the same reasons we are now.   In fact, America’s system of government was based on ancient Rome, and just as the ancient Romans did, we are eating ourselves alive with our wrongheaded belief that we are the rightful Masters of the Universe and should be treated as such by the rest of the world.

True democracy cannot exist when there is a moral vacuum where feminine qualities and higher human values that recognize all humans are intrinsically valuable are dismissed, ignored, or oppressed.   Toxic masculinity and “strongman” policies are, ironically, born in a crucible of fear.  Fear leads to nationalism and tribalism, which leads to hatred, which inevitably results in violence, oppression, and even tyranny.  The undercurrent of terror and superstition that has always existed in America is poisoning our fragile democracy, which never had a chance to fully flourish and become what it could have been.  Other western countries are far ahead of us in this sense, and now we are falling even farther behind.   We can no longer even pretend to be the “shining light on the hill” to the rest of the world, and to do so would only make us even more laughable to the developed world than we already are.

For over 240 years, in spite of our issues with narcissism, we were still able to make much progress — but we never let go of our need to regard ourselves as superior and make others treat us that way.  And because of our prosperity, our enviable technology, and our comfort with great power and wealth, other countries  did in fact look up to us as the rightful leaders of the free world.   Yet most of this was their perception — that being nothing more than an acknowledgement of the glorified image we wanted to project — not the actual reality of things.    No other western country ever had any concept of themselves comparable to “manifest destiny.”   The erroneous belief that we are “best” and should be admired and emulated by the entire world has kept us from developing sufficient humility to be able to empathize and take care of each other, never mind those “foreigners.”  Humility — the opposite of hubris — is necessary for the development of the feminine and the humane in any society, and that is why other western countries have had a much easier time adapting to true “social” democracy and the concept that good governance means “we’re all in this together” and not “I’ve got mine, screw you.”   Power and wealth has become more important in America than compassion and inclusiveness, and probably always was, if truth be told.  Democracy and unbridled, unregulated power cannot coexist. Since the days of Reagan, the idea that deregulated power and unlimited wealth trumps compassion, inclusion, and humanity (demonized by the right as “socialism”) has increased exponentially.

Our experiment with democracy.

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“Spirit of America” by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978).

For a relatively short time — from sometime in the 1940s through the late 1970s — we experimented with social democracy.   Following FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, American life and prosperity improved immensely for most (though racism and sexism were still issues, no one anywhere had really recognized those things as problems yet — reform was to come later).   The middle class grew and poverty diminished greatly, though it was never completely eradicated (and probably can’t be anyway).  Still, the uniquely American concept that some people were “better” or more “deserving” than others by virtue of their wealth, social status, or what they owned were still the true measures of human worth, even though this remained hidden or denied during those decades where we experimented with real democracy.  The truth is, we were never entirely comfortable with democracy.  Reaganism came as a relief to many people who feared the kinds of changes democracy could bring about.   Reaganism also began the slow unraveling of our developing, but still fragile and easily derailed, progress toward a more fair and humane society.  Forty years later, we are confronted with the terrifying spectre a near- fascist regime whose moral bankruptcy, brutality, ruthlessness, and lack of any semblance of conscience and empathy seems to have no limits.

We all know (or should know) how Reaganism eventually morphed into Trumpism, so I won’t detail the whole story of how that happened here.  Trump is not really the problem, nor would his immediate removal stop the hemorrhaging.   Trump is merely a symptom of a very deep and pervasive problem we have always had and that has become cancerous in the past four decades.   Other western democracies don’t have this problem, at least not to the extent America does. Because humility and “feminine” values (seen by tyrants as “weakness”) are not anathema to them, and narcissism and hubris hasn’t taken over their concept of themselves, they have always been more immune than we are to backsliding into tyranny.  That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in other countries, but it is less likely and their far right factions wield less power.  Our own fear and narcissism is destroying us from within.  We are regressing.

America is no longer a first world country.

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We have arrived at a point where we are not far ahead of places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia. While these are not third world countries in the strict sense, they are second world theocracies or dictatorships where the common people have no freedom (though they may be told they do and believe they do), lies are passed as the truth, history is rewritten, the free press is replaced by state propaganda,  and fair elections are either outlawed or a sham, dissent is punished, journalists are jailed, and the “different” are ostracized or even eliminated.   Such regimes have a number of things in common: oppression of women, criminalizing perceived “immorality” (homosexuality is an almost universal example in all these regimes), general intolerance for outsiders, an emphasis placed on buildup of the military,  police states, suppression of the arts and humanities, disdain or hatred for scientific thought, silencing the free press, revisionist history, the merging of religion and state, and state propaganda (whether religious or not) that passes itself off as “education” (in Communist regimes, atheism is treated as the state “religion”).

Lies are their currency; truth is always the enemy. Compassion is seen as weak and toxic masculinity (violence, controlling others, harsh punishment) is seen as “strong.” Higher human values — gentleness, inclusiveness, empathy — are not just regarded as weak, but sometimes as outright evil.   Such regimes are prone to constant wars and violence. Poverty is a given.  The wealthy few rule.  There is no middle class and it is not possible for a person to move upward from one class to another.  The “values” that are rewarded — wealth, power, total control — are often aided and abetted by authoritarian religion whose beliefs dovetail with the regime’s hypermasculine values.  American evangelical right-wing Christianity has much in common with radical Islam and organizations like ISIS.  In theocracies, whether the state-sanctioned religion is Islam, Christianity (so far, we have managed to avoid a religious theocracy here, but it existed during the Middle Ages and in Puritan times), or something else, there is no separation between religion and state and the leaders rule over the masses with an iron fist.  Any deviation is not tolerated.   As I mentioned earlier, this was par for the course during medieval times, but this form of governance was discarded by Europe hundreds of years ago when rational thought supplanted superstition, tribalism, and fear.  America, though denying it, was never able to completely let go of it.

Looking in the mirror.     

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Trump did not cause our decline, but through his hyper-masculine “strongman” words, actions, and tweets, has emboldened those who have always secretly wished for a return to authoritarian, medieval-like conditions and have never been comfortable with democratic values because such values demand we accept those who are different or more vulnerable than we are.  It also demands we embrace so-called feminine values, and that we recognize that every human being is intrinsically valuable. To be able to recognize the value in all people requires empathy, a quality that may be lacking in many Trump supporters, or seen as a “weakness” by people — usually men — who cannot accept any feminine softness within themselves.

But the proverbial phoenix rises from the ashes.  Fortunately, those of us who believe in true democracy and embrace higher human values over base ones like wealth and power greatly outnumber those who do not.   Trump, as bad as he may be, has done one very good thing:  he has provided a mirror for us to see ourselves as we really are, and how sick a nation we have become.   Sometimes the cure for cancer is painful, sometimes more painful than the disease.  Trump has  woken us up from our complacency and our apathy — which, had they continued, would have allowed the incipient authoritarian regime to take full control.   Though unwittingly, he gave us a window of opportunity to recognize the truth and finally take action against the horror that faced us.   Had Clinton or someone else been elected, we might have missed the opportunity.   There would have been no Resistance movement, we would have continued to sit home during elections,  and the thoroughly corrupted new Republican party would have continued to consolidate power and increase their stranglehold on our democracy without us ever realizing it until it was too late.    The cancer America is battling would have metastasized to the point that our destruction was inevitable.   Yes, Trump is extremely dangerous and yes, we could still self destruct just like the Roman Empire did, but I think with things having happened as they did, such an outcome is actually less likely, even as close as we are to destruction now.

The future. 

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We have a long and difficult journey ahead, if we are ever to liberate our country from the jaws of fascism and return to the democratic, humanitarian values that leaders during the WWII and postwar years recognized were necessary for us to thrive and become a real inspiration to the rest of the world, instead of a flashy sham of one.

There may be war. It’s inevitable people will die.  No revolution ever occurred without bloodshed and great sacrifice. We can’t be cowards and just wait for things to change, because they won’t on their own.   Inaction is death.   America’s soul is in the balance: do we want democracy or tyranny? The choice is ours.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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 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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Insanity is our new normal: the rise of the Christian Taliban.

handmaidstale

Scene from Hulu’s version of The Handmaid’s Tale

 

Something I’ve been saying a lot lately is that there is no such thing as a conspiracy theory anymore.   That’s because America has gone insane and all the crazy tin-foil hat theories we might have scoffed at ten or twenty or even just five years ago are actually happening right now.

One of them is the rise of the “Christian Taliban” a/k/a Christian Reconstructionism and Christian Dominionism.

The following excellent and well-researched article defines in great detail what this dangerous and ungodly cult believes and what it plans to do here in America — and it’s succeeding.  It’s a long article but definitely worth reading to the end.

Dominionism Rising:  A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight

The takeover of the Republican party by Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists is very scary and very real.  They believe that certain Christians (the “elect”) are ordained by God to take “dominion” over America; this belief is based on the Genesis story where God told Adam and Eve to “take dominion” over the earth and “subdue it.”  To them, “subduing the earth” means exploiting it unsustainably (because God will clean up the mess).  They think that those who believe that subduing the earth means sustainable stewardship are showing a lack of faith in God’s ability to replenish what humans take from it (their attitude is analogous to the arrogance of teenagers who trash the house after a party and expect their parents to clean it up as opposed to responsibly cleaning up their own mess).

Their goal is complete control and a replacement of our Constitution with Old Testament Biblical law, complete with harsh capital punishments for countless offenses and sins. Women would return to being chattel and having no rights. Gay people and non-believers and many others who don’t conform to the forced regime could be stoned to death (as they did in the Old Testament) or otherwise eliminated.   The teaching of science (especially evolution) would be banned and public education would be eliminated.   Birth control would most likely be outlawed and abortion could carry a death penalty.   Higher education would be discouraged, especially for women.  Critical thinking of any kind would not be allowed.  In a fascist, totalitarian theocracy, you can control your subjects much better if they are unable to think for themselves.     

This is no exaggeration. There are a number of Dominionists/Reconstructionists high up in the Republican party right now.   Ted Cruz is one of the most famous.   So is Mike Pence.   And that’s just for starters.    Their brand of Christianity is the American version of Sharia Law. The sort of oppressive, authoritarian society described in the 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale could actually become reality here.  

sharialaw

These people have great wealth and influence and know how to infiltrate politics at every level and get politicians to do their bidding.   It’s very possible they could succeed.   They believe that Trump, though not particularly religious himself (most of these Dominionist types are well aware of his sinful lifestyle and lack of repentance) has nevertheless been appointed by God as a sort of “wrecking ball” with the intention of destroying our democratic institutions and democracy itself as we know it, to make way for the totalitarian theocracy they believe God wants installed in America before he will allow Jesus to return.  These people compare Trump’s rise to power to King Cyrus of Persia in the Old Testament.   These Puritan-like Calvinists believe that it is their moral duty to take from the poor, disabled and other vulnerable people and give to the already wealthy because they are God’s chosen people (according to their Calvinist beliefs, their wealth and power means that God favors them).   They also believe that slavery is “benevolent” — the leader of the Dominionist movement, R. J. Rushdoony, actually said that “some people are born to be slaves.”

This ugly and hateful theology is NOT real Christianity and is in fact alien to anything taught by Christ and is the polar opposite of His message of love and compassion for the “least among us” in the Sermon on the Mount.   Their dreamed of theocracy is all about control and power by a wealthy few and the subjugation, suffering, oppression, and death of the masses.   In their Orwellian way of twisting the meaning of words to their own benefit, “religious freedom” to them means not the freedom to worship as you choose, but the freedom to oppress and punish others who worship differently than you do.  

These sick, blackhearted people are religious terrorists who will destroy this country and our freedom if they are not stopped in their tracks. They are a much more real danger to us than ISIS or Muslim jihadists, who are unlikely to be any real immediate threat to us.  Yet these same homegrown terrorists are the ones instilling hatred and fear against Muslim terrorists, who operate the very same way in the name of Islam (and of course most Muslims are not like that, just as most Christians are actually good and decent people).  

Wake up, people! This could happen here. We can’t be complacent and assume it won’t just because it sounds insane. It is insane, but insanity is the new normal.  We can’t ever accept it as normal. 

10 reasons why the ‘war on Christmas’ is bogus.

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Why am I bringing this up in July?

Because HE did.

This infuriating article appeared in today’s Huffington Post:

Trump Launches the War on Christmas in July

Trump has railed on about the non-existent “war on Christmas” for the past several years, riling up his base of zealous far right religious supporters.   You may remember the drama over the Starbucks coffee cups two years ago.  Plastic throwaway takeout cups failing to have Christmas decorations printed on them  (Heaven help us!  They’re SOLID COLORED!) is apparently a more pressing issue than the Russia investigation, developing problems with North Korea, making sure every American has affordable healthcare, and keeping the planet from turning into Venus 2.0.

But Trump’s issue with people allegedly waging a war on Christmas is totally bogus and here are ten reasons why.

1.  Trump is not a Christian, so a war on Christmas should be of no concern to him.

I’m not here to judge the state of another person’s soul, but it’s pretty clear to me and to many others that if Trump was truly a Christian, it would show in his actions and general behavior toward others.    He is still a lying, gaslighting, cowardly, projecting, wrathful, spiteful, egotistic, name-calling, bullying, blame-shifting malignant narcissist who has surrounded himself with a cabinet of greedy sociopaths, and that’s about as far away from Jesus as you can get.   He shows no empathy and seems to think he’s above the law.  He denies reality.   If Trump was really a Christian, he would be repenting over his past actions both in business and in his personal life.  He has shown no remorse and in fact bragged that he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness.   He doesn’t seem at all sorry about anything he’s ever done and I have never heard him take any responsibility for anything, ever.  I have never heard him say he’s sorry or admit when he’s been wrong.

It makes no difference whether or not Trump attends church or SAYS he’s a Christian or allows a group of evangelicals to pray over him.    Anyone could do those things; it’s all window dressing intended to impress his religious base and please his wealthy Christian financial backers.   “By their fruits you shall know them,”  said Jesus in Matthew 7: 15-20, and so far, Trump has produced nothing but bad fruit.  A Christian doesn’t brag about grabbing women by the pussy or make sexual references about his own daughter, not to mention the many things he is doing to endanger people’s lives and happiness, and the health of the planet itself.   So no, from everything I can tell, Trump is not a Christian and I feel perfectly justified in saying so.   It doesn’t matter that I can’t see the state of his soul, but I can see and hear from his deeds and words that there is no Christ in his heart.  So I don’t want to hear Trump whine about a fictional war on Christmas, since from everything I can see, he’s a Christian in name only, if even that.

2. Christmas is based on a pagan feast.  Early Christians did not celebrate Christmas.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say we must celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  According to Google.com,

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

History.com explains why December 25th was selected:

Was Jesus really born on December 25 in the first place? Probably not. The Bible doesn’t mention his exact birthday, and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues. For instance, the presence of shepherds and their sheep suggest a spring birth. When church officials settled on December 25 at the end of the third century, they likely wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). That way, it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion

The celebration of Christmas spread throughout the Western world over the next several centuries, but many Christians continued to view Epiphany and Easter as more important. Some, including the Puritans of colonial New England, even banned its observance because they viewed its traditions—the offering of gifts and decorating trees, for example—as linked to paganism. In the early days of the United States, celebrating Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.

3. Trump isn’t whining about the secular commercialism of Christmas.

Christmas in America has become much more about gift giving (and big business raking in lots of money every year) than it is about the birth of Jesus.   What do snowflakes on coffee cups, Christmas wreaths, coniferous trees, prettily wrapped gifts, Black Friday, and sparkly cards that say “Merry Christmas” have to do with actual Christianity?  Nothing, that’s what.  In fact, these traditions are engaged in by many Jews, atheists, and people of religions other than Christianity.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with  these things and they can be a lot of fun, but let’s not pretend these things are remotely religious because they aren’t.    Christmas, especially in America, is much more about celebrating capitalism (and the togetherness of family and friends) than it is to any Biblical event.     And, while the gift giving, decorations, and activities can be a lot of fun, they can also cause a lot of stress, especially for people who lack the money to buy gifts or don’t have close relationships with family or friends.   There’s a reason why so many people become so depressed during the holiday season.   But I don’t see Trump complaining about how commercialized Christmas has become; I only see him whining about people and groups who refuse to embrace its commercialism.

4. People have been saying “Happy Holidays” for DECADES.  Why is it suddenly an issue?

Trump acts like people saying “Happy Holidays” is a new development, but it’s actually very old.    I remember during the 1960s and 70s,  my parents always sent out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because so many of the people they knew were Jewish.  No one took offense.   It wasn’t an issue for anyone, Christian or not.    I even remember some of the old Christmas songs said “Happy Holidays.”   Again, never an issue.    I’m sure the trend is a lot older even than I am.   Here’s a very old Christmas card, I’m not sure what year, but it looks to date from the early 20th century or even the late 19th:

Old-Christmas-Cards-christmas-119454_395_500

5. It’s even harder to enjoy Christmas now that it’s become political. 

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the financial and emotional stresses of the Christmas season, but now we have to worry that we might offend someone by using the wrong holiday Christmas seasonal? greeting.   Maybe it’s just better to say nothing at all and not give out cards either because they also might offend somebody.    It sucks we can’t even enjoy the holidays anymore without it being a potential politically divisive issue.  Again, it was never like this before.  It’s been MADE a political issue.   #6 may be the reason why.

6. Trump is actually waging a war on non-Christians.

Okay, I can’t prove it, but it seems to me that Trump’s phony ‘war on Christmas’ is intended to anger his far right Christian base, who are not likely to think too critically and just take it on faith that whatever Trump says is the truth.  So if he says there’s a war on Christmas, then by God, there’s a war on Christmas and on Christianity itself.   This is intentional, as Trump and his fundamentalist/dominionist Christian backers and cabinet members have every intention of turning America into a theocracy, instead of a nation that has always prided itself on religious freedom and diversity.    To some of these extreme right-wing Christians, “religious freedom” means the freedom to force their beliefs on others, not the freedom to worship (or not worship) the way you choose.

According to today’s HuffPo,  at the “Celebrate Freedom” event at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night, Trump said,

“I remind you that we’re going to start staying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

Is he actually attempting to legislate the words we use?   It sure seems like it from his choice of words.   The intent here is to bring us farther away from democracy than we already are and closer to theocratic rule.    A free country does not tell people what they can and cannot say, at Christmas or at any other time or for any other reason.

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7. Would Jesus actually care if people said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

I highly doubt it.  I doubt Jesus was narcissistic enough to insist we use his name when celebrating his non-birthday.  As mentioned before, nowhere in the Bible are we told we must celebrate Christmas or use a particular greeting.  In fact, I bet Jesus would be ashamed of us for attaching his name to a holiday that has become mostly secular and fun at best, and a crass celebration of greed and materialism at worst.    Again, Christmas wasn’t celebrated by anyone until the 300’s when a Pope decided it was a holy day.

8.  The “war on Christmas” is most likely a distraction from the real issues. 

Trump seems to like to stir up drama whenever the heat is on and he’s being criticized for much more serious issues.   This is classic Cluster B behavior and Trump displays it every. single. day.   In deflecting attention from himself and pointing fingers at others (primarily the media, but individuals too), he is really trying to take the light of truth off his own shady, amoral, and possibly illegal activities.

9.  It’s things like this that make people despise Christians.

When Christians (or any other group) whine incessantly about how persecuted they are (when they really aren’t) and fixate on minor issues (like the fictional war on Christmas) they believe prove they are being persecuted, it makes people hate them, and for good reason.   As a Christian myself, I’m embarrassed to be associated with phony “Christians” like Trump who try to restrict our freedoms and obsess over trivia in their efforts to alienate people with different beliefs and divide a nation.

10. He’s yapping about this in JULY.

Yes, fellow Americans, Trump is whining about his bogus war on Christmas the day before we celebrate America’s independence.   Does that historical event mean nothing to him?   It’s an insult to all those who have fought and died for our country.   But what else can we expect from a man who does nothing but insult others?