Utopianism and the Religious Right: Working Toward A Christian Nation

Is Christianity a Utopian religion? Yes. There are, in fact, two ancient traditions which make Christianity a Utopian religion. The first is the apocalyptic one where people believe that the Christians will gain salvation, and live in a “Utopia” eternally. The second is the gnostic one, in which people believe that everyone can come to know (“gnosis”) God through their personal discovery of revelation without the help of clergy.
There has, however, been a difference in interpreting Christian teaching over whether this Paradise was supposed to be terrestrial or spiritual, i.e., in the “afterlife”. The modern Christian “Religious Right” is focused on establishing both interpretations of Christianity’s Utopia by: engaging in the culture wars with vast grassroots movements and powerful governmental connections in the United States; and vigorously trying to gain converts all over the world. The Christian Evangelical movement, according to Susan Jacoby, received two jolts of energy in the 1960s: the Civil Rights campaigns, and the formation of the Counterculture. The Christian Evangelical movement of that tumultuous era empowered and emboldened the Christian Right, which was busy advocating anti-communism (now against anything left of center), traditional moral values, racial segregation, and global military domination. It is important to remember, however, that the Evangelical movement covers the full breadth of the political spectrum, and has always been an important influence in American history.

The right-wing fundamentalists of the Christian Evangelical movement finally reached the height of their power with President Ronald Reagan, and the U.S. has been increasingly dealing with the adverse effects of their utopian ambitions since then, most notably during the Presidency of George W. Bush.
The Christian Right now exerts much influence on the federal government, including the Presidency, Cabinet positions, and Congress. With George W. Bush’s presidency, it stands a fair chance of gaining a majority in the Supreme Court, as well. Once that happens, the door will be open to theocracy because the Justices would rule based on their belief that conservative Christianity should play a larger role in public life. The current Supreme Court is divided between five moderate Justices, on one side, and four radically conservative Christian Justices on the other. This division is clearly seen in the plentiful 5-4 decisions the Court has made since the appointments of Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts, who are the newest Justices on the Supreme Court, and were appointed by George W. Bush. The Supreme Court is arguably not divided between left and right, but between mainstream culture and conservative Christianity.
With its entrenchment in government, deep involvement in electoral mobilization, and framing of public policy debate, the Christian Right has become the most vocal and mobilized faction of American conservatism, particularly in the Republican Party, which is currently struggling to appeal to both moderates and fundamentalist Christians in a conflict that threatens that Party’s survival. The Christian Right contains extremists who are quietly working to dismantle the Republic to replace it with an extremely conservative Christian theocracy. These extremists aim to impose their values on mainstream culture to shut down the modern open society that they despise. Their goal is to turn the United States into a utopian “Christian Nation.”
That this is happening should be no surprise if one thoroughly studies the history of Christianity. A common logical consequence of Christian teaching is the combination of politics and religion, often with dire consequences, such as the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, and the European tradition of the divine right of kings to justify absolute monarchy. Inspired by the teachings in the Bible, Christian utopias have been attempted several times (e.g., John Calvin in Switzerland, and the Jesuits in Paraguay), and have been encouraged by many apologists. The people trying to establish their Christian utopias, given their beliefs, were not acting out of insanity – they were merely fulfilling the logical consequences of their convictions about the nature of reality.
Christian utopias have been attempted in what would become the United States since the seventeenth century, when the Puritans set sail across the Atlantic from Britain to establish their own Christian utopia away from the persecution they faced in Britain. The earliest settlements in the thirteen British colonies were founded as Christian communities because many other Christian groups followed the Puritans in order to escape religious persecution. Eventually, several Christian utopian projects were started along the Atlantic seaboard, in what these pilgrims called the “Promised Land.” Each utopian Christian community sought religious freedom only for itself, not for any other community. These utopian settlements did not tolerate outsiders or freethinkers, and were just as repressive as the regimes they left in Europe. Anyone who disagreed with the established metaphysics of these communities was expelled. This is one of the reasons for the period of witch trials that the Thirteen Colonies experienced for many decades.
Around the time of the Revolutionary War in the late eighteenth century, the Christian Right had been trying to exert its influence on United States politics. For example, during the ratification process of the Constitution by state legislatures, many in the Christian Right argued that the U.S. would immediately crumble if there was no reference to God as the ultimate source of government authority.
Today, as in past centuries, some radical Christians are intensely trying to impose their denominational hegemony on the world so that Christianity may dominate for centuries before the “Rapture” comes to take them up to Heaven. They also believe that some very horrible things, predicted in the Book of Revelations, must happen on Earth before the Second Coming of Jesus. Many think that humanity is already in the End Times. This yearning for the literal return of Jesus is so great that it has inspired a movement to bring about “The Rapture” by any means. This logically necessitates the domination and hatred of the open society and secular governance.
In fact, Christian Dominionists and other fanatical groups are quietly working towards their domination of culture, and are not as marginalized as some would hope. As author Sam Harris said in one of his speeches, “They can get Karl Rove on the phone.” They have advised President Reagan, and regularly meet with President George W. Bush. They exert disproportionate and excessive influence on political discourse on both domestic and foreign policy. Some of the issues Christian fanatics are fixated on include: separation of church and state, abortion, drug policy, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, politicians’ romantic lives, gun control, tax policy, Falwell’s Moral Majority, “compassionate conservatism”, abstinence-only sex education programs, Creationism in schools, President Reagan’s foreign policy, the Project for the New American Century, and the alliance with Israeli lobbyists. Other Christian fundamentalists have founded or have influential positions in right-wing think tanks, and have allied themselves with incumbent neo-conservative policy-makers and Washington power brokers.
The Christian Right has attained so much influence that it has turned the Republican Party into America’s first party of religion. No where is this more obvious than in the multi-million dollar mega-churches where televangelists preach conservative talking points (even unconstitutionally supporting candidates). They have also set up ministries for thousands of children to become the future culture warriors (demonstrated by the documentary Jesus Camp) and God’s missionary-soldiers in the armed forces.
Education is another area where the Christian Right has large influence. It has developed a system of schooling at every level, from preschools to universities, to insulate children from ever being exposed to secular education, sound science, or secular sex education. Aside from that, the Christian Right has several organized groups to influence public schools at the local level of education boards. (No where is this more visible than in the battles over teaching sex-education classes and evolution in Biology classes.) Additionally, there are several thousand home-schooled children, who are taught the Bible as if it was science, and taught science as if it was just another ideology.
The Christian Right is also invading college campuses, mainstream culture, and even the military establishment, much like it has tried to do in the past. For example, the Campus Crusade for Christ groups, “ex-gay” movement, and the Christian rock phenomenon. Many Christian fanatics have actually have set up international organizations aimed at supporting anything resembling a war between Dominionist Christian ideologues and anyone else, thereby setting up a “clash of civilizations” (S.P. Huntington’s term). This international agenda of Christian dominance being spread using American power projection is why some of these fanatics are so closely allied with conservative hardliners in the Israel Lobby. When the Israel Lobby controls U.S. foreign policy, “Israel’s enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying.” They also want further destabilization in the Middle East, and promoting that by adamantly supporting the label of the “Global War on Terror” as cover for their bellicose stances on dealing with Muslim countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan.
These are just some of the ways the Christian Right is working to dismantle and hijack the originally secular Republic, and turn it into a conservative Christian theocracy – their most dangerous utopian dream. The United States has always had to deal with fundamentalist retrograde religion in the form of the Christian Right, but in the twenty-first century this section of American life has the potential to unleash unprecedented power on the course of world history.


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~ by jsacc001 on October 1, 2008.

2 Responses to “Utopianism and the Religious Right: Working Toward A Christian Nation”

  1. Very informative.
    I hope you don’t mind if I “steal” some parts of this article and use them when I find myself locking horns with some of my devout Christian friends.

    • By all means, use them! I encourage it. It’s why I write 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog and for your comments.

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