On the last day of 2018, there was a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times by Katherine Stewart that sparked an interesting discussion on social media about the religious right. In it, Stewart explains that the religious right does not, in fact, give a crap about democracy or the rule of law:
Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.
The great thing about kings like Cyrus, as far as today’s Christian nationalists are concerned, is that they don’t have to follow rules. They are the law. This makes them ideal leaders in paranoid times.
Once you understand this about the religious right, you'll understand why the following is the opinion of million of "Christians":
They don't care about what laws Trump breaks because he is the ultimate expression of their lawless ideology. Well, not "lawless" per se. They do believe that the king should make the laws that everyone should obey but, naturally, the king, his court and the wealthy would be above such petty concerns. If this sounds like a nightmare where millions would be enslaved to a corrupt ruling class who would mercilessly exploit them in the name of "God," congratulations, you're finally starting to get the idea.
This is Christian Dominionism or "Christian nationalism" which is more or less the same thing. Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" is one version of it. Iran and Saudi Arabia are Islamic versions. Religion is a weapon used to entrench power for a select few men (it's always men) who use that power to oppress most of their people. Democracy is puppet show if it exists at all and violence is doled out in generous amounts to keep the populace in line. After all, dissent against the ruler is dissent against God, isn't it? And that's always punishable by death in holy books. Isn't that convenient?
The frustrating thing about this op-ed is that it treats this, ahem, revelation about the total abandonment of democratic principles by the religious right as if it hasn't been in plain site for longer than I've been alive:
This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.
"The Christian nationalist movement today?" No offense to Ms. Stewart but that's bullshit. I wrote articles about this back in 2012 and both Chris Hedges and Michelle Goldberg wrote deeply detailed books about it several years prior. Still, we were all late to the party by decades. The Christian nationalist movement has been building towards a theocracy for the better part of a century. This is who the religious right has been all along. The only difference is that in Trump, they've found their modern day Jesus and so they've dropped any and all pretense. You know that scene in every old scifi slick where the "benevolent" aliens tear off their friendly mask and underneath it is the monster you knew was lurking there the entire time? That's were we are now.
Of course, the left has been that person in the movie screaming, "Don't trust them! They're evil!" and the press has been the assholes ignoring us because what the fuck do stupid liberals know?
Except we've known for years what the right has been doing because they've been telling us what they've been doing. The Christian Dominionist movement isn't exactly a secret and the religious right has made it extremely clear that they want to run America according to what amounts to Christian Sharia. Barry Goldwater literally warned us twenty five ago and he was considered a Republican extremist in his day:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.
But, as always, there is no extreme the right can go to that the media can't wave away. They just spent two years trying to normalize white nationalism after ignoring decades of rampant racism. Now that they're finally tumbling to the fact that the religious right has zero interest in little things like democracy and the rule of law, will they acknowledge that Evangelical voters are a cancer on the body politic? Or will the press, more likely, shift the conversation again to accommodate their push for fascism?
The last 40 years of media history suggests that we'll soon be hearing how "both sides" are to blame for witches being burned at the stake and promiscuous "whores" being stoned to death in the town square. Heaven forbid the press ever hold the right accountable for its violence and depravity.