For Religion and the Rich
August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Not too many years ago I lived and worked in a small town in Pennsylvania called Pennsburg. One day a gray-haired couple entered our office and asked me about a man named Frank Buchman. I had no idea who they were talking about prompting them to explain that they were on a “pilgrimage” from Georgia to visit the home of the man they so much admired.
I turned to Wilma, who’d lived there her whole life, for help.
At this point the couple became absolutely giddy in their praises of Buchman. (Wilma explained to me that there was a historical sign on Main Street stating that Pennsburg was his birthplace.) They referred to his “Moral Re-Armament Movement” and how this man had even taken his message to Germany . . . in 1941. This puzzled me because in 1941, Europe was heavily involved in WW II and information about massacres in Poland were already leaking out. So I asked what I thought was a simple question, “Was he a Nazi sympathizer?”
My question threw them back as though I had struck them and I could see by their reaction that they fully understood the implications of my question. They stood up straight and said that they didn’t know. At which time Wilma hurriedly sent them on their way to a library run by a local church.
My curiosity piqued so I did some research. Apparently Frank Buchman was a Lutheran minister whose main goal was to keep the caste system. Specifically that in which wealthy, white, Christian men would control every aspect of society including the government.
He was an ardent supporter of the Nazis and apparently met with Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfurher of the SS, while in Germany. In Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, he says that Himmler, it seems, found the Moral Re-Armament Movement as too close of a competitor to national socialism.
I’ve thought of this a great deal and the ideologies are very close but the Nazis had the cult of personality in the form of Adolph Hitler, whereas the Moral Re-Armament Movement had the cult of personality in the form of Jesus. Not the Jesus most of us know as the benevolent, loving Savior but Jesus as a warlord intent on destroying all those who aren’t “saved” which of course is everyone who didn’t believe the way Buchmanites believed.
We see this today in the born-again Rapture movement. What I don’t think people understand is that while this movement wraps itself in the American flag and brandishes the Bible as a sword, this is fundamentally an anti-democracy movement.
To understand this movement you have to look at the old South. It was a caste system with slavery as the bottom support, a large lower class, a small middle class and an even smaller upper class who, of course, ran everything. All the money and all the power resided with the top class.
Nazi Germany was very much the same way. It had a slave class, a large lower class, a small middle class and an even smaller upper class. The SS was made up of the upper class. A caste system, where all the money was pushed to the top class.
The influence of this movement and others like it can be found with Rousas John Rushdoony who is credited as the father of Christian Reconstructionism which has had profound influence in the Republican Party. For those of us who recall the Impeachment of President Clinton you may recall the name of John Whitehead. As a follower of Rushdoony, John Whitehead founded the Rutherford Institute and was the driving legal force against President Clinton, Whitehead’s client was Paula Jones. Whitehead later acted as an advisor to President George W. Bush.
Rushdoony was a post-millenialist, that is, he believed that Jesus expects conservative Christians to usher in the the Kingdom of God before he gets here. They believe they can force Jesus into coming back and are prepared to do it by force if necessary.
I should mention at this time that Christian Reconstructionism represents a total breakdown of our democratic society and that slavery is not only an accepted way to control the lesser of us but a necessity. Slavery, which is a form of “free” labor is in direct competition with the lower class and so keeps the cost of “paid” labor down.
The problem is that when the Republicans under Richard Nixon decided to undertake their Southern Strategy they pulled this kind of theology into their party. The question in my mind is who perverted who? Did the political system infect the religious system or did the religious system infect the political system? I am sure that the big wig Republicans thought they could control these Christians warriors, they still think they can, but when you add God to a political movement there’s gonna be trouble. And that’s where we are right now, in trouble.
This kind of theo-political ideology runs rampant with the Republican candidates. Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum being the craziest; but absolute in their beliefs, that’s what makes them compelling. They stand up powerfully for their beliefs. New Republican members of Congress, sharing in this theo-political belief, have no contact with Congressional Democrats. They stay together and shield themselves from any and all ideas that don’t conform to their own. They are all Bachmanns and Perrys and Santorums. They are all absolutists.
What we have seen in recent years is the fulfillment of these ultra-conservative ideas. We have witnessed the contempt of the middle class, the hatred of the poor, the renewal of racism, sexism, religious bigotry. All of these things are a part of this ideology that has been implemented by many Republican Governors and Legislatures.
Attacks on abortion and family planning rights. Attacks on labor unions. Attacks on voting rights. Attacks on regulations that protect workers, the air we breathe, the water we drink, public school, teachers, and on and on and on.
Wall Street wants total deregulation. Conservative Christians believe in deregulation too, the rich are rich because God has blessed them and therefore we should bend to their wishes. So what if our water and land and air are polluted? We are in the end times and this will force Jesus to come back and he’ll clean it all up in an instant . . . after he gets rid of all the sinners, that is . . . .
As of today Gov. Perry has jumped ahead in the Republican polls. A Republican Gov. from Texas as president? Haven’t we already done that? With terrible results no less and they say Perry is like Bush on steroids. WORRY PEOPLE! WORRY!
Out of many, one,