More than thirty years ago, Professor Seymour Martin Lipset of Stanford (now of George Mason) argued persuasively that middle class rage is the fuel which feeds the flames of fascism. If this is so then America may be more in danger of a fascist nightmare than most people care to admit.
The great American middle class is angry - and not necessarily without reason. Increasingly it sees its wealth and societal ethic under attack from both a globalist and multicultural Meritocracy (elite) above it, and an amoral and destructive Underclass below it. It feels itself under siege - and it's frightened as a result! The strain of all this is slowly producing an Angst, which in turn is leading to a surge of Christian fundamentalism1 with frightening fascist (or Nazi) undercurrents2 - and one cannot quite escape the thought that behind this surge lie motivations having very little to do with an authentic desire to "find" God. Indeed, it's not without reason that Billy Graham3 has warned, "It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious ... (right) and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it."4 Should this trend continue unchecked, it bodes ill first of all for all right-thinking Christians who value the unsullied preservation of their religion from the taint of fascism; and secondly, it threatens those who - for whatever reason - fall outside a Christian (political) "World View" (i.e., Weltanschauung).
It is self-evident that - as human beings - we must all live together with one another. Indeed, the term "civilization" is derived from the same Latin root as the word "city" and implies the orderly association of men and women in relatively tight-knit social organizations. But order requires authority, and authority requires legitimacy.
All authority must be legitimized. Ultimately, naked force is not enough, as the recent collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe clearly demonstrates. Personal charisma (absent an appeal to the divine) has also never been very successful in the establishment of any enduring social order.
No one acting simply in his capacity as a human being can assert to any great degree and over any great length of time his superiority and right to rule based simply on brute force and/or personal charisma.
Until the relatively recent advent of broad based democratic institutions and their concomitant appeal to "the people" as a basis of legitimacy, religion formed the foundation for most social and state authority - this was as true for the nations of Western Civilization as it was for the civilizations of Asia, Africa, the Near East and Central and South America. As a result, the state has historically been bound up with religion either explicitly or implicitly.
Indeed, religion has historically been considered the sustenance and source of the state itself. For example, before the First World War Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Czarist Russia were ruled by imperial dynasties - the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, and the Romanovs - which sanctioned their rule by a resort to "divine right;" and as late as the Second World War the emperor of Japan was regarded by most ordinary citizens of that country as a descendant of the sun god. Historically, religion has been impressed into all of society's experiences and actions - from simple family chores to the corporate activities of the state.
The fact is, in many societies religion has been a state obligation and responsibility. It has manifested the very essence of the state itself - so much so that there has rarely been any question, at least at the popular level, concerning the vital link between the practice of religion and the health of the state.
Religion has given sanction to obedience on the part of ordinary people. It has legitimized the exercise of power on the part of rulers. To most societies it has seemed self-evident that all authority emanated from the divine because from no where else could the certitude so necessary to social order be derived. The result of religion has been to put men and women in right relation to their society.
It has assured the order and certainty so necessary to the stability of most social structures. The proposition that the state could be separated from a religious undergirding - embodied in the concept of "separation of church and state" - represents relatively new political thinking.
Even today it may be somewhat premature to speak of true "secular societies" when talking about the more modern societies of the Western World. The fact is, they may not be so secular after all. There exists the very real and somewhat sobering possibility that the so-called "secular states" of the Western World are much more religious than many care to admit.
Today's "secular state" may resemble nothing so much as a devout priest stripped of his clerical frock and dressed up as a modern businessman - but a priest nonetheless. It isn't necessarily the clerical garb that makes the priest, as it is his inner disposition of mind. One may strip a man of his garments and alter his outward appearance, but it is a far more difficult task to strip him of the way he thinks and to alter his inner most being.
If, on a broader scale, one compares the priestly garb to the outward trappings of a society's religion, and the inner disposition of mind to the society's culture, then one can begin to appreciate the relationship between religion and culture. While it is true that most western societies have been stripped of their religious trappings, it is a far different thing to believe this has really affected the "core dependence" of the society's culture on principles which can - in the end - only be fixed by religion or by an "appeal to the divine."
Governing elites and "politically correct" academicians in this country may have been making a very grave mistake in over estimating our society's freedom from a fundamental dependence on a religiously based ethical system, as the results of the 1994 election seem to hint at.
Society organizes itself around culture. Culture sets the parameters of the society. It determines what is "right" and what is "wrong." It provides the underlying assumptions upon which society is based. But what a culture determines to be "right" or "wrong" must be anchored by something. For example, who is to say whether abortion is "right" or "wrong?" or whether homosexuality is acceptable behavior? or whether divorce should be condoned or not? or whether the society should be organized as a patriarchy? or maybe as a matriarchy? One may assert that he "feels" homosexuality is wrong; that abortion is murder; and that men should be the head of the family. But that's not enough. Others may "feel" the exact opposite. And an appeal to philosophy to end the argument is more often than not futile. Philosophical or ethical speculation in the absence of some kind of an anchor has normally proven useless for such purposes. Indeed, all it seems to accomplish is to further erode fixity and stability, the essential ingredients of the bonds of social existence. In the absence of an acceptable anchor, philosophical and ethical speculation exists in a state of perpetual agitation. Should the agitation continue unchecked, it may lead to the ultimate contempt of all authority.
Moreover, history is full of situations where even an appeal to the "will of the majority" has not sufficed to establish cultural parameters. It didn't suffice a century ago with regard to the question of slavery - where, contrary to popular belief, a majority of people, both north and south, saw the question of slavery not worth fighting over. Neither did it suffice to quell the controversy over "prohibition." And it does not seem to suffice today over the question of abortion. In all these instances, the turmoil was (is) kept boiling by a small minority driven largely by a religious absolutism which was (is) obsessed with its own righteousness.
Religious absolutism has, over the long run, a dogged and persistent way of carrying the day, of ultimately triumphing over people and ideas which are less solidly based. Iran, Algeria and the Sudan are only the latest in a long list of societies which have succumbed or are in the process of succumbing to religious absolutism - especially in this time of cultural dislocation.
Too often, academicians have shoved religion aside, deeming it not fit for serious study. But what they have perhaps failed to recognize is the central - indeed, pivotal - role that religion plays in setting up a culture's parameters, of fixing its boundaries. In the end, one finds more often than not that it is religion upon which the cultural norms of a society are ultimately based, either explicitly as in the case of Iran, or implicitly as in the case of most of the nations of the Western World.
Indeed, culture and religion are more tightly woven together than most secular elites care to admit, and so much so that it is often difficult to discern where the one begins and the other ends - and this is perhaps why it is so easy to forget the vital role religion plays in society, even today.
So tightly have religion and culture been bound together, that religion tends to blend into the culture to such a degree that it becomes all but invisible - until, that is, the culture which it helped establish is challenged!! - as it was in Iran.
Islamic Fundamentalism surfaced in Iran as a counterweight to the influence of what was perceived to be a foreign culture, but which was in fact the process of globalization. It was "the people's" answer to what they considered to be the increasing "westernization" of their society, especially in the upper middle classes. It wasn't so much that the Iranian people were any more religious than their peers had been some twenty years earlier, a time when the mosques of Iran were rarely full, as it was that the "people" had returned to the foundation of their culture - their religion, their mosques - in defense of that culture. It wasn't a sudden impulse to "find God" that drove the people back to their religion, as it was that their culture, which was under siege, gathered them back to her "ancient fountains" and "primeval groves" in her defense. So long as the culture was not threatened, the mosques could remain relatively empty, the religious trappings left to decay; but once the "people" perceived that their culture was in danger of collapse because of the impress of a foreign one, than the people returned to the mosque, and Islam resurfaced with a vengeance. The revolution didn't happen over night. It was a process which took some twenty years; but the force of that process became inexorable as "westernization" pressed itself ever more onto the middle and upper middle class.
There is an ominous parallel to all this today in the United States. And this parallel is all the more stark when one considers that at its roots the United States is perhaps the most "religious" country in the Western World. Moreover, what is true of the United States is also true - though perhaps not to such a great degree as in the U.S. - of the rest of the western nations, as the unfolding drama in France and Germany is beginning to so harshly reveal.
The fact is that very persuasive arguments can be made to show that the modern, secular state of the Western World has been made possible only because there is a broad societal agreement as to the underlying "norms" or para-meters undergirding the society's culture - agreements which, though their foundations are often obscured, rest ultimately on the bedrock of Christianity. Thus, even though many of the trappings of state religion have been stripped from most western societies, the ethic which that religion established has continued to survive, making possible common agreement on what is morally right and wrong, thereby establishing the guiding principles around which Western Civilization continues to be organized.
These "norms" and values are now being challenged by a multiculturalism which has emerged largely as the result of the accelerating process of economic globalization and the growth of multi-national corporations. While it is true that multiculturalism, in reality, does not represent so much the impress of a foreign culture as it does an effort to neutralize the "distinguishing" and "exclusionary" features of individual cultures - thereby extending their parameters and boundaries - in the end this process inevitably has the effect of emasculating them. This is precisely what was happening in Iran prior to 1978. It wasn't so much that anyone was trying to impose Christianity or "western civilization" - or any other foreign religion or culture as such on Iran - as it was that the phenomenon of globalization was having the effect of diluting Iran's native culture. Add to this whole process the tendency of each culture's champions to blame multiculturalism for ills that it is not necessarily to blame for, such as the rise of alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, etc., and one has the ingredients for an explosive and even revolutionary situation.
In recent years, the erosion of what some refer to as "traditional values" in the United States, coupled with the accompanying rise of crime, violence, sexual permissiveness, etc., has accelerated, just as it did in Iran two decades ago. Moreover, the challenge that this phenomenon has posed to America's older cultural norms has now extended beyond peripheral issues to matters which never before have been the subject of cultural dispute. Divorce - and the parallel issues of single parent families which forty years ago was still relatively rare - is now common place. Homosexuality, which wasn't even a fit subject for "polite conversation," is now out in the open, and possesses political power. Christmas and Easter pageants have been all but proscribed, at least insofar as their religious connotations are concerned. Prayer in the classrooms of the nation, which for over 200 years was the norm, is now forbidden. Male authority has been emasculated. The examples are almost too numerous to mention in any detail. The parallel between what is happening here and what happened twenty years ago in Iran is all too obvious. To that extent, the growth of Christian fundamentalism in the United States, like the growth of Muslim fundamentalism in the Islamic World, is more of a cultural phenomenon than it is a religious phenomenon. Just as multiculturalism, which accompanied the economic integration of Iran into the world's economy twenty years ago, was viewed by Iranians as an attack on their culture, so multiculturalism, which is accompanying America's increasing integration into the world economy, is viewed by many in this country as an attack on the nation's traditional European, Christian-based culture. Moreover, the same connection between the rise of multiculturalism and the increase of sexual permissiveness, which the mullahs of Iran made two decades ago is now being made by conservative Christian leaders in this country.
Americans - in all their sometimes pseudo-sophistication - may recoil at the parallel of all this to what happened in Iran. However, the return of large numbers of Americans to a conservative brand of Christianity may, in the end, be traced not so much to a sudden desire to "find God" as to a primeval impulse to defend their traditional culture. And just as the secular elites in Iran failed to grasp the real meaning behind the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism until it was too late, so also the secular elites in the United States are in grave danger of failing to grasp the real meaning behind the rise of Christian Fundamentalism.
The problem, of course, to the "outsiders," those who for one reason or another are unable to make the "long trek" back to the "sacred fountains and ancient groves" of the "old religion," who subscribe to another "world view" - Weltanschauung - not sanctioned by the "aboriginal faith," is enormous; at best, the result to the "outsider" means social and even economic exclusion; at worst, "ghettoization," expulsion, and even extermination - and all this in the name of God.5
Even when one excludes the worst results to "outsiders" of a resurgent state religion, it is very hard, perhaps impossible, for "insiders" to imagine with any degree of appreciation the difficulty that a religious "worldview" imposes - of necessity - on "outsiders." If religion could be confined merely to places of worship, the separation of the "outsider" from the rest of society would be much less severe. But the often innumerable rites of a resurgent state religion are usually so closely and inescapably woven into the fabric of business and pleasure, public and private life, that it is nearly impossible to escape the observances of the state religion without at the same time renouncing most contact with the public in general as well as all the offices and amusements of society. This is exactly what is happening in countries like Iran, Algeria and the Sudan today; and this is what a resurgent Christian Fundamentalism would eventually mean in this country.
In states which undergird their culture by a naked resort to religion, one usually finds the reappearance in the public sector of all the traditional trappings of state religion. This inevitably occurs in the aftermath of a successful defense of a traditional culture against the onslaught of a foreign one, or against the encroachments of multiculturalism. The important transactions of peace and war are now prepared and concluded by religious services in which every civil and military officer is expected to participate. Most of the holidays are rededicated to this or that saint, martyr, or religious event. In extreme cases, even the arts and trades may be given their own patron saints or such to which all members of that particular vocation are required to pay a modicum of devotion. The ornamentation of homes, furniture and even dress - as for example, the mandatory reappearance of the chador in some Islamic states - now become "tainted" with religion. Films, the theater, painting, literature and even poetry flow from the same source. Indeed, so artfully does religion reweave itself into the outer fabric (as opposed to the inner one) of society that its avoidance by "outsiders" becomes all but impossible - and often means the absence of the "outsiders" from all of society's festivals, holidays and even civil ceremonies.
The resurgence of Christian Fundamentalism - as indicated by the results of the 1994 elections, where, according to People for the American Way, 60 percent of the candidates the so-called "Religious Right" backed won6 - and its entrance into the political arena may indicate that the nation's globalist elites have been blundering badly when they have assumed that most Middle Americans share their globalist ethic. It appears they've been talking to themselves and pushing their "world view" on people who do not share their global and multicultural enthusiasm. In doing so, it seems they've been making a serious mistake - one that is coming back to haunt them as they continue to push their agenda in the political market place. Obviously, it has not been selling quite as well as they've been advertising to themselves in the media.
Moreover, all this indicates just how insulated and cutoff they have become, just as the globalist elites became in Iran. And it is worth noting, that those who constituted these elites in Iran in 1978 were not stupid people - on the contrary, they were the best and the brightest that Iranian society had to offer. But for some strange reason which defies adequate explanation, there appears to be a blindness which inevitably accompanies almost all secular elites - regardless of the culture they come to dominate, usually by stint of very hard work - which obscures their ability to see the consequences of what they are doing by trampling, often without realizing it, the cultural values of ordinary people.
And just how blind these elites can be to the power of religion in the affairs of men and women in this world can be easily demonstrated. Take, for example, an article which appeared in the scholarly International Journal for Middle East Studies7 which appeared in January of 1971. Speaking on what then appeared to be the transformation of Iran into a modern, secular society, Nikki R. Keddie, one of the most distinguished scholars and observers of Iranian society, wrote: "... one may also surmise that the leadership position of the ulama (the Mullahs) has been eroded (as the result of the continuing economic modernization of Iran). The position of the ulama (Mullah) seems bound to continue in general decline as literacy, secular schools, and scientific education spread; as Islamic practices regarding the relations of the sexes and other matters are increasingly ignored; and insofar as some of the ulama can be identified with a selfseeking opposition to reform." And all this gibberish just five short years prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran, arguably the most powerful religious transformation that any modern nation has ever suffered through. The signs were there for Keddie to see, he was simply predisposed to ignore them. Such a predisposition of mind on the part of Keddie defies adequate explanation, but it is, unfortunately, a "mindset" which he shares with most other secular scholars.
And it's not just appearances that we're talking about here - indeed, there is a great deal of very solid evidence to suggest that the only people the secular elites are kidding are themselves when they ignore the power of religion and advertise the popularity of multiculturalism. Contrary to what is being pushed in the media, there is mounting evidence which suggests that many of the older, more traditional Christian positions on certain social and cultural issues - especially when presented under the guise of moderation - are much more popular, even in the face of intense opposition, than most multiculturalists care to admit. The secular elites have been ignoring this evidence at their own peril, just as they did in Iran - and the evidence for this goes way beyond the results of the 1994 elections. For example, take the 1992 "anti-gay" initiatives in Colorado and Oregon8: in Oregon, a clumsily worded anti-gay initiative was placed on the ballot and failed. In Colorado, a similar anti-gay initiative was placed on the ballot; but unlike the Oregon initiative, it was carefully crafted to present the appearance of moderation and restraint - though clearly the results of the Colorado initiative would have approximated those of the Oregon initiative. The Colorado initiative passed with almost a ten point spread, despite the feverish opposition of two of the most powerful and sophisticated liberal political machines in the country at the time - Pat Schroeder's and Tim Wirth's - and an almost unlimited war chest of funds from women's rights and gay and lesbian groups throughout the country.
In the 1994 election, a re-written Oregon anti-gay initiative again failed - leading some liberals and the so-called "mainline media" to claim that they had turned the tide in Oregon. But a closer examination of what really happened yields a different spin. The fact of the matter is, the anti-gay percentage of the electorate actually grew, but liberals are much more firmly entrenched in Oregon - especially in the Portland area - than they are in Colorado; moreover, conservatives in Oregon have no strong base of operations like Colorado conservatives have in Colorado Springs. What Oregon conservatives have had to do is to organize outside the Portland area first; this they have done. Now they are concentrating their efforts in Portland, and there is every indication that should they persist in these efforts, they will eventually succeed; conservatives in Portland believe that they have a potential base of operations centered around Dick Iversons's church, Western Theological Seminary and Multnomah Bible School - time well tell. One thing's for sure, however - given the fact that conservatives in Oregon have had to start from ground zero, they have actually accomplished quite a lot in just four short years - and Lon Mabon, the leader of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, deserves much of the credit. Indeed, knowledgeable liberals and moderate Republicans are aghast at all the conservatives have managed to accomplish. Moderate Republican Senator Mark Hatfield, surveying what is happening in his state, believes that moderate Republicans and liberals are in for the fight of their lives; "We are going to have to meet and do battle with them precinct by precinct, county by county in what's going to amount to a battle of Armageddon."
Insofar as the media is concerned, this situation is troubling. First, it reveals the extent to which the media has been misrepresenting the popularity of many liberal social issues in the American press [And it's not just Oregon and Colorado; take, for example, the way the media and liberal pollsters predicted the defeat of the "Save our State" initiative in California which was targeted against illegal aliens - and which actually passed with almost a twenty point spread]. Second, if the misrepresentation is not purposeful (and it is doubtful that it is in most instances), then it underlines the extent of the breach which has developed between America's governing elites and Middle America. Third, it belies the underlying weakness of many liberal positions which the media has suggested are widely held by Americans - especially when one considers that in both the Colorado and Oregon instances, politically unsophisticated Religious Right groups - the kind that Ethan Boner of the Boston Globe and Richard Harwood of the Washington Post have written off as "backwoods fundamentalists" - were the driving forces behind each initiative. This is the stuff from which revolutions are built! Such extensive breaches cannot endure for long without destroying the foundations of a society. And again, the parallel with Iran is sobering. The elites may laugh at Pat Buchanan's talk of a Kultur Kampf, but clearly there has been just such a war brewing in the American heartland. Moreover, the cultural indignation which lies at the heart of this Kultur Kampf is being whipped along by economic winds which are beginning to blow away the financial security of millions of Middle Americans who are the movement's potential foot soldiers. And the institutions to which many of these Americans are looking to carry their cultural banners are the nation's churches, just as the popular mass in Iran turned to their nation's mosques to carry their banners.
Whether the secular elites are willing to face up to it or not, an ominous and fundamental social and political reorientation is taking place in this country. It is being fueled by the so-called "Religious Right" - and it is beginning to extend far beyond "born-again" evangelicals to include Christian elements which have never before coalesced with them; specifically, blue collar Catholics. One needs only to tune into Pat Robertson's 700 Club on CBN - where Mr. Robertson has been calling on blue collar Catholics to join Protestant evangelicals in a crusade to help return America to its "Judeo-Christian" roots - for evidence of growing Catholic-evangelical collusion. When this is coupled with the fact that he is being supported publicly in that call by the Archbishops of New York and Philadelphia, one can begin to get an idea of just how far this collusion has proceeded. If it holds, and it probably will, this could represent the most striking Christian - and, ipso facto, social - re-alignment of this century, with far reaching political ramifications. And perhaps the most astounding thing about this new alliance is that it appears to be entering the political arena as the cultural champion of Middle America.
Liberals who discount the possibility of a Catholic-evangelical alliance are making a big mistake. Just such an alliance has been percolating for some time, but most academics and those in the news media have simply not been aware of it. Why? As Richard Harwood of the Washington Post has said, "... (the Religious Right) stirs no juices ... Journalists ... not only are not part of the ... (Religious Right), but don't know anyone who is ... . Those are not the circles we travel in or from which we draw intellectual nourishment." Liberals are simply not predisposed to take the Religious Right seriously. Nonetheless, whether liberals have taken note of it or not, the movement of Protestant evangelicals and the Catholic Church towards one another is already far advanced. It began in the late 1960s as a "grassroots" movement with very little initial encouragement from the official leadership in either group. It was fueled by the charismatic wings of both camps - involving "grassroots leaders" such as Catholics Steve Clark and Ralph Martin, and evangelical leaders like the so-called "Fort Lauderdale Five" (Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Ern Baxter, Don Basham and Charles Simpson) - men who are probably little known outside charismatic circles, but whose influence is enormous within those circles and among those who have now come to control the levers of power within the burgeoning evangelical media empires.
Contrary to popular belief, the Moral Majority, which was largely a creature of the noncharismatic fundamentalist right, played little initial role in the development of the new evangelical/Catholic alignment, and in many instances, opposed it. In fact, it is probably safe to say that without the participation and input of the charismatics in both camps, (Catholic and evangelical alike) this new alliance would have been still-born. Indeed, the naive focusing on the Moral Majority by secular journalists and scholars led many to miss altogether what was happening in the Christian community on a much broader and more foundational level. Why? Because the cultural dissimilarities between the Catholics and the non-charismatic evangelicals (the fundamentalists) seemed to preclude the possibility of any such alliance; hence the discounting early on by so many of a Catholic/evangelical rapprochement. Today, of course, it is not uncommon to find increasing numbers of non-charismatics from both the evangelical and Catholic sides involved in common political activism - as, for example, even Jerry Falwell, who has been seen in recent anti-abortion rallies with the Archbishops of New York and Philadelphia; but this is so only because of the initial "spadework" of the charismatics.
The early meetings of Catholic and evangelical Christian charismatics were tenuous at best; they were often very simple and informal. The men and women who attended were animated largely by their shared experiences with the "charismatic gifts" - such as speaking in tongues, "prophetic utterances," singing, and "praise and worship." Soon they were joined by others - again, mostly charismatics (though some non-charismatics were involved) - such as Demos Shakarian of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, a huge and extremely influential network of conservative Christian businessmen throughout the country, as well as Pat Robertson, Dan Malachuk, Harald Bredesen, Paul Crouch (of the Trinity Broadcasting Network), David and Justin Du Plessis, Jack Hayford, John Wimber (of the Vineyard Fellowships International), Cardinal Krol (Catholic), Morris Cerullo, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn, Charles Capps, Father Dene Braun (Catholic), John Mears, Larry Lea, Bob Weiner, Charles Blair, John Gimenez, Larry Tomczak, Kenneth Hagin, Earl Paulk, Father Tom Forrest (Catholic), Tim LeHaye (whose wife Bev LeHaye runs the largest Christian women's fellowship in the country, a network of fellowships which in sheer numbers and financial power dwarfs the National Organization of Women), Dee Jepsen, Dennis Peacock, Dr. Kevin Ranaghan (Catholic), Oral Roberts, Paul Yonoggi Cho (pastor of the largest, single Protestant church in the world in Soul, South Korea, and whose influence in this country's charismatic community is vast), Gary DeMar, Gary North, Ken Metz (head of the Vatican's International Catholic Charismatic Office in Rome), Colonel Doner, Marshall Foster, Peter Gamma, Duane Gish, Ronald Jensen, James Kennedy, Paul Kienel, Ed McAteer, R.E. McMaster, T.M. Moore, John M. Perkins, R.J. Rushdoony, Herbert Schlossberg, Ray Sutton, Michael Harper, Robert Simonds, etc. These are all influential Christian leaders, many with large television and radio audiences, and very substantial and extremely diverse followings which span the entire spectrum of conservative Christian organizations and denominations. Moreover, these people are not the "bozos" and "rednecks" a 1993 Washington Post editorial labeled them; they are all highly intelligent and very sophisticated organizational wizards.
Over the past twenty years, their meetings have expanded - with little media attention - from small home gatherings to rallies with as many as 80,000 participants. A few examples are the 28th World Convention of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Association (Philadelphia) in which Cardinal Krol, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Father Dean Braun spoke of "Mashed Potatoes" to a mixed audience of 20,000 Protestant and Catholic charismatics - the peeling away of Catholic and evangelical division and their merging together; the New Orleans Conference of 1987, the Indianapolis Conference of 1990, etc. These are all similar events, containing the same astonishing mix of Catholics and evangelicals. And this is to say nothing of the many "Pastor Only" meetings involving 1,000, sometimes even 2,000 and more Christian leaders designed to push "Christian Unity" and a Catholic/evangelical rapprochement at the grassroots level.
Moreover, the financial backing that many of these ministries are receiving is not just simply coming from the social security checks of backwoods fundamentalists who can't read or write, as some in the multicultural elite have sarcastically suggested. Indeed, there can be little doubt any longer as to the power and sophistication of the backing that many of these ministries are now receiving. For example, take the movement of some forty conservative evangelical groups to Colorado Springs, Colorado in recent years. The group responsible for backing the move of many of these ministries to Colorado is El Pomar. The purpose of El Pomar, as written in its "Statement of Purpose" on file at the Secretary of State's office in Denver, is to ".. maintain funds and apply (these funds) to such charitable uses and purposes (as it deems fit)." The distribution of these funds is to be left to the "... absolute and uncontrolled discretion of the trustees." In other words, El Pomar is a financial conduit for people who wish to hide their identities. While there is certainly nothing wrong with such giving - indeed, there is much to commend about it - this kind of giving is relatively unique to, and has all the hallmarks of, "old money."
And this indeed appears to be the case. El Pomar is headed up by William Thayer Tutt, President; Adrian J. French, Vice President; and Frank T. Rea, Secretary / Treasurer. These same men are also associated as directors and "movers and shakers" with the Broadmoor Country Club and the World Senior Golf Federation, two extremely powerful social organizations associated with "old money" families. What all this is suggestive of - especially to anyone familiar with how socially interlocked the nation's country clubs are - is that these ministries are "taped into" and are receiving substantial financial backing from some of the nation's most powerful, traditionally oriented, "old money" families. The people associated with the Broadmoor Country Club and the World Senior Golf Association are not "rednecks" and "bozos" - something the Washington Post would be well advised to take note of.
And just how plugged in politically are some of these ministries? Take one, Focus on the Family, which produces a syndicated radio program featuring Dr. James Dobson, a psychologist who basis his practice of psychology on "biblical principles." The group, which employs almost 900 full-time workers, moved to Colorado Springs from Los Angeles after receiving $4 million from El Pomar. Focus on the Family has - among other things - organized letter-writing campaigns to promote its "pro-family" agenda. It opposes allowing homosexuals in the military and also conducts seminars that teach Christians how to exert political influence. It was one of the prime movers behind the 1992 anti-gay initiative in Colorado, which secured a better than two to one margin "in favor" from voters in Colorado Springs, and has been helping conservative Christian voters to organize politically against efforts by local schools to promote "cultural diversity."
The unity towards which these men are pressing is not necessarily organizational or even theological unity; most do not appear to be thinking in "structural" terms (and this is why secular journalists have missed what's happening), but rather "movement" terms; they are, to use jargon straight out of the liberal lexicon, "networking" and "bridging" on a truly massive scale; and not just on a horizontal level, but often in pyramid like structures (networked to other pyramids) which cross denominational lines and geographic boundaries and involve "covering," "accountability," and "submission."
For example, Roy Livesey, a reliable observer, reports that Dennis Peacock "submits" to Bob Mumford for his "covering;" and Colonel Doner of Christian Voice "submits" to Peacock, etc. Moreover, what's particularly interesting here is that these men are often not linked to one another in any other formal organizational sense; in secular terms, it's analogous to the vice president of marketing for IBM seeking "covering" from and being "accountable" to the President of General Electric. Indeed, the networking of all these individuals and religious organizations resembles the intricate keiretsu structures of Japanese corporations. And in all of this, there is a certain macabre and even Orwellian sense which is sometimes overwhelming.
Just how far this kind of networking and bridging has progressed can be easily demonstrated. For example, take an article which appeared in Charisma Magazine.7 Speaking about a number of younger pastors who were seeking "covering" from Pastor John Gimenez, pastor of a well-known and very influential charismatic church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the article reports, "It was one of the greatest days in John Gimenez's life. After 21 years as pastor of Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he has been consecrated as bishop of Rock Ministerial Fellowship. Gimenez was recognized in formal services at Rock Church. Bishop Samuel Green, M.G. "Pat" Robertson, and Bishop John Mears were present. The pastors of Rock Church affiliates around the country sought consecration (as a "covering" for their own churches). These pastors (whose churches had formerly been independent) will be accountable (now) to Gimenez much in the same way a deacon is accountable to a pastor. Although Gimenez has long operated in this role, it is now official ... . 'The organization has been solidified for all young men and women we are training and sending out to head (shepherd) congregations ...'said Anne Gimenez, John's wife and Rock Church co-pastor."9
By the late 1970s, the commonalty which these Christians had experienced in their religious gatherings had spread to a shared concern regarding social and political issues, especially those issues which dealt with gay rights, feminism, abortion, school prayer, school vouchers, etc.
By the mid 1980s this concern spilled over into common political action and civil disobedience - and the principle agent in this transition from religious pacifism to political activism was the anti-abortion movement, which included Randall Terry's Operation Rescue and Joseph Scheidler's Pro-Life Action League as well as numerous other groups like Rescue America, the Lambs of God, Defensive Action, American Coalition of Life Activists, Life Ministries, etc. By the late 1980s and early '90s it was not uncommon to find Catholic priests and nuns together with evangelical pastors and lay people praying and picketing outside abortion clinics in "Rescues" throughout the country.
Indeed, it's perhaps not too much to say that nothing has proven as electrifying and catalytic in bringing the Catholic and evangelical communities together than the tactics of the anti-abortion movement - and the thought that these organizations can be stopped by legislation, court actions and the application of R.I.C.O. (the organized crime and racketeering laws) is exceedingly naive. All that such action is likely to do is create martyrs - something which all religiously driven causes and organizations thrive off of - and draw the Catholic and evangelical communities even more closely together in a "holy war" directed against the "secular-humanists."
It's also likely to drive radicals in the abortion movement underground where they will tighten their organizations "IRA style" - something the Catholics know quite a bit about. The old adages that "there are no enemies in foxholes" and "war makes strange bedfellows" have proven especially true here insofar as the Catholic and evangelical communities are concerned.
The aim of these men is quite clear: "to take back the nation for Christ" - not just spiritually but politically. And in this there is an underlying and growing sense among these leaders of a besieged Christian community which nonetheless feels it has a divine mandate from God to rule the world, including the United States.
And again, while these men would deeply resent the comparison, the parallel here to what they are doing now to what the mullahs of Iran did in 1978 is sobering.
For example, Kenneth Copeland, one of the leading figures in the evangelical world, writes, "This country belongs to God ... He's the One who brought the United States of America into existence. He had a special purpose for it ... He raised it up, and it's not going to be taken away from Him."10
Bill Hamon, pastor of one of the largest evangelical churches in the country, writes, "A new government must be established, a new way of life for ... millions of people."11
Malcolm Smith writes: "... the Church ... (must) presently overthrow these (secular) powers of darkness and establish His kingdom on earth."12
And exactly what kind of future do these men see, and what are they planning? Speaking at a large conference of over 1,000 people in Kansas City, Bob Jones - who has at one time or another been associated with John Wimber of Vineyard Fellowships International,13 one of the "prime movers" behind Catholic-evangelical union - said: "As we see the day approaching there's going to be a cleansing ... there's going to be a purging ... coming forth ... and everyone that's living under the immorality cover ... will be brought down. And God's new breed will come forth ..."14
These kinds of phrases should give anyone pause who is familiar with the "artful" phrasing associated with the Holocaust.
Pat Robertson's view of the future is every bit as ominous for "outsiders" and "dissenters." He writes about "enforcement measures" in the coming Christian Kingdom in his book, The Secret Kingdom, "... for domestic tranquillity there must be a police force and a system of justice capable of bringing sure and swift punishment upon those who rebel against society."15
And Robertson isn't just talking about criminals, but dissenters from the "soon to be reestablished" Christian culture.
Gary Potter, president of Catholics for Christian Political Action, says, "When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more abortion on demand, and no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism (i.e., multiculturalism) will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil."16
And be clear here, these men are not talking about the sweet, heavenly "bye-and-bye," but the actual seizing of political authority by Christians in the "here and now."
Professor Allen D. Hertzke of the University of Oklahoma writes: "... the center of gravity is shifting. The growing national prominence of the Catholic church and the remarkable growth of evangelical and fundamentalist congregations represent a major cultural movement. The social conservatism of these churches, along with their growing political assertiveness and sophistication, has slashed at previous ideological and partisan alignments. Thus long-term effects on American political parties may result from the dynamics of church life in America. The Democratic Party, for the moment, seems institutionally wedded to a posture that symbolically and substantively appears to reject the cultural conservatism of many Catholics, evangelicals and fundamentalists, as well as many members of mainline Protestant denominations. The religious factor, indeed, may (ultimately) contribute ... to a (political) realignment in America"17 - and the results of the 1994 election seem to confirm Hertzke.
The eschatological thinking or doctrine of "end times," of these men sheds further light on what they are ultimately aiming at. The doctrine of the "end of days" being preached today in both evangelical and Catholic charismatic communities pictures the "end of days" - which they believe we have essentially entered - as a time of great economic dislocation, political chaos, and military turmoil. Both Catholic and evangelical communities teach that in order to end this disorder and turmoil, the church must unite. Furthermore, they teach that the union of Christendom must occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Finally, they teach of a great "latter-day" revival which will break out as a result of the re-unification of the church.
This represents a "sea change" in conservative Christian thinking. While it is true that in the past Christians have talked about "ruling and reigning" on the earth, that talk had been largely confined to the spiritual future some time after Christ's Second Coming - whenever that might be.
Now, however, the emphasis is that the "church" must take control before Christ's return. The process has been totally reversed! - and this new thinking is being widely embraced to justify extremely militant and even cruel and barbaric action against gays, abortion providers, advocates of women's rights, etc. - illegal action and civil disobedience with the imprimatur of God upon it.
And that's not the end of it. Both communities further teach that Christian union - the "in-gathering," as Catholics refer to it - will be accomplished by great "signs and wonders," intense "praise and worship," prayer, fasting, "spiritual warfare," and finally the appearance of "Apostles and Prophets." Al Dager, an observer of this scene writes: "Since the late seventies and early eighties especially, there have been increasing references within the ... (unity faction of evangelicalism) identifying specific people as 'apostles and prophets', and many leaders are supportive of each other in those roles. It is said that the decade of the eighties revealed the prophetic ministries, and the nineties will reveal the apostles. As a result, many of the alleged prophets have been made known, but as of this writing there have been few apostles identified, and then generally in vague terms. For instance, certain men, have been designated apostles over certain types of ministries (e.g. Larry Lea as apostle of prayer, Oral Roberts as apostle of healing, etc.).
"Although some are more visible than others, these leaders are showing up on the same platforms in varying numbers and orders. They are on a constant circuit, conducting leadership conferences for pastors and teachers from around the world, and spiritual warfare rallies for anyone and everyone they can reach.
"At leadership conferences pastors and teachers are instructed in the latest methods of church growth (and political activism) ... Armed with that knowledge, the pastors take what they've learned and implement it in their congregations in order to teach the people how to take dominion over their cities, how to institute proper worship and praise in order to move God and to receive power, how to work miracles, signs and wonders, how to bind (evil) spirits (how to exert political influence) ... ."18
These conferences have been going on now for some time. For example, take one early meeting - a "Unity Conference" that occurred in July of 1985. Charles Green, Emanuele Cannistraci, and John Gimenez organized the meeting in Denver, Colorado with the express purpose of "networking" various Christian ministries and denominations together for political action. The meeting attracted pastors and leaders from many different "streams of ministry," including Kenneth Copeland, Charles Simpson, Bob Mumford, John Wimber, etc. The specific purpose of the meeting was to produce a unity of ministry which would lead to: "... the restoration of the church in power, unity, and glory ..." and "the reformation of society under the Lordship of Jesus Christ" - and the results of these conferences are now at last beginning to be felt throughout the country. Clearly, they have burst the bands of religion, and are now impinging upon the country politically.
In all of this, of course, the matter of "Christian Unity" is central to the "grassroots" constituencies of both the evangelical and Catholic communities. It animates and enlivens both. It is the core around which all their eschatological doctrines revolve. And, once again, they are not talking about "structural unity," but "movement unity."
Regarding this "unity," Francis Frangipane, one of the more important "grassroots" evangelical leaders - who has also been accorded the title of "prophet" by many charismatics - writes, "This scattering and dividing process among the Lord's sheep has gone on long enough. Jesus has set His heart to bring healing and unity to His Body."19
Again, Frangipane writes, "Let us lay our lives down in committed faith, that in our lifetimes, on this earth and in our communities, the corporate church of Jesus Christ will be restored, united and holy!"20
Finally, Frangipane says, "Indeed, right now, in the context of humbling ourselves and submitting our hearts to His will, we are participating in being 'gathered together', And this process will progressively increase until the barriers between brethren are melted by the overcoming nature of Christ's love. Before Jesus returns, we will truly be 'one flock' ... . We will be a holy and blameless sheepfold ... ."21
And where does all this lead? Frangipane answers: "... this warfare shall culminate in the church's establishment of the Lord's Kingdom on earth."22
Thus, the unity of the church is not an end in itself, but merely a necessary step in the long path towards the church's domination of the world. Both evangelical and Catholic communities foresee the ultimate union of secular and spiritual power here in planet earth in the hands of the church - and this is what will usher in the return of Christ. Catholic scholar and writer, Yves DuPont, writes: "We see the outlines of a new social and political order ... the state will no longer be separated from the church."23
Well known evangelical leader Sam Fife says, "... Jesus is setting up His kingdom here on earth ... . We are the rulers of this planet - it's time we take over."24 And finally, George Hawtin writes, "But the saints of the most High shall take (seize) the kingdom (meaning the earth), and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."25
Old line Protestants, such as the "Reconstructionists" of the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian Churches are also getting into the act. And the juncture at which they meet the evangelicals and the Catholics is the necessity of unified Christian political activity to take the nation back for Christ. Writing in the Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Presbyterian pastor Kenneth J. Gentry, Jr. declares: "The whole creation awaits the godly dominion of the New Creation Saints of God."26 And be clear here, like others, Gentry is not talking about the "sweet bye and bye," but the political "here and now."
Dave Hunt writes concerning this phenomenon, "Although they are not charismatics, Reconstructionists are working with such groups because charismatic television and radio networks provide an effective means of propagating related Reconstructionist beliefs. Gary North has openly acknowledged using the charismatics to this end. On their part the charismatics are apparently happy with their new partners because the Reconstructionists provide the intellectual and academic credibility that has (sometimes) been in short supply within the charismatic movement.
"Gary North is convinced that a Reconstructionist partnership with the ... charismatics' telecommunication system will transform the whole shape of American religious life ... He (North) goes on to say: 'the growing alliance between charismatics and Reconstructionists has (caused) ... critics (to) worry about the fact that ... (the charismatic) infantry is at last being armed with Reconstructionism's field artillery. They should be worried. This represents one of the most fundamental realignments in U.S. Protestant Church history'." And North isn't just blowing smoke when he says that those who fall outside the new Christian "World View" should be apprehensive. For example, Reconstructionists contend:
Finally, the importance of the Fatima Visions in impelling the current Catholic leadership down the path towards radical Christian activity cannot be overestimated. The Fatima Visions themselves revolve around the so-called appearance of the Virgin Mary several times to three peasant children; it is said she confided to them certain admonitions, including a detailed set of instructions and predictions that were intended for papal action at a certain time in the future; and she ended her visits in October 1917 with a miracle that recalled for many the Bible verse that tells of a "Woman clothed with the Sun, and giving birth to a Son who will rule the nations with a scepter of iron." These visions took place in the obscure Portuguese hamlet of Fatima, which is situated some ninety miles north of Lisbon in a place called Cova Da Iria.
In recent years, most especially since the unsuccessful attempt on his life by Mehmet Ali Agca, Pope John Paul II and those around him have become slavish devotees to the Fatima Visions. John Paul II claims that during his convalescence at the Policlinico in Rome he received a personal communication from heaven concerning the veracity of the visions of Fatima.
Essentially, these visions - among other things - impel the Catholic Church on a course of "Christian unity" and political power in order to rescue mankind from a coming period of great chaos. Moreover, these visions uncannily parallel the eschatology of the charismatic evangelicals in their view of the "coming kingdom."
Finally, as if to add a series of exclamation marks to the Fatima Visions, the appearance of the Virgin Mary has exploded in recent years throughout the world-wide Catholic community, from California, to Texas, from New Jersey to the Czech Republic and Slovenia - all with the same message - essentially, a repeat of the earlier Fatima Visions.
One thing is sure - dissent will not be tolerated in the New World Order foreseen by these leaders!
Speaking concerning certain Christian leaders who are opposed to Christian political action, Rick Joyner, another popular, "grassroots" evangelical leader - who also, along with Francis Frangipane, bears the "mantle" of a prophet to many charismatics throughout the Catholic and evangelical communities - writes ominously, "Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place."32 And again, "... there will be many 'stumbling blocks' circulating in the church ... . Those serving in leadership must trust their discernment and remove the 'stumbling blocks'."
How? George Hawtin suggests a way: "... 2/3 will have to die in the last days so that 1/3 might emerge pure."33 And once again, one cannot escape the terrible parallel between the language of the Third Reich and the language being employed by these men.
Furthermore, one shouldn't make the mistake that Hawtin is some kind of "loose nut" which no one pays attention to in evangelical circles. Hawtin's teachings have had a profound impact on such popular current Christian leaders as Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, and the "Fort Lauderdale Five" - which have so profoundly affected Steve Clark and Ralph Martin, the two most important figures in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Speaking concerning the potential political power of this new alliance, Jeremy Rifkin, in his book, The Emerging Order, writes: "At this very moment a spectacular change in Christian ... (thinking) is taking place, virtually unnoticed. The change is simple, but basic. The ramifications are extraordinary ... it could provide the kind of ... force that could topple the prevailing ethos and provide a bridge to the next age of history." Rifkin, who styles himself as a "scientist-philosopher" and who does not necessarily embrace Christianity at all, calls this "new theology" "Dominionism." He goes on to say that Christian Dominionism has "... the spiritual vitality, ... momentum, drive and energy that is required to achieve the radical ... transformation of American society." He continues, "... there is no other single cultural force in American life today that has as much potential as ... (Christian Dominionism) to influence the future direction of this country."34
It seems that irresistible forces are now "in play" - both in Christendom and in the country at large - which appear to be propelling us all, believers and unbelievers alike, down a ghost-like river, the course of which seems to be etched out in the events of our time by the finger of some unseen apparition - and the current seems to be growing at every twist and turn of its course, a course which may be taking us in a direction from which there may be no turning back once we're fully caught up in its flow.
Time is our enemy now! If we are to extricate ourselves, we must do so before we are caught up in the full fury of the current. With every election, the country moves ever more rightward, and Christianity and our churches become ever more enmeshed in rightwing political activity. To many Christians, of course, the reasons for becoming involved politically seem compelling - how else, it is asked, do we stop the country's drift into anarchism and disintegration?
But Christians must pause and ask themselves, is this what Christianity is all about? - seizing control of the country and forcing righteousness on the citizenry at the point of a gun? Where will such thinking ultimately take us? - are we creating some kind of Fourth Reich where all those who disagree with us will be ostracized? The way to hell is paved with good intentions! - and more murder and slaughter have been carried out in the name of God than we as Christians might care to admit. Maybe there's a good reason why secularists and unbelievers are afraid of Christians; maybe that's why they refuse to be drawn to Christ - they can't hear His gentle voice calling them over the din and slaughter we have created.