"Things aren't always what they seem to be"
Evangelicals who are predisposed to think in terms of "conspiracies" - who lend credit to the whispered hypothesis of those who ascribe everything that's wrong with America to the "Secular-Humanist Conspiracy" or to the "Illuminist Plot" might do well to ponder the thought that the "conspirators" may be closer to them than they might realize - that they may constitute the very people they have allied themselves with in their battle against secular-humanism: specifically, their own business allies (men like Nelson Bunker Hunt, J. Howard Pew, Wallace Johnson, Richard De Voss, John Talcott, etc. and companies like Colgate-Palmolive, Ocean Spray, Amway, Hunt Oil, National Liberty Insurance Corporation, etc.). That it's not some nefarious "outside" conspiracy shrouded in impenetrable mist and unfathomable secrecy which is at the root of their misery, but an "inside conspiracy" which they themselves have helped to organize!
Possibly, just possibly, it's not the Tri-Lateral Commission and/or the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that evangelicals should be concerned about, as it is their very own Council on National Policy (CNP) - an elite conservative group founded by Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson[3a], Joseph Coors, and Nelson Bunker Hunt which brings together influential right-wing business figures, religious leaders and political luminaries to affect conservative political, social and cultural change in the country, a group clearly formed in combination with their own leaders!
Now that would be a deception[3b] worth noting!
And just how pervasive the alliance between the rich on the one hand, and the church on the other, has become can be measured by the harsh new attitude towards the poor manifested today by so many evangelicals - an attitude which ascribes poverty to "laziness" and "individual failure;" while such an attitude is not particularly reflective of Christ's attitude towards the poor, it certainly reflects the historic attitude of the rich. Evangelicals have somewhere along the line forgotten what Christ said about the poor vis a vis the rich: "And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God ..." And again He said, "Blessed are ye that hunger: for ye shall be filled ..." (Luke 6:20-21) But unto the rich He said, "Woe unto you that are rich! (Luke 6:24) And again He said that it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25)."
In attributing poverty to "laziness" and "individual failure," evangelicals have unwittingly bought into the arguments of their elite "business allies" - allies which have ostensibly joined them in their struggle to "return America to Christ and the church." But what evangelicals have evidently not fathomed is the fact that much of the poverty which has developed in the country since 1972 is directly attributable to the "free trade" (and, ipso facto, anti-union) policies and practices of their own business backers - phony "supporters" who, on the one hand, financially aid the ministries and churches of their evangelical allies, while on the other hand they mercilessly ship American jobs (many of which are held by rank-and-file evangelicals) overseas to Third World sweat shops. Maybe the next time evangelicals hear of large sums of money pouring into their churches and/or ministries from wealthy benefactors, they might do well to ask themselves what all this money is purchasing? What deals - implied or otherwise - might have been struck? What kind of silence on the part of their leaders this money might be buying?
People make a big mistake in believing that such "gift giving" does not create obligations - implied or explicit; that, in the end, it does not create dependence.
A quick perusal of the membership of the Council on National Policy would quickly confirm the fact that there exists this duality of purpose in many, if not most, of the business figures who are involved as "partners" with the Religious Right. What many of these "business allies" are in reality doing is giving with the right hand, while taking with the left - that is to say, what they so generously give to the ministries and churches of the Religious Right, they take from the paychecks of many of those same evangelicals who fill the pews of the churches and ministries the Business Right supports. To put it in the vernacular, what they're doing is robbing Peter to pay Paul. And make no mistake about it, it is this reason, (i.e., the business community's harsh and austere attitude towards ordinary, every-day working men and women) not "laziness" and "individual failure," which is at the root of today's falling living standards and the appearance - for the first time in U.S. history - of an "American Underclass."
The fact of the matter is, the problem of "underclass" poverty is far too pervasive to be explained away by the old adage that some people are just unwilling to work. Indeed, a recent commentary carried in the Knight-Ridder newspapers by John E. Schwartz and Thomas J. Volgy, authors of The Forgotten American, reports that "... many of the poor simply do not fit the (the evangelical's) stereotype ... More than half are over the age of 30 and nearly three-quarters have a high school diploma or have gone to college. About one-seventh (or more than 14 percent) of them have college degrees."
Evangelicals and their rich business allies, of course, like to point to the Asian community's "work ethic" and "ability to get ahead" to refute these statistics; but what they evidently do not (or are unwilling to) understand is that the Asian community is developing an underclass every bit as rapidly as the black and Latino (and now even white) communities - at least insofar as the last few years are concerned; that just because some Asians have managed to pull themselves up into America's economic elite cannot be construed as a refutation of these facts - many blacks and Latinos have also managed to do the same.
And "... the reality here (i.e., the business community's passion to ship jobs overseas in order to lower its wage costs and - in the process - destroy their historic and despised adversary, the American labor movement) is plain enough" as Terry Collingsworth and J. William Goold write in Foreign Affairs. Take, for example, a company as "mainstream" as Nike; Nike is now making its famously expensive athletic shoes in Indonesia, where its women workers labor long hours for a meager $38 a month. And what about companies like WalMart, K-Mart and Sears? - all three companies have a history of supporting culturally conservative causes; indeed, much the same causes which the Religious Right also supports. Today, however, all three companies are having their shirts made in Bangladesh by poverty-stricken women toiling 60 hours a week and making less than $30 a month. But do WalMart, K-Mart and Sears pass these savings on to U.S. consumers and, ipso facto, their conservative religious allies? No, not at all! - they sell them in the U.S. at U.S. prices! [The labor cost per shirt is roughly four cents.]
Of course, all these companies assert the need to lower costs in order to remain competitive, but their main competitors are all there in Bangladesh too - enjoying the same windfall of cheap labor and banking the same exorbitant profits.
Jim Hoagland, writing for the Washington Post Writer's Group, says that this kind of philosophy "... is part of the unspoken (and unspeakable) philosophy that lies behind ... (what's going on in today's) leading industrial economies ..." Hoagland explains: "One man's job is another man's ... (return on investment) in the brave new world of the central bankers. Being unemployed (in America) may be bad for you, but cheer up: It's ... good for the markets (and, ipso facto, the multinationals)." Collingsworth writes, "... (Apparently) the defining principle of U.S. trade policy today echoes that famous General Motors maxim (of the 1950s): 'what's good for U.S.-based multinationals is good for Americans'." Collingsworth continues, "That's good news for the investing class, but bad news for everyday American workers."
In other words, when a shirt can be made in Bangladesh for four cents and sold to American consumers for the same price or slightly below what shirts made in the U.S. would have been sold at (i.e., roughly $35 for an average "nice" shirt ), the money made - instead of going to American workers - goes instead to American investors, i.e., those Americans who hold shares in the American multinationals.
The problem here, of course, is that only about 2% of U.S. citizens own significant shares in the multinationals to really profit as investors (i.e., to actually derive a living on dividends); the rest obtain their income from wages of one sort or another. What all this has done is to create a situation where incomes for the upper 2% of the American population (app. 5 million individuals) have skyrocketed in recent years, while at the same time real wages for growing numbers of Americans are declining precipitously (app. one percent a year - or about twenty percent over the last twenty years).
Business spokesmen claim that everything's OK. That the free trade policies and "re-structuring" going on in America's corporate world are producing (or will soon produce) better jobs. But Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina replies that it means nothing of the sort. According to Hollings, the American business community has been making this claim for the last fifteen years, and the fact of the matter is, America's Fortune 500 companies have not added one single net job to the American economy since the early 1980s - when free trade and "re-structuring" really took off.
The effort by business leaders and the "investing class" to defend their free trade and socalled "restructuring" policies - policies which really benefit only a tiny portion of the American electorate - has led them inexorably to embrace the Religious Right and ipso facto the Christian vote. And the reason for this is not all that difficult to fathom: they need allies, allies which they obviously cannot attract based solely on their economic agenda. What they have done is to get Christians to focus away from what is happening to them economically, and to concentrate instead on what is happening to them culturally.
This effort is made all the easier by liberals (mostly Democrats) who insist on pushing gay rights, radical feminism, "militant secularism," abortion on demand, women in combat, affirmative action, unrestricted immigration, minority rights, etc. - in the political market place to an electorate which is really no longer buying this kind of liberalism, a liberalism which many in America's mainstream are beginning to believe has run amuck. In furtherance of this strategy, American business leaders have been pouring money into Religious Right organizations (especially those organizations which are attempting to "take America back" from the "secular-humanists") and in the process helping Religious Right activists ratchet up the Christian community all the more against so-called "liberals." The genius in all this lies in the fact that the anger so generated has blinded most Christians to what the business community has been doing to them economically.
Unfortunately, America's Christian community is "buying into" the business community's strategy - an effort which paid off handsomely insofar as the Business Right is concerned when Pat Robertson and other Religious Right leaders embraced NAFTA, a treaty which perpetuates the process of shipping American jobs to third world countries, an activity which - no more than it benefits ordinary Americans - does not help most every-day evangelicals and "blue-collar Catholics;" in the process the Christian community is also unwittingly "buying into" the business elite's right-wing political agenda, almost as if Christianity and right-wing ideology and the "free enterprise system" are one-and-the-same thing.
And there can be little doubt as to the business community's right-wing ideological preferences here. These preferences can be easily traced in the psychology of America's business elite from 1919 - when this mindset first surfaced as a recognizable way of thinking - to the mindset which now grips the CNP. Indeed, it runs like a well-worn trail from the Red Scare (1919-1921) through the Isolationist and "America First" movements of the 1930s, the McCarthy era of the late '40s and early '50s straight to the "New Right" of today. Evangelicals would be well advised to study this trail closely, because it gives a strong indication of where evangelicals may be heading if they persist in their present alliance with the Business Right. Unfortunately, the thought that this alliance can be easily broken is a mistaken one; from the very beginning (1919), the two (i.e., the Business Right and the Religious Right) have been partners - a partnership which has brought an untold amount of shame to the Christian community.
Almost thirty-five years ago Professor Daniel Bell, writing for the Columbia University Forum (Fall, 1962), noted that "... in no other ... (free enterprise system) but the American - not in England, not in Germany (since the end of the war), not in France - has the drive (to embrace right-wing ideologies) been so compulsive ... The efforts of a number of corporations, led by General Electric, to go 'directly' into politics by sending out vast amounts of propaganda to their employees and to the public ... (and) by encouraging right-to-work referendums in the states - indicate the mood ... (in these) corporations ..."
After carefully researching the reasons behind the business community's "compulsive" predisposition to "embrace right-wing ideology," Bell concluded that the main reason for it lay in the community's historic dread of, and enmity towards, unions - a fear which was then (1962) harshly manifesting itself in the Kennedy-Blough imbroglio over right-to-work laws; a struggle which Bell believed would "... provide an even greater impetus for corporations to finance right-wing political activity in the coming years." He was right!
Bell also noted with some interest the business community's focus on and fascination with the Religious Right as an ally, and their disposition to enlist members of the Christian community as "foot soldiers" and "grunts" in their war against trade-unionism - an effort which he believed essentially involved two strategies: (1) waving the "bloody shirt" of "atheistic socialism," and (2) contributing large sums of money to their churches and ministries.
Bell wrote (1962), "... a significant number of (these) corporations have been contributing financially to the seminars of ... (Religious) Right evangelists. The National Education Program at Harding College (a small, fundamentalist Christian school) in Arkansas, which prepares films on communism and materials on free enterprise, has been used extensively by General Electric, U.S. Steel, Olin Mathieson Chemical, Monsanto Chemical, Swift & Co., and others. Boeing Aviation and the Richfield Oil Co. have also sponsored many anti-communism seminars on the West Coast."
Typical of the psychology driving the rational of most of these companies was the thinking of the Allen Bradley Co. of Milwaukee, which made machine tools and electrical equipment. The Allen Bradley Co. was an advertiser in the John Birch Society magazine; it also reprinted the testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee of Fred Schwartz, a famous Christian "anti-communist crusader" of that era - a reprint which Schwartz claimed had "... wider distribution than any other government document in the history of the United States, with the possible exception of the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution."
There were, of course, very real reasons inherent in the "world-views"of both communities which impelled them to make common cause against the forces of socialism or, as both would phrase it today, "secular-humanism:" the churches, because they see in secular-humanism an atheistic and/or "New Age" philosophy which they perceive to be inimical to their own "world-view;" and the business community, because it sees secularhumanism as a "front" for socialism and the spread of trade-unionism. And there's something more; there is a certain symmetry - a kind of proportion or equilibrium - between the two communities in which the strength of the one compliments the weakness of the other, and visa versa: specifically, the churches provide the "foot soldiers" and voters the business community sorely lacks, and big business provides the money that the churches often find in short supply.
But from the beginning, the key to the whole tone of the relationship is captured in the phrase, "foot soldiers" vis a vis the Christian community's relationship with business - a fact attested to by almost everyone who has studied the inside workings of this relationship. The "main" player has always been the business community; the "go-fer" - the subordinate in the relationship - has been the Religious Right - and this is as true today as it was when the alliance first surfaced shortly after the Russian Revolution, specifically in the famous "Red Scare" of 1919.
The dynamic between the two communities - that is to say, the "go-fer" relationship of the Christian community vis a vis the business community - was apparent right from the start. The main "mover" behind the Red Scare of 1919-1920 was clearly big business; specifically, the fear businessmen throughout the United States had for what was going on in the Soviet Union. The tool they used to bludgeon organized labor with was Christianity. Historian Richard Hofstadter writes, "Business leaders genuinely feared 'radicalism' of any sort; but they also hoped to make use of the public's fear of communism and anarchism as a weapon against organized labor," specifically by inciting the Christian community's fear of socialism as an atheistic ideology incompatible with a Christian world-view. Employer groups everywhere were urged to use the power of the pulpit against organized labor. "We have ... the pulpit ... through which to sell our message," one particularly powerful business spokesman asserted confidently - "We'll beat them to death with the cross of Christ."
Historian Murray Levin concurs with Hofstadter; he writes "... the business elites were very worried about the growing power and militancy of organized labor, and the (1919-1920) hysteria was excited largely by business leaders in order to curb labor's new aggressiveness ..." In this regard, Levin continues, there can be little doubt that American businessmen played the "... major role in the creation of the political hysteria of 1919." Christians were merely a convenient tool in the hands of wealthy businessmen, most of whom cared little for the message of the gentle Carpenter of Nazareth.
Levin goes on, "American business was beginning to fantasize a powerful socialist thrust emerging in the labor movement." That somehow or other, a conspiracy of forces far greater and sinister than anyone could possibly imagine was at work here. That fantasy was strengthened by the fact that the IWW (International Workers of the World) began advocating One Big Union - the idea that the entire labor movement should form a "grand alliance," regardless of the nature of a particular union's work, in order ultimately to confront American capital with the demand for a socialist commonwealth. This fear surfaced over and over again in discussions throughout the business community; take one such discussion - an extraordinary conversation which took place on August 14, 1919 among a number of industrialists and business tycoons. The backdrop to the conversation, as in almost all such discussions of that era, was the recent events in Russia, the suppression by socialist forces of a one thousand year old Christian civilization, and what it all might mean for the continuation of capitalism in the United States.
Edward L. Doheney, the oil millionaire, led the discussion in his splendid suite aboard the S.S. Aquitania. "The great danger to America," Doheney said, "was socialism - socialism and its offsprings, Communism and Bolshevism." Exploding into a kind of hysteria, Doheney continued, "A majority of the college professors in the United States are teaching Bolshevism ... William Boyce Thompson is teaching Bolshevism and he may yet convert Lamont of J.P. Morgan and Co. Vanderlip is a Bolshevist, so is Charles R. Crane ..." In addition to the paranoia in what Doheney was saying, there was a strain of vicious anti-Semitism included - and, contrary to what most liberals have always assumed, it was not being generated out of the religious community, but rather it was coming largely from business groups with very little help from Christians. Why? - because it was their world, more than even the world of Christianity, that was being threatened by Lenin and his followers; it was their property, their money, their lands, etc. which - in the first instance - was at risk. And if anti-Semitism and the fear of an ominous and sinister, world-wide Jewish plot to take over the world could be used to excite Christians all the more against socialism and trade-unionism, so much the better. But to say that these businessmen were Christians in the true sense of that word is not only untrue, it's farcical. Doheney himself was a crook - the Ivan Bosky of his era - a man later indicted for taking part in one of the greatest financial scandals of this century - the socalled "Teapot Dome" oil fraud which later helped destroy the Harding presidency. Clearly, their interest was in their possessions, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ - and if an innocent community (i.e., the Jewish community) had to be defamed or even destroyed in order to protect these possessions, so be it.
By late 1920, the business community had succeeded in fanning anti-Semitism into a raging inferno, and the fear of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy quickly seized the imagination of countless numbers of ordinary Americans, and - as with all such cancerous pathologies - some of the perpetrators themselves actually fell ill with the disease, ultimately coming to believe their own lies. By 1922 the fear of "Jewish-Bolshevism" had even seized the imagination of America's greatest industrialist, Henry Ford - and by the time it did so, it was manifesting itself in a particularly loathsome form which was linked to the infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Most leaders of the business community were not taken in by the Protocols; nor were most of them ever convinced that there really existed a world-wide conspiracy of any sort. Nonetheless, business leaders were all too ready to use the Christian penchant towards a belief in conspiracism to enflame the Christian community's fear of socialism, and by doing so to enlist them as "foot soldiers" in their defense.
Moreover, left-wing radicals did little to mitigate Christian apprehension in this direction - all too often playing right into the hands of the business community's efforts to fan the Christian passion against them. Take, for example, the derisive, anti-Christian lyrics of an IWW song and imagine their impact on Christians in 1919: "Onward Christian soldiers! Drench the land with gore; Mercy is a weakness all other gods abhor. Bayonet the babies, jab the mothers, too; Hoist the cross of Calvary to hallow all you do ... God decrees your enemies must all go plum to hell." Still, it was the business community, not the anti-Christian attitudes of the left, which - in the first instance - enflamed Christians against Socialism and trade-unionism, and they did so not out of any real care for the Gospel, but out of fear of socialism and what it might mean for capitalism and their own way of life.
And it's the same today; take the CNP, for example; specifically, Reed Larson of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC). Larson is typical of those in the CNP who believe that capitalism (i.e., the "free enterprise system") and anti-unionism, on the one hand, and Christianity, on the other, are indissolubly co-related. Then there's Richard Shoff, owner of Lincoln Log Homes in North Carolina; Schoff is a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Indiana who, like so many of his ilk, equates the white race with Christianity. And there's Jay Parker and John McGoff; both were involved in the 1970s and 1980s in trying to prop up the extreme racial policies of the former South African government. There's also Don McAlvany, a contributing editor to the John Birch Society's weekly, New American; McAlvany once made a statement suggesting that someone might want to kill Desmond Tutu; he quickly retracted the statement, still ... And what about William D'Onofrio, who is a past vice-president of DANK, a pro-Nazi group - the list of examples, unfortunately, seems endless - and all these men are connected in one way or another - directly or indirectly - to the CNP.
Getting back to Ford, he was one of those few businessmen who genuinely seems to have been taken in - at least initially - by the Protocols. Many people since have attempted to explain Ford's anti-Semitism and belief in right-wing conspiracism as an aberration unique to him and not at all representative of other industrialists and businessmen of the time; that Ford was simply expressing a narrow cultural upbringing and lack of education. While this may be true insofar as Ford's belief in the Protocols is concerned, it certainly is not true with regard to his belief in right-wing ideologies.
The fact of the matter is, Ford's rightist and quasi-fascist leanings were very much in keeping with the judgments of his business peers. Indeed, the rightist inclinations of the American business community became ever more pronounced as the years wore on, and with the depression and the rise of Roosevelt they reached a fever pitch. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. writes that by 1934 businessmen everywhere were united "... in a sincere conviction that the New Deal (and Roosevelt) was a first step towards a totalitarian (socialist) state" - a belief that "... produced among businessmen a state of anguished, bitter opposition to Roosevelt's Administration."
Ogden Mills, former Secretary of the Treasury under President Hoover, said, "We have to turn back many centuries to the days of absolute autocrats to find so great a power over the lives of millions of men lodged in the hands of a single fallible being."
The family of J.P. Morgan took the business community's loathing of Roosevelt to even greater heights; they refused to allow visitors in their home to even mention Roosevelt's name in Morgan's presence lest it excite his blood pressure.
Time doesn't permit a full listing of all those members of the business community who - like Ford, Mills and Morgan - despised Roosevelt, feared socialism and - as a result -applauded the emergence of Hitler in Germany as a bulwark against what otherwise seemed like the inevitable triumph of socialism in the West (i.e., Western Europe and North America); only some of the most prominent can be mentioned here. For example, the thinking of Alfred P. Sloan, who rose from president of General Motors to chairman in 1937, paralleled in almost every respect the thinking of Ford - though he was a little more discreet in expressing it. Even then, on August 12, 1936 Sloan hosted a gettogether of millionaires and industrialists at Ashville, North Carolina together with John Henry Kirby, a millionaire fascist, and Rev. L.K. Smith, a conservative Christian and famous anti-Semite of that era. The subject of the meeting was "Hitler: A Christian Bulwark Against Atheistic Socialism." Sloan also frequently visited Berlin where he hobnobbed with Goering and Hitler.
Then there's Graeme K. Howard, another "big-wig" at GM (a vice-president); Howard was an outright fascist who wrote a poisonous book, America and a New World Order; the book peddled an ideology which was identical to Hitler's. And there's James D. Mooney, head of GM's European division; Mooney likewise approved of Hitler's fascist ideologies - indeed, so much so that in 1938 Mooney received the Order of the Golden Eagle from Hitler himself. Looking back at it all from the perspective of some fifty years, it seems that GM's top management was permeated with fascists.
And what was going on in GM and Ford is very much reflective of what was happening throughout America's corporate elite. Take another famous wing of America's corporate establishment, the DuPonts - especially Irenee DuPont, the most imposing and powerful member of the famous DuPont clan. He was obsessed with Hitler's principles. He keenly followed the career of the future Fuhrer in the 1920s, and on September 7, 1926, in a speech to the American Chemical Society, he openly advocated a race of supermen, to be achieved by injecting special drugs into children. Moreover, despite the fact that he had Jewish blood in his own veins, his anti-Semitism easily matched that of Hitler's. Indeed, the DuPonts even began financing native fascist groups in America, for example, Clark's Crusaders, which had 1,250,000 members by 1933. Pierre, Irenee and Lammont DuPont - and others like John Jacob Raskob - funded the anti-Semitic and anti-black American Liberty League along with Alfred P. Sloan of GM. The League smeared Roosevelt as a Communist and claimed the President was surrounded by Jews.
And it wasn't just in the automotive and chemical segments of the American business community where fascist propensities could be easily identified - pro-fascist tendencies were apparent everywhere. Take the retail trade; specifically, Sears & Roebuck. The pro-fascist prejudices of General Robert Wood, Chairman of Sears & Roebuck were legendary in the 1930s (and 40s and 50s). Wood was chairman of the America First Committee, an organization committed to opposing all efforts to aid Allies besieged by Nazi Germany.
As national chairman, Wood made no effort to keep out openly pro-Nazi groups known to have been supportive of Germany, such as the German-American Bund. Moreover, a 1942 FBI report indicated that Wood's "patriotic" group had also actually "accepted financial assistance from Nazi sources."45 And remember, here, we aren't describing the actions of some obscure right-wing "whacko," but the leader of one of the most wellknown retail outlets in the country - Sears & Roebuck; it's difficult to imagine anything as "American" and as "apple pie" as Sears. And Wood, the DuPonts, Mills, Sloan, et al were only the tip of the iceberg.
After Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war on the United States, the America First Committee didn't go out of business as it officially declared on December 12, 1941. Instead, five days later, a secret meeting of certain key leaders of America First took place in New York to plan for what they assumed (and hoped) would be the Axis victory in Europe. "(T)he Committee has in reality gone underground," FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover warned the White House. It began planning for the day when they would be the Americans with whom the victorious Nazis would negotiate a separate peace.
Finally, when the defeat of the Nazis by the Allied Powers was a foregone conclusion, the America First Committee secretly dissolved itself in 1944.
These and countless others in American business would have found no difficulty in agreeing with William S. Knudsen - again, of General Motors - when he said that Germany was indeed "the miracle of the twentieth century." So widespread was this kind of thinking among American businessmen that U.S. Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd all but despaired of the community's ultimate loyalty in the upcoming struggle with fascism; he despondently told the New York Times in 1937, "I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close ... American ... (businessmen) are to the Nazi regime ... One (businessman) ... who is a prominent executive of one of the largest financial corporations [in America (i.e., Chase-Manhattan)] told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his ... (socialist) policies."
To people like Pierre, Irenee and Lammont DuPont, Alfred P. Sloan, Henry and Edsel Ford, John Jacob Raskob, Edwin S. Webster, Thomas Harrington McKittrick, Winthrop Aldrich, John Rockefeller, Walter C. Teagle and William S. Farish the real enemy was Bolshevism, not fascism; all of these men were "mesmerized" by Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Finally, to say that these men did not have a profound impact on the country as a whole prior to America's entry into the Second World War would be a big mistake. The fact of the matter is, they did! - despite what appeared to be Roosevelt's overwhelming election victories of 1932, 1936 and 1940. The truth is, large numbers of Americans at the time were far more inclined towards fascism than is today generally acknowledged, an inclination which was being constantly encouraged by the business community - and the eventual outcome of these elections does not really tell the whole story. The "game" was much more closely fought than the final numbers seem to indicate - a fact which most social commentators would just as soon forget as not, especially in light of what the Nazis eventually wrought in the Death Camps of Treblinka, Auschwitz, Sobibor, Dacau, etc. The effort by some to sweep this "little bit of history" under the rug, as if hiding it all will somehow make it go away, does not change the facts at all; if anything, all it has accomplished is to make fascism unrecognizable to large numbers of evangelical Christians today - a particularly dangerous turn of events in light of the fact that the business community is again seeking to employ Christians as their "foot soldiers" in what appears to be its eternal battle with trade unionism, the forces of socialism and their never ending effort to enrich themselves materially at the expense of average, working American men and women.
Indeed, so powerful was the influence exerted by these men in the 1930s and early 40s that moderate Republican leader Thomas E. Dewey charged that an "American 'Cliveden Set' (a reference to an influential group of British politicians, aristocrats and Christian leaders which sought to end England's war with Germany and build an alliance with Hitler against "atheistic" Bolshevism) in Washington and other cities" was scheming to use the Republican party to achieve a negotiated peace with the Nazis. "Who in the name of all that is mysterious are the members of the American 'Cliveden Set' in Washington or elsewhere?" he asked Roosevelt's friend Myron Taylor. Dewey had become convinced that just such a circle existed in the United States, and that "Cissy Paterson, publisher of the Washington Times Herald, Joseph Paterson of the New York Daily News, and Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune," among others (including William Randolph Hearst), were at the center of this circle; from here, according to Dewey, the group expanded outward to encompass most members of America's industrial elite, seeping out from there to poison American Christianity.
Essentially, it was this group of prominent men and women which was behind America's inclination towards fascism in the 1930s. And it was this group which, more than any other, bent every effort to bring American Christianity within its hateful and odious orbit as a bulwark against the forces of socialism which threatened its material possessions - destroying in the process the message of love and compassion which should have been at the core of the church's real message. And then the church wonders why the poor turn away from it? Why the destitute and the social outcasts of this world find in the atheistic message of communism, socialism, militant feminism, and in the homosexual community more compassion and hope than they find in the pronouncements of church leaders against "laziness" and "personal (or moral) failure." Christians somewhere along the line have forgotten that the very people they today condemn as "lazy" and as "social outcasts" were the very people who in the end turned to Christ and became His followers, not the rich and the mighty.
What has Christianity really to do with the rich and the mighty? - the same men and women who in the 1930s so openly and avidly supported fascism and racism as a national priority? Nothing, of course. It's no accident or "play on words" when Christ said of them "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Ah, but money is a magnificent opiate; a narcotic which unfailingly seems to deaden even the most sincere person's sense of right and wrong - and, unfortunately, Christians are no exception to this rule. The plain fact of the matter is, the Christian Community was "bought and sold" in the 1930s by a group of men and women who cared nothing for the essentials of the Christian faith and who were governed solely by their lust for wealth; and it's being "bought and sold" again in the 1990s - and by the same community of interests which "bought and sold" it in the 1930s.
Historians Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager write that as the presidential elections of 1936 approached, the business community whipped a great deal of the country up into a frenzy against Roosevelt and the New Deal, especially "Bible belt" evangelicals and blue collar Catholics: "Signs of discontent multiplied ... Conservatives asserted that the President was destroying the 'American system' of individualism, undermining the free enterprise system, and insinuating socialism, if not communism, into the American economy ... The Constitution, it was said, had been betrayed ... The President was reaching toward dictatorship ... Throughout 1936 criticism mounted, becoming shriller every day. The din and clamor pouring from hundreds of radio stations and thousands of platforms seemed impressive ..."
At the center of all this turbulence and unrest stood Gerald L. K. Smith, a conservative evangelist and darling of Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company, Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors and - sadly - James Gray of Moody Bible Institute and R.A. Torrey of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles; there was also Father Charles Coughlin of Detroit, an Irish Catholic priest who had single-handedly built up the largest radio following of the time; and a host of lesser lights, each with his own prescription on how to "save America" from the "socialist" Roosevelt. And there certainly could be no doubt as to the fascist leanings of all these men. Take Father Coughlin, for example: in 1940, Professor Donald S. Strong of the University of Texas created a sensation by proving that much of the content of Father Coughlin's radio broadcasts had been taken verbatim from speeches given by Joseph Goebbles, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich. Coughlin, Smith, Townsend, etc. clearly loomed, as journalist Raymond Gram Swain said, as the "forerunners of American fascism." While the business community was somewhat apprehensive at the strident populism of these men, they felt that anything was better than Roosevelt! They hoped that they could eventually wed this diverse constituency to themselves and ultimately to the Republican Party.
Unfortunately for them, if not for the country, the one man capable of building a movement out of this chaotic group was suddenly assassinated - Huey Long of Louisiana. Morrison and Commager write, "Had the effervescent Long lived he might have welded these ... dissident groups into ... a party. After all they shared a common hatred of Roosevelt, bankers (i.e., the Jews), and Harvard University (a catch phrase for 'effete' liberals)." Morison and Commager write that without Long, neither Coughlin nor Smith nor any of the rest of them were capable of "imposing any kind of discipline in the inherent anarchy of their followers, and nothing but an uneasy coalition emerged - a coalition without either party or candidates. In the end the coalition crumbled ..." - and with it all hope of building a fascist movement in America.
What all this indicates is that the widespread popularity of fascism and Nazism in the West prior to the Second World War - including the United States - has been greatly underplayed by historians, and understandably so - it's a great embarrassment, especially in light of the Holocaust. Nonetheless, fascism's popularity throughout the West - in Holland, Denmark, Belgium, France, etc. can be measured to some extent by gauging how widespread resistance really was in these countries to the German occupation; it was virtually nil. The fact of the matter is, there never really was a resistance in any of these countries; indeed, the French Resistance is to a large extent nothing more than a myth concocted after the war by Frenchmen to mask the extent of their own collaboration. What little resistance was mounted to the Nazi occupation was organized by the socialists - which to some extent explains the popularity of the Nazis: they were seen by countless numbers of Western Europeans as the only bulwark against the menace of socialism and atheistic communism. Measured against the threat of communism and Russia, Germany was seen as the better alternative. These were the very same attitudes towards fascism which were manifested in the United States by Father Coughlin, and it helps to explain the wide-spread popularity of his broadcasts.
Indeed, all these people would have agreed with Charles Lindbergh, when on December 17th, 1941 - ten days after Pearl Harbor - Lindbergh dejectedly said to a group of businessmen who at gathered at the home of Edwin S. Webster, a prominent New Yorker, "... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over ... Russia ... as a (Christian) bulwark against ... Bolshevism." Father Coughlin agreed; he stuck to his old line as if Pearl Harbor had never even happened. His journal, Social Justice, asked whether the common people's most dangerous enemies really resided in Berlin, Rome and Tokyo - that maybe they really lived in Washington, New York, Moscow and London.
After the war and the revelation of the Death Camps, the Christian community and big business did everything it could to cover their tracks.
Today, one can hardly find any reference at all in Catholic circles and publications to Father Coughlin; it's almost as if he had never existed - yet he was the most popular radio personality - Christian or otherwise - of his era, at least as popular in his time as Russ Limbaugh is today.
And what about the evangelicals? - they've managed to expunge their community's intimate relationship with such famous anti-Semites as Gerald Winrod and Gerald L.K. Smith every bit as thoroughly as the Catholics did with Coughlin. Today there is nothing at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) which would give away the close connection that both these men enjoyed with these and a myriad of other Christian schools during the 1930s and early '40s.
The problem, however, in any kind of cover-up is that while reputations - sometimes very valuable and otherwise honorable reputations which in no other way deserve to be sullied - are spared, the issues which caused the problem in the first place are not dealt with. It's akin to treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Yes, reputations are saved - but at what a cost!
By letting people like James Gray and R.A. Torrey, and institutions like Moody and BIOLA off the hook (men and institutions which this journal would gladly stand with otherwise), the underlying inclination of the Christian community towards - and fascination with - fascism has never been adequately examined and treated. As a result, these proclivities are now returning to haunt us sixty years later - in the 1990s - as the Business Right moves to strengthen its alliance with the Religious Right, and most evangelicals are hardly aware of what's happening. If there hadn't been a cover-up, American Christians could have learned the lesson. The cover-up, however, ended that possibility. Now we face a far greater menace, and Christians are ill prepared to recognize what they are dealing with. No reputation - not Moody's not BIOLA's, not Gray's, not Torrey's - is worth that kind of price!
How many Christians, for example, realize that the sinister and injurious myths which today surround the Tri-Lateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) [myths which almost every evangelical has heard of, and - if they are honest, many continue to subscribe to in one degree or another] first got their start in the 1920s and '30s as a result of the Religious Right's connection with the Business Right? If these myths had been dealt with honestly years ago - which would have meant sullying, if only obliquely, the reputations of people like those we have already mentioned, they would most likely not be surfacing again - and one makes a great mistake in thinking that these myths can resurface without at the same time bringing with them their hateful baggage of loathing for the Jews. [Please see our article, "Pat Robertson and the Illuminist Conspiracy."]
But because of our misguided efforts to protect reputations, the Christian penchant towards cover-ups continues unabated. Moreover, the tendency today on the part of Christians to "... speak no evil of our brothers and sisters in Christ" and the parallel inclination of Christian leaders to suppress criticism of themselves and other leaders by hiding behind verses like Matthew 18:15-17 (which have to do with carnal sin and not public pronouncements on politics and religion) is evidence of the fact that Christians have learned very little in the intervening years. A strict adherence to this way of thinking would force one to the conclusion that the Bible erred in enumerating David's sins with Bathsheeba, as well as the sins of countless others, many of them the greatest heroes of the faith mentioned in Scripture.
And what about the business community? In Europe, representatives from Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil, etc. were to be found scurrying all over the continent after the war gathering up and destroying incriminating evidence, buying silence, and re-writing history. Those investigators who arrived in Europe from the United States charged with uncovering this evidence, quickly found themselves blocked at every turn. Take the example of James Stewart Martin from the Department of Justice's investigative team. Historian Charles Higham writes that the young, very sharp lawyer arrived in Europe from Washington and came immediately to his office at the U.S. Military Command at Bushy Park, London, only to find that the pro-fascist, Graeme K. Howard of General Motors (see page 10) had been placed in charge of the overall investigation - which was akin to placing the fox in charge of the hen house. Martin protested, but nothing was done.
As a result, Martin and his team were hampered everywhere they went. Years later, Martin wrote in his book, All Honorable Men: "We had not been stopped in Germany by German business. The forces that stopped us had operated from the United States but had not operated in the open. We were not stopped by a law of Congress, by an Executive Order of the President, or even by a change of policy approved by the President ... In short, whatever it was that had stopped us was not 'the Government'. But it clearly had command of the channels through which the government normally operates."
Raymond Daniell of the New York Times noted the same thing; he wrote on September 20, 1945 that the "flouting" of efforts to get to the bottom of big business's collaboration with Germany was "particularly flagrant." On November 16, 1945 Daniell again reported to the Times from Germany that those who had come to Europe to ferret out the truth behind the rumors of big business's collaboration with the Nazis had all been relegated to obscure roles "compiling reports and making recom-mendations that other departments can use or ignore as they choose. Many of them feel that their usefulness here has been ended." In October 1946, Senator Kilgore arrived in Germany to try to find out what was going on. General Electric, which had supported Hitler before the war, quickly dispatched Philip D. Reed to head Kilgore off and frustrate his investigation. Reed succeeded.
Commenting on the effort by American business interests to cover their tracks, George Meader, counsel for Senator Kilgore's investigative committee, said that "... if the Germans had ever invaded this country (i.e., America) and conquered us, (these men, i.e., Reed, Knudsen, Ford, Sloan, Wood, etc.) would have been the first to collaborate with the conquerors ..."
Colonel Francis P. Miller, who had been executive officer of Army Intelligence under General Lucius Clay and had formerly been with the OSS, agreed with Martin, Meader and Daniell; he charged that organized efforts by American business interests in the United States were behind the efforts to suppress the investigation. He wrote that "Officials selected for influential ... positions in the military government (and who exercised effective control of the investigation) had business connections at home that ... influenced their outlook and acts."
By 1947 those investigators who were still trying to uncover the truth were denounced as "commies." Henry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie were the first to be denounced; and as the McCarthy era's great "Communist Scare" swung into high gear, the same fate was dished out to countless others. Big business brought all its forces to bear on fomenting the scare and poured untold sums of money into it - all as a means of covering their tracks. They were successful.
After the war and the subsequent cover-up, the pre-war connections that many of these men had established with the Nazis, Nazi collaborators, and Nazi sympathizers picked up right where they had left off. The war and its aftermath had done little to change the minds of most of these men; they continued to agree with Lindbergh in believing that the worst thing America did during the war was to destroy Nazi Germany. Most continued to maintain that "... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over ... Russia ... as a Christian bulwark against ... atheistic Bolshevism."
Take the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies (ACPS), for example. The ACPS had been established by right-wing business groups shortly after the "Red Scare" of 1919-1922. It had been founded by John Trevor. Associated with John Trevor in the founding of the organization was Harry Jung of the American Vigilant Intelligence Committee. Also associated with Jung and Trevor were Madison Grant, Harry Laughlin, and Walter Steele. All three had embraced at one time or another anti-democratic ideas. Laughlin was given an honorary Ph.D. by a Nazi-controlled German University for his work in the area of racial eugenics. Trevor, Jung, and Steele were also among fifteen Americans whose names appeared inside a 1933 Nazi book endorsed by Adolf Hitler. These men together with Robert Wood of Sears Roebuck all became enthusiastic supporters of Joe McCarthy during the "Great Communist Scare." It was during this time that Wood recruited John M. Fisher, a World War II bomber pilot and ex-FBI agent, and groomed him for the presidency of the American Security Council (ASC), an extremely influential group of right-wing industrialists and politicos.
All of these men - Wood, Fisher, Jung, Trevor, Steele, Laughlin, etc. - also became active supporters for reprieving convicted Nazi war criminals. Wood helped establish Human Events, then a monthly magazine, that in late 1945 called the Nuremberg Trials a "travesty of justice."
John Trevor also helped organize a 1954 rally in support of McCarthy. The group that rallied for McCarthy was known as "Ten Million Americans Mobilizing for Justice."
Investigative reporter Russ Bellant calls those involved a "Who's Who of American anti-Semitism." A female reporter from Time Magazine who was taking pictures was physically assaulted and called a "Dirty Jew;" others shouted, "Hang the communist bitch."
Between 1955 and 1961 the ASC cosponsored a series of annual meetings called the National Military-Industrial Conferences. Many U.S. corporations participated, including United Fruit, Standard Oil (New Jersey), Honeywell, U.S. Steel, etc., and, of course, Sears Roebuck. Robert Wood was the key organizer. Included in these talks were Martin Blank, and Baron Frederich August von der Heydte. Both of these men were Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. Blank was a native of Germany. Blank's entry in Who's Who in Germany described him as having worked in Berlin for a mine and steel mill business group from 1922 to 1945. A study of backers of German Nazism - Who Financed Hitler - says that Blank represented a secret group of twelve Ruhr industrialists called the Ruhrlade, "the most powerful secret organization of big business that existed during the Weimar period."
Von der Heydte is associated with "Patriots for Germany," a Lyndon LaRouche neo-fascist cult group. In 1953 he wrote, "democracy is linked with collapse, defeat and foreign uniforms stalking German soil," and that "democracy was brought (to Germany) by the victorious enemy together with the army of occupation." 
Today, as the Business Right moves to strengthen its relationship with the Religious Right, it's bringing with it the same baggage of racism and anti-Semitism that it brought with it in the 1930s. And its strategy to enlist evangelicals as its "foot soldiers" and "grunts" in its never-ending struggle to protect its wealth remains the same: waving the "bloody shirt" of "atheistic secular-humanism" (which the Business Right sees as merely a front for socialism), and contributing large sums of money to the Religious Right's churches and ministries.
And it's working! - just as it did in the 1930s. Why? - because of the vile and corrupt symmetry that continues to exist between the two communities, a symmetry that evangelical leaders - leaders who should know better - have done nothing to end; specifically, the perceived need the Religious Right has for the money that the Business Right possesses, and the need the Business Right has for the votes the Religious Right commands. And if anyone really thinks that there is more to this alliance than this, they would do well to ask themselves what real interest people like Reed Larson, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Richard Shoff, Jay Parker, John McGoff, Don McAlvany, William D'Onofrio, etc. have in Christianity other than to use it as a bulwark against forces which threaten their wealth?
James the apostle wasn't just kidding when he warned Christians to beware of such men, "Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats (the debt collectors) ... Behold, the ... (wage) of the laborers who have reaped down ... (the rich man's) fields, which he keeps back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of the laborers which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. The rich have lived in pleasure on the earth and ... condemned and killed the just ..." (James 2:6; 5:4-6)
There is much more to be said with regard to this matter, many more details regarding this alliance which need to be revealed - which we will do in upcoming issues. In the meantime - and as we indicated in the beginning - maybe the next time you hear of large sums of money pouring into your churches and/or ministries from wealthy benefactors, you might do well to ask yourself: what's the intention behind all this beneficence? What are our leaders doing to "earn" it? What kind of "silence" on their part has this philanthropy engendered? You're making a big mistake in believing that such patronage does not create obligations - insinuated or specific; that, in the end, it does not create an impious and vulgar reliance on people who care little for the real message of Jesus Christ.