In an earlier post, I referred to trickle-down economics as the most destructive scam in modern history. Religion is the most destructive scam in all history. It impedes progress, lionises ignorance and bigotry, and has been responsible for a countless number of deaths and annihilations throughout history. In America, the dominant religious cult is Christianity and over the last few decades its extremist fringe has gained control over much of the political landscape.
In every sense the Christian right is synonymous with neo-fascism. It has institutionalized brutality and savagery and has infiltrated every level of the US government. From Governors organising prayer rallys to covert laws dismantling women’s rights, to the protection of officials guilty of theft, assault, rape, murder, and pedophilia, religion is a terrible scourge of, and burden upon, society.
The Founding Fathers of the US were conscious of the harm of religion and crafted the Constitution in such a way as to create the world’s first secular nation state. The separation of church and state is part of the bedrock of the Constitution and yet government at all levels disobeys it daily. How did it come to a state where it disregards the law so openly?
To be clear, religious favouritism by any government body is illegal in the US. Many countries, like Denmark, England, Italy, and Saudi Arabia have a national religion that is recognised by law. The US Constitution explicitly restricts the State from supporting any religion.
The exact wording of the First Amendment is as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In other words, people are free to exercise whichever religion they wish or to not be religious at all, and no government can pass a law that encourages or prevents this. It violates the First Amendment if a federal, state, or local body makes a rule that favours one particular religion since that, by definition, obviously inhibits the free exercise of other religions.
When the government upholds tax-exempt status for religions it is breaking the law. When a public school forces a sports team to pray before a game it is breaking the law. When a judge posts the Ten Commandments in a court house he or she is breaking the law. When a president employs a religious advisor at taxpayer expense he is breaking the law. Nonetheless, the US is rife with illegal religious violations at all levels of government.
The rise of the fundamentalist right
It is important to note that the movement towards Christian fundamentalism is a fairly recent phenomenon in US history. “Under God” was not added to the pledge of allegiance until 1954 and “In God We Trust” was not added to paper currency until 1956. They were part of a propaganda campaign to bolster the red scare; to distinguish the “good folk of America” from the “godless commies”. It was, however, just enough of a foundation for fundamentalism to begin to fester.
The infiltration of fundamentalism was a conscious effort by right wing groups to politicize Christians. Its escalation began around 1980 with the rise of dominionism. They took over seminaries, pushed out left wing religious leaders such as those kin to Martin Luther King, and today the ensemble no longer resembles the religious groups that came before. Their political activity started out crudely but over time became more sophisticated as they fused their iconography language with that of nationalism, and encouraged despair among the poor and working classes. By the early 20th century they had weaved themselves into the fabric of every branch of government.
Today, there is essentially no difference between the Christian right and the neo-fascists. Australians may wonder why Trump, who should be so obviously repulsive to anybody who claims to possess Christian values, received 80% of the evangelical vote in the last election. The reason is because Christian values are not a priority of the Christian right. Like fundamentalist groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and Boko Haram, they care only about acquiring wealth and power and imposing their fundamentalism upon the population.
In case you might be thinking that a fascist group needs an armed wing, consider the following quote from Chris Hedges during an interview with Abby Martin on 6 March 2017:
“I had a conversation once with Jeremy Scahill who wrote the great book on Blackwater, and I had been going around the country speaking about the Christian right and I said, “Well, you don’t have to worry. They’re not fascists because they don’t have an armed wing.” Every fascist group has an armed wing. And Jeremy said, “What do you mean? That is their armed wing.” And I realized, oh, he’s right and I was wrong. And they do have, through Blackwater, essentially mercenary forces at their disposal. And any totalitarian or even authoritarian government relies heavily on vigilante violence because they’re not held accountable for it. I mean, even the excesses of the Brownshirts, people forget Hitler would denounce it, because he could.”
The armed neo-fascists and Blackwater are the armed wings of the fundamentalist right. The mercenary leader, Erik Prince, is the brother of Betsy Devos, who is currently the Education Secretary and in the process of dismantling public education to bolster religious charter schools. The infiltration of fundamentalist Christianity into the school system has been an ongoing effort by the Christian right; for example, the concept of “intelligent design” was designed as a way of covertly incorporating the myth of creationism into high school science textbooks.
A dying movement
You can probably tell from the rest of the wording of the First Amendment that the government does not care about this particular amendment nowadays. And with the police, the army and the media all falling into line, there is little recourse until the masses unite.
Fortunately there is some good news regarding the scourge that is religion in the US. The number of non-believers continues to grow with each new generation and so religion, thankfully, is spontaneously dying. This is probably one of the main reasons why the religious right is becoming more aggressive, it is a final stand to impede the inevitable progress as the masses become more enlightened and more educated in the information age. The number of “nones” in the US (those who do not affiliate with a religion) has increased from around 10% to 23% over the last generation and in 2017, 56% of the American population said that it is not necessary to believe in god to be moral (this is up from 49% in 2011). So, the future is on the correct side, and religion will likely take its rightful place at the periphery of society in a generation or two. In the meantime, the Christian neo-fascists will not be so willing to give up the political power that they have only recently acquired so absolutely.
Religion is a destructive leech on society. It serves no good and no true purpose. I will close with a paraphrasing of the quote by Steven Weinberg:
“Good people will do good things and evil people will do evil things. However, it takes something like religion to get good people to do evil things.”