I came across a piece from 1967, written three years after extremists began taking over the Republican Party, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater to run for president. He took a trouncing but the movement was given a huge boost.
They had established the parameters of the New American Right. Anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-liberal, anti-welfare state, anti-communist, pro-military, pro-guns, pro-"God".
The piece was in the forward of a book by John H. Redekop: The American Far Right (1968), and was written by Mark O. Hatfield, a long serving Republican senator. He died recently, one of the last of the moderate in his party.
Hatfield was a delegate at the 1964 Republican National Convention, and in his keynote speech, denounced the extremism he saw infiltrating the GOP. His speech was met with an anticipated strong reaction, but he was more surprised by the amount of hate mail he received from people who called themselves Christians.
His story was not surprising. In Canada, Brian Mulroney took a page from Ronald Reagan's hymnal, and courted Canada's Religious Right to help him get elected. He then established a "God Squad" to deal with their pressing issues. One member, Jake Epp, helped to draft a bill as Minister of Health, that would have given two year prison terms to any doctor performing an abortion, unless the mother's health was at risk.
His squadron became so inflamed at the concession, that Mulroney was forced to move Epp to another ministry.
Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, whose book A Christian Manifesto is said to be the blueprint for the Religious Right/Moral Majority, left the movement himself and wrote a book Crazy for God, in which he exposed the racism and hypocrisy of these so-called "values voters".
He faced a similar firing squad, with letters and emails laced with so much profanity, that it frightened him.
More than four decades ago, Hatfield warned:
This type of political extremism feeds on fear and frustration ... The political extremists have reacted to this frustration with determination to purify the American dream, to remold our institutions and way of life according to their prescription for a perfect society.Well designed and well financed are definitely key, especially the well-financed part. And even then, the suggestion was that most of the money came from "oil tycoons". Hatfield continues:
The Far Right has been successfully united by a well-designed, well-financed, and persistent campaign of fear. ... And the continual fanning of this fear has created such a distortion in the perceptions of some adherents of the Far Right that they can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality, or between cause and effect.
If the Far Righters were to present a picture of the world, their medium would be block-printing. They could thus represent the world in sharp blacks and whites ... The validity of their judgments rests on the logic of "either/or" and they have little tolerance or even comprehension of a middle ground between these two extremes. They would deny that gray is often the color of the complex truth. "The logical fallacy of the excluded middle..." Far Right crusaders would deny that a man is Christian if he does not share their political beliefs. Their "either/or" philosophy extends into the realm of religion, and they counsel that you can accept either the welfare state or Christ — but not both.David Kuo, a former member of George Bush's "Faith-based Group", spoke of the same kind of 'take no prisoners', 'no middle ground', philosophy. He said that the group he eventually moved away from, believed that there should be no such thing as moderate Republicans or right-leaning Democrats.
Right vs left. Conservatives vs liberals. You are with them or against them. In his book Harperland, Lawrence Martin spoke of a visiting foreign leader who was quite taken aback by Stephen Harper's view of Liberals. While the foreign leader often locked horns with his political opponents, he stated that Harper actually "hated" his. He found that kind of open hatred unnerving.
Hatfield, however, spoke of something else, when it comes to movement conservatism and their religiosity. They are not really Christian at all. Instead of believing that God created man in his own image, they have created God in their image. That of a "White, Protestant, anti-Communist American". Now it's a White, Protestant or Orthodox Catholic or Jew, anti-Muslim American or Canadian.
This unholy marriage of religion and politics has produced a perverted Christianity based not on love but hate, not on charity but persecution. The Far Righters are definitely not practicing religious fundamentalism, as they claim, but are actually practicing a form of paganism. They worship at the idol of "country" and have substituted the gospel of anti-Communism for the gospel of Christ. In almost all aspects, political extremism is a negative force on our society; it is a force that should be understood and its power properly respected.I think he really hit the nail on the head. The religion that this group practices, is one of false gods. Guns, flags, right-wing politicians, money, Wall Street, bankers ....
Above is Rick Perry, a Republican presidential hopeful, raising his arm and arms for the Lord. He epitomizes the new political evangelist, invoking cheers when he brags about how many people he had put to death when Governor of Texas, even beating out George Bush's record.
We have been giving them too much credit when we call them the Christian Right. They are the Pagan Wrong. Heathens who kiss their guns goodnight (honest. Visit some of the websites) and carry signs that read "God hates fags".
We're not persecuting Christians when we expose the Religious Right, but instead are saving their integrity.
What I find amazing is that despite all the money that has been poured into movement conservatism, we are still a pretty progressive people. Most Canadians and even most Americans, have accepted homosexuality, equal marriage and a woman's reproductive rights. They oppose war, and do not believe that Islam is our biggest threat, despite what Stephen Harper and George Bush say.
And they don't believe that a woman's place is in the home, unless that's where she would like to be, or that a family is only defined by mother, father and children.
If there is a God, maybe she's on our side after all.
The movement has had a lot of political success, but only because many people vote Conservative or Republican, because of tradition; and the chronically wealthy support them because they like not having to pay their fair share of taxes.
Canada's Reformers only gained power when they bought out the rights to the PC Party. Before that, Reform-Alliance was dying a slow death. Their message was just not palpable to the majority of Canadians.
We need to see what Hatfield saw, that the movement is a threat to our peace and prosperity.