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American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America

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Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and our way of life. In "Ameri Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and our way of life. In "American Fascists," Chris Hedges, veteran journalist and author of the National Book Award finalist "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," challenges the Christian Right's religious legitimacy and argues that at its core it is a mass movement fueled by unbridled nationalism and a hatred for the open society. Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the movement as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of senators and members of Congress who have earned between 80 and 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government to subvert it. The movement's call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its warped vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. The movement's yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for a new, frightening America. "American Fascists," which includes interviews and coverage of events such as pro-life rallies and weeklong classes on conversion techniques, examines the movement's origins, its driving motivations and its dark ideological underpinnings. Hedges argues that the movement currently resembles the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and were willing to make concessions until they achieved unrivaled power. The Christian Right, like these early fascist movements, does not openly call for dictatorship, nor does it use physical violence to suppress opposition. In short, the movement is not yet revolutionary. But the ideological architecture of a Christian fascism is being cemented in place. The movement has roused its followers to a fever pitch of despair and fury. All it will take, Hedges writes, is one more national crisis on the order of September 11 for the Christian Right to make a concerted drive to destroy American democracy. The movement awaits a crisis. At that moment they will reveal themselves for what they truly are -- the American heirs to fascism. Hedges issues a potent, impassioned warning. We face an imminent threat. His book reminds us of the dangers liberal, democratic societies face when they tolerate the intolerant.


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Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and our way of life. In "Ameri Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a Christian nation that would build a global Christian empire, it was hard to take such hyperbolic rhetoric seriously. Today, such language no longer sounds like hyperbole but poses, instead, a very real threat to our freedom and our way of life. In "American Fascists," Chris Hedges, veteran journalist and author of the National Book Award finalist "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," challenges the Christian Right's religious legitimacy and argues that at its core it is a mass movement fueled by unbridled nationalism and a hatred for the open society. Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the movement as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of senators and members of Congress who have earned between 80 and 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government to subvert it. The movement's call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its warped vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. The movement's yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for a new, frightening America. "American Fascists," which includes interviews and coverage of events such as pro-life rallies and weeklong classes on conversion techniques, examines the movement's origins, its driving motivations and its dark ideological underpinnings. Hedges argues that the movement currently resembles the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and were willing to make concessions until they achieved unrivaled power. The Christian Right, like these early fascist movements, does not openly call for dictatorship, nor does it use physical violence to suppress opposition. In short, the movement is not yet revolutionary. But the ideological architecture of a Christian fascism is being cemented in place. The movement has roused its followers to a fever pitch of despair and fury. All it will take, Hedges writes, is one more national crisis on the order of September 11 for the Christian Right to make a concerted drive to destroy American democracy. The movement awaits a crisis. At that moment they will reveal themselves for what they truly are -- the American heirs to fascism. Hedges issues a potent, impassioned warning. We face an imminent threat. His book reminds us of the dangers liberal, democratic societies face when they tolerate the intolerant.

30 review for American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    This is a very alarming portrait of some of the darkest forces at work in America, or anywhere for that matter. Hedges argues that the extreme wing of the contemporary Christian movement in the US shares much with the actions and worldview of other historical fascist movements, movements that often mask the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and their willingness to make concessions only until they achieved unrivaled power. There is little in here that I was not aware of, as far as t This is a very alarming portrait of some of the darkest forces at work in America, or anywhere for that matter. Hedges argues that the extreme wing of the contemporary Christian movement in the US shares much with the actions and worldview of other historical fascist movements, movements that often mask the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and their willingness to make concessions only until they achieved unrivaled power. There is little in here that I was not aware of, as far as the overall goals of the Christo-fascists, but as he explores some of the details it was illuminating, and even more disturbing than I had already realized. He describes how a dominionist-based ideology is at the root of a radical movement that seeks to shred the barriers between church and state. The new radical churchies would have been familiar to George Orwell, with the attempt to redefine our very language to their sinister purposes. They are systematically attempting to subvert the root institutions and beliefs of America, intent on ushering in a theocratic state, disenfranchising any who object, attacking the other, whether for sexual or religious preference. He points out how the leaders of this movement have evacuated core Christianity of its meaning, substituting inside the false cover of the Christian name a core of exclusion, violence, victimization, and dehumanization that is very much worth fearing. There is a reasonable swath of examples from which to choose here. Perhaps I am picking nits, but I felt that, while his take was compelling, I would have been more impressed with more detailed, point by point comparison of contemporary and historical movement actions. Also, the information seemed more anecdotal than scientific. Maybe that might have been addressed by referring to other, more precise, less popular works that detailed the trend by the numbers. But, overall, Hedges makes a compelling and very alarming case that there is considerable darkness afoot and all who value core American values like separation of church and state and the first amendment would do well to pay attention, and take action where possible. =============================EXTRA STUFF -----May 26, 2018 - NY Times - A Christian Nationalist Blitz – by Katherine Stewart - An alarming report on the place where activist faith meets fascism -----June 20, 2018 - NY Times - The Christian Right Adopts a 50-State Strategy – by Katherine Stewart - The danger spreads -----December 31, 2018 - NY Times - Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus - by Katherine Stewart - a very frightening look at how the evangelical right views Trump and justifies his many crimes -----July 1, 2020 - NPR - White Supremacist Ideas Have Historical Roots In U.S. Christianity by Tom Djelten -----July 15, 2020 - Time - These States’ Leaders Claim to Be ‘Pro-Life.’ So Why Are So Many of Their Citizens Dying of COVID-19? By William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ================================QUOTES P 10 America and the Christian religions have no monopoly on goodness or saintliness. God has not chosen Americans as a people above others. The beliefs of Christians are as flawed and imperfect as all religious beliefs. But both the best of American democracy and the best of Christianity embody important values, values such as compassion, tolerance and belief in justice and equality. America is a nation where all have a voice in how we live and how we are governed. We have never fully adhered to these values—indeed, probably never will—but our health as a country is determined by our steadfastness in striving to attain them. And there are times when taking a moral stance, perhaps the highest form of patriotism, means facing down the community, even the nation. Our loyalty to our community and our nation, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “is therefore morally tolerable only if it includes values wider than those of the community.” These values, democratic and Christian, are being dismantled, often with stealth, by a radical Christian movement, known as dominionism, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism…Dominionism seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as it is defined by the scholar Robert O. Paxton, who sees fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. P 13 While traditional fundamentalism shares many of the darker traits of the new national movement—such as blind obedience to a male hierarchy that often claims to speak for god, intolerance toward nonbelievers, and a disdain for rational, intellectual inquiry—it has never attempted to impose its belief system on the rest of the nation. And it has not tried to transform government, as well as all other secular institutions, into extensions of the church. The new radical fundamentalism amounts to a huge and disastrous mutation. Dominionists and their wealthy, right-wing sponsors speak in terms and phrases that are familiar and comforting to most Americans, but they no longer use words to mean what they meant in the past. They engage in a slow process of “logicide,” the killing of words. The old definitions of words are replaced by new ones. Code words of the old belief system are deconstructed and assigned diametrically opposed meanings. Words such as “truth,” “Wisdom,” “Death”, “Liberty,” “Life” and “death” mean life in Christ or death to Christ, and are used to signal belief or unbelief in the risen Lord. “Wisdom” has little to do with human wisdom but refers to the level of commitment and obedience to the system of belief. “Liberty” is not about freedom, but the “liberty” found when one accepts Jesus Christ and is liberated from the world to obey Him. But perhaps the most pernicious distortion comes with the word “love,” the word used to lure into the movement many who seek a warm, loving community to counter their isolation and alienation. “Love” is distorted to mean an unquestioned obedience to those who claim to speak for God in return for the promise of everlasting life. The blind, human love, the acceptance of the other, is attacked as an inferior love, dangerous and untrustworthy. P 21 Dominionists wait only for a fiscal, social or political crisis, a moment of upheaval in the form of an economic meltdown or another terrorist strike on American soil, to move to reconfigure the political system. Such a crisis could unleash a public clamor for drastic new national security measures and draconian reforms to safeguard the nation. Widespread discontent and fear, stoked and manipulated by dominionists and their sympathizers, could be used by these radicals to sweep aside objections of beleaguered moderates in Congress and the courts, those clinging to a bankrupt and discredited liberalism, to establish an American theocracy, a Christian fascism. P 28 The movement is fueled by fear of powerful external and internal enemies whose duplicity and cunning is constantly at work. These phantom enemies serve to keep believers afraid and in a state of constant alert, ready to support repressive measures against all who do not embrace the movement. But this tactic has required the airbrushing out of past racists creeds—an effort that, sometime after 1970, saw Jerry Falwell recall all copies of his earlier sermons warning against integration and the evils of the black race. P 36 Those in the movement now fight, fueled by the rage of the dispossessed, to crush and silence the reality-based world. The dominionist movement is the response of people trapped in a deformed, fragmented and disoriented culture that had become callous and unforgiving, a culture that has too often failed to provide the belonging, care and purpose that make life bearable, a culture that, as many in the movement like to say, has become a “culture of death.” The new utopians are not always wrong in their critique of American society. But what they have set out to create is far, far worse than what we endure. What is happening in America is revolutionary. A group of religious utopians, with the sympathy and support of millions of Americans, are slowly dismantling democratic institutions to establish a religious tyranny, the springboard to an American fascism. P 151 [people] who do not conform to the ideology are gradually dehumanized. They are tainted with the despised characteristics inherent in the godless. This attack is waged in highly abstract terms, to negate the reality of concrete, specific and unique human characteristics, to deny the possibility of goodness in those who do not conform. Some human beings, the message goes, are no longer human beings. They are types. This new, exclusive community fosters rigidity, conformity and intolerance. In this new binary world segments of the human race are disqualified from moral and ethical consideration. And because fundamentalist followers live in a binary universe, they are incapable of seeing others as anything more than inverted reflections of themselves. If they seek to destroy nonbelievers to create a Christian America, then nonbelievers muse be seeking to destroy them. This belief system negates the possibility of the ethical life. It fails to grasp that goodness must be sought outside the self and that the best defense against evil is to seek it within. When people come to believe that they are immune from evil, that there is no resemblance between themselves and those they define as the enemy, they will inevitably grow to embody the evil they claim to fight. It is only by grasping our own capacity for evil, our own darkness, that we hold our own capacity for evil at bay. When evil is always external, then moral purification always entails the eradication of others.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lilo

    There are 180 reviews of this book on Goodreads. Most of them are highly informative and to the point. Please read them—read them all! And then, read the book. It is a MUST-READ. I do not see any reason to repeat what other reviewers have said, so this review will be very short: I didn't like Chris Hedges’ run-on writing style. Yet this is not important. The well-researched contents of this book are so alarming that the poor writing style matters no more than an unattractive color matters on a roa There are 180 reviews of this book on Goodreads. Most of them are highly informative and to the point. Please read them—read them all! And then, read the book. It is a MUST-READ. I do not see any reason to repeat what other reviewers have said, so this review will be very short: I didn't like Chris Hedges’ run-on writing style. Yet this is not important. The well-researched contents of this book are so alarming that the poor writing style matters no more than an unattractive color matters on a road sign reading: “Danger Abyss”. I’ll finish this mini-review with my personal religious confession: Rating this book 4 stars (5 for the contents, 3 for the writing style), it should be rather clear that I don’t believe in what any of these evangelical churches are teaching. So what do I believe? Do I believe that it is dangerous to combine state and religion?—Yes, I do. Do I believe in God?—Let’s say, I assume that there is a higher entity, usually called God, who is responsible for the Big Bang. Do I believe in Jesus?—I believe in the historical Jesus, not in the fairy-tale Jesus that Christian Churches have invented. Do I believe in the bible?—No, I don’t; at least, I do not take it literally. (Instead, I believe the historical facts about how the bible came to be, and I draw my conclusions from them. Please see “Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible & the Revolution it Inspired”. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3....) Do I believe in hell?—Hell, yes, I do! Hell would be sitting helplessly in a nursing home and having the peace of my last days disturbed not only by busy-body nurses dragging me into the shower at un-Christian hours but also by intruding religious fundamentalists, trying to stuff the gospel down my throat and proselytize me to a religion that should have been done and over with along with the Dark Ages. P.S. If you think Chris Hedges is exaggerating, just check out hate-spewing, Holocaust-denying Pastor Steven Anderson: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendly... And there are others like him. P.P.S. This review was written some time in 2015 and was last edited on July 10, 2016.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    I don’t remember much of this book, and I had given it away. What I can say is that after the Tea Party got into power, I noticed that some of my old friends were in it. I learned that Christians were now getting into politics in a big way and wished to change the laws to suit themselves and then want to force those laws onto everyone else. In fact, before moving to the south, I had only a few negative views of Christianity, but now I have grown to fear and dislike the far fight Christians. I ha I don’t remember much of this book, and I had given it away. What I can say is that after the Tea Party got into power, I noticed that some of my old friends were in it. I learned that Christians were now getting into politics in a big way and wished to change the laws to suit themselves and then want to force those laws onto everyone else. In fact, before moving to the south, I had only a few negative views of Christianity, but now I have grown to fear and dislike the far fight Christians. I had found that many of these groups do not care about others, of helping the poor, or of giving them health care. They are also often racists and bigots. After moving to the south, I had joined a certain Club whose members were Christian and whose politics were Republican. I quit twice, but my so-called Christian friend kept begging me to come back. The final time that I left, she and I parted ways. Once, someone in the Club told me that Democrats were not Christian. This is what they are teaching in her church now. I didn’t have to nerve to tell her that they were Christian, but that I wasn’t. I was beginning to feel that I wanted nothing more to do with them because they wanted to change people, in exactly the same way that THEY claim that the Muslim’s wish to force Christians into their religion. Such projection on their part. They also believe that they were right in forcing “the heathens” into Christianity and in killing those who wouldn’t comply. IF the makers of our constitution had not separated Church from State, non-Christians would not exist. Donald Trump is trying or did change that by passing a law that brings Church and State closer together. Will this law stand? If it does, ministers can now talk about politics in church, but I must say, they were doing it anyway. I know of another person who said that her minister said that we should pray for Trump, that Hillary was evil. I replied, “I am praying for our country,” and now she won’t speak to me at the check out line. Her comments to me whenever we ran into each other were always, "Have a blessed day," now I imagine she is thinking, "I hope you rot in hell." I had also met an old friend, someone I knew when I was 8 years old, who found me through my family. She came to visit me and wanted me to believe in Jesus and desired to take me to church. I went with her, but I didn't get saved. She then told me that she had promised herself that she would never be friends with a non-Christian. That means that I am evil in her eyes. She wondered where I got my politics. I said, “Berkeley, in my college days." I wish I had added that my political views were based on morals, on empathy, and on kindness towards others. We parted ways. I knew her Tea Party/Christian beliefs so well, because I have heard them so much in the past years. She even calls blacks, “Thugs,” and I told her that that word was offensive to me; it was racist. So, last I heard, she decided to ride along with the police in her town, to help them somehow to get rid of those thugs. Christians here believe that Democrats are Communists and Communists are Socialists and therefore evil. You do not want to open up your mouth and let them know that you are a Democrat here. You do not even wish to speak about racism. I kept telling my Club friend why I was quitting again. Racism. Bigotry. She said, “No, they aren’t.” When I told her what they had said. sometimes she would say, “No one is perfect. We need to be forgiving.” One member once said to me, “Why did you leave? Don’t you like us?” And in private I said to her, “I can’t be around racists.” I had to find my own niche of friends here, people who thought more like me. It wasn't easy, but it happened. To think that I live in a democratic county and yet the Democrats here are afraid of speaking out, and yet the Republicans and Christians are so vocal in public. If Democrats are talking politics together and a Republican walks into the room, they stop talking politics.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I held off on reviewing this book. Anyone who has read many of my reviews and has actually read this book will know I'll disagree with it's conclusions. I got involved in a discussion of it in the comments section of someone else's review that got rather...heated. But I decide I was now "committed", so to speak. So, despite the fact that some may like to have me "committed" I take keyboard in hand so to speak and brave the waves of electrons. In this case, I not only disagree with the book's conc I held off on reviewing this book. Anyone who has read many of my reviews and has actually read this book will know I'll disagree with it's conclusions. I got involved in a discussion of it in the comments section of someone else's review that got rather...heated. But I decide I was now "committed", so to speak. So, despite the fact that some may like to have me "committed" I take keyboard in hand so to speak and brave the waves of electrons. In this case, I not only disagree with the book's conclusions however, I disagree with it's methods. The book makes use of a variation of the "straw man" strategy (in logic the Straw Man fallacy) in which you set up an argument or an opponent and "state their arguments, points of view, or beliefs" in such a way that they are "easy to knock down". From misinterpreting the Bible to misstating beliefs and actual statements the book runs the gamut. You may not be fond of "religion" in general or Christianity in particular, but don't depend on this volume for your arguments OR your facts. Among other things, the book attempts to set up a picture of "conservative Christians" (a phrase with multiple meanings, not some kind of monolithic group) as present day "Fascists" (read Nazis). First I'd suggest that the writer learn the definition of Fascist. YES, there are racist hate groups that try to incorporate the name "Christian" into their group. They do not reflect the teachings of Christ. Yes at least two abortion doctors have been murdered, and other clinic workers have been hurt or killed. Yes there have been at least a dozen abortion clinic bombings or fires. Based on this some would plaster all Christians as killers or arsonists. BUT what is the difference in the Christian community when these things happen? The mass of Christians VOCALLY and LOUDLY renounce these actions. They aren't quiet, they don't sit back and remain on the side lines, they set out to say Christ did not teach hate, Christ brought "Good News" to "ALL PEOPLE". It's tempting for me to start giving examples of misrepresentations from the book and refuting them, the accounts of Genesis or the use of money by "faith based Charities" and so on. I could make this a multi-page review. Look, the book sets out to draw a parallel between "Conservative Christians" and Nazis, comparing this by equating "Liberals or Progressives" with the Jews of the camps, yet it's the Christians themselves who are the targets of marginalization here. What is a "Conservative Christian"? Is it someone who holds "Conservative" political views and is a Christian? Or is it a Christian who holds "Conservative" views about Christianity? Is it a phrase that refers to both, neither, a combination of the two? Why are people who by definition believe in small non-intrusive government being compared to fascists? Why are people who believe in free will and that everyone must be free to decide what they believe and if they believe being compared to Nazis? The bulk of Christians who are conservative believe that ALL must be free to decide if they will be religious at all, if they are then what religion they will be, and ALL must be protected to believe what they will and free to express those beliefs. But NO one can control the use of a name. If a hate group calls itself for example " Westboro Baptist Church" then they have the right to do that and to spout what they will. It doesn't mean that they represent the views of all Baptists. (By the way, I'm not a Baptist of any stripe...just an example). I suspect that the book has an axe to grind and possibly an agenda from the word go...but that's just me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paltia

    Interesting and, I’m wanting to add another descriptive bit here but find emptiness. Okay, I’ll go with an ominous and frightening reality.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف

    A Plea To America I might not be American, but I still feared the growing right-wing elements appearing from the fringes of it's society post-9/11. I speak in the past tense for good reason. These forces are no longer circling the outside of the open society like vultures, they're in the white house, and in power. Men like the born again Evangelical Mike Pence, and flat out white-supremacist Steve Bannon (to name a few) have - to steal a term from Hedges - been "vomited" up from the slime of A Plea To America I might not be American, but I still feared the growing right-wing elements appearing from the fringes of it's society post-9/11. I speak in the past tense for good reason. These forces are no longer circling the outside of the open society like vultures, they're in the white house, and in power. Men like the born again Evangelical Mike Pence, and flat out white-supremacist Steve Bannon (to name a few) have - to steal a term from Hedges - been "vomited" up from the slime of the morally vapid dregs of America's left behind. They're using the ideologically void President Trump as a conduit to funnel their views into concrete policy, and it's terrifying. America is truly lucky a charismatic figure hasn't appeared to whip up large parts of the population into a total frenzy, and we should fear that someone as inept as Trump has succeed in doing so to a degree. It doesn't bare thinking about what would happen if someone with the 'likeability' of Obama and genuine ideological will, replaced Trump in time. As such, I can only give this book a full five stars for its foresight and accuracy (being written in 2007, A year before Obama came into office). It's the most straight forward Hedges book I've read yet, and is missing the usual opinionated passages that appear from the personal experience of 'War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning' and 'Empire of Illusion'. Instead Hedges reports on the movement in true Journalistic style, resulting in a brief glimpse into the mindset of the average person willingly placing themselves into the embrace of those aiming to replicate a Fascist movement, complete with Cross and Star Spangled Flag.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Douglas McGaw

    The danger of the "Christian" right wing to our freedom and right to live as we desire is vastly underrated, and Hedges does a brilliant job of exposing this danger. By defining what is right and wrong, by viewing history and even prehistory through the prism of a literal interpretation of the Bible, they seek to impose their worldview on all and to hell - literally - with those who refuse to accept their way. Hedges has solid credentials as a "person of faith", but sees clearly the inherent dan The danger of the "Christian" right wing to our freedom and right to live as we desire is vastly underrated, and Hedges does a brilliant job of exposing this danger. By defining what is right and wrong, by viewing history and even prehistory through the prism of a literal interpretation of the Bible, they seek to impose their worldview on all and to hell - literally - with those who refuse to accept their way. Hedges has solid credentials as a "person of faith", but sees clearly the inherent dangers of merging politics with faith. The example of Nazi Germany - where adherence to the official line is the only way to succeed - is all too close a parallel. Although it is likely to be read only by those who agree with Hedges, it should be read by all; many of the more thoughtful among the Christian Right would likely have the wool pulled from their eyes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jami

    So, Ellis and I just finished reading this as Book #1 in our newly-founded 2-person book group, and while it wouldn't have been my first pick, I actually really enjoyed reading it, and it was an excellent book for discussion. Chris Hedges describes the idealogy of the extreme Christian Right group based here in America, and frankly, I found it to be pretty scary. The idea behind creating an entirely Christian nation (as the Christian Right would like to do) is not only un-democratic, but it is al So, Ellis and I just finished reading this as Book #1 in our newly-founded 2-person book group, and while it wouldn't have been my first pick, I actually really enjoyed reading it, and it was an excellent book for discussion. Chris Hedges describes the idealogy of the extreme Christian Right group based here in America, and frankly, I found it to be pretty scary. The idea behind creating an entirely Christian nation (as the Christian Right would like to do) is not only un-democratic, but it is also completely intolerant of any person's beliefs or religion that is not Christian. Isn't freedom of religion and individual rights what our country was founded upon? Hedges believes that forcing Christianity upon people or nations will only lead to a fascist state. I loved the quote by Luis Palau, a protege of Billy Graham, who does not conform to the ideas of the Christian Right. He says that "change comes from personal conviction, not by Christianizing a nation. If we become called to Christ, we will build an effective nation through personal ethics. When you lead a life of purity, when you respect your wife and are good to your family, when you don't waste money gambling and womanizing, you begin to work for better schools, for more protection and safety for your community. All change, historically, comes from the bottom up." The Christian Right, however, feel that violence and intolerance must be used to rid the nation of evil, or those that they see as evil (ie: non-Christians, gays, pro-choice advocates, scientists, etc). Hedges says that, "This rhetoric of depersonalization creates a frightening moral fragmentation, an ability to act with compassion and justice toward those within the closed, Christian circle yet allow others outside the circle to be abused, silenced, and stripped of their rights." "The radical Christian Right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God." Hedges main idea is that we simply cannot be tolerant of intolerance. He says that, "I do not deny the right of Christian radicals to be, to believe and worship as they choose. But I will not engage in a dialogue with those who deny my right to be, who delegitimize my faith and denounce my struggle before God as worthless."

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Stephens

    As a fervent reader, I understand the desire to derive meaning from stories, especially the stories of one’s own life. It is unpleasant to think of the universe as a vast, meaningless place where people have no real purpose but simply move about and eventually disappear. However, sometimes this desire to elicit meaning from life can cause serious problems. It goes from providing a group of people with a purpose to curtailing the lives of other human beings. This phenomenon is the focus of Chris As a fervent reader, I understand the desire to derive meaning from stories, especially the stories of one’s own life. It is unpleasant to think of the universe as a vast, meaningless place where people have no real purpose but simply move about and eventually disappear. However, sometimes this desire to elicit meaning from life can cause serious problems. It goes from providing a group of people with a purpose to curtailing the lives of other human beings. This phenomenon is the focus of Chris Hedges’ book American Fascists, which details the techniques and tactics Christian extremists use to curb the freedoms of open societies and the characteristics they share with fascist movements. Hedges opens the book with an essay by Umberto Eco, which enumerates some of the tenets of fascism, such as its need for consensus and fear of differences; its adherence to a traditionalism that subscribes to pre-determined and unchangeable values; its dislike for rationalism, individual thought, and dissent; its persecution complex, in which the believers are constantly being threatened; its belief that “life is permanent warfare”; and its likely rise during times of turbulence, especially economic crises. Hedges makes it clear that the extreme Christians—a group he calls the “Dominionists”—illustrate these same characteristics. They offer an orderly and structured version of life that overrides the “messiness of human existence.” One aspect of this structure is the submission of the followers to God, which takes away men’s masculinity, forcing them to regain it through dominance over wives, children, and independent thinkers. They actively tell believers to eschew reason and feel it in their hearts that God’s will must be followed. They obsess about the “secular humanists” who they believe are constantly trying to destroy them, thus, fueling even more their hatred of outsiders. They take advantage of people undergoing extreme hardships, whether in economic or psychological terms. The belief structure they’ve established allows them to pass off the immorality of their actions to someone else: a higher being who demands they act in accordance with his wishes lest they be punished eternally. What is, perhaps, most surprising about the book, though, is not Hedges’ crisp, articulate, and well-reasoned arguments but the tone he takes in making them. When discussing a group with such radical views, it would be easy for him to mock and spew vitriol in their direction, yet Hedges maintains his forceful urgency of decrying the intolerance of “Dominionists” without losing his compassion and understanding. He actually takes the advice he himself lays out: that real faith and progress come from uncertainty while a false certainty encourages the moral superiority of one group over another. He and others—most notably, the writers of the Bible—attempt to answer these massive questions of human existence but are still errant. When Hedges depicts real “Dominionists” he has interviewed, it is not as evil adversaries but as frail human beings trying to overcome the incomprehensibility of the universe, which is the same position we all find ourselves in.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    American Fascists should be read by people willing to think. Those with closed minds should buy at least three copies, and pass it around their friends [Maybe one of them will start thinking.:] The very beginning of this book is an abstract of an essay by Umberto Eco entitled “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.” It is an annotated list of traits found in all forms of authoritarianism (Fascism). By itself this short essay goes a long way toward describing the so-called Chr American Fascists should be read by people willing to think. Those with closed minds should buy at least three copies, and pass it around their friends [Maybe one of them will start thinking.:] The very beginning of this book is an abstract of an essay by Umberto Eco entitled “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.” It is an annotated list of traits found in all forms of authoritarianism (Fascism). By itself this short essay goes a long way toward describing the so-called Christian Right in America. But this book contains much more. Hedges calls the current tenet of Christian Rightists –Dominionism- (their Man has dominion over everything) and equates it with fascism. One of their methods is logocide, the killing of words. That is changing the definition of words, hijacking language, and thereby strangling thought. The author argues the Bush administration is diverting funds to faith-based organizations and in effect bankrolling churches and organizations seeking to dismantle American democracy and create a theocratic state. If one takes a world view, one will notice Christian Rightists and radical Islamists share many beliefs. Among the interesting facts Hedges puts forth is: Red States have higher murder, divorce, illegitimacy, and teenage birth rates than the Blue States which have kept evangelicals at bay. When despair is profound, the desperate seek miracles. It is easer to look for hope and comfort in the mystical hand of God. Christian Rightists abuse this emotion and target the vulnerable. They will ‘love-bomb’ a prospective convert then argue that doubt and questioning are sins. The only proper relationship is submission. Their hyper-masculinity crushes the independence and self-expression of women. A cult of fear is created as they cultivate a sense of persecution. A war on truth is going on. Christian Rightists argue for creationism and that there is a divine sanction of the free market, of unhindered profit, the God-given American freedom to exploit human beings to make money. Christian Rightists have tenets for people of ‘high character.’ All are told to watch for social and political deviants. The idea that there is only one orthodox truth and all dissent is heresy is broadcast far and wide. This includes especially the idea that those who do not submit and do as they are told are not to be allowed to contaminate the public domain. The late Dr. James Luther Adams of Harvard Divinity School noted that the mask of religion hides irreligion. The chief goal of totalitarianism is to tell all citizens what to believe, how to behave and how to speak. Hedges argues convincingly that the radical Christian Right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God. This is a good book for anyone who feels that God gave Man a brain to think for himself. If you are one of those willing to let others think for you, you are probably reading this anyway.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Huyen

    I used to think Christian fundamentalism in America was like an ad hoc movement of some hypnotized chickens. But according to this book, it seems to be a pretty big deal. I always think it’d be good to look at the reason why people believe in such absurd nonsense before critiquing them. The only chapter that serves that purpose is chapter two, cultural despair. This is where it arouses my sympathy: many people, facing economic difficulties and psychological crisis, feel unrooted, lost, desperate I used to think Christian fundamentalism in America was like an ad hoc movement of some hypnotized chickens. But according to this book, it seems to be a pretty big deal. I always think it’d be good to look at the reason why people believe in such absurd nonsense before critiquing them. The only chapter that serves that purpose is chapter two, cultural despair. This is where it arouses my sympathy: many people, facing economic difficulties and psychological crisis, feel unrooted, lost, desperate and dejected. In an isolating and insecure society plagued by crime, violence, alcoholism, high unemployment, fundamentalist Christian doctrine provides them with exactly what they need: a loving community, social support, promise of heaven and salvation and a rigid moral ground. The rest of the book deals with how evangelists spread their faith using different tactics like scaremongering, love-bombing, massive tv and radio networks, God-reviewed articles disproving science. It is pretty scary how influential right-wing Christians are in the US government, according to the statistics in this book: “Christian fundamentalists now hold a majority of seats in 18 Republican Party state committees, 45 senators and 186 members of the House of Rep earned approval ratings of 80 to 100% from the 3 most influential Christian right advocacy group. 30% of American schools with sex ed teach abstinence only. 40% of respondents to a poll believe in the Bible as the actual word of God and that it is taken literally, word for word. 80% think God works miracles, half say angels exist.” Ouch. The book provides a detailed and amusing account of what’s happening inside evangelical churches, what they preach and how people react to such callings. But the book would be much better if Chris Hedges could provide a more constructive solution. His solution is, basically, DON’T TALK TO FUNDAMENTALISTS. We can’t be tolerant to those who are intolerant to us, because once they seize power, they will take away our freedom and skin us one by one. Although I agree with him this phenomenon is dangerous, he completely ignores the social and economic backdrop that drive these people to this ideology of fear, intolerance and frankly, fanatical bullshit. So instead of ridiculing them, why can’t we provide them with a more loving community, better working environment, better secular education, better social support? Second, this book is more like an anecdotal rant mocking the stupidity of various Christian lunatics than a scholarly assessment of the movement. But I’d read a bit more on German fascism to see if it’s really true they’re similar phenomena. Anyway, 3 stars for its humor value, I laughed my head off while reading this book: On the Creation Museum in Kentucky: “it boasts an elaborate display of the Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eva, naked but strategically positioned not to show it, swim in a river as dinosaurs and giant lizards roam the banks. Before Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, all of the dinosaurs were peaceable plant eaters. The evidence, is found in Genesis, in which God gives “green herb” to every creature to eat.” “Whitcomb brings up some of the stickier problems in Genesis, such as the account that God created light on the first day and the sun on the fourth day. He posits that God created a “temporary” light until the sun was for. The reason is that God wants to abolish the cult of sun worship. And don’t think for one minute America has abandoned sun worship, either in public school textbooks, which starts this way: “billions of years ago, solar radiation bathed the primeval seas and activated lifeless chemicals and coalesced them into complex, self-reproducing organisms… what you have just heard was a sun-worship service.” “those who join forces with the Antichrist in the Left Behind series, include the UN, the Europe, Russia, Iraq, all Muslims, the media, liberals, freethinkers and international bankers. The Antichrist, who heads the UN, eventually moves his headquarters to Babylon… Europe, because it has so few Bible-believing Christians, will not see large sections of its population lifted to heaven in the rapture. The US, however, will be devastated when tense of millions of its Christians disappear, including half of the military. America will suddenly become a Third World power, and Europe, ruled by the Antichrist, will dominate the planet.”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book stirred up so many emotions in me. Simply because from the ages of 5-13 I was a part of this "Christian Right" due to my attendance in a very fundamentalist Christian school. At this school I was inundated with talks of the Rapture, how we had to always prepare for so called "end of days", how Ouija boards could levitate and destroy themselves if you told them too, and that every second of every day someone was going to hell. Horrible things to tell an impressionable child who at the a This book stirred up so many emotions in me. Simply because from the ages of 5-13 I was a part of this "Christian Right" due to my attendance in a very fundamentalist Christian school. At this school I was inundated with talks of the Rapture, how we had to always prepare for so called "end of days", how Ouija boards could levitate and destroy themselves if you told them too, and that every second of every day someone was going to hell. Horrible things to tell an impressionable child who at the age of 11 made the decision (after seeing a horrible film that featured such crap as heavy metal album covers, supposed Satanic quotes from rocks stars, etc. Basically scaring the hell out of me, pardon the pun) to turn my back on the whole damn thing. When one reads this book it sounds too crazy to be true but alas it is true. All of it. This does happen in society today and this movement is very strong. Now granted there the author did make some hasty generalizations about things and did sugarcoat other groups that were not Christian but the message and correlation to facism was too much to ignore. This is a very real movement. A movement that has very clear enemies. A movement that craves an End of Times but the unanswered question is what comes after that? Peace? Is peace even possible? According to this group, no, on Earth peace is never possible. Particularly disturbing was the discussion of how to recruit more believers by telling these so called tragedy stories. Such as immense failures then all of the sudden "finding Jesus". Stories such as utter despair or tragic car accidents, and the like. I say this because in junior high our principal told a story very similar to the "sell them Jesus" stories that are listed in this book. He was in a horrific car accident, he was thrown out of the vehicle, and the other 3 in the car died. He then found Jesus. Come to find out this was just one more thing meant to brainwash young, impressionable kids. Of course, every religious group has their fringe groups and for Christianity, fundamentalists Christians are theirs. This most certainly does not speak for every Christian out there, not at all. Just like Orthodox Judaism absolutely does not speak for every Jew. The most important message that comes out of this book is that these groups do have a right to exist. However, these groups in a democracy must always be kept in check. We are not a Christian nation. We are a nation built on a variety of creeds, races, ages, cultures, etc. There are no absolutes in this life. We don't have all the answers to life's questions, nor are we meant to. What is important is the individual and his/her identity in this world. The individual's struggle within himself/herself. Not a group of individuals making the decision that they are right and everyone who doesn't believe is wrong. All religion should be treated as simply something that is part of society but something that a rational democratic society should always keep in check and not allow to take over.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Having hung out with a lot of main line Christians as well as a lot of evangelicals and card-carrying fundamentalist loonies in my day, I have to commend Chris Hedges on his attempt to characterize that last group there. He does a stellar job of describing the inner workings of the loonies. He pretty much has 'em nailed. I also deeply appreciate his use of Arendt and Popper in providing a theoretical framework with which to understand the dangers of fundamentalist lunacy. This book is readable, Having hung out with a lot of main line Christians as well as a lot of evangelicals and card-carrying fundamentalist loonies in my day, I have to commend Chris Hedges on his attempt to characterize that last group there. He does a stellar job of describing the inner workings of the loonies. He pretty much has 'em nailed. I also deeply appreciate his use of Arendt and Popper in providing a theoretical framework with which to understand the dangers of fundamentalist lunacy. This book is readable, accessible to any reasonably intelligent person, and cogent in its arguments. I think, because he has never been inside either evangelicalism OR fundamentalism, his characterizations of the broader scope of evangelicalism misses the mark and may leave readers with the impression that the philosophies of the loonies hold more sway with the general evangelical population than they actually do. That's the reason why I didn't give it a full-on five-star rating. A lot of run-of-the-mill evangelicals are like run-of-the-mill people everywhere. They don't think overly deeply about the implications of their belief system. When faced with the bald fascism of the hard-core religious right, they sorta blink and say, "well, I'm not THAT conservative!" They don't see how they are related to the Dominionist Christians. Hedges does point this out at least once in the book, but it is too easy for the uninitiated to miss that every evangelical is NOT a dominionist. Not by a longshot. Otherwise, good book!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This book popped up on my "Recommendations" from Goodreads this morning - I had completely forgotten that I had read it in 2007. I gave it four stars because I think his premise is correct on many points - for example that the politics of what is now anointed as "conservatism" by the Christian and not-so-Christian right is informed by an apocalyptic vision of the imminent second coming of Our Lord and Savior (I believe that He is coming, also, but when that is is up to the Father: "But about tha This book popped up on my "Recommendations" from Goodreads this morning - I had completely forgotten that I had read it in 2007. I gave it four stars because I think his premise is correct on many points - for example that the politics of what is now anointed as "conservatism" by the Christian and not-so-Christian right is informed by an apocalyptic vision of the imminent second coming of Our Lord and Savior (I believe that He is coming, also, but when that is is up to the Father: "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Mark 13:32) that frustrates any form of dialog with a "take no prisoners" with Democrats or anyone else who doesn't share their views. I'm a Christian, and I unashamedly believe in miracles and angels. But I utterly reject the conflation of religion and politics, of church and state, the Manichean "if you're not with us your against us" (and, by the way, who the hell is "us"?), and the prideful and arrogant notion that my country is at the vanguard of a political and moral warm-up for Armageddon. The urgency of some of Hedges' arguments may have lost some of their relevancy because of the countervailing politics of the so-called "left" during the Obama administration. However, his characterization of HOW some proponents of evangelical Christianity have changed the fundamental (no pun intended) tone and tactics of the way we "govern" in all three branches, principally in the utter lack of civility and reasoned debate, remains accurate. One person's straw man is another's hero. (less)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Very interesting and scary book. I do not want America to become a Christian nation. We have been a nation founded on Judeo/ Christian beliefs. We need to keep it that way. Many of our forefathers left England in the name of religious freedom. Seperation of church and state is one of the major things that have made this country great. The religious right wants to take our freedom of religion away. They are corrupting the Bible in their efforts to do so. They want to control education in America. Very interesting and scary book. I do not want America to become a Christian nation. We have been a nation founded on Judeo/ Christian beliefs. We need to keep it that way. Many of our forefathers left England in the name of religious freedom. Seperation of church and state is one of the major things that have made this country great. The religious right wants to take our freedom of religion away. They are corrupting the Bible in their efforts to do so. They want to control education in America. I want to learn the truth not the truth according to Pat Robertson or other wacko like him. Keep America free. Throw out the religious right.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    It was meeting a few everyday German people when I was a child that instilled in me a morbid fascination with the history of Nazi Germany. Learning about the horrors that occurred in their country for many years, I wondered how people who seemed so ordinary—so much like us—could have ignored (much less been complicit in) such unimaginable cruelty. The answer, of course, is that over a period of years, skillful propaganda and cultural manipulation had sold “Aryan” Germans a world view about their It was meeting a few everyday German people when I was a child that instilled in me a morbid fascination with the history of Nazi Germany. Learning about the horrors that occurred in their country for many years, I wondered how people who seemed so ordinary—so much like us—could have ignored (much less been complicit in) such unimaginable cruelty. The answer, of course, is that over a period of years, skillful propaganda and cultural manipulation had sold “Aryan” Germans a world view about their own superiority and desensitized them to the humanity of others. Comparisons to Nazi fascism have become so commonplace in American political rhetoric as to have almost lost all meaning. But in American Fascists, Chris Hedges makes a convincing case that a similar movement is afoot in modern America. The inescapable conclusion is that the unthinkable could happen here, too. Full of factual observations and stories about real people, this book demonstrates how a small core group of Christian extremists—those who wish to establish a fundamentalist religious oligarchy based on “Biblical law” in the U.S.—have spread their influence into all facets of the media and the highest echelons of government. Hedges warns that these radicals, called Dominionists, "can count on the passive support of huge numbers of Christians, even if many of these Christians may not fully share dominionism’s fierce utopian vision, fanaticism or ruthlessness.” Highly readable, this book allows the reader to listen to some of the political discourse in America with a new ear and a heightened awareness of some of the real dangers threatening the future of our children.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    The word "brilliant" is not one I often use on a non-fiction book, but it is the exactly correct word for this book. Chris Hedges is a former New York Times journalist, award-winning, who now devotes his talents to investigating current conditions in the world and sharing his analysis with those among us who are concerned for the survival of our democracy. Hedges' analysis of the Christian Right's rise to power in the U.S. is frightening. It both mirrors the Nazis' rise in Germany, but also adds The word "brilliant" is not one I often use on a non-fiction book, but it is the exactly correct word for this book. Chris Hedges is a former New York Times journalist, award-winning, who now devotes his talents to investigating current conditions in the world and sharing his analysis with those among us who are concerned for the survival of our democracy. Hedges' analysis of the Christian Right's rise to power in the U.S. is frightening. It both mirrors the Nazis' rise in Germany, but also adds the uniquely American touch of apple pies delivered to neighbors to con them into joining the cults, the tithing of significant amounts and turning over to these essentially political institutions enormous wealth which they use to try to eliminate freedoms, eliminate freedom of people to either belong or not belong to religion, and to subvert our elections through sneaky underhanded means. We can thank the Christian Right for the murderous ignorance of the Bush era, for the renewed love of war seen among an unfortunate segment of our country, the blind obedience to authority, the undermining of public schools, irrational hatred among religious groups, denial of women's rights, all the result of the ignorant white men who run these institutions usually motivated by a desire for power, money, and sex. This book is a must-read. Read it, pass it on to your friends and neighbors. Then prepare yourself to defend our democracy against those who would destroy it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A brilliantly researched and written argument that highlights the totalitarian elements of religion and its inhuman role in modern politics. Should be required reading for high school students but hey, in a country where 'intelligent design' is considered factual in way too many communities, that aint gonna happen :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    The most disturbing book I have yet read about America. God help us all if these loons ever get their way.

  20. 4 out of 5

    William Galaini

    Despite the constant stream of screaming we receive in both ears regarding America's cultural and socioeconomic direction, the subject is a matter to be taken seriously. While so many snake-oil salesmen attempt to offer us their own variety of tonic, we must navigate the din toward the truth of the matter. One of those inescapable truths is that we are a nation of all people of all walks of life. And we must remain as such. We see what the pursuit hegemony has done to Russia and China and we want Despite the constant stream of screaming we receive in both ears regarding America's cultural and socioeconomic direction, the subject is a matter to be taken seriously. While so many snake-oil salesmen attempt to offer us their own variety of tonic, we must navigate the din toward the truth of the matter. One of those inescapable truths is that we are a nation of all people of all walks of life. And we must remain as such. We see what the pursuit hegemony has done to Russia and China and we want no part of that. Christ Hedges' book entitled 'American Fascists' is a ferocious affair that targets not Christianity, but those that have infiltrated the Westernized version of Christianity to their own gain. Hedges writes in considerable detail regarding the bizarre roadshow that is the flamboyant Christian Right in all of their gun-toting glory. Trinity Broadcast Network, Dobson, Benny, Hinn, and many others are observed and their behaviors are recorded. Behavior is an observable and measurable thing, and Hedges approaches his quarry with notepad and pen in hand, relaying to us all of the horrors he observes at various church functions, political rally's, and fundraisers. When you are finished reading this book, you will know what a demon's resume would consist of; merely look up any guest star on TBN. Hedges also collates his measurable observations with similar historical events including the Nazi party's rise to power. With the aid of Umberto Echo, the similarities between the Christo-fascists faux patriotism and the Nazi party's faux patriotism is DEAD ON. I can't tell you how much that disturbed me, especially when I recollect the 2008 Republican Primary. Instead of having only valid candidates up there, we had three infiltrators that wanted to make the United States a Christian Theocracy in all but name. Hedges, with his seminary Harvard education, makes it consistent and clear that not only is the Christian Right in constant violation of American design, but also in Christian design as well. Bibles being re-written and the promise of wealth for the healthy was not at all a Christian principal, but it IS a vehicle for the Christo-fascist. So why the four stars? Hedges is angry, and his anger colors and frames much of his argument. Too much, to be honest. Often I felt I had to decipher his frustrations from his observations, and while his observations and data are still viable, I didn't need him to interpret them FOR me. Overall, a relevant, insightful, and terrifying read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Guillermo Galvan

    American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War on America by Chris Hedges, graduate from seminary at Harvard Divinity School and two decade war correspondent, points out the elephant in the room. Much of the country is aware of the extreme Christian Right’s agenda for dominating our government, education, private life, and foreign policy. In short, their aim is to turn the US into a Christian theocracy and thereby enforce a Christian global rule. Their buffoonish rhetoric would be laughable American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War on America by Chris Hedges, graduate from seminary at Harvard Divinity School and two decade war correspondent, points out the elephant in the room. Much of the country is aware of the extreme Christian Right’s agenda for dominating our government, education, private life, and foreign policy. In short, their aim is to turn the US into a Christian theocracy and thereby enforce a Christian global rule. Their buffoonish rhetoric would be laughable if it wasn’t for the significant influence they’ve seized. Hedges gives an in depth look into the inner working of the Christian Right. He attends conversion seminars, conventions, and interviews current and past members. His main argument is that the figureheads of the Christian Right are purposely distorting Christianity to serve their grab for raw power and institutionalize a Christo-fascist state. The acceptance of Islamophobia, creationism as a viable science, and blurring definition between church and state are real victories of the Christian Right’s attacks on rational argument and a free society. The real importance of this book is that Hedges addresses the idea of tolerance. How tolerant should a free society be towards intolerance? The question is paradoxical. On one hand if we fully tolerate groups with a fascist agenda we risk having them ending our open society. Yet if we are intolerant and oppress their freedom of speech, then we will have ultimately lost. Voltaire is quoted saying “I don’t agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Being that I have highly unpopular views, freedom of speech is a civil liberty I refuse to live without. For that reason I agree with Voltaire’s view of universal tolerance. But when a fascist group, be it the Christian Right or any leftist group, is actively trying to instill intolerance it will be our duty to never become passively tolerant. That is the reason I respect this book, it is a call for every anti-fascist person to realize there are fascist movements in this country and to stand up and denounce them for what they are, American Fascists. "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -Sinclair Lewis

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This book reminds me of how sad I feel around the very committed Christians of whom make up most of my world. I long for them to be progressive, tolerant in the best sense, or at the very least stop demonizing the people who don’t believe the exact brand of belief they adhere to. Figures like Rushdoony and Schaeffer (though not so much the “buffoons” of the TBN empire) influence their theology as much as the Bible. The organized effort to dominate, as Hedges shows, pervades their “worldview,” la This book reminds me of how sad I feel around the very committed Christians of whom make up most of my world. I long for them to be progressive, tolerant in the best sense, or at the very least stop demonizing the people who don’t believe the exact brand of belief they adhere to. Figures like Rushdoony and Schaeffer (though not so much the “buffoons” of the TBN empire) influence their theology as much as the Bible. The organized effort to dominate, as Hedges shows, pervades their “worldview,” language, and treatment of “the other” (I’m sort of afraid to ask them, but I suspect they would even acknowledge the title “dominionist”). The local churches are obsessed with what they view as the imminent apocalypse of Revelation. To my childhood logic, these things seemed so contrary to the basic Gospel message they taught during Sunday school. Some reviewers have mentioned that Hedges’ tone is “hysterical” (which I think he has a right to be, all things considered), but he reminds us that he does not “believe that America will inevitably become a fascist state or that the Christian Right is the Nazi Party. But [he does:] believe that the radical Christian bears within it the tenets of a Christian fascism” (211). He explains how liberals in early Nazi Germany remained passive which led to dire consequences. Finally, Hedges states, “Tolerance is a virtue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice.” I needed this reminder so that the next time I am seething with irritation at statements my Christian family and friends make, I, rather than avoid conflict, will speak up for what my conscience says is right.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I found this to be a passionate and well-researched analysis. He is scrupulous in pointing out that narrow, judgmental, and violent views are not characteristic of Christians; nor are they an aspect of evangelical Christianity, per se. The groups that advocate theocracy are a very particular strain of "Christian." He makes a fascinating point about the dangers of exclusivity in religion by stating, rather poetically, that mystery is one of the key facets of faith. And uncertainty and change are I found this to be a passionate and well-researched analysis. He is scrupulous in pointing out that narrow, judgmental, and violent views are not characteristic of Christians; nor are they an aspect of evangelical Christianity, per se. The groups that advocate theocracy are a very particular strain of "Christian." He makes a fascinating point about the dangers of exclusivity in religion by stating, rather poetically, that mystery is one of the key facets of faith. And uncertainty and change are always facets of life. Part of my own conclusion from this book is to beware anyone who claims they know the only way to live and that all who do not follow that way should be silenced, fixed, or destroyed. However, he issues a powerful plea for resistance to intolerance, pointing out that in our desire to accept a multiplicity of views, we should be wary of giving credence to views that explicitly attack and neutralize those who disagree; e.g.; it is in fact dangerous to be tolerant of intolerance. It's a bit of a paradox, honestly, though he attempts to set up guidelines by delineating free speech, for instance, from hate speech. I especially appreciated his discussion of the dangers of oversimplification and judgment, of accepting the world as predictable and binary. His approach calls for integrity, critical thinking, and courage in a world that where we often crave the reductive. Hedges points out that there are, in fact, no short cuts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Genine Franklin-Clark

    Scary. Very scary. I just unfriended on Facebook a guy who was described frightenly accurately in this book; a "nice" guy, "Christian", well-to-do, apallingly hateful and close-minded. I had thought that if I remained calm and reasonable and presented facts from impartial sources(as the book said I would do), this guy would engage in a dialogue. Nope. I'm "one of Satan's minions". Wow. One result of my reading this book: I'll no longer be quiet to be polite when crazy folks spew hate and lies. Sor Scary. Very scary. I just unfriended on Facebook a guy who was described frightenly accurately in this book; a "nice" guy, "Christian", well-to-do, apallingly hateful and close-minded. I had thought that if I remained calm and reasonable and presented facts from impartial sources(as the book said I would do), this guy would engage in a dialogue. Nope. I'm "one of Satan's minions". Wow. One result of my reading this book: I'll no longer be quiet to be polite when crazy folks spew hate and lies. Sorry, didn't mean this to become a rant, but, . . . Whew.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Allen

    Every generation has an Anti-Christ. At one time it was Napoleon, then it was Hitler and so on. In my youth it was "The Communists". Today it is "The Muslims". Hedges describes and documents in frightening detail the people we have most to fear. Christian Extremists have been slowly working their way into political power in an unholy alliance with the Republicans. This book tells why they are to be feared and how they work. It ought to be MUST reading for everyone concerned about freedom and dem Every generation has an Anti-Christ. At one time it was Napoleon, then it was Hitler and so on. In my youth it was "The Communists". Today it is "The Muslims". Hedges describes and documents in frightening detail the people we have most to fear. Christian Extremists have been slowly working their way into political power in an unholy alliance with the Republicans. This book tells why they are to be feared and how they work. It ought to be MUST reading for everyone concerned about freedom and democracy in America, Canada and the world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bill and Ruth

    I was raised in one of the churches mentioned in this book in the 1950's and 1960's until I learned from a real science teacher in the 8th grade how truth is found using the scientific method. Since leaving the church back then I hadn't really kept up with the doings of the Christian Right. This book is a good update about how they have changed from a gentle proselytizing to an all out war to keep people from learning and knowing the truth about the natural world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brandt

    I just could not finish this book. I’m very liberal. I believe in most of the ideas they’re trying to express in this book. But it was just so damn depressing! It also seemed a little on the excessive and dramatic side too.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    Horror fiction has never scared me since I was I think nine years old reading ghost stories. By a similar token, horror movies never scare me - startle, maybe, but not scare. I once commented that "Jesus Camp" was the scariest movie I had ever seen. This is nearly as scary, if only that things have gotten even worse since it was published in 2006. So much worse. Mr. Hedges describes in ten chapters - Faith, The Culture of Despair, Conversion, The Cult of Masculinity, Persecution, The War on Trut Horror fiction has never scared me since I was I think nine years old reading ghost stories. By a similar token, horror movies never scare me - startle, maybe, but not scare. I once commented that "Jesus Camp" was the scariest movie I had ever seen. This is nearly as scary, if only that things have gotten even worse since it was published in 2006. So much worse. Mr. Hedges describes in ten chapters - Faith, The Culture of Despair, Conversion, The Cult of Masculinity, Persecution, The War on Truth, The New Class, The Crusade, God: The Commercial, Apocalyptic Violence - the genesis (sorry, couldn't resist) of modern wrongwing Christianity, the techniques of control of the cult, some of the players at the time who are/were bent on destroying the country, the words, the mission, the war on humans. Mind you, that summary is of my words and if you think I'm editorializing...these maniacs and this threat to our country are truly scary. Hedges talks about "...one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups." And the appeal to the demographic that elected the worst possible of all candidates (who incongruously is everything the evangelicals despise...except they embrace him???)...made easier because of strategic rhetoric: All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.Sound familiar? That's T’s rallies, pressers, and twits for sure. Hedges' book talks about how they recruit, how they keep, and how they plan to make war on humans. Now, 14 years later, that they have even greater access to small minds they can manipulate, including and excitedly for them, an elliptical work space at the seat of the government, their goals are coming to fruition:Dominionism, born out of a theology known as Christian reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. It also has, like fascist movements, an ill-defined and shifting set of beliefs, some of which contradict one another. In addition to the impoverished vocabulary, "They engage in a slow process of “logocide,” the killing of words. The old definitions of words are replaced by new ones." Witness conservative/liberal...my example, not his. The former is a perversion that doesn't mean anything close to what it used to, and the latter is used as a pejorative, though it is still in my book enlightened intellectual progressivity (my version of their definitions..."conservative": against the Democratic party; "liberal": not against the Democratic party). The Christian right preys on the downtrodden:The bleakness of life in Ohio exposes the myth peddled by the Christian Right about the American heartland: that here alone are family values and piety cherished, nurtured and protected. The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations, have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states, which vote Democrat and have kept the evangelicals at bay. The lowest divorce rates tend to be found in blue states as well as in the Northeast and upper Midwest. Things that are "fake news", right? And how do they maintain control once snared (or if born into it, indoctrinated)? through The Cult of Masculinity The hypermasculinity of radical Christian conservatism, which crushes the independence and self-expression of women, is a way for men in the movement to compensate for the curtailing of their own independence, their object obedience to church authorities and the calls for sexual restraint. It is also a way to cope with fear. Those who lead these churches fear, perhaps most deeply, their own internal contradictions. They make war on the internal contradictions in others. [...] The use of control and force is also designed to raise obedient, unquestioning and fearful children, children who as adults will not be tempted to challenge powerful male figures. These children are conditioned to rely on external authority for moral choice. They obey out of fear and often repeat this pattern of fearful obedience as adults. They don’t want anyone thinking for themselves...but the young males they groom have to be able to when they assume their own power. Hedges talk more than once of the Creation Museum. To any human, or any thinking Homo retrorsum (another humanoid species that I've given that taxonomic classification...you can look up the Latin and know what I mean)...they are rarer than you think...absurdities being hawked like thisDr. Jason Lisle, who works for the Creation Museum, sets up his slide projector for a lecture. He begins his presentation by disabusing his audience of about 150 people, mostly students, teachers and parents, of the notion that dinosaurs were frightful creatures. “God didn’t make monsters,” he says, explaining his theory of the dinosaurs’ diet. “The first T. rex would have eaten plants. Dinosaurs, along with all animals originally, were vegetarians." ...drop the jaw. I really don't know what to say to "Dr." Lisle. Hedges talks about the Left Behind series, a comical (my word) collection of highly imaginative and delusional fantasy:[co-authors]LaHaye and Jenkins had to distort the Bible to make all this fit—the Rapture, along with the graphic details of the end of the world and the fantastic time line, is never articulated in the Bible—but all this is solved by picking out obscure and highly figurative passages and turning them into fuzzy allegory to fit the apocalyptic vision. Neither of those two, nor their followers likely know anything about apocalypses. Hint: there were hundreds, if not more apocalypses written in the first few hundred years of the Common Era. Why that one was chosen is a mystery, and all reputable scholars conclude it was written in response to some Roman tyranny a couple of hundred years before it became canon. Apocalypse means "one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 b.c. to a.d. 150 marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom". There is no "The" apocalypse...there are many, all equally meaningless to a modern world. Except when crazies try to use them in their war. These fascists are a threat: Democracy is not, as these Christo-fascists claim, the enemy of faith. Democracy keeps religious faith in the private sphere, ensuring that all believers have an equal measure of protection and practice mutual tolerance. Democracy sets no religious ideal. It simply ensures coexistence. It permits the individual to avoid being subsumed by the crowd—the chief goal of totalitarianism, which seeks to tell all citizens what to believe, how to behave and how to speak. [...] Once this wall between church and state, or party and state, is torn down, there is an open and subtle warfare against love, which in an open society is another exclusive prerogative of the individual. Hedges concludes with this:The attacks by this movement on the rights and beliefs of Muslims, Jews, immigrants, gays, lesbians, women, scholars, scientists, those they dismiss as “nominal Christians,” and those they brand with the curse of “secular humanist” are an attack on all of us, on our values, our freedoms and ultimately our democracy. Tolerance is a virtue, but tolerance coupled with passivity is a vice. I'll conclude this with Hedges' quoted words of Vice President Henry Wallace, on April 9, 1944:The really dangerous American fascist…is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    D Steven Ledingham

    I enjoyed this book and it scared the check out of me. The influence of a subset of evangelical Christians on the political agenda of the Republican party, or vise versa is extremely clear. The emphasis on guns, God, gays and restriction of women's rights is very clearly driven by the "faith-based" community. I am terrified at the prospect of any government that is run or creates laws based on a specific subset of their religious views. Legislated morality is a very dangerous concept, especiall I enjoyed this book and it scared the check out of me. The influence of a subset of evangelical Christians on the political agenda of the Republican party, or vise versa is extremely clear. The emphasis on guns, God, gays and restriction of women's rights is very clearly driven by the "faith-based" community. I am terrified at the prospect of any government that is run or creates laws based on a specific subset of their religious views. Legislated morality is a very dangerous concept, especially when it involves consensual crimes or personal choice. In matters,of science or civil rights, thousands of year old beliefs are really bad news and to be avoided at all costs. Religion is a personal matter. I am grateful for the churches that run food pantries and provide shelter for the homeless but feel that government that uses it as an excuse to discard their own citizens is unacceptable. The threat posed by a very strong group of evangelicals in union with a powerful and well funded group of politicians and heads of unfettered transnational corporations is very real. I believe those who support secular government and a sustainable future must fight against this threat to our constitution and our freedoms. I thought this book, while not perfect, contained a lot of truth and am glad,to see it out in the open.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire S

    My Dad's Mom was actually cut from cloth very similar to this, except she might not have been quite as much about world domination (she lived in Wisconsin). But her and others I've known give me real life experience - although I'm sure much less scary than the real real extremists shown here. This part from Will's review: P 21 Dominionists wait only for a fiscal, social or political crisis, a moment of upheaval in the form of an economic meltdown or another terrorist strike on American soil, to mo My Dad's Mom was actually cut from cloth very similar to this, except she might not have been quite as much about world domination (she lived in Wisconsin). But her and others I've known give me real life experience - although I'm sure much less scary than the real real extremists shown here. This part from Will's review: P 21 Dominionists wait only for a fiscal, social or political crisis, a moment of upheaval in the form of an economic meltdown or another terrorist strike on American soil, to move to reconfigure the political system. Such a crisis could unleash a public clamor for drastic new national security measures and draconian reforms to safeguard the nation. ... reminds me of the Naomi Klein book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" .., maybe will try and read that before this to see if they describe adjacent/interlocking phenomena. Just watched 'Milk' - awesome; in no small part for it's portrayal of the horror that was Anita Bryant, early soldier of this movement I guess. Riveting, in the worst way.

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