September 19, 2011

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The “Christianists” Aren’t Taking Over This Week.

For decades now, shocked lefty journalists have gingerly ventured into the dark American interior, emerging with terrifying tales of “Christianist” plots to hijack American democracy and install theocratic rule. There’s an endless appetite for these stories on the secular left, and the fact that none of these Christianists dictatorships ever appear doesn’t seem to diminish the credulity with which each new “revelation” is greeted by the easily spooked.

Focus on the Family was very recently one of the most feared organizations of the allegedly all powerful Christian Right, but as the cash-strapped organization makes more staff cutbacks and donations fall, the paranoia once invested in this group looks pretty dumb. . . . In any case, if anybody in America ever establishes a theocracy, it is unlikely to be evangelicals. Almost all American evangelicals come out of religious traditions that were persecuted in either Europe or the US or both by “established” churches tied to the government. It became an article of faith for the persecuted evangelicals that church and state should be kept at arms length. Even in apocalyptic fiction like the Left Behind series, the merger of church and state is one of the signs of the approach of Antichrist and signals the start of a great persecution. For the most part, American evangelicals viscerally loathe the idea that church and state should act together to enforce religious orthodoxy.

Theocracy is forever descending on the United States, but somehow it always lands in the Middle East.

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