The American left, the secular mainstream, and many secular Republicans...have missed, and still do to this day, the disproportionate influence conservative evangelicals exert in American politics and culture.... And in specific, immediate terms they've missed the political impact of Christian Zionism [and] misinterpreted the Tea Party movement.
On Christian Zionism:
[T]here's a Christian Zionist/Likud political symbiosis going back to the late 1970's, and John Hagee and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are close allies.
[Pastor John] Hagee is selling Jewish-Americans the proposition that his Christians United For Israel lobby offers benign, non-Book of Revelations (sic) based support for Israel (that's demonstrably a lie). But Hagee's people are...gradually peeling off Jewish support for the Democratic Party. It's bizarre, because Hagee also demonizes Jews to a remarkably vicious degree. [Link.] In his globally distributed books and sermons Hagee claims Hitler was Jewish and promotes the conspiracy theory that European-based Rothschild bankers control the world economy and are scheming to bankrupt America.
On Sarah Palin:
[N]either mainstream media or even progressive media have paid much attention to where she came from, but there's video from a summer 2008 religious conference near Seattle during which Palin's long-time personal prayer leader, Mary Glazier, tells evangelical leadersthat Sarah Palin joined her prayer group in '89, around the time Palin decided to go into politics. Glazier then advocatescleansing "the land" of unbelievers. Palin's clearly in the "prayer warrior" movement - she hangs around with the leaders, uses the lingo, and so on.
On the religious right's quickly changing nature:
The charismatic wing of the movement is where the real action is.... Lou Engle...has become the de-facto prayer leader for the Republican Party. It's targeting entire states for political takeover (Hawaii, for example) and is infiltrating traditionally liberal cities - such as Newark, Orlando, and Baltimore - working with police departments in those cities to "pray down" crime. But what's really going on is the creation of neighborhood watch groups whose church leaders hold a virulently anti-gay, eliminationist ideology. And they're evangelizing the cops, which is what evangelicals do.... "Pray For Newark" [is] organized by city ward. And the leadership is virulently anti-gay and opposes abortion in all cases (including rape & incest), is contemptuous of church-state separation, and is radically pro-big business. In 2010 will that volunteer army work the Newark streets for Democratic candidates? I doubt it.
On the religious right's influence in the US military:
Then there are the chilling inroads the movement has made in evangelizing the US military. Spend some time browsing the extensive media archives from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation...and I guarantee you'll come away with a different sense of conservative evangelical influence in US government.
On the Tea Party movement and the religious right:
I see the Tea Party movement in part as an evangelizing tool that pulls secular libertarians towards the Christian right. Ron Paul was staging 'Tea Party' events across America back in 2007, and Paul's no libertarian. He's good friends with Constitution Party Founder Howard Phillips, a leading Christian Reconstructionist who served briefly as a staffer for Paul's congressional office.
On the growing influence of the religious right within the Republican Party:
[T]he Christian right by 2000 had a strong to moderate level of influence in 44 out of 51 [state Republican parties - link -].... Barry Goldwater was warning...about the Christian right's takeover of the Republican Party trend for over two decades prior to his death, and most media voices are still in denial.
What's wild is that the new Christian right, the charismatic wing, videotapes almost everything it does. The movement chronicles itself, and much of that video is free on the Net. But almost nobody outside of the movement watches it. I can show you a video documentary, from a Ugandan evangelist who backs Uganda's so-called "kill the gays bill," showing his people organizing a partnership between Baltimore churches and the Baltimore police department.... The vision is to purge the Earth of all competing beliefs. It's an expression of Christian supremacy that could hardly be more bigoted or more totalitarian.
Some of the few topics related to the religious right that Bruce does not touch on include its efforts to influence America's courts, its attacks on science education, and its efforts to promote a revisionist history of America's founding. These topics can be explored in part through the sites listed under this site's "Lamp Lighters" blogroll.
(Photo: Brian McClister/iStock)