The Radical Christian Right: "Most Dangerous Mass Movement in American History!!!"

Someone posted this article on a forum. It amused me so I responded as follows, quoting the author, Chris Hedges.

The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair.

Ok. How has he ascertained this?

It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by…

So a bad economy = religious revival? Like the ones we saw in Russia, Cuba, China? Hmmm… Maybe he needs to rethink his equation.

This despair crosses economic boundaries, of course, enveloping many in the middle class who live trapped in huge, soulless exurbs where, lacking any form of community rituals or centers, they also feel deeply isolated, vulnerable and lonely.

So even those who don't financially struggle are driven to religion because of pot holes and big houses? What makes "exurbs" soulless exactly? Are apartments and downtown areas soul-ful? On what does he base this judgment besides urban snobbery? How does he know they feel isolated, vulnerably and lonely? Did they tell him this? Or is it because he watched American Beauty and decided it was true?

Those in despair are the most easily manipulated by demagogues

This might be true. But he never made a case for showing that the Christian right is in despair other than pointing out that many come from the suburbs, and assuming that suburbs create despair.

Those in despair search desperately for a solution, the warm embrace of a community to replace the one they lost…

What community did they lose? Does Mr. Hedges forget that the in the vast majority of human history, the vast majority of people have lived in rural communities? Religion has always been a source of community. He makes it sound as though Religion has swooped in and stolen a group of people. Very strange.

a sense of purpose and meaning in life, the assurance they are protected, loved and worthwhile.

I may be wrong, but it sounds as though he is being condescending here. As though he was above such childish needs. I wonder if he recognizes that his books and articles are an attempt at bringing him all of these same things, only in a different community?

Jeniece Learned is typical of many in the movement.

I realize that this is a short article, and he doesn't have the space to provide too many examples. But his examination of this individual is clearly purported to represent a very large and diverse group. He never says it explicitly, nor does he point out examples that would blow his despair theory.

Her activism became atonement for her own abortion.

Thank you Dr. Freud.

The real world, the world of facts and dispassionate intellectual inquiry, the world where all events, news and information were not filtered through this comforting ideological prism…

It always cracks me up when an ideologue pretends that they are the dispassionate ones, relying only on facts, cold and bitter as they may be. Is Hedges truly blind to the prism strapped over his own face.

They hated this world. And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by these radical preachers, a world of magic…

… the fear of being plunged back into a reality-based world where these magical props would no longer exist, where they would once again be adrift, abandoned and alone.

Here is where Hedges shows his cards. It's not the religious right he is afraid of. It's anyone who sees more to this life than what can be analyzed, cataloged, observed and repeated. He is secular humanist who truly thinks religion is for idiots. How he believes that he is dispassionate when he holds such a passionate view is a discredit to all of his opinions.

The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving.

What an odd thing to say when half his article is spent profiling a person who is dedicated to saving babies. Since I don't buy his "theology of despair" theory due to it's completely inadequate basis, I'm not sure what theology he is commenting on here. Perhaps premillennialism? Even they find humans to be the thing worth saving. I would think as a humanist, Hedges would be able to pick up on that. But then again, he seems to be more of a caricature artist than a thinker.

It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction. It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging signs that the end of the world is close at hand.

Ha ha ha. I've known a lot of right-wing Christians with a lot of wacky views. I've NEVER heard anyone advocate these things. This paragraph is one of the worst cases of fear-mongering I've read in a long time.

Those who lead the movement give their followers a moral license to direct this rage and yearning for violence against all those who refuse to submit to the movement, from liberals, to “secular humanists,” to “nominal Christians,” to intellectuals, to gays and lesbians, to Muslims.

I've never heard any pastor, preacher, author, or other Christian encourage directing rage any people. I've always heard the old slogan, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." I am sure that if Hedges spent any serious amount of time with the Christian right he would have heard this. His failure to mention it, and his insistence on contradicting it show him to simply be another pamphleteer of the left. It's hard to take anything he says seriously.

These radicals, from James Dobson to Pat Robertson, call for a theocratic state that will, if it comes to pass, bear within it many of the traits of classical fascism.

I wonder how Hedges defines theocracy. I've never heard even Robertson calling for the state to enforce Christianity. Let's see, "radical", "theocracy", "fascism"… I wonder if he got all the liberal scare words in this article yet? Not freighted yet?

…these radicals, many of whom have achieved powerful positions in the Executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the military, will ask us only to surrender our rights, to pass them the unlimited power they need to battle the forces of darkness.
They will have behind them tens of millions of angry, disenfranchised Americans longing for revenge and yearning for a mythical utopia, Americans who embraced a theology of despair because we offered them nothing else.

I wonder who he thinks "We" are, and what exactly "We" are supposed to offer as a substitute for religion.

Look. I'm not a fan of the religious right either. But I'm also not a fear-monger. I don't feel a need to come up with some psychological theory that explains him and his ilk so that I feel better about myself. I think what Hedges fails to understand is that his philosophy is no more sure that that of a religious person. He feels superior because he has caricatured religion to be a fantasy for the weak. He plays psychiatrist in order to spin religion into a mental disorder. A fear-induced paranoid delusion. The irony is that he is the one living in, and selling fear.


mom said…
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Oh, brother! Poor guy. A classic case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. The guy is truly scared, and I feel sorry for him after I am done laughing at the absurdity of his statements.
Oh, and how do you like Scorcese being rewarded for his lyrical violence, but Gibson is excoriated for his obsessive violence?

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