Christian fundamentalists are not who they say there are. They claim to represent “real” America, to be the moral voice (remember the moral majority?) of the American people. They are what they say the rest of us want, or so the message goes. Who can forget Christofascist Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m you” routine.
This message has become increasingly – and glaringly – untrue. Christine O Donnell is not us. She was preaching a gospel of exclusion; the American people increasingly accept a gospel of inclusion. As the general public comes to a greater acceptance of alternative life-styles, be it in the form of religion, gender, sexual preference – in other words, more inclusive – the religious right becomes more exclusive. Christofascism condemns most strongly that which is accepted by younger Americans, who are moving away from organized religion, becoming more secular, and more accepting of things like Marriage Equality. The great irony of the annual Values Voter Summit is that it’s not our values they’re talking about. Christofascism’s American Exceptionalism is increasingly the exception.
A case in point: a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that more than half of the American people (53 percent) favor marriage. More damaging yet to fundamentalist hopes and aspirations is the revelation that support for marriage equality is strongest among younger Americans:
“In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.”
While continuing their rhetoric, the religious right has not failed to notice the absence of a groundswell of support among the demographic they need most. Right Wing Watch reports that “during The Awakening’s panel on “Messaging and Mobilizing a New General of World Changers,” the fear of swelling youth support for marriage equality laws was widespread.”
The panel, says RRW “was composed of young conservative leaders and Liberty University students, the audience was largely older.” Their comments are revealing:
Thomas Hall, a close aide to Lou Engle and a board member of the dominionist Oak Initiative, lamented the youth energy and support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Ryan Sorba admitted that even conservative students are not rallying behind the opposition to marriage equality.
Of course, Christofascism is capable of self-deception, desperately cleaving to their propaganda message:
William Estrada, a leader of the homeschoolers group Generation Joshua and the Home School Legal Defense Association, argued that conservative youth are organizing. Estrada mentioned a homeschoolers group in Hawaii, the Guardians of Liberty, who he said singlehandedly convinced former Governor Linda Lingle to veto a civil unions law. “We’re seeing young people standing up for the cause of traditional marriage,” Estrada said. What he failed to mention was that just a few months later, newly elected governor Neil Abercrombie signed the civil unions bill into law with little public outcry.
RRW calls the participants “dejected, angered, and confused,” and they may well be. Their response is to double-down on their message of hate and a generous dollop of delusion, as last week’s OneNewsNow poll demonstrates:
A 2009 Pew Forum on Faith in Public Life showed that the group known as “nones” – those who say they have no religious affiliation) stood at 16 percent. Between 30 and 40 percent of young Americans now fit into this category. Traditionally, the nones comprise just 5-10 percent of the population. An American Religious Identification Survey taken in 2008 revealed that 15 percent of Americans say they have no religion – that’s almost doubled in the last 18 years. And here is information that may be particularly alarming to the fundamentalists: the study shows that “Change in the religious profile reflects general national trends i.e. rise of Nones. Catholics are a constant proportion so Nones have grown at expense of Mainline & Other Christians.”
Protestantism, according to Pew, is about to become a minority religious group in the United States.
This is not good news for Christofascism, which draws mostly from the ranks of Protestant religious groups. Not only is America becoming more secular, but those secular people are coming from Protestant ranks – a double blow to the aspirations of those who work towards theocracy in America.
Obviously, laying the blame at Satan’s door is not a constructive answer. Perhaps we should thank the medieval mind, and one suffused with religious zealotry no less, for being inflexible enough to lack the ability to respond to change. Of course, these neo-medievalists are also attacking the foundations of education and academia in this country, and legislating the Bible in public schools in a desperate gambit to turn this trend around. Grab the youth early; indoctrinate them and ensure the survival of Christofascism.
But these people are fighting a war on a level most Americans remain unaware of: a spiritual war taking place beneath the surface. They are not combating only secularists but Satan himself, as they have repeatedly demonstrated in their rhetoric, spoken and written. Michele Bachmann told an Iowa audience the other day that God told her to fight marriage equality in Minnesota. People like Bachmann are less politicians than crusaders and they seem blithely unaware of the Constitution’s prohibition against legislating religion.
So there is hope for America, and hope for the Constitution in the shape of an increasingly secular and irreligious population, the threat remains and is not one to be taken lightly. 2012 will be an important election, a day as important as any in American history, a show-down between the forces of Christofascism and the forces of liberty, slavery versus freedom, as dramatic a show-down between “evil” and “good” as any that has existed. The future of America, the future of the Revolution of 1776, is at stake. Christofascism knows this and is afraid; it is paramount that we also know it, and are also afraid.