Shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2009 there were concerns that the corporate world had funded and promoted the Tea Party in an effort to stir up discontent over a Black man infiltrating the White House. It didn’t take very long before many on the left figured out that the Koch brothers were behind the Tea Party and warnings of oligarchy resounded throughout the blogosphere.
Within the teabag ranks there was a religious element that was making a play to gain influence and power in legislating a socially conservative agenda leading some to claim America was being driven towards theocratic rule. After the 2010 midterm elections it appeared there may be a power play that pitted oligarchs against theocrats for control of the nation, but a recent development ends that concern for the moment.
Although the greed that permeates the corporate mindset is contrary to Christ’s teachings, the religious right has begun making moves to partner with the Koch’s Tea Party movement for the 2012 campaign for the presidency. The unlikely partners are banking on millions of religious voters funded by millions of Koch brothers’ dollars to field a presidential candidate who will serve the oligarchs and theocrats. It is the nightmare scenario that should instill fear in reasonable Americans desperate to cling to democratic principles and a secular government.
Recently, Tim Phillips, president of the Tea Party group funded by David Koch was a presenter at a religious-right group’s meeting sponsored by Freedom Federation called the Awakening conference. Phillips has close ties to Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC), a religious right organization whose goals are promoting Christian morals and mobilizing people of faith to ensure the bible drives the narrative of American politics. Reed is attempting to mobilize a conservative evangelical vote in the 2012 election by enlisting the FFC’s 20 million evangelical Christian voters. Reed gained notoriety in the 1990’s for working with Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition and endorsed Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America going so far as calling taxes a family values issue.
Now with Reed and Phillips working in concert with the Koch brothers and their unlimited funding capabilities, the Tea Party and religious right are merging into a force to be reckoned with. Apparently, Christian conservatives are told that limited government and right-wing economic policies are mandated by the bible and are mobilizing the socially conservative voting bloc through home-schooling groups and evangelical churches. At the Awakening conference last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann gave a recorded speech that touted the religious right and tea party talking points that abortion, gays, anti-family health care reform and the immoral, fundamentally evil national debt are anti-bible and therefore anti-American. Bachmann won the presidential straw poll for her pro-Christian political stance that satisfied both the teabagger faithful as well as evangelical Christians.
Newt Gingrich, another presidential hopeful has latched on to the religious right and Christian revisionist David Barton who promotes his Christian nation history and claims that Jesus opposed progressive taxation, the minimum wage, capital gains tax and collective bargaining. Barton is promoting a different kind of Jesus because his characterization sounds more like the libertarian David Koch than the bible’s Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, in the bible, Jesus never mentioned the minimum wage, capital gains tax or collective bargaining. Christ did, on occasion talk about taxes but he told his followers to pay their taxes according to the governing authorities’ demands.
This merger of teabags and evangelicals began in 2009 with groups such as the Family Research Council and the American Family Association joining forces with Dominionist groups embraced by the religious right such as Generals International and Morningstar Ministries to align with Americans for Prosperity (a Koch brothers group) to further the social agenda of the religious right as well as an anti-progressive tax system and a limited government. It is a dangerous pairing because on their own, each group presents an un-American mindset that either changes our democratic form of government into a theocracy or an oligarchy that are both in stark contrast to the intentions of the Founding Fathers.
The pairing of the religious right and teabaggers is a marriage of convenience that must have the participants licking their chops all the way to the ballot box. The religious right has the numbers and the teabags have Koch money and both are gold diggers out for power and influence. The Koch brothers are not overly religious, but have watched events in Wisconsin with horror that the public has risen up to protest the corporate takeover of the state government. By funding the religious right and convincing them their interest is in a socially conservative agenda, they will have millions of Republican votes in the bank. Once they have installed their corporatist candidates in offices of power, the Koch brothers will have no need for the evangelical votes but by then it will be too late.
The problem is the corporatist candidates will most likely also be extremist Christian conservatives who believe in the Koch version of Jesus, and if Charles and David Koch think the public employees in Wisconsin rose up in anger, they have no idea what millions of vindictive Christians who have been betrayed will bring to the table. The best scenario the Koch’s can hope for is a cooperative government where the corporatist wing will have to subjugate itself to the religious element or face a rebellion. Either outcome is a loser for Americans that are not religious fanatics or corporate shills, and all Americans will suffer from a Dominionist government that has unlimited funds to promote the evangelical agenda. It will be reminiscent of the world when the Pope was both spiritual leader and possessor of untold wealth and power.
At this point it is unknown if Americans will serve a theocracy or an oligarchy and either scenario is frightening on every level. The only saving grace is that most Americans will reject an agenda that puts corporations ahead of working Americans or religious extremism over freedom to choose to worship or not. Based on the reticence of many Americans to speak out against the religious right or the corporatist agenda, there is reason to be worried if not terrified at the prospect of a theocratic oligarchy. One would hope that religious Americans will engage in thoughtful prayer and ask; what would Jesus do? Hopefully, they ask the bible Jesus and not the Koch brother’s teabagging Jesus.