Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #697 Christian Fundamentalism and the Underground Reich

MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

The FamilyIntroduction: Recent decades have seen the growth of the Christian Right, a major force within the Republican Party and on the American political landscape itself. The Family, a recent book by Jeff Sharlet has gained considerable traction and sets forth the profound influence wielded within U.S. power structure by an organization called The Family, founded in the 1930’s by a Norwegian immigrant named Abram Vereide (usually referred to by those familiar with him as “Abram.”) Although its primary influence is within the GOP, the Family has considerable gravitas within the Democratic Party as well.

This program highlights the organization’s profound relationship with the Underground Reich and the Bormann capital network. Vereide and his associates played a significant role in neutralizing the de- Nazification of Germany and the political rehabilitation of Third Reich alumni for service both in the “New” Federal Republic of Germany and U.S. intelligence. (Vereide is pictured below and at right with then President Eisenhower in 1960.)

Thus: “Between the Cold War establishment and the religious fervor of Abram and his allies, organizations that came of age in the postwar era–the National Association of Evangelicals, Campus Crusade, the Billy Graham Crusade, Youth For Christ, the Navigators, and many more–one finds the unexplained presence of men such as [Nazi agent Manfred] Zapp, adaptable men always ready to serve the powers that be.”

After delineating the pre-war and wartime careers in the United States of Nazi spies Manfred Zapp (pictured above and at left) and Baron Ulrich von Gienanth, the program notes that they were among those who became close associates of “Abram” in his “saving” of Third Reich alumni for duty in the Cold War. They were typical and by no means the worst of the Nazis recruited by Vereide and his associates.

Program Highlights Include: Vereide’s “saving” of Hermann J. Abs (right), “HItler’s Banker” so that he might become “Adenauer’s Banker”. Vereide’s role in saving manufacturing plants of top Nazis from seizure by the Allies; Vereide and his associates’ successful efforts at aiding the rearming of Germany for the Cold War; Vereide’s successful attempt to lift travel restrictions on “former” Gestapo officer von Gienanth; projections by anti-fascists during the war that the Third Reich’s plans to survive military defeat would involve networking with reactionary U.S. fundamentalists; Nazi general Reinhard Gehlen’s “post-intelligence” career as a religious evangelist.

1. We begin by examining the background of Manfred Zapp, a Nazi spy who became a close evangelical associate of Abram Vereide and the Family.

Manfred Zapp, a native of Dusseldorf by way of Pretoria, merited a line in the news when he stepped from an ocean liner onto the docks of New York City on September 22, 1938, a warm windy day at the edge of a South Atlantic hurricane. Just a few words in the New York Times’ “Ocean Travelers” column, a list of the travelers of note buried in the back of the paper. By the time he left the United States, his departure would win headlines. . . .

The Family by Jeff Sharlet; Harper Perennial (SC); Copyright 2008 by Jeff Sharlet; ISBN 978-0-06-056005-8; p. 144.

2. Zapp ran the Transocean News Agency, a Nazi espionage and propaganda outfit disguised as a journalistic operation.

. . . Zapp had been given charge of the American offices of the Transocean News Agency, ostensibly the creation of a group of unnamed German financiers. He had recently left a similar post in South Africa. “It is of paramount importance,” the German charge d’affaires in Washington had written Zapp the month before his arrival, “that a crossing of wires with the work of the D.N.B.–Deutschland News Bureau–“be absolutely avoided.” DNN was transparently the tool of the Nazi regime and thus under constant scrutiny. Transocean, as an allegedly independent agency, might operate more freely. “My task here in America is so big and so difficult,” Zapp wrote the German ambassador to South Africa a month after he arrived, “that it demands all my energies.”

Ibid.; p. 145.

3. Note that Zapp’s activities in the U.S. involved networking with members of the New York elite whom he believed (in many cases correctly) to be sympathetic to fascism. Like many Nazi and fascist sympathizers, Zapp disdained many of the superficial trappings of fascism, while valuing the corporatist philosophy at the foundation of the system.

What was Zapp’s task? During his American tenure, he flitted in black tie and tails from Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue enjoying the hospitality of rich men and beautiful women–the gossip columnist Walter Winchell wrote of Zapp’s “madcap girlfriend,” a big-spending society girl who seemed to consume at least as much of Zapp’s attention as the news. He avoided as much as he could discussions of what he considered the tedium of politics. His friends knew he had dined with Cordell Hull, the secretary of state, and Roosevelt himself, and some must also have known that he had worked quietly–and illegally, if one must be technical–against the president’s reelection. But one did not ask questions. He traveled, though no one was quite sure where he went off to. One moment he was hovering over the teletype in Manhattan; the next he was to be found in Havana, on the occasion of a meeting of foreign ministers. Some might have called him a Nazi agent, there to encourage Cuba’s inclinations–a popular radio program, transmitted across the Caribbean, was called The Nazi Hour–but Zapp could truthfully reply that he rarely stirred from the lobby of the Hotel Nacional, where he sat sipping cocktails, happy to buy drinks for any man–or, preferably, lady–who cared to chat with him. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 145-146.

4. More about Zapp’s networking with elements of the American elite who harbored fascist sympathies.

. . . . To Zapp, totalitarianism–the term he preferred to fascism–was, once pruned of its absurdities, a sensible and lovely idea. The torches and the “long knives,” the death’s-head and all that red-faced singing and table pounding, these activities Zapp did not care for. He actually preferred life in America, the canyons of Manhattan and the gin-lit balconies of the city’s best people, conversations that did not begin with “Heil Hitler!” Zapp signed his letters with this invocation, and a portrait of the Fuhrer hung in his office, but Zapp the journalist was too sensitive a recording device to enjoy all that arm snapping. If only Manhattan and Munich, Washington and Berlin, could be merged. It was a matter not of warfare but of harmony, democracy’s bickering and bile giving way to the “new conception,” in which power and will would be one.

Ibid.; p. 146.

5. Eventually, Zapp’s espionage activities caused him to fall afoul of the U.S. authorities.

Within a year, however, Zapp found cause to resist returning to that fine new system. After a series of unsolved murders and perplexing explosions and intercepted transmissions led the FBI to raid his front organizations in Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Zapp’s spartan office off Fifth Avenue, where they found what they believed to be evidence of the orchestration of it all, Zapp began to reconsider his enthusiasm for Hitler’s new order. He had failed the Fuhrer. How would his will judge him? What power would be exerted in the Gestapo “beating rooms” that Transocean employees had once considered themselves privileged to tour?

The FBI seized him and his chief deputy and whisked them away to cold, bare rooms, on Ellis Island, no less, where not long before, the rabble of Europe had been processed into “mongrel” America, land of “degenerate democracy,” as Roosevelt himself quoted Zapp in a speech denouncing Germany’s “strategy of terror.” . . .

Ibid.; pp. 146-147.

6. Another of the Nazi agents with whom Abram Vereide and the Family would network after the war was Baron Ulrich von Gienanth, the Gestapo chief of the German embassy in Washington and a member of the SS.

. . . . On the other were men such as Zapp. Along with a D.C.-based diplomat named Ulrich von Gienanth (whom he would rejoin after the war in Abram’s prayer meetings), Zapp considered the coming conflict between the United States and the Reich one to be resolved through quiet conversation, between German gentlemen and American “industrialists and State Department men.”

Von Gienanth, a muscular, sandy-haired man whose dull expression disguised a chilly intelligence, “seems to be a very agreeable fellow,” Zapp wrote his brother, who had studied in Munich with the baron-to-be. Only second secretary in the embassy, von Gienanth maintained a frightening grip over his fellow diplomats. He was an undercover SS man, the ears and eyes of the “Reichsministry of Proper Enlightenment and Propaganda,” charged with keeping watch over its secret American operations. He was, in short, the Gestapo chief in America. While Zapp worried about his legal prospects in the Indian Summer of 1940, von Gienanth was likely waiting for news of a major operation in New Jersey: the detonation of the Hercules gunpowder plant, an explosion that on September 12 killed forty-seven and sent shockwaves so strong that they snapped wind into the sails of boaters in far-off Long Island Sound. . . .

. . . . Von Gienanth’s initiatives were whimsical by comparison. Once for instance, he paid a pilot to dump pro-Nazi antiwar fliers on the White House lawn. He devoted himself to changing Goebbels’ gold into dollars, and those dollars into laundered “donations” to the America First Committee, where unwitting isolationists–Abram allies such as Senator Arthur Vandenberg and America First President Robert M. Hanes among them–stumped for recognition of the “fact” on Hitler’s inevitability.

Like Zapp, von Gienanth considered himself a commonsense man.

And Zapp–Zapp simply reported the news and sold it on the wire. Or gave it away. To the papers of Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and to the small-town editors of America’s gullible heartland, Zapp offered Transocean reports for almost nothing. In some South American countries, 30 percent or more of foreign news–the enthusiastic welcome given conquering German forces, the Jewish cabal in Washington, the moral rot of the American people–was produced by or channeled through Zapp’s offices. On the side, he compiled a report on Soviet-inspired “Polish atrocities” against the long-suffering German people and distributed it to thousands of leading Americans, the sort sympathetic to the plight of the persecuted Christian. Zapp’s sympathetic nature would prove, after the war, to be as genuine as his distorted sense of history’s victims. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 147-148.

7. Next, the broadcast sets forth Abram [Vereide] and the Family’s positioning as a vehicle for the recruitment of Nazis to serve both the U.S. and the “New” Federal Republic of Germany. The organization involved in this served as a principal moral compass for much of the American power elite during the Cold War and through the present. The organizations which rescued and rehabilitated Third Reich alumni are at the foundation of the contemporary evangelical establishment.

. . . Establishment Cold Warriors of [Marshall Plan administrator Donald C.] Stone’s ilk dominate the history books. Zapp, the ally with an ugly past, is his dark shadow. But Abram and the influence of his fellow fundamentalists would remain invisible for decades, their influence unmarked by media and academic establishments. The role played by fundamentalists in refashioning the world’s greatest fascist power into a democracy would go unnoticed. So, too, would the role of fascism–or, rather, that of fascism’s ghost–in shaping the newly internationalist ambition of evangelical conservatives in the postwar era.

Between the Cold War establishment and the religious fervor of Abram and his allies, organizations that came of age in the postwar era–the National Association of Evangelicals, Campus Crusade, the Billy Graham Crusade, Youth For Christ, the Navigators, and many more–one finds the unexplained presence of men such as Zapp, adaptable men always ready to serve the powers that be. From American Christendom, Zapp and his ilk took the cloak of redemption, cheap grace, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of their most famous victims. To it, they offered something harder to define. This is an investigation of that transmission; the last message from the Ministry of Proper Enlightenment; the story of American fundamentalism’s German connection. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 151-152.

8. When Abram got around to “saving” Third Reich alumni for service to the “New Germany,” as well as U.S. intelligence, he selected some genuinely ripe individuals.

Gedat was among the least tainted of the men that Abram and Fricke, and later Gedat himself, gathered into prayer cells to help forge the new West German state. But they were repentant men, this they testified to at every session. Repentant for what? It was hard to say. Every one of them claimed to have suffered during the war years. Men such as Hermann J. Abs, “Hitler’s banker” and a vice president of Abram’s International Christian Leadership (ICL), German division; Gustav Schmelz, a manufacturer of chemical weapons; Paul Rohrbach, the hypernationalist ideologue whose conflation of Germany with Christianity, and most of Europe with Germany, had inspired the Nazis to understand their war-hunger as divine; and General Hans Speidel, who had accepted the surrender of Paris on behalf of the Fuhrer in 1940, insisted that he had never believed Hitler, had been forced into his arms by the Red Menace, had regretted the unfortunate alliance with such a vulgar fool, a disgrace to God’s true plan for Germany. They had done nothing wrong; they, too, if one gave it some though, were victims.

Perhaps some of them were. That is one of the many clever strategies of fascism: persecution belongs to the powerful, according to its rules, both to dole out and to claim as the honor due martyrs. Abram did not ask questions; he simply took out his washcloth and got busy with the blood of the lamb. He scrubbed his “new men” clean. Did it work? Abs, “Hitler’s banker,” became “Adenauer’s banker,” a key figure in the West German government’s financial resurrection. Schmelz kept his factory. Rohrbach wrote on, authoring tributes to Abram’s International Christian Leadership in the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

And Speidel? He was a special case, a co conspirator with Rommel in the attempted assassination of Hitler, the “July Plot” of 1944. There was something almost American about him; like Buchman, like Barton, he considered Hitler’s racial policies a distraction from his really good ideas. For this ambivalence, the Allies rewarded him: he served as commander in chief of NATO ground forces from 1957 to 1963, when Charles de Gaulle, unpersuaded of his reconstruction, insisted on his ouster.

Such men are only a few of those whom Abram helped, and by no means the worst. There were Zapp and von Gienanth, there were “little Nazis” Abram championed for U.S. intelligence positions, and there were big ones: Baron Konstantin von Neurath, Hitler’s first foreign minister, and General Oswald Pohl, the last SS commander of the concentration camps, among them. For those beyond hope of blank-slate reinvention, Abram and his web of Christian cells led medical mercy (von Neurath, sentenced to fifteen years for crimes against humanity, was released early in 1953; Abram took up his case up his case upon learning from von Neurath’s daughter that her father, classified as a “major War Criminal,” was receiving less than exemplary dental care in prison) or expediency(it was unjust, they felt, that Pohl, who while imprisoned by the Allies wrote a memoir called Credo: My Way to God–a Christ-besotted path that did not include acknowledging his role in mass murder–should be left wondering when he would be hanged.)

When occupation forces charged Abs with war crimes, he offered a novel defense. He did not deny what he had done for Hitler; he simply declared that he had done it for money, fascism be damned. He would gladly do as much for the Allies. And so he did, a task at which he so excelled that he would come to be known as the wizard of the “German Miracle.” His past was forgotten–a phrase that must be written in passive voice in order to suggest the gentle elision of history in the postwar years, undertakenby those eager to see a conservative German state rise from the ashes, a sober son of Hitler’s fatherland that would inherit the old man’s hatred for one radicalism but not his love of another. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 165-167.

9.  Senator Alexander Wiley (R-Wisconsin) was another close associate of Abram’s. Wiley was instrumental in the successfully lobbying (along with Abram and his aide Otto Fricke) for the rearming of the German army against the former Soviet Union.

. . . . Senator Wiley wanted total war. Take the men of Hitler’s old panzer divisions, bless ’em under Christ, and point ’em toward Moscow. Abram’s German point man, Otto Fricke, wasn’t so blood-thirsty; he merely wanted twenty-five rearmed German divisions to slow the Russian invasion he saw coming. “What Do We Christians Think of Re-Armament?” was the theme of one of Fricke’s cell meetings in 1950. They were conflicted, tempted to take “malicious joy that the ‘Allies’ are now forced to empty with spoons the bitter soup that has been served by the Russians.” The judgments at Nuremberg had dishonored the Wermacht, and the dismantling had insulted and robbed Germany’s great industrialists, Krupp and Weizacker and Bosch–all well represented in Fricke’s cells. By all rights they should stand down, refuse to rearm, let the Americans defend Christendom from the Slavs. But there it was: Christendom.  They were Christian men, chosen not by a nation but by Jesus himself to lead their people into the “Order” God revealed to them in their prayers. “To accomplish these tasks,” the Frankfurt cell concluded, “the state needs power and this powerfulness is indispensable for the sake of love.” . . .

Ibid.; p. 171.

10. Vereide and the Family were successful in obtaining permission for former SS/Gestapo officer von Gienanth to travel outside of Germany.

. . . . Von Gienanth was bound to the Fatherland. This, he complained to Abram, was an impediment to reconstruction. He’d wanted to attend a conference in Atlantic City with further ideas of expansion in mind. Would the American military really say that a man of his stature would blemish the boardwalk? He was on a list of undesirables, he had learned from certain connections–probably ICL men within the occupation. This would be “undesirable,” he thought, if he had been a communist. “But I don’t see any sense in including people of my attitude”–ex-fascists ready to make common cause with the United States.

Among the many testimonies von Gienanth collected on his own behalf was a letter from an American diplomat’s wife who insisted the baron had not been a Nazi so much as an “idealist.” Eventually, von Gienanth had believed, “the good and conservative element of the German people would gain control.” Fascism had been like strong medicine, unpleasant but necessary to what von Gienanth had always believed would be the reestablishment of rule by elites like himself. “In the coming years of reconstruction,” his advocate wrote, “such men will be needed who can be trusted.”

Abram contacted the Combined Travel Board that decided on which former Nazis could be allowed to leave the country. The baron was needed , Abram insisted. There were high Christian councils to be held in The Hague. “Expedite the necessary permit.”

Should that argument prove inadequate, Abram hired von Gienanth’s wife, Karein, as a hostess on call for Americans traveling on Christian missions. She was an American citizen, though she’d spent the war with her SS officer husband. Now her American passport was being threatened. Abram saved it. That summer, he sent the baron and his wife a gift of sort: a congressman from California, to be a guest on the baron’s estate. The following winter Senator Frank Carlson visited. “As you know,” Abram advised Karein, “he is one of the closest friends and advisers to Eisenhower.”

A “serene confidence has filled me,” she replied, “as to President Eisenhower’s guidance by God.” That summer, her husband flew with her to England, his passport evidently restored.

Ibid.; pp. 173-174.

11. Next, the program notes a function convened at the castle of the Teutonic Order (Teutonic Knights) in Bavaria. (For more about the history of the Teutonic Knights, see Paul Winkler’s The Thousand-Year Conspiracy, available for download for free on this website.) Note that major players from the German power elite, business partners with their cartel associates in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West, as well as key political figures, were lectured to by Christian fundamentalist “converts”–“some of the best minds of the old regime.”

The assembled received “a letter of repentance for the sins of denazification signed by more than thirty congressmen including Wiley and Capehart and a young Richard Nixon.

. . . . The first meeting at Castle Mainau had taken place in 1949, the same year the Allies allowed Germans to begin governing themselves again. The 1951 meeting was planned to mark what Abram considered the complete moral rehabilitation–in just two years–of Germany. Abram wanted the Americans to go to them, a grand contingent of senators and representatives.

. . . . General Speidel was there, as was Rohrbach, the propagandist: There were representatives from the major German banks and from Krupp and Bosch, and there was the president of Standard Oil’s German division. There was at least one German cabinet member, parliamentarians, mayors, a dozen or more judges. A U-boat commander, famed for torpedoing ships off the coast of Virginia, cut a dashing figure. A gaggle of aristocrats, minor princes and princesses, barons and counts and margraves were intimidated by some of the best minds of the old regime. There was the financial genius Hermann J. Abs, and a fascist editor who hd once been a comrade of the radical theorist Walter Benjamin before throwing his lot in with the Nazis.

Wallace Haines spoke for Abram. He stayed up all night before his lecture, praying for the spirit that spoke aloud to his mentor. The Americans, God told him to say, were thrilled with the “eagerness” of the Germans to forget the war. The Americans came to the Germans humbled, he told them. Haines brought proof of their new-found wisdom: a letter of repentance for the sins of denazification signed by more than thirty congressmen including Wiley and Capehart and a young Richard Nixon. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 175-176.

12. Eventually, Vereide, the Family and their Nazi and fascist associates (on both sides of the Atlantic) were successful in getting the rigorous de-Nazification program rescinded. Note the reference to the “Morgenthau boys.” This is a reference to former Treasury Secretary Robert Morgenthau, who favored a rigorous approach to de-Nazification that included the de-industrialization of Germany. For more about this topic, see FTR #578, as well as All Honorable Men, available for download for free on this website.

Of particular significance is the fact that Vereide was able to intercede on behalf of industrial plants to prevent their de-Nazification.In this regard, Vereide was doing the work not of the Lord, but of the Bormann capital network.

. . . . For years, Manfred Zapp had been Abram’s harshest correspondent, constantly warning that the “man on the street” with whom he seemed to spend a great deal of time had had enough of America’s empty promises. America had committed “mental cruelty,” he charged, holding “so-called war criminals” in red coats–the uniforms of the Landsberg Prison–awaiting execution indefinitely.

Abram agreed, and sent to the occupation government letters signed by dozens of congressmen demanding action.

America prevented German industry from feeding the nation, Zapp argued.

Abram agreed, and intervened time and again on behalf of German factories. He saved as many as he could, though a steel foundry named for Hermann Goering was beyond even his powers of redemption.

America had put leftists and trade unionists and Bolsheviks in power, Zapp complained.

Abram agreed. The cleansing of the American occupation government became an obsession, the subject of his meetings with the American high commissioner John J. McCloy and his weekly prayer meetings with congressmen.

“Idealists” were prevented from serving their people, said Zapp. The man on the street was losing faith in the American religion. “Freedom in their interpretation is the ideal for which we shall fight and die but the reality is nothing else but a beautiful word for services for Western powers . . . The word freedom is not taken seriously anymore.”

Within a few years, nobody cared. The “Morgenthau Boys” were as much a part of the past as the history no German cared to speak of. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 177-178.

13. Published before the 1944 Normandy invasion, Curt Riess’ The Nazis Go Underground forecast that the Third Reich’s strategy for going underground would involve liaison with American Protestant fundamentalists.

Also of interest to Berlin—particularly in view of the coming underground fight of the Nazis—must be the Fundamentalist Protestants, who have a considerable following in Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, and Minnesota. To be sure, some of the Fundamentalists are among the most courageous fighters for democracy, but a great many of them are definitely pro-Hitler. Their reason for this stand is that Fundamentalists do not believe in freedom of religion, and they do believe that the Jews should be punished because they killed Christ. They say that Hitler has been sent by God to ‘save Christianity and destroy atheistic Communism.’ To many of them Japan is the ‘oriental outpost of Christianity’ destined to save Asia from the danger of a ‘Communistic China.’

The Nazis Go Underground; by Curt Riess; Copyright 1944 by Curt Riess; Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc. [HC]; pp. 125-126. Library of Congress Control Number: 44007162.

14. In the context of this discussion, it should be recalled that Nazi spy chief Reinhard Gehlen became an evangelist after his formal retirement from being the head of the German intelligence service. [Chief of Hitler’s intelligence apparatus for the Eastern front in World War II, Gehlen jumped to the CIA with his entire organization which became: the CIA’s department of Russian and Eastern European affairs, the de-facto NATO intelligence organization and finally the BND, the intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany.]

In this context, it should be remembered that Gehlen reported to Bormann’s security chief, Heinrich Muller and that he was clearing his postwar actions taken in conjunction with US intelligence with Admiral von Doenitz (Hitler’s nominal successor as head of state) and General Franz Halder, his former chief-of-staff. In his operations, Gehlen was operating as part of the Underground Reich.

Today, on the threshold of three score years and ten, General Reinhard Gehlen has found a surprising new field of activities. He has become an evangelist. With still unimpaired energy he has taken over the direction of a campaign for building new churches and schools for the Evangelical Church in Catholic Bavaria. After a life of seclusion he frequently attends meetings all over the province at which appeals for new funds are launched; on occasion he does not disdain to visit members of his religious community in order to encourage the enterprise and to pass the begging bowl. . .

Gehlen: Spy of the Century; by E.H. Cookridge; 1973 [SC] Pyramid Books; Copyright 1971 by European Copyright Company Limited; ISBN 0-515-03154-2; p. 450.

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #697 Christian Fundamentalism and the Underground Reich”

  1. This piece by Ed Kilgore uses a great term for the theocrats masquerading as “Constitutional Conservatives”: “Con-Cons”:

    TPM Cafe: Opinion
    The So-Called ‘Libertarian Moment’ Is Engineered By The Christian Right

    By Ed Kilgore
    Published August 13, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

    There’s been quite the buzz in the chattering classes this week over Robert Draper’s suggestion in the New York Times Magazine that the Republican Party, and perhaps even the nation, may finally prepared for a “libertarian moment,” likely through the agency of the shrewd and flexible politician Rand Paul. It’s obvious, in fact, that some of the aging hipsters Draper talks to who have been laboring in the libertarian fields for decades glimpse over the horizon a reconstructed GOP that can reverse the instinctive loathing of millennials for the Old Folks’ Party.

    Unfortunately, to the extent there is something that can be called a “libertarian moment” in the Republican Party and the conservative movement, it owes less to the work of the Cato Institute than to a force genuine libertarians clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged are typically horrified by: the Christian Right. In the emerging ideological enterprise of “constitutional conservatism,” theocrats are the senior partners, just as they have largely been in the Tea Party Movement, even though libertarians often get more attention.

    There’s no universal definition of “constitutional conservatism.” The apparent coiner of the term, the Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz, used it to argue for a temperate approach to political controversy that’s largely alien to those who have embraced the “brand.” Indeed, it’s most often become a sort of dog whistle scattered through speeches, slogans and bios on various campaign trails to signify that the bearer is hostile to compromise and faithful to fixed conservative principles, unlike the Republicans who have been so prone to trim and prevaricate since Barry Goldwater proudly went down in flames. The most active early Con-Con was Michele Bachmann, who rarely went more than a few minutes during her 2012 presidential campaign without uttering it. It’s now very prominently associated with Ted Cruz, who, according to Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has emerged as “the new standard-bearer for constitutional conservatism.” And it’s the preferred self-identification for Rand Paul as well.

    What Con-Con most often seems to connote beyond an uncompromising attitude on specific issues is the belief that strict limitations on the size, scope and cost of government are eternally correct for this country, regardless of public opinion or circumstances. Thus violations of this “constitutional” order are eternally illegitimate, no matter what the Supreme Court says or who has won the last election.

    More commonly, Con-Cons reinforce this idea of a semi-divine constitutional order by endowing it with — quite literally — divine origins. This is why David Barton’s largely discredited “Christian Nation” revisionist histories of the Founders remain so highly influential in conservative circles, and why Barton himself is welcome company in the camps of Con-Con pols ranging from Cruz and Bachmann to Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee. This is why virtually all Con-Cons conflate the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence, which enabled them to sneak both Natural and Divine Law (including most conspicuously a pre-natal Right to Life) into the nation’s organic governing structure.

    What a lot of those who instinctively think of conservative Christians as hostile to libertarian ideas of strict government persistently miss is that divinizing untrammeled capitalism has been a growing habit on the Christian Right for decades. Perhaps more importantly, the idea of the “secular-socialist government” being an oppressor of religious liberty, whether it’s by maintaining public schools that teach “relativism” and evolution, or by enforcing the “Holocaust” of legalized abortion, or by insisting on anti-discrimination rules that discomfit “Christian businesses,” has made Christian conservatives highly prone to, and actually a major participant in, the anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party. Beyond that, the essential tea party view of America as “exceptional” in eschewing the bad political habits of the rest of the world is highly congruent with, and actually owes a lot to, the old Protestant notion of the United States as a global Redeemer Nation and a “shining city on a hill.”

    So perhaps the question we should be asking is not whether the Christian Right and other “traditional” conservatives can accept a Rand Paul-led “libertarian” takeover of the conservative movement and the GOP, but whether “libertarians” are an independent factor in conservative politics to begin with. After all, most of the Republican politicians we think of as “libertarian”–whether it’s Rand Paul or Justin Amash or Mike Lee–are also paid-up culture-war opponents of legalized abortion, Common Core, and other heathenish practices. As Heather Digby Parton noted tartly earlier this week:

    [T]he line between theocrats and libertarian Republicans is very, very faint. Why do you think they’ve bastardized the concept of “Religious Liberty” to mean the right to inflict your religion on others? It appeals to people who fashion themselves as libertarians but really only care about their taxes, guns and weed. Those are the non-negotiable items. Everything else is on offer.

    And then there’s the well-known but under-reported long-term relationship of Ron and Rand Paul with the openly theocratic U.S. Constitution Party, a Con-Con inspirational font that no Republican politician is likely to embrace these days.

    Part of what makes the courtship and fostering of the Con-Con strain of politics so fascinating is that it clearly involves plutocrats that aren’t, themselves, theocrats but are more than willing to get into under the theocratic sheets if it suits them and are also running empires seemingly bent on bringing about environmental, financial, and socioeconomic apocalypses. So you have to wonder how much the various pseudo-theo-power-broker plutocrats are wondering about what it will take to keep the lunacy under wraps after their theocracy takes control. Take the Koch brothers. Surely they realize that, should the theocratic plutocrats ever successfully lead a “grass roots” “small government” revolt that turns society into a Handmaid’s Tale, the Koch brothers are one of the default targets for the next revolution after the Con-Con agenda trashes society. What on earth is going stop the “base” from revolting against the new theo-plutocrats? It’s not like there isn’t plenty of ‘torches and pitchforks’ sentiment amongst the Con-Con base directed towards the GOP elites too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2014, 3:51 pm
  2. Televengalist linked to Muslim Brotherhood fronts-

    According to files compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the founder of the world’s largest Christian television network financed his endeavor with the assistance of numerous international criminal organizations.

    Documents obtained by MuckRock show that the FBI was investigating Trinity Broadcasting Network and its founder, Paul Crouch, for being in communication with the infamous Bronx mafia figure, Vincent Gigante, with regards to a “narcotics transfer of funds,” which is how the FBI classifies money-laundering.

    In another document, Crouch is listed alongside Reverend Earl Paulk and Oral Roberts as “anti-Semitic white supremacists [who] were supposedly receiving funds from the [Palestinian Liberation Organization] to ‘run guns’” via an “Islamic Education Center” in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of these investigations were tagged as relating to “financial flow” involving narcotics.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/27/fbi-files-link-christian-tvs-paul-crouch-to-italian-mob-palestinian-gun-trafficking/

    Posted by Dada | August 27, 2014, 8:53 am
  3. Dear Sir,
    I would like to know if the above mentioned pic, showing Manfred Zapp, was taken from Jeff Sharlet’s book. I’m investigating Zapps carrier in South Africa and I did not find any pics there.
    Thanks so much for your attention.
    Regards, Michael

    Posted by Michael | February 23, 2015, 1:19 am
  4. Here’s a great overview of how the Military Industrial Complex found God. Or, rather, how the same folks that brought us fun stuff like the Military Industrial Complex redefined God in their own image:

    The New York Times
    Sunday Review
    A Christian Nation? Since When?

    By KEVIN M. KRUSE
    MARCH 14, 2015

    AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

    Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

    The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

    But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

    Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired publicr relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

    The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

    Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

    In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

    The Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause. Preaching to pews of millionaires at the elite First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, Mr. Fifield said reading the Bible was “like eating fish — we take the bones out to enjoy the meat. All parts are not of equal value.” He dismissed New Testament warnings about the corrupting nature of wealth. Instead, he paired Christianity and capitalism against the New Deal’s “pagan statism.”

    Through his national organization, Spiritual Mobilization, founded in 1935, Mr. Fifield promoted “freedom under God.” By the late 1940s, his group was spreading the gospel of faith and free enterprise in a mass-circulated monthly magazine and a weekly radio program that eventually aired on more than 800 stations nationwide. It even encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes. Liberals howled at the group’s conflation of God and greed; in 1948, the radical journalist Carey McWilliams denounced it in a withering exposé. But Mr. Fifield exploited such criticism to raise more funds and redouble his efforts.

    Meanwhile, the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups. After ministering to industrialists facing huge labor strikes in Seattle and San Francisco in the mid-1930s, Mr. Vereide began building prayer breakfast groups in cities across America to bring business and political elites together in common cause. “The big men and the real leaders in New York and Chicago,” he wrote his wife, “look up to me in an embarrassing way.” In Manhattan alone, James Cash Penney, I.B.M.’s Thomas Watson, Norman Vincent Peale and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia all sought audiences with him.

    In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation.” Mr. Vereide opened headquarters in Washington — “God’s Embassy,” he called it — and became a powerful force in its previously secular institutions. Among other activities, he held “dedication ceremonies” for several justices of the Supreme Court. “No country or civilization can last,” Justice Tom C. Clark announced at his 1949 consecration, “unless it is founded on Christian values.”

    The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees, was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.”

    In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”

    Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”

    Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself.

    Well, it sounds like the Military Industrial Complex isn’t the only thing Eisenhower should have warned us about, although he may have genuinely believed that “should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,…you would not hear of that party again in our political history,” so maybe the modern day GOP and its ongoing attempt to eliminate the New Deal is something he just couldn’t imagine. After all, who could imagine that a movement of corporatist Christian ministers that apparently “encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes” would actually succeed in transforming society?!

    Then again, given the scope of this “Christian libertarian” movement in the ’50s and the fact that the very same groups behind the Military Industrial Complex Eisenhower warned us about were also financing sort of horrible Christian/Mammon hybrid, perhaps the threat of this movement should have been clear even back then. 17,000 “minister representatives” is one hell of a “Complex” too:

    NPR
    How ‘One Nation’ Didn’t Become ‘Under God’ Until The ’50s Religious Revival
    MARCH 30, 2015 3:29 PM ET

    The words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase “In God we trust” on the back of a dollar bill haven’t been there as long as most Americans might think. Those references were inserted in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, the same decade that the National Prayer Breakfast was launched, according to writer Kevin Kruse. His new book is One Nation Under God.

    In the original Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy made no mention of God, Kruse says. Bellamy was Christian socialist, a Baptist who believed in the separation of church and state.

    “As this new religious revival is sweeping the country and taking on new political tones, the phrase ‘one nation under God’ seizes the national imagination,” Kruse tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It starts with a proposal by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic lay organization, to add the phrase ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. Their initial campaign doesn’t go anywhere but once Eisenhower’s own pastor endorses it … it catches fire.”

    “According to the conventional narrative, the Soviet Union discovered the bomb and the United States rediscovered God,” Kruse says. “In order to push back against the atheistic communism of the Soviet Union, Americans re-embraced a religious identity. That plays a small role here, but … there’s actually a longer arc. That Cold War consensus actually helps to paper over a couple decades of internal political struggles in the United States. If you look at the architects of this language … the state power that they’re worried most about is not the Soviet regime in Moscow, but rather the New Deal and Fair Deal administrations in Washington, D.C.

    Interview Highlights

    On how corporations hired ministers to spread “free enterprise”

    The New Deal had passed a large number of measures that were regulating business in some ways for the first time, and it [had] empowered labor unions and given them a voice in the affairs of business. Corporate leaders resented both of these moves and so they launched a massive campaign of public relations designed to sell the values of free enterprise. The problem was that their naked appeals to the merits of capitalism were largely dismissed by the public.

    The most famous of these organizations was called The American Liberty League and it was heavily financed by leaders at DuPont, General Motors and other corporations. The problem was that it seemed like very obvious corporate propaganda. As Jim Farley, the head of the Democratic Party at the time, said: “They ought to call it The American Cellophane League, because No. 1: It’s a DuPont product, and No. 2: You can see right through it.”

    So when they realized that making this direct case for free enterprise was ineffective, they decided to find another way to do it. They decided to outsource the job. As they noted in their private correspondence, ministers were the most trusted men in America at the time, so who better to make the case to the American people than ministers?

    On the message the ministers conveyed

    They use these ministers to make the case that Christianity and capitalism were soul mates. This case had been made before, but in the context of the New Deal it takes on a sharp new political meaning. Essentially they argue that Christianity and capitalism are both systems in which individuals rise and fall according to their own merits. So in Christianity, if you’re good you go to heaven, if you’re bad you go to hell. In capitalism if you’re good you make a profit and you succeed, if you’re bad you fail.

    The New Deal, they argue, violates this natural order. In fact, they argue that the New Deal and the regulatory state violate the Ten Commandments. It makes a false idol of the federal government and encourages Americans to worship it rather than the Almighty. It encourages Americans to covet what the wealthy have; it encourages them to steal from the wealthy in the forms of taxation; and, most importantly, it bears false witness against the wealthy by telling lies about them. So they argue that the New Deal is not a manifestation of God’s will, but rather, a form of pagan stateism and is inherently sinful.

    On the Rev. James Fifield

    He takes over the pastorate at the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, an elite church, literally ministering to millionaires in his pews. It’s got some of the town’s most wealthy citizens — the mayor attends service there, [Hollywood filmmaker] Cecil B. DeMille. He tells these millionaires what they want to hear, which is that their worldly success is a sign of heavenly blessing. He has a very loose approach to the Bible. He says that reading the Bible should be like eating fish: We take out the bones to enjoy the meat; all parts are not of equal value. Accordingly, he disregarded Christ’s many injunctions about the dangers of wealth, and instead preached a philosophy that wedded capitalism to Christianity.

    On Fifield’s “spiritual mobilization”

    “Spiritual mobilization” is his effort to recruit other ministers to the cause. So he is serving, in many ways, as a frontman for a number of corporate leaders. His main sponsors are Sun Oil President J. Howard Pew, Alfred Sloan of General Motors, the heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, they all heavily fund this organization. But what Fifield sets out to do is recruit other ministers to his cause. Within the span of just a decade’s time, he has about 17,000 so-called minister representatives who belong to the organization who are literally preaching sermons on its Christian libertarian message to their congregations, who are competing in sermon contest[s] for cash prizes and they’re doing all they can in their local communities to spread this message that the New Deal is essentially evil, it’s a manifestation of creeping socialism that is rotting away the country from within. Instead they need to rally around business leaders and make common cause with them to defend what they call “the American way of life.”

    Yep:

    Within the span of just a decade’s time, he has about 17,000 so-called minister representatives who belong to the organization who are literally preaching sermons on its Christian libertarian message to their congregations, who are competing in sermon contest[s] for cash prizes and they’re doing all they can in their local communities to spread this message that the New Deal is essentially evil, it’s a manifestation of creeping socialism that is rotting away the country from within.

    So that was a horribly review of a particularly important chapter of 20th century history that raises number of questions. But it’s especially depressing since the most significant question raises by this is what’s changed?

    Well, the corporatists are just as awful as before but decades of the mainstreaming of this stuff has apparently given their political puppets license to not even bother hiding their theocratic madness. So that’s changed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 3, 2015, 6:38 pm

Post a comment