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FTR #697 Christian Fundamentalism and the Underground Reich

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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

17 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
  5. Here’s a sto­ry that’s dis­turb­ing on the sur­face and far more dis­turb­ing when you fac­tor in the propen­si­ty of right-wing politi­cians to employ pro­jec­tion as a rhetor­i­cal tool: Pres­i­dent Trump and a closed-door meet­ing with a num­ber of evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers recent­ly, dur­ing which he framed the 2018 midterms as “a ref­er­en­dum on not only me, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on your reli­gion, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on free speech and the First Amend­ment.” He then pre­dict­ed that if the “GOP los­es” the midterms, the Democ­rats will “vio­lent­ly” reverse all the gains he’s made for the con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal move­ment, say, “they will over­turn every­thing that we’ve done and they’ll do it quick­ly and vio­lent­ly, and vio­lent­ly. There’s vio­lence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are vio­lent peo­ple.”

    Trump also fix­at­ed on his claim that he got “rid of” the John­son Amend­ment, a 1954 law for­bid­ding church­es and char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tions from endors­ing polit­i­cal can­di­dates. Except he did­n’t actu­al­ly get rid of that law because only Con­gress can do that. Trump did sign an exec­u­tive order that instructs the Trea­sury Depart­ment not to “take any adverse action against any indi­vid­ual, house of wor­ship, or oth­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion on the basis that such indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion speaks or has spo­ken about moral or polit­i­cal issues from a reli­gious per­spec­tive, where speech of sim­i­lar char­ac­ter has, con­sis­tent with law, not ordi­nar­i­ly been treat­ed as par­tic­i­pa­tion or inter­ven­tion in a polit­i­cal cam­paign on behalf of (or in oppo­si­tion to) a can­di­date for pub­lic office.” But as the arti­cle points out, this exec­u­tive order changed noth­ing. Reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions can express their reli­gious views, as they always could — but still can­not for­mal­ly par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal cam­paigns.

    But even if reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions do decide to for­mal­ly par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal cam­paigns, there’s basi­cal­ly been no enforce­ment of the John­son Amend­ment under Demo­c­ra­t­ic or Repub­li­can admin­is­tra­tions and evan­gel­i­cal church­es have been open­ly vio­lat­ing it since 2008 with no pun­ish­ment from the IRS. So we have Trump brag­ging about a ‘gain’ he grant­ed to evan­gel­i­cals that he did­n’t actu­al­ly grant about a law that’s not real­ly enforced, while warn­ing that if the Democ­rats win in the midterms that they will “vio­lent­ly” reverse these alleged gains:

    NBC News

    In closed-door meet­ing, Trump told Chris­t­ian lead­ers he got rid of a law. He did­n’t.
    Accord­ing to record­ed excerpts of pri­vate remarks, he said evan­gel­i­cals were “one elec­tion away from los­ing every­thing.”

    by Aliza Nadi and Ken Dilan­ian
    Aug.28.2018 / 3:00 PM ET

    In a closed-door meet­ing with evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers Mon­day night, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump repeat­ed his debunked claim that he had got­ten “rid of” a law for­bid­ding church­es and char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tions from endors­ing polit­i­cal can­di­dates, accord­ing to record­ed excerpts reviewed by NBC News.

    In fact, the law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Con­gress last year failed.

    But Trump cit­ed this alleged accom­plish­ment as one in a series of gains he has made for his con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian sup­port­ers, as he warned, “You’re one elec­tion away from los­ing every­thing that you’ve got,” and said their oppo­nents were “vio­lent peo­ple” who would over­turn these gains “vio­lent­ly.”

    Trump addressed the law and the upcom­ing midterms in pri­vate remarks Mon­day dur­ing a a din­ner with evan­gel­i­cal sup­port­ers at the White House after the press had left.

    At stake in the Novem­ber midterms, Trump told the audi­ence, are all the gains he has made for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians.

    “The lev­el of hatred, the lev­el of anger is unbe­liev­able,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my fam­i­ly, but I’ve done them. … This Nov. 6 elec­tion is very much a ref­er­en­dum on not only me, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on your reli­gion, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on free speech and the First Amend­ment.”

    If the GOP los­es, he said, “they will over­turn every­thing that we’ve done and they’ll do it quick­ly and vio­lent­ly, and vio­lent­ly. There’s vio­lence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are vio­lent peo­ple.”

    The law that Trump says he got rid of is the so-called John­son Amend­ment, a pro­vi­sion insert­ed into law in 1954 by then-sen­a­tor and future Pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son of Texas, who was miffed that a con­ser­v­a­tive non­prof­it group was help­ing his oppo­nent.

    The law says church­es and char­i­ties “are absolute­ly pro­hib­it­ed from direct­ly or indi­rect­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in, or inter­ven­ing in, any polit­i­cal cam­paign on behalf of (or in oppo­si­tion to) any can­di­date for elec­tive pub­lic office.”

    “Now one of the things I’m most proud of is get­ting rid of the John­son Amend­ment,” the pres­i­dent said. “That was a dis­as­ter for you.”

    The pres­i­dent does­n’t have the pow­er to repeal a law — only Con­gress can do that. The Supreme Court can also rule a law uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but that has not hap­pened in this case.

    In May 2017, Trump signed an exec­u­tive order that pur­port­ed to ease enforce­ment of the John­son Amend­ment. But experts — and the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union, which oppos­es repeal of the pro­vi­sion — say the Trump order was basi­cal­ly tooth­less.

    “It does almost noth­ing,” Gre­go­ry Mag­a­r­i­an, a con­sti­tu­tion­al law pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Law School.

    Poli­ti­fact, the non­par­ti­san fact-check­ing orga­ni­za­tion, rat­ed Trump’s claim that he had got­ten rid of the John­son Amend­ment “most­ly false” when he first made it pub­licly in July 2017.

    The law for­bids reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er char­i­ties from for­mal­ly endors­ing can­di­dates if they want to retain their fed­er­al tax exemp­tion.

    Trump’s exec­u­tive order instructs the Trea­sury Depart­ment not to “take any adverse action against any indi­vid­ual, house of wor­ship, or oth­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion on the basis that such indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion speaks or has spo­ken about moral or polit­i­cal issues from a reli­gious per­spec­tive, where speech of sim­i­lar char­ac­ter has, con­sis­tent with law, not ordi­nar­i­ly been treat­ed as par­tic­i­pa­tion or inter­ven­tion in a polit­i­cal cam­paign on behalf of (or in oppo­si­tion to) a can­di­date for pub­lic office … ”

    In oth­er words, reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions can express their reli­gious views, as they always could — but still can­not for­mal­ly par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal cam­paigns.

    Trump said to the reli­gious lead­ers at the White House: “Now you’re not silenced any­more. It’s gone and there’s no penal­ty any­more and if you like some­body or if you don’t like some­body you can go out and say, ‘This man is going to be great for evan­gel­i­cals, or for Chris­tian­i­ty or for anoth­er reli­gion. This per­son is some­body that I like and I’m going to talk about it on Sun­day.”

    In prac­tice, there has been noth­ing stop­ping any­one from doing that. The John­son Amend­ment does­n’t pro­hib­it indi­vid­ual speech, and it has rarely been enforced.

    More than 2,000 main­ly evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian cler­gy have delib­er­ate­ly vio­lat­ed the law since 2008 as a form of protest against it, but only one has been audit­ed by the IRS, and none pun­ished, accord­ing to the Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom, a pro-reli­gious group.

    A pro­vi­sion to over­turn the amend­ment was includ­ed in last year’s tax cut bill, but it was ulti­mate­ly removed for pro­ce­dur­al rea­sons.

    Trump “does­n’t have the legal author­i­ty to over­turn the John­son Amend­ment,” Mag­a­r­i­an said.

    “You would think,” Mag­a­r­i­an added, “that the con­ser­v­a­tive reli­gious lead­ers would get impa­tient at the con­tin­ued rep­e­ti­tion of that claim” that Trump has repealed it.

    In the begin­ning of his pri­vate remarks to the evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, Trump cit­ed a com­ment he said was made by Robert Jef­fress, a South­ern Bap­tist leader who is one of his reli­gious allies

    “I had the great Robert Jef­fress back there. Hel­lo, Robert. Who said about me: He may not be the per­fect human being, but he is the great­est leader for Chris­tian­i­ty,” Trump said to applause and laugh­ter.

    He added: “Hope­ful­ly I’ve proven that to be a fact in terms of the sec­ond part. Not the first part.”

    ...

    ———-

    “In closed-door meet­ing, Trump told Chris­t­ian lead­ers he got rid of a law. He did­n’t.” by Aliza Nadi and Ken Dilan­ian; NBC News; 08/28/2018

    “But Trump cit­ed this alleged accom­plish­ment as one in a series of gains he has made for his con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian sup­port­ers, as he warned, “You’re one elec­tion away from los­ing every­thing that you’ve got,” and said their oppo­nents were “vio­lent peo­ple” who would over­turn these gains “vio­lent­ly.”

    A warn­ing that all the ‘gains’ for evan­gel­i­cals will be vio­lent­ly swept away by the Democ­rats. It’s unclear why exact­ly Democ­rats in con­trol of the House would use vio­lence to reverse Trump’s poli­cies, but he said it any­way, with a ref­er­ence to Antifa. This is how Trump is deal­ing with the prospect of a bruis­ing midterm:

    ...
    Trump addressed the law and the upcom­ing midterms in pri­vate remarks Mon­day dur­ing a a din­ner with evan­gel­i­cal sup­port­ers at the White House after the press had left.

    At stake in the Novem­ber midterms, Trump told the audi­ence, are all the gains he has made for con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians.

    “The lev­el of hatred, the lev­el of anger is unbe­liev­able,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my fam­i­ly, but I’ve done them. … This Nov. 6 elec­tion is very much a ref­er­en­dum on not only me, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on your reli­gion, it’s a ref­er­en­dum on free speech and the First Amend­ment.”

    If the GOP los­es, he said, “they will over­turn every­thing that we’ve done and they’ll do it quick­ly and vio­lent­ly, and vio­lent­ly. There’s vio­lence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are vio­lent peo­ple.”
    ...

    And, of course, Trump’s self-adu­la­tion about how he got rid of the John­son Amend­ment was delu­sion­al since the pres­i­dent does­n’t actu­al­ly have the pow­er to repeal a law:

    ...
    The law that Trump says he got rid of is the so-called John­son Amend­ment, a pro­vi­sion insert­ed into law in 1954 by then-sen­a­tor and future Pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son of Texas, who was miffed that a con­ser­v­a­tive non­prof­it group was help­ing his oppo­nent.

    The law says church­es and char­i­ties “are absolute­ly pro­hib­it­ed from direct­ly or indi­rect­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in, or inter­ven­ing in, any polit­i­cal cam­paign on behalf of (or in oppo­si­tion to) any can­di­date for elec­tive pub­lic office.”

    “Now one of the things I’m most proud of is get­ting rid of the John­son Amend­ment,” the pres­i­dent said. “That was a dis­as­ter for you.”

    The pres­i­dent does­n’t have the pow­er to repeal a law — only Con­gress can do that. The Supreme Court can also rule a law uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but that has not hap­pened in this case.
    ...

    Trump did sign an exec­u­tive order that pur­port­ed­ly weak­ened fed­er­al enforce­ment of the John­son Amend­ment, but the order did almost noth­ing. It did­n’t sud­den­ly allow reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions to direct­ly par­tic­i­pate in cam­paigns. And while weak­en­ing enforce­ment of the law might be seen as effec­tive­ly get­ting rid of it, it’s not like the law is almost ever actu­al­ly enforced:

    ...
    In May 2017, Trump signed an exec­u­tive order that pur­port­ed to ease enforce­ment of the John­son Amend­ment. But experts — and the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union, which oppos­es repeal of the pro­vi­sion — say the Trump order was basi­cal­ly tooth­less.

    “It does almost noth­ing,” Gre­go­ry Mag­a­r­i­an, a con­sti­tu­tion­al law pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Law School.

    Poli­ti­fact, the non­par­ti­san fact-check­ing orga­ni­za­tion, rat­ed Trump’s claim that he had got­ten rid of the John­son Amend­ment “most­ly false” when he first made it pub­licly in July 2017.

    The law for­bids reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er char­i­ties from for­mal­ly endors­ing can­di­dates if they want to retain their fed­er­al tax exemp­tion.

    Trump’s exec­u­tive order instructs the Trea­sury Depart­ment not to “take any adverse action against any indi­vid­ual, house of wor­ship, or oth­er reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion on the basis that such indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion speaks or has spo­ken about moral or polit­i­cal issues from a reli­gious per­spec­tive, where speech of sim­i­lar char­ac­ter has, con­sis­tent with law, not ordi­nar­i­ly been treat­ed as par­tic­i­pa­tion or inter­ven­tion in a polit­i­cal cam­paign on behalf of (or in oppo­si­tion to) a can­di­date for pub­lic office … ”

    In oth­er words, reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions can express their reli­gious views, as they always could — but still can­not for­mal­ly par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal cam­paigns.

    Trump said to the reli­gious lead­ers at the White House: “Now you’re not silenced any­more. It’s gone and there’s no penal­ty any­more and if you like some­body or if you don’t like some­body you can go out and say, ‘This man is going to be great for evan­gel­i­cals, or for Chris­tian­i­ty or for anoth­er reli­gion. This per­son is some­body that I like and I’m going to talk about it on Sun­day.”

    In prac­tice, there has been noth­ing stop­ping any­one from doing that. The John­son Amend­ment does­n’t pro­hib­it indi­vid­ual speech, and it has rarely been enforced.

    More than 2,000 main­ly evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian cler­gy have delib­er­ate­ly vio­lat­ed the law since 2008 as a form of protest against it, but only one has been audit­ed by the IRS, and none pun­ished, accord­ing to the Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom, a pro-reli­gious group.

    A pro­vi­sion to over­turn the amend­ment was includ­ed in last year’s tax cut bill, but it was ulti­mate­ly removed for pro­ce­dur­al rea­sons.

    Trump “does­n’t have the legal author­i­ty to over­turn the John­son Amend­ment,” Mag­a­r­i­an said.

    “You would think,” Mag­a­r­i­an added, “that the con­ser­v­a­tive reli­gious lead­ers would get impa­tient at the con­tin­ued rep­e­ti­tion of that claim” that Trump has repealed it.
    ...

    And notice how evan­gel­i­cal church­es have been open­ly and delib­er­ate­ly vio­lat­ing the John­son Amend­ment since 2008, with no IRS pun­ish­ment:

    ...
    More than 2,000 main­ly evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian cler­gy have delib­er­ate­ly vio­lat­ed the law since 2008 as a form of protest against it, but only one has been audit­ed by the IRS, and none pun­ished, accord­ing to the Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom, a pro-reli­gious group.
    ...

    Also note that we Trump specif­i­cal­ly calls out to Robert Jef­fress, one of his spir­i­tu­al advi­sors, and touts how Jef­fress told him he was “the great­est leader for Chris­tian­i­ty”, this is one of those instances where he may not have been mak­ing stuff up. Recall how Jef­fress is one of the pro­mot­ers of the “Cyrus” meme that says Trump is like the Bib­li­cal fig­ure Cyrus who was­n’t a Chris­t­ian but was still divine­ly led by God, thus allow­ing Trump to act as un-Chris­t­ian as pos­si­ble while still being ele­vat­ed to ‘ves­sel of God’s work’ sta­tus by Chris­t­ian lead­ers. That’s pre­sum­ably what Trump was refer­ring to here:

    ...
    In the begin­ning of his pri­vate remarks to the evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, Trump cit­ed a com­ment he said was made by Robert Jef­fress, a South­ern Bap­tist leader who is one of his reli­gious allies

    “I had the great Robert Jef­fress back there. Hel­lo, Robert. Who said about me: He may not be the per­fect human being, but he is the great­est leader for Chris­tian­i­ty,” Trump said to applause and laugh­ter.

    He added: “Hope­ful­ly I’ve proven that to be a fact in terms of the sec­ond part. Not the first part.”
    ...

    “I had the great Robert Jef­fress back there. Hel­lo, Robert. Who said about me: He may not be the per­fect human being, but he is the great­est leader for Chris­tian­i­ty,” Trump said to applause and laugh­ter. Yep, refer­ring to him­self as the great­est leader for Chris­tian­i­ty got applause from this audi­ence.

    So that’s how Trump’s close-door meet­ing with this audi­ence of evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers went.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2018, 3:44 pm
  6. When Brett Kavanaugh replaced Antho­ny Kennedy on the US Supreme Court it was pret­ty clear that abor­tion oppo­nents in the US were going to be mak­ing a renewed push to get a legal case before the Supreme Court that could over­turn Roe vs Wade and return the ques­tion of legal sta­tus of abor­tion in Amer­i­ca to the state-lev­el. So it should come as no sur­prise that a num­ber of states just passed some of the most restrict­ed abor­tion laws ever fol­low­ing Roe v Wade. Geor­gia’s gov­er­nor signed into law a bill that could make the women who receive abor­tions after six weeks sub­ject to life in prison or even the death penal­ty. Alaba­ma’s leg­is­la­ture fol­lowed with the pas­sage of a bill that would ban abor­tions after six weeks with no excep­tions in cas­es of rape and incest and would pun­ish doc­tors who per­form abor­tions with up to 99 year prison sen­tences. Giv­en that a large num­ber of preg­nant women have no idea they are preg­nant at six weeks, espe­cial­ly if it was an unplanned preg­nan­cy, the bills would effec­tive­ly imme­di­ate­ly ban abor­tion in those states if Roe v Wade ends up get­ting over­turned. And Alaba­ma and Geor­gia are just two of the numer­ous states that either passed or attempt­ed to pass sim­i­lar laws in 2019.

    So it seems like a pret­ty good bet that abor­tion rights is going to be a major issue in the upcom­ing 2020 US elec­tion cycle. After all, when Pres­i­dent Trump was a can­di­date in 2016 in infa­mous­ly advo­cat­ed for pun­ish­ing doc­tors who per­form abor­tions and the women who received them dur­ing an inter­view when he said “some form of pun­ish­ment” must exist for the women if abor­tion is out­lawed. This led to such an out­cry that the Trump cam­paign walked back his com­ments the next day and said only the doc­tors should be pun­ished. The ques­tion of who would be pun­ished and how severe those pun­ish­ments would be have long been an open ques­tion that the abor­tion oppo­nents have strate­gi­cal­ly avoid­ed for decades. But it’s going to be a lot hard­er for Trump and the Repub­li­cans to argue that the loom­ing over­turn­ing of Roe v Wade isn’t going to result in doc­tors and women going to prison now.

    But while it’s more or less guar­an­teed that future of abor­tion rights and the com­po­si­tion of the Supreme Court will play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the US 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, it’s not at all clear that broad­er issue of the pro­found and grow­ing influ­ence of reli­gious extrem­ists (the ‘Amer­i­can Tal­iban’ like Opus Dei) with­in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion will be a major issue. Which is too bad because it’s hard to come up with a top­ic more illus­tra­tive of how pow­er is cor­rupt­ly held and wield­ed in the mod­ern world and moral­i­ty is sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly turned on its head than the study of the con­nec­tions between Amer­i­can reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism, pol­i­tics, and big mon­ey.

    So, along those lines, it’s worth not­ing that the same forces financ­ing the fusion of far right pol­i­tics and reli­gion are doing the same thing in Europe. Those were the find­ings of a recent study by open­Democ­ra­cy that con­duct­ed the first even analy­sis of the finan­cial flows from US Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions into a Europe over the last decade. What they found was an explo­sion of spend­ing over the last five years, along with exten­sive coor­di­na­tion with Europe’s far right par­ties. There’s also quite a bit of coor­di­na­tion with Steve Ban­non’s ongo­ing efforts to pro­mote the far right in Europe. It under­scores the key point that the assault on abor­tion rights in the Unit­ed States should be viewed in the con­text of a much larg­er far right assault designed to return the West to a time with reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism and far right pow­er pol­i­tics joint­ly reigned supreme:

    Open Democ­ra­cy

    Revealed: Trump-linked US Chris­t­ian ‘fun­da­men­tal­ists’ pour mil­lions of ‘dark mon­ey’ into Europe, boost­ing the far right

    MEPs call for action as open­Democ­ra­cy analy­sis reveals ‘shock­ing’ flows of cash cross­ing the Atlantic to push ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive agen­das.

    Claire Provost and Adam Ram­say
    27 March 2019

    US Chris­t­ian right ‘fun­da­men­tal­ists’ linked to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Steve Ban­non are among a dozen Amer­i­can groups that have poured at least $50 mil­lion of ‘dark mon­ey’ into Europe over the last decade, open­Democ­ra­cy can reveal today.

    Between them, these groups have backed ‘armies’ of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive lawyers and polit­i­cal activists, as well as ‘fam­i­ly val­ues’ cam­paigns against LGBT rights, sex edu­ca­tion and abor­tion – and a num­ber appear to have increas­ing links with Europe’s far right.

    They are spend­ing mon­ey on a scale “not pre­vi­ous­ly imag­ined”, accord­ing to law­mak­ers and human rights advo­cates, who have called our find­ings “shock­ing”. React­ing to openDemocracy’s find­ings, a cross-par­ty group of more than 40 MEPs has called on the EU’s trans­paren­cy tsar Frans Tim­mer­mans to look into the influ­ence of “US Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists… with the great­est urgency” ahead of May’s Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions.

    Among the biggest spenders is a group whose chief coun­sel is also Don­ald Trump’s per­son­al lawyer, Jay Seku­low. Anoth­er organ­i­sa­tion has col­lab­o­rat­ed with a con­tro­ver­sial Rome-based ‘insti­tute’ backed by Steve Ban­non. And a num­ber of the groups are con­nect­ed to the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies: a net­work of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive activists which has links to far-right politi­cians and move­ments in sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries, includ­ing Italy, Hun­gary, Poland, Spain and Ser­bia.

    None of these Amer­i­can groups dis­clos­es who its donors are – though at least two have links to famous con­ser­v­a­tive bil­lion­aires, such as the Koch broth­ers (who helped bankroll the Tea Par­ty Move­ment) and the fam­i­ly of Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary.

    The increas­ing ties between some of these US Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive groups and the Euro­pean far right will be on dis­play this week­end at a sum­mit of the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) in Verona, Italy.

    Right-wing politi­cians and their sup­port­ers from across the con­ti­nent are expect­ed to attend – includ­ing the Ital­ian deputy prime min­is­ter, Mat­teo Salvi­ni, who has described the WCF as a show­case for “the Europe that we like.

    In a let­ter copied to the pres­i­dents of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the cross-par­ty group of MEPs has demand­ed action to pro­tect Euro­pean democ­ra­cy “against nefar­i­ous out­side influ­ences”.

    Scot­tish Nation­al Par­ty MEP Alyn Smith, who sits on the Euro­pean Parliament’s for­eign affairs com­mit­tee and signed the let­ter, today said: “This inves­ti­ga­tion by open­Democ­ra­cy is extreme­ly time­ly and shines a light on a major chal­lenge fac­ing democ­ra­cy in Europe.”

    Our find­ings “are high­ly alarm­ing and nobody should be in any doubt as to the insid­i­ous nature of these fun­da­men­tal­ist groups”, he con­tin­ued. “No group of any kind should be able to use dark mon­ey to dis­tort debate and to sub­vert democ­ra­cy in Europe, least of all group such as these whose caus­es are deeply regres­sive”.

    ‘The Europe we like’

    In the first analy­sis of its kind, open­Democ­ra­cy has exam­ined a decade of US Chris­t­ian organ­i­sa­tions’ finan­cial accounts and found that sev­er­al of them appear to have sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased their spend­ing in Europe over the past five years.

    Our find­ings come as far-right par­ties aim for big wins in the upcom­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in May, and show how large amounts of for­eign mon­ey have sup­port­ed the spread of their ‘tra­di­tion­al val­ues’ mes­sages.

    open­Democ­ra­cy has reviewed hun­dreds of pages of finan­cial fil­ings for a dozen reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tive groups that are reg­is­tered in the US as tax-exempt non-prof­it organ­i­sa­tions, and thus are required to dis­close some infor­ma­tion about their for­eign spend­ing.

    Some of these groups have been pre­vi­ous­ly accused of sup­port­ing cam­paigns to crim­i­nalise homo­sex­u­al­i­ty in Africa, “dra­con­ian” anti-abor­tion laws in Latin Amer­i­ca and con­tro­ver­sial projects to encour­age gay peo­ple in the US to “leave homo­sex­u­al­i­ty”.

    But the extent of their Euro­pean activ­i­ty has – until now – received lit­tle scruti­ny. Our inves­ti­ga­tion reveals that some of these groups have:

    * Sent teams of lob­by­ists to Brus­sels to influ­ence EU offi­cials
    * Chal­lenged laws against dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate speech in Euro­pean courts
    * Sup­port­ed cam­paigns against LGBT rights in the Czech Repub­lic and Roma­nia
    * Fund­ed a net­work of ‘grass­roots’ anti-abor­tion cam­paigns in Italy and Spain
    * Deployed ‘ambu­lance-chas­ing’ evan­ge­lists after tragedies such as the Gren­fell Tow­er fire, and in the wake of ter­ror­ist attacks

    Five of the con­ser­v­a­tive groups have pre­vi­ous­ly been list­ed part­ners of the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) net­work, which is meet­ing in Verona this week.

    It’s not just Euro­pean politi­cians who are con­cerned about them: these groups are con­tro­ver­sial in Amer­i­ca too. The WCF itself has been described as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC), which mon­i­tors extrem­ist move­ments and tracks this network’s increas­ing con­nec­tions with the far right.

    The SPLC explains that “view­ing homo­sex­u­al­i­ty as unbib­li­cal or sim­ply oppos­ing same-sex mar­riage” is not enough to be cat­e­gorised as a “hate group”. Groups on this list go fur­ther – claim­ing that homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is dan­ger­ous, linked to pae­dophil­ia and should be crim­i­nalised, dis­sem­i­nat­ing “dis­parag­ing ‘facts’ about LGBT peo­ple that are sim­ply untrue”.

    This is, says SPLC, “no dif­fer­ent to how white suprema­cists and nativist extrem­ists prop­a­gate lies about black peo­ple and immi­grants to make these com­mu­ni­ties seem like a dan­ger to soci­ety”.

    Joseph Grabows­ki, a WCF spokesper­son, told open­Democ­ra­cy: “We dis­pute entire­ly the premise [of the ‘hate group’ des­ig­na­tion]... It’s an unfor­tu­nate slight for the count­less Amer­i­cans and the peo­ple around the world who hold the same views as we do on mar­riage, the nature of fam­i­ly and the right to life, that are part of the fab­ric of Chris­tian­i­ty and also oth­er tra­di­tion­al points of view,” he said.

    The WCF is a project of the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly and the Illi­nois-based Howard Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly, Reli­gion and Soci­ety, whose direc­tors include an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Span­ish activist linked to the leader of the far-right Vox par­ty.

    Oth­er direc­tors include a close asso­ciate of a Russ­ian oli­garch who spon­sored a 2014 ‘‘secret meet­ing’’ in Vien­na with key French and Aus­tri­an far-right lead­ers – and an Ital­ian politi­cian fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges in his coun­try.

    Over the last decade, the WCF has host­ed at least sev­en major meet­ings in Europe, attend­ed by hun­dreds of reli­gious right activists and a grow­ing list of far-right politi­cians. Its 2017 meet­ing in Budapest was opened by Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter Vic­tor Orbán.

    Among the con­ven­ers of this week’s event in Verona is an Ital­ian anti-abor­tion group linked to the neo-fas­cist Forza Nuo­va par­ty, whose leader is also expect­ed to attend the WCF.

    Trump, the far right and the Chris­t­ian ‘legal army’

    Two of the Trump-linked Amer­i­can groups exam­ined by open­Democ­ra­cy are Chris­t­ian right legal pow­er­hous­es: Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom (ADF) and the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice. Togeth­er, they have spent more than $20 mil­lion in Europe since 2008.

    They don’t dis­close their fun­ders, but US jour­nal­ists have pre­vi­ous­ly traced at least $1 mil­lion in grants to ADF from a foun­da­tion con­trolled by the bil­lion­aire fam­i­ly of Bet­sy DeVos, Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary, and Erik Prince, founder of the Black­wa­ter mer­ce­nary firm.

    ADF was co-found­ed by Alan Sears, a US Chris­t­ian right leader who co-authored a book against “the homo­sex­u­al agen­da”. It is increas­ing­ly active inter­na­tion­al­ly, includ­ing in Latin Amer­i­ca. It sup­port­ed a 2016 law in Belize mak­ing gay sex pun­ish­able with 10 years in jail.

    This group tripled its annu­al spend­ing in Europe between 2012 and 2016, to more than $2.6 mil­lion a year. It now has offices in Bel­gium, France, Aus­tria, Switzer­land and the UK, and spends hun­dreds of thou­sands of euros lob­by­ing EU offi­cials, accord­ing to sep­a­rate trans­paren­cy data.

    Among its Euro­pean projects, the group has sup­port­ed the defence of a noto­ri­ous Ger­man activist who com­pared abor­tion to the Holo­caust and accused spe­cif­ic doc­tors of mur­der.

    This year, ADF Inter­na­tion­al also co-host­ed an event with the French group La Manif Pour Tous, which has been pre­vi­ous­ly been linked to the far-right par­ty Front Nation­al.

    Ahead of the last Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in 2014, La Manif Pour Tous launched a ‘Europe for Fam­i­ly’ cam­paign which got 230 French can­di­dates to sign a pledge oppos­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty, trans rights and sex edu­ca­tion.

    Speak­ing to open­Democ­ra­cy, a spokesper­son for ADF Inter­na­tion­al said they are “exclu­sive­ly pri­vate­ly fund­ed by peo­ple from all over the world, who care about human rights” and that its activ­i­ties include “advo­cat­ing for free­dom of speech in Europe”.

    Asked for more detail about who the group gives its mon­ey to, they said: “Since our advo­ca­cy involves court cas­es in coun­tries where peo­ple are harassed, stig­ma­tised, and even killed because of their reli­gious con­vic­tions, it is our gen­er­al pol­i­cy not to dis­close any recip­i­ents of fund­ing in order to pro­tect their per­son­al safe­ty and liveli­hoods”.

    The sec­ond of the two Trump-linked groups, the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice (ACLJ), also oper­ates through the courts. It was found­ed in 1990 by Amer­i­can tel­e­van­ge­list Pat Robert­son to oppose the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union.

    The group’s cur­rent chief coun­sel is Jay Seku­low, a con­ser­v­a­tive talk-show host who has been described as “the top lawyer” on Don­ald Trump’s legal team in the Mueller inquiry.

    For more than 20 years, this group has had an office in Stras­bourg, France – home of the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights – from where it inter­vened in numer­ous cas­es on issues includ­ing same-sex mar­riage, abor­tion rights and arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion.

    The direc­tor of its Stras­bourg out­fit has also rep­re­sent­ed the Holy See at the Coun­cil of Europe, while its Moscow cen­tre has praised Putin’s laws ban­ning “gay pro­pa­gan­da”.

    Trump, Franklin Gra­ham and US-sanc­tioned Krem­lin offi­cials

    The Bil­ly Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic Asso­ci­a­tion is anoth­er major spender. It is led by the famous US evan­gel­i­cal preacher’s son, Franklin Gra­ham, who said Satan is the archi­tect of same-sex mar­riage and described Islam as an “evil and very wicked reli­gion”.

    Franklin Gra­ham, who has sup­port­ed Trump as some­one who “defends the faith”, was in Rus­sia ear­li­er this month meet­ing Krem­lin offi­cials who are under US sanc­tions, on a trip that he said was per­son­al­ly signed off by Vice Pres­i­dent Michael Pence.

    In 2018, his group organ­ised fes­ti­vals in Eng­land and Scot­land amid protests from Mus­lim and LGBT rights groups. It also sup­ports “rapid response chap­lains” that tar­get crises and have been accused in the US of “chas­ing ambu­lances” and “exploit­ing tragedy”.

    Its fil­ings dis­close more than $23 mil­lion spent in Europe through two dif­fer­ent US enti­ties between 2008 and 2014 – mak­ing it the largest spender in this region, of the Amer­i­can groups analysed by open­Democ­ra­cy.

    How­ev­er, 2014 is the lat­est year for which we were able to find pub­lic doc­u­ments for this group, which has offices in the UK, Ger­many, France and Spain, so the true extent of its influ­ence in the region is not yet known.

    Train­ing Euro­peans, on the ‘front lines of the Cul­ture War’

    A num­ber of groups spend­ing small­er amounts of mon­ey appear to have increased their activ­i­ties in Europe in recent years.

    The Acton Insti­tute for the Study of Reli­gion and Lib­er­ty, which com­bines a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian world­view with free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics, has received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from the Koch fam­i­ly foun­da­tions

    This group spent more than $1.7 mil­lion in Europe since 2008, with its spend­ing in the region ris­ing in recent years (from around $166,000 in 2008 to almost $240,000 in 2017).

    In Italy, it has col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Dig­ni­tatis Humanae Insti­tute – of which Steve Ban­non is a trustee – that has local­ly con­tro­ver­sial plans to use a monastery out­side Rome as a “glad­i­a­tor school for cul­ture war­riors”.

    Also on the list is the US branch of the Tra­di­tion, Fam­i­ly and Prop­er­ty (TFP), an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive transna­tion­al Catholic move­ment that says it’s “on the front lines of the Cul­ture War, peace­ful­ly defend­ing the val­ues of tra­di­tion, fam­i­ly and pri­vate own­er­ship”.

    This group said it spent about $100,000 in Europe since 2010. Its fil­ings don’t detail where this mon­ey went but the TFP has been linked to a con­tro­ver­sial ‘think tank’ in Poland that has helped devel­op pol­i­cy for far-right Law and Jus­tice (PiS) politi­cians.

    A ‘wake-up call’ to pre­vent ‘for­eign inter­fer­ence’

    Under US law, the groups analysed by open­Democ­ra­cy are required to pub­licly dis­close some infor­ma­tion about their for­eign spend­ing, but not the names of their over­seas recip­i­ents, details of what activ­i­ties they fund – or the iden­ti­ties of their own fun­ders.

    The $50 mil­lion fig­ure drawn from openDemocracy’s analy­sis is also a like­ly under­es­ti­mate of the resources that US con­ser­v­a­tives have chan­nelled into Europe in recent years.

    Data for 2018 is not yet avail­able; mean­while there are some impor­tant loop­holes. Reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions reg­is­tered as church­es, for exam­ple, don’t need to file the same dis­clo­sures.

    A num­ber of oth­er US Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive groups appear to be spend­ing mon­ey in Europe, but do not dis­close this on their US fil­ings – includ­ing the Howard Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly, Reli­gion and Soci­ety, which has coor­di­nat­ed the WCF net­work.

    ...

    Car­o­line Hick­son, region­al direc­tor of the Inter­na­tion­al Planned Par­ent­hood Federation’s Euro­pean Net­work, said: “The scale of this med­dling by US extrem­ists is shock­ing, but sad­ly no sur­prise to us. Every day Euro­pean soci­eties face con­cert­ed attacks by out­side forces seek­ing to impose repro­duc­tive coer­cion… This is utter­ly at odds with the Euro­pean val­ues of democ­ra­cy and human rights.”

    “This is dark mon­ey com­ing into Europe to threat­en human rights, and we’re not doing any­thing about it”, warned Neil Dat­ta, sec­re­tary of the Euro­pean Par­lia­men­tary Forum on Pop­u­la­tion and Devel­op­ment, describ­ing the amounts of mon­ey involved as “stag­ger­ing”.

    “It took the Chris­t­ian right 30 years to get to where they are now in the White House,” he said. “We knew a sim­i­lar effort was hap­pen­ing in Europe, but this should be a wake-up call that this is hap­pen­ing even faster and on a grander scale than many experts could have ever imag­ined.”

    ———-

    “Revealed: Trump-linked US Chris­t­ian ‘fun­da­men­tal­ists’ pour mil­lions of ‘dark mon­ey’ into Europe, boost­ing the far right” by Claire Provost and Adam Ram­say; Open Democ­ra­cy; 03/27/2019

    ““It took the Chris­t­ian right 30 years to get to where they are now in the White House,” he said. “We knew a sim­i­lar effort was hap­pen­ing in Europe, but this should be a wake-up call that this is hap­pen­ing even faster and on a grander scale than many experts could have ever imag­ined.””

    Yep, the rise of the Euro­pean reli­gious far right isn’t a new trend. But the pace and scale of that rise does appear to have been under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed, due in part to a lack of aware­ness of how much mon­ey was flow­ing from the US into these Euro­pean far right reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions. A lack of aware­ness that the dark mon­ey laws in the US strong­ly pro­mote. And accord­ing to open­Democ­ra­cy’s new analy­sis, the first of its kind, US Chris­t­ian orga­ni­za­tions have sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased their spend­ing in Europe over the past five years. This includes activ­i­ties like financ­ing lob­by­ist in Brus­sels for financ­ing ‘grass roots’ anti-abor­tion cam­paigns. And also just sup­port­ing the Euro­pean far right, which is viewed by these US orga­ni­za­tions as a tra­di­tion­al­ist ally:

    ...
    ‘The Europe we like’

    In the first analy­sis of its kind, open­Democ­ra­cy has exam­ined a decade of US Chris­t­ian organ­i­sa­tions’ finan­cial accounts and found that sev­er­al of them appear to have sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased their spend­ing in Europe over the past five years.

    Our find­ings come as far-right par­ties aim for big wins in the upcom­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in May, and show how large amounts of for­eign mon­ey have sup­port­ed the spread of their ‘tra­di­tion­al val­ues’ mes­sages.

    open­Democ­ra­cy has reviewed hun­dreds of pages of finan­cial fil­ings for a dozen reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tive groups that are reg­is­tered in the US as tax-exempt non-prof­it organ­i­sa­tions, and thus are required to dis­close some infor­ma­tion about their for­eign spend­ing.

    Some of these groups have been pre­vi­ous­ly accused of sup­port­ing cam­paigns to crim­i­nalise homo­sex­u­al­i­ty in Africa, “dra­con­ian” anti-abor­tion laws in Latin Amer­i­ca and con­tro­ver­sial projects to encour­age gay peo­ple in the US to “leave homo­sex­u­al­i­ty”.

    But the extent of their Euro­pean activ­i­ty has – until now – received lit­tle scruti­ny. Our inves­ti­ga­tion reveals that some of these groups have:

    * Sent teams of lob­by­ists to Brus­sels to influ­ence EU offi­cials
    * Chal­lenged laws against dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate speech in Euro­pean courts
    * Sup­port­ed cam­paigns against LGBT rights in the Czech Repub­lic and Roma­nia
    * Fund­ed a net­work of ‘grass­roots’ anti-abor­tion cam­paigns in Italy and Spain
    * Deployed ‘ambu­lance-chas­ing’ evan­ge­lists after tragedies such as the Gren­fell Tow­er fire, and in the wake of ter­ror­ist attacks

    Five of the con­ser­v­a­tive groups have pre­vi­ous­ly been list­ed part­ners of the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) net­work, which is meet­ing in Verona this week.
    ...

    Five of the groups ana­lyzed by open­Democ­ra­cy have pre­vi­ous­ly been list­ed as part­ners of the US-based World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) net­work, which appears to be one of the key orga­ni­za­tions for facil­i­tat­ing this trans-Atlantic far right reli­gious orga­niz­ing. WCF had a sum­mit in Verona, Italy back in March attend­ed by far right Ital­ian deputy prime min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvi­ni. Note that Verona recent­ly decid­ed to use pub­lic fund to finance anti-abor­tion groups and has become a focal point for Ital­ian far right pol­i­tics. Also recall how Mat­teo Salvi­ni has been work­ing close­ly with Steve Ban­non to cre­ate a pan-Euro­pean far right umbrel­la par­ty. So in many respects Verona was the per­fect loca­tion for a WCF con­fer­ence:

    ...
    The increas­ing ties between some of these US Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive groups and the Euro­pean far right will be on dis­play this week­end at a sum­mit of the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) in Verona, Italy.

    Right-wing politi­cians and their sup­port­ers from across the con­ti­nent are expect­ed to attend – includ­ing the Ital­ian deputy prime min­is­ter, Mat­teo Salvi­ni, who has described the WCF as a show­case for “the Europe that we like.

    ...

    Over the last decade, the WCF has host­ed at least sev­en major meet­ings in Europe, attend­ed by hun­dreds of reli­gious right activists and a grow­ing list of far-right politi­cians. Its 2017 meet­ing in Budapest was opened by Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter Vic­tor Orbán.

    Among the con­ven­ers of this week’s event in Verona is an Ital­ian anti-abor­tion group linked to the neo-fas­cist Forza Nuo­va par­ty, whose leader is also expect­ed to attend the WCF.
    ...

    And note how the WCF is so extreme it calls for the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, earn­ing the group a ‘hate group’ label by the SPLC:

    ...
    It’s not just Euro­pean politi­cians who are con­cerned about them: these groups are con­tro­ver­sial in Amer­i­ca too. The WCF itself has been described as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC), which mon­i­tors extrem­ist move­ments and tracks this network’s increas­ing con­nec­tions with the far right.

    The SPLC explains that “view­ing homo­sex­u­al­i­ty as unbib­li­cal or sim­ply oppos­ing same-sex mar­riage” is not enough to be cat­e­gorised as a “hate group”. Groups on this list go fur­ther – claim­ing that homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is dan­ger­ous, linked to pae­dophil­ia and should be crim­i­nalised, dis­sem­i­nat­ing “dis­parag­ing ‘facts’ about LGBT peo­ple that are sim­ply untrue”.

    This is, says SPLC, “no dif­fer­ent to how white suprema­cists and nativist extrem­ists prop­a­gate lies about black peo­ple and immi­grants to make these com­mu­ni­ties seem like a dan­ger to soci­ety”.
    ...

    The WCF itself is a project of the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly and the Illi­nois-based Howard Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly, Reli­gion and Soci­ety. In addi­tion to the Howard Cen­ter hav­ing a direc­tor with ties to the far right Span­ish Vox par­ty, the Howard Cen­ter also has a Russ­ian oli­garch, Kon­stan­tin Mal­ofeev. Note that Mal­ofeev is close to the White Russ­ian emi­gre com­mu­ni­ty and has close ties to the Romanov fam­i­ly and is an advo­cate a return­ing the monar­chy to Rus­sia so he’s a good fit for this kind of inter­na­tion­al fas­cist net­work:

    ...
    The WCF is a project of the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly and the Illi­nois-based Howard Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly, Reli­gion and Soci­ety, whose direc­tors include an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Span­ish activist linked to the leader of the far-right Vox par­ty.

    Oth­er direc­tors include a close asso­ciate of a Russ­ian oli­garch who spon­sored a 2014 ‘‘secret meet­ing’’ in Vien­na with key French and Aus­tri­an far-right lead­ers – and an Ital­ian politi­cian fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges in his coun­try.
    ...

    But the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies is only one of the vehi­cles for this trans-Atlantic far right finan­cial flow. Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom was co-found­ed by Alan Sears, a man who sup­port­ed a 2016 law in Belize mak­ing gay sex pun­ish­able with jail time. Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom is heav­i­ly fund­ed by Trump’s Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVoss and her broth­er Erik Prince. Keep in mind Erik Prince’s exten­sive ties to the gov­ern­ments of UAE, Sau­di Ara­bia, and Chi­na. So it’s orga­ni­za­tions like Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom that are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the wealth Prince has obtained from sell­ing mer­ce­nary ser­vices to these gov­ern­ments:

    ...
    Trump, the far right and the Chris­t­ian ‘legal army’

    Two of the Trump-linked Amer­i­can groups exam­ined by open­Democ­ra­cy are Chris­t­ian right legal pow­er­hous­es: Alliance Defend­ing Free­dom (ADF) and the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice. Togeth­er, they have spent more than $20 mil­lion in Europe since 2008.

    They don’t dis­close their fun­ders, but US jour­nal­ists have pre­vi­ous­ly traced at least $1 mil­lion in grants to ADF from a foun­da­tion con­trolled by the bil­lion­aire fam­i­ly of Bet­sy DeVos, Trump’s edu­ca­tion sec­re­tary, and Erik Prince, founder of the Black­wa­ter mer­ce­nary firm.

    ADF was co-found­ed by Alan Sears, a US Chris­t­ian right leader who co-authored a book against “the homo­sex­u­al agen­da”. It is increas­ing­ly active inter­na­tion­al­ly, includ­ing in Latin Amer­i­ca. It sup­port­ed a 2016 law in Belize mak­ing gay sex pun­ish­able with 10 years in jail.

    This group tripled its annu­al spend­ing in Europe between 2012 and 2016, to more than $2.6 mil­lion a year. It now has offices in Bel­gium, France, Aus­tria, Switzer­land and the UK, and spends hun­dreds of thou­sands of euros lob­by­ing EU offi­cials, accord­ing to sep­a­rate trans­paren­cy data.

    Among its Euro­pean projects, the group has sup­port­ed the defence of a noto­ri­ous Ger­man activist who com­pared abor­tion to the Holo­caust and accused spe­cif­ic doc­tors of mur­der.

    This year, ADF Inter­na­tion­al also co-host­ed an event with the French group La Manif Pour Tous, which has been pre­vi­ous­ly been linked to the far-right par­ty Front Nation­al.

    Ahead of the last Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in 2014, La Manif Pour Tous launched a ‘Europe for Fam­i­ly’ cam­paign which got 230 French can­di­dates to sign a pledge oppos­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty, trans rights and sex edu­ca­tion.
    ...

    Then there’s the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice (ACLJ), which was start­ed by Pat Robert­son and has Jay Seku­low as its cur­rent chief coun­sel. Seku­low was one of the key lay­w­ers on Trump’s legal team:

    ...
    The sec­ond of the two Trump-linked groups, the Amer­i­can Cen­ter for Law and Jus­tice (ACLJ), also oper­ates through the courts. It was found­ed in 1990 by Amer­i­can tel­e­van­ge­list Pat Robert­son to oppose the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union.

    The group’s cur­rent chief coun­sel is Jay Seku­low, a con­ser­v­a­tive talk-show host who has been described as “the top lawyer” on Don­ald Trump’s legal team in the Mueller inquiry.
    ...

    One of the biggest spenders in Europe is The Bil­ly Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic Asso­ci­a­tion. Note that Frankin Gra­ham is such a big Trump boost­er that he lit­er­al­ly would­n’t acknowl­edge that Trump has ever told a lie dur­ing an inter­view a few months ago, high­light­ing how deeply polit­i­cal his orga­ni­za­tion fun­da­men­tal­ly is:

    ...
    Trump, Franklin Gra­ham and US-sanc­tioned Krem­lin offi­cials

    The Bil­ly Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic Asso­ci­a­tion is anoth­er major spender. It is led by the famous US evan­gel­i­cal preacher’s son, Franklin Gra­ham, who said Satan is the archi­tect of same-sex mar­riage and described Islam as an “evil and very wicked reli­gion”.

    ...

    Its fil­ings dis­close more than $23 mil­lion spent in Europe through two dif­fer­ent US enti­ties between 2008 and 2014 – mak­ing it the largest spender in this region, of the Amer­i­can groups analysed by open­Democ­ra­cy.
    ...

    And then there’s the array of small­er US-based far right reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions that are also oper­at­ing in Europe, like the Acton Insti­tute for the Study of Reli­gion and Lib­er­ty which has received dona­tions from the Koch broth­ers and is col­lab­o­rat­ing with Steve Ban­non’s ongo­ing plans to train far right indi­vid­u­als to infil­trate the Catholic Church:

    ...
    Train­ing Euro­peans, on the ‘front lines of the Cul­ture War’

    A num­ber of groups spend­ing small­er amounts of mon­ey appear to have increased their activ­i­ties in Europe in recent years.

    The Acton Insti­tute for the Study of Reli­gion and Lib­er­ty, which com­bines a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian world­view with free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics, has received hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from the Koch fam­i­ly foun­da­tions

    This group spent more than $1.7 mil­lion in Europe since 2008, with its spend­ing in the region ris­ing in recent years (from around $166,000 in 2008 to almost $240,000 in 2017).

    In Italy, it has col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Dig­ni­tatis Humanae Insti­tute – of which Steve Ban­non is a trustee – that has local­ly con­tro­ver­sial plans to use a monastery out­side Rome as a “glad­i­a­tor school for cul­ture war­riors”.
    ...

    Recall that the Acton Insti­tute, which is close­ly tied to Erik Prince and Bet­sy DeVoss, called for the return of child labor laws in 2017. Yep, anti-abor­tion and pro-child labor.

    There’s also the US branch of the Tra­di­tion, Fam­i­ly and Prop­er­ty (TFP) move­ment that’s been sup­port­ing Poland’s far right politi­cians:

    ...
    Also on the list is the US branch of the Tra­di­tion, Fam­i­ly and Prop­er­ty (TFP), an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive transna­tion­al Catholic move­ment that says it’s “on the front lines of the Cul­ture War, peace­ful­ly defend­ing the val­ues of tra­di­tion, fam­i­ly and pri­vate own­er­ship”.

    This group said it spent about $100,000 in Europe since 2010. Its fil­ings don’t detail where this mon­ey went but the TFP has been linked to a con­tro­ver­sial ‘think tank’ in Poland that has helped devel­op pol­i­cy for far-right Law and Jus­tice (PiS) politi­cians.
    ...

    Recall how Tra­di­tion, Fam­i­ly and Prop­er­ty advo­cates for the return of nobil­i­ty as the offi­cial rul­ing class of soci­ety. So this group would prob­a­bly find a lot in com­mon with Kon­stan­tin Mal­ofeev.

    Final­ly, as the open­Democ­ra­cy report notes, their analy­sis is like­ly under­es­ti­mat­ing the lev­els of finan­cial flows and oth­er resources from the US into Europe over the past decade. Plus, unlike the non-prof­it groups ana­lyzed by open­Democ­ra­cy, reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions reg­is­tered as church­es don’t need to file any dis­clo­sures about their for­eign spend­ing:

    ...
    A ‘wake-up call’ to pre­vent ‘for­eign inter­fer­ence’

    Under US law, the groups analysed by open­Democ­ra­cy are required to pub­licly dis­close some infor­ma­tion about their for­eign spend­ing, but not the names of their over­seas recip­i­ents, details of what activ­i­ties they fund – or the iden­ti­ties of their own fun­ders.

    The $50 mil­lion fig­ure drawn from openDemocracy’s analy­sis is also a like­ly under­es­ti­mate of the resources that US con­ser­v­a­tives have chan­nelled into Europe in recent years.

    Data for 2018 is not yet avail­able; mean­while there are some impor­tant loop­holes. Reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions reg­is­tered as church­es, for exam­ple, don’t need to file the same dis­clo­sures.

    A num­ber of oth­er US Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive groups appear to be spend­ing mon­ey in Europe, but do not dis­close this on their US fil­ings – includ­ing the Howard Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly, Reli­gion and Soci­ety, which has coor­di­nat­ed the WCF net­work.
    ...

    And that’s just a peek into the exten­sive mon­ey and human resources being pour into Europe’s far right by the same net­work of far right Chris­t­ian orga­ni­za­tions that have risen to the heights of polit­i­cal pow­er in the Unit­ed States. So giv­en that the con­sol­i­da­tion of polit­i­cal pow­er by the forces behind this anti-abor­tion dri­ve is like­ly going to be a sig­nif­i­cant issue in the US 2020 elec­tions, the fact that these same forces are financ­ing Europe’s far right and advo­cate for things like child labor and a return of the monar­chy and nobil­i­ty gives us an idea of impli­ca­tions of allow­ing them to con­sol­i­date pow­er even fur­ther.

    And in oth­er ter­ri­fy­ing US fun­da­men­tal­ist for­eign influ­ence news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 15, 2019, 3:08 pm
  7. Here’s a sto­ry that would be dis­turb­ing in any con­text but it par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­turb­ing in the con­text of Pres­i­dent Trump’s recent bare­ly-cloaked threats of a civ­il war waged on his behalf by con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian evan­gel­i­cals if he’s impeached and removed from office: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr just gave a speech at Notre Dame where he not only mali­cious­ly and spe­cious­ly blames sec­u­lar­ism for a broad range of social prob­lems, but he also char­ac­ter­izes this as part of some sort of elab­o­rate sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy against Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tives. As Barr put it, “This is not decay. This is orga­nized destruc­tion. Sec­u­lar­ists and their allies have mar­shaled all the forces of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pop­u­lar cul­ture, the enter­tain­ment indus­try, and acad­e­mia in an unremit­ting assault on reli­gion & tra­di­tion­al val­ues.” Orga­nized destruc­tion of soci­ety by sec­u­lar­ists who have mar­shaled all the forces of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pop­u­lar cul­ture, the enter­tain­ment indus­try, and acad­e­mia (clas­sic anti-Semit­ic memes) in an unre­lent­ing assault on reli­gion. That’s what the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States just pro­claimed and this is, again, in the con­text of a pres­i­dent who is active­ly court­ing right-wing evan­gel­i­cals for a civ­il war if he’s impeached and removed from office.

    Also recall that this kind of speech is clas­sic Bill Barr. Barr, who appears to be a mem­ber of Opus Dei, penned an essay in 1995 where he argued that expressed an extreme view that the US gov­ern­ment should not be sec­u­lar, but instead should impose “a tran­scen­dent moral order with objec­tive stan­dards of right and wrong that… flows from God’s eter­nal law.”

    So Bill Bar­r’s recent speech where he told the audi­ence about a vast sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy against faith in Amer­i­ca was real­ly just reminder that if Trump does end up try­ing to spark a civ­il war over his loom­ing impeach­ment, his Attor­ney Gen­er­al is going to be more than hap­py to frame it as a holy war. A holy war fought over Trump, which is dement­ed even by the stan­dards of holy wars but this is where we are:

    Moth­er Jones

    Attor­ney Gen­er­al Barr Rages Against Sec­u­lar­ist “Assault” on Reli­gion
    Barr blames society’s prob­lems, includ­ing “a dead­ly drug epi­dem­ic,” on a lack of faith.

    Pema Levy
    Reporter
    Octo­ber 12, 2019

    Experts blame grim eco­nom­ic con­di­tions and the preda­to­ry prac­tices of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies for the cur­rent opi­oid epi­dem­ic. Unrest and vio­lence on the part of young men is often attrib­uted to eco­nom­ic con­di­tions and acces­si­bil­i­ty of fringe ide­olo­gies online. But Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr appar­ent­ly has a dif­fer­ent the­o­ry for both of these prob­lems: not enough reli­gion.

    In a speech at Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame’s law school Fri­day, Barr blamed “sec­u­lar­ists” and “so-called pro­gres­sives” for wreak­ing hav­oc on Amer­i­can soci­ety. Barr’s depic­tion of a war between the non-reli­gious and peo­ple of faith shocked legal experts, who saw Barr’s defense of reli­gious free­dom as an assault on the First Amendment’s pro­tec­tion against the government’s estab­lish­ment of any reli­gion.

    “This is not decay,” Barr said. “This is orga­nized destruc­tion. Sec­u­lar­ists and their allies have mar­shaled all the forces of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pop­u­lar cul­ture, the enter­tain­ment indus­try, and acad­e­mia in an unremit­ting assault on reli­gion & tra­di­tion­al val­ues.” (Barr spent years prof­it­ing off of these same indus­tries he is attack­ing. He served as gen­er­al coun­sel at Ver­i­zon for eight years, held a had a paid posi­tion on the board of Time Warn­er for nine, and rep­re­sent­ed tele­coms giant GTE in the 1990s.)

    The top pros­e­cu­tor of the Unit­ed States — a sec­u­lar nation with no state reli­gion, and whose leg­is­la­tors are for­bid­den to estab­lish one under the First Amend­ment of its Con­sti­tu­tion — slams “sec­u­lar­ists and their allies.” https://t.co/AIcZu17PDO

    — Adam Klas­feld (@KlasfeldReports) Octo­ber 12, 2019

    In his address Fri­day, Barr thun­dered against what he described as a “moral upheaval.” “Vir­tu­al­ly every mea­sure of social pathol­o­gy con­tin­ues to gain ground,” he said. “Along with the wreck­age of the fam­i­ly we are see­ing record lev­els of depres­sion and men­tal ill­ness, dispir­it­ed young peo­ple, soar­ing sui­cide rates, increas­ing num­bers of alien­at­ed young males, an increase in sense­less vio­lence and the dead­ly drug epi­dem­ic.”

    Barr point­ed par­tic­u­lar­ly to pub­lic schools, accord­ing to an account of the speech from the Indi­anapo­lis Star. “Ground zero for these attacks on reli­gion are the schools,” Barr said. “To me this is the most seri­ous chal­lenge to reli­gious lib­er­ty today.” There is decades of Supreme Court caselaw remov­ing reli­gion from pub­lic schools because the First Amend­ment bans the gov­ern­ment from estab­lish­ing or giv­ing pri­ma­cy to a reli­gion.

    This isn’t the first time Barr has decried sec­u­lar cul­ture. He has been an advo­cate for more reli­gion in Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment, schools, and law for decades and has a his­to­ry of involve­ment with con­ser­v­a­tive reli­gious groups includ­ing the Beck­et Fund for Reli­gious Lib­er­ty, which lit­i­gat­ed the Hob­by Lob­by case that allowed employ­ers not to cov­er con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age to employ­ees. In 1995, for exam­ple, Barr penned an essay blam­ing “a steady and mount­ing assault on tra­di­tion­al val­ues” since the 1960s for “soar­ing juve­nile crime, wide­spread drug addic­tion and sky­rock­et­ing vene­re­al dis­eases.”

    Barr’s com­ments come as he is under a cloud of scan­dal for his active involve­ment in try­ing to find evi­dence of the unproven the­o­ry that Ukraine col­lud­ed with Democ­rats dur­ing the 2016 election—an effort that took Barr to Italy this year and may have dragged him into the Ukraine scan­dal that set of an impeach­ment inquiry into Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    ...

    ———-

    “Attor­ney Gen­er­al Barr Rages Against Sec­u­lar­ist “Assault” on Reli­gion” by Pema Levy; Moth­er Jones; 10/12/2019

    “In a speech at Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame’s law school Fri­day, Barr blamed “sec­u­lar­ists” and “so-called pro­gres­sives” for wreak­ing hav­oc on Amer­i­can soci­ety. Barr’s depic­tion of a war between the non-reli­gious and peo­ple of faith shocked legal experts, who saw Barr’s defense of reli­gious free­dom as an assault on the First Amendment’s pro­tec­tion against the government’s estab­lish­ment of any reli­gion. ”

    A depic­tion of war between the non-reli­gious and peo­ple of faith. That was the thrust of Bar­r’s speech. A speech where he not only blamed a dizzy­ing array of social ills on sec­u­lar­ism, but pre­sent­ed that is part of a grand sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy. It’s “orga­nized destruc­tion” waged by a sec­u­lar Amer­i­ca. And high­light­ing how Barr con­tin­ues to view the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state as part of this grand sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy against reli­gions, he charged that Amer­i­c­as pub­lic schools are “ground zero” for this con­spir­a­cy against religion...presumably because force prayer is no longer allowed and schools have to teach kids about top­ics like evo­lu­tion. He real­ly does want to see the col­lapse of the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state. It’s not a secret:

    ...
    “This is not decay,” Barr said. “This is orga­nized destruc­tion. Sec­u­lar­ists and their allies have mar­shaled all the forces of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pop­u­lar cul­ture, the enter­tain­ment indus­try, and acad­e­mia in an unremit­ting assault on reli­gion & tra­di­tion­al val­ues.” (Barr spent years prof­it­ing off of these same indus­tries he is attack­ing. He served as gen­er­al coun­sel at Ver­i­zon for eight years, held a had a paid posi­tion on the board of Time Warn­er for nine, and rep­re­sent­ed tele­coms giant GTE in the 1990s.)

    ...

    In his address Fri­day, Barr thun­dered against what he described as a “moral upheaval.” “Vir­tu­al­ly every mea­sure of social pathol­o­gy con­tin­ues to gain ground,” he said. “Along with the wreck­age of the fam­i­ly we are see­ing record lev­els of depres­sion and men­tal ill­ness, dispir­it­ed young peo­ple, soar­ing sui­cide rates, increas­ing num­bers of alien­at­ed young males, an increase in sense­less vio­lence and the dead­ly drug epi­dem­ic.”

    Barr point­ed par­tic­u­lar­ly to pub­lic schools, accord­ing to an account of the speech from the Indi­anapo­lis Star. “Ground zero for these attacks on reli­gion are the schools,” Barr said. “To me this is the most seri­ous chal­lenge to reli­gious lib­er­ty today.” There is decades of Supreme Court caselaw remov­ing reli­gion from pub­lic schools because the First Amend­ment bans the gov­ern­ment from estab­lish­ing or giv­ing pri­ma­cy to a reli­gion.
    ...

    Is Bar­r’s desire to see the col­lapse of the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state strong enough for him to sup­port burn­ing the state to the ground in a civ­il war? We’ll find out, but he does­n’t appear to have any qualms about using his office to pro­mote exact­ly the kinds of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about a vast sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy against reli­gion that are required to stoke a civ­il con­flict.

    Also keep in mind if that the ‘UkraineGate’ scan­dal is what ends up lead­ing to Trump leav­ing office, that’s a scan­dal with Bill Bar­r’s fin­ger­prints all over it. So while it’s pos­si­ble Bar­r’s motives for lay­ing the rhetor­i­cal ground­work for some sort twist­ed civ­il holy war are pri­mar­i­ly root­ed in his long-held theo­crat­ic view, it’s also pos­si­ble he’s pri­mar­i­ly inter­est­ed at this point in sim­ply cov­er­ing his own ass by fram­ing any inves­ti­ga­tion into his actions as part of a ‘sec­u­lar con­spir­a­cy’ against the right­eous, much like his hea­then boss has been try­ing to do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 16, 2019, 3:06 pm
  8. Pres­i­dent Trump became the first sit­ting pres­i­dent ever to attend the anti-abor­tion March for Life ral­ly a few days ago in what appeared to be a typ­i­cal ‘red meat’ ral­ly designed to keep his core sup­port­ers — con­ser­v­a­tive Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians — hap­py in the face of an ongo­ing impeach­ment tri­al in the Sen­ate. But It’s worth keep­ing in mind that there’s anoth­er core audi­ence Trump may have had in mind when he attend­ed that ral­ly: the pow­er­ful far right mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires who own much of the talk radio infra­struc­ture in the Unit­ed States and who finance theo­crat­ic orga­ni­za­tions like the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy (CNP). Bil­lion­aires extreme­ly close to Trump like Bet­sy DeVos, Erik Prince, and Robert Mer­cer. It’s that qui­et own­er­ship of the US’s talk radio net­works by the patrons of the theo­crat­ic far right that the fol­low­ing pair of arti­cles describes. They also described how Trump’s ongo­ing impeach­ment tri­al might be caus­ing these theocrats extra con­ster­na­tion because it threat­ens Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence too, a long-time favorite politi­cians of this net­work.

    The first arti­cle describes the cru­cial role region­al talk radio has played in putting out the Trump’s mes­sage to the Repub­li­can base and how the Trump team has gone out of its way to cul­ti­vate rela­tion­ships with region­al right-wing talk radio hosts to ensure they remain Trump super-fans. As the arti­cle notes, Trump him­self large­ly emu­lates the per­sona of a right-wing talk radio host and in many respects the rise of right-wing talk radio made a politi­cian like Trump some­what inevitable. It also men­tions now the same theocrats behind the CNP are also behind the rise of region­al right-wing talk radio net­works like the Salem net­work that start­ed off as a small Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist oper­a­tion and expand­ed to more than 2,000 radio sta­tions across the coun­try (in addi­tion to Salem’s grow­ing port­fo­lio of con­ser­v­a­tive web­sites).

    As the sec­ond arti­cle notes, when Trump select­ed Mike Pence to be his vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, this move was done in part to please this cru­cial fac­tions of GOP pow­er bro­kers. And they still want to see Mike Pence become pres­i­dent some day, a dream that’s become all the more com­pli­cat­ed by an impeach­ment tri­al that threat­ens to engulf Pence too. It’s an impor­tant reminder that the real pow­er bro­kers behind the GOP may be extra hes­i­tant to see the right-wing media com­plex con­cede any wrong-doing at all on the part of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion as the impeach­ment tri­al plays out because those admis­sions could end up dam­ag­ing Pence too and they still have plans for Pence. As the sec­ond arti­cle also notes, fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Barack Oba­ma in 2008, the Repub­li­can mega-donor net­works behind the CNP sort of merged with the Koch Broth­er donor net­work, with the heads of Koch-backed orga­ni­za­tions — includ­ing Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty and the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots — join­ing the CNP at the same time CNP donors fund­ed Koch ini­tia­tives. In oth­er words, we’re talk­ing about a large­ly uni­fied right-wing oli­garchy that is behind this nation­al talk-radio media com­plex.

    The sec­ond arti­cle also describes how the CNP has had a long-term strat­e­gy of moti­vat­ing polit­i­cal­ly unen­gaged evan­gel­i­cals and they’ve found they can best moti­vate this group of about 17 mil­lion vot­ers by focus­ing on scare tac­tics involv­ing abor­tion and LGBT rights. Bom­bard­ing this demo­graph­ic with scary false mes­sages — like Democ­rats con­spire to “exe­cute babies on the day of their birth” and school­child­ren face a mor­tal dan­ger of sex­u­al assault by trans­gen­der peo­ple using pub­lic restrooms — appears to be par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive in get­ting this group to the polls. It’s a sto­ry that’s inevitably inter­twined with the rea­sons right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have become such a pop­u­lar tool in recent years (like #Piz­za­Gate) because right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries tend to be focused on gen­er­at­ing fears about some sort of dia­bol­i­cal Satan­ic plot against Chris­tians and that’s pre­sum­ably pret­ty good at moti­vat­ing unmo­ti­vat­ed Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists to vote.

    So this right-wing media com­plex that’s spent decades spew­ing out all sorts of lies and dis­in­for­ma­tion remains a cru­cial source of sup­port for a pres­i­dent who seems to have a patho­log­i­cal need to lie, and thus far this rela­tion­ship between the lying media and the lying pres­i­dent appears to be com­plete­ly intact. In part because Trump’s team has gone out of its way to court these region­al right-wing talk radio hosts and in part because the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has proven will­ing to do the bid­ding of the pow­er­ful oli­garch net­works that actu­al own the media com­plex. Ok, first, here’s a Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry about how the Trump team has been cul­ti­vat­ing a loy­al army of region­al right-wing talk radio hosts, cre­at­ing a set of rela­tion­ships that is now extra use­ful in the con­text of a damn­ing impeach­ment tri­al. Because when the facts aren’t on your side, hav­ing an army of dis­sem­blers in charge regur­gi­tat­ing those facts to audi­ences comes in real­ly handy:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump­world has con­vert­ed the nation’s region­al talk radio hosts into a loy­al army

    By Sarah Elli­son
    Jan­u­ary 23, 2020 at 6:00 AM EST

    RICHMOND — With break­fast from McDon­ald’s in his left hand and his soft­sided brief­case rolling behind him, John Fred­er­icks strolled into his radio stu­dio, housed in a small, iso­lat­ed build­ing on the south side of this city.

    He has engaged in some ver­sion of this rit­u­al in the pitch dark for the past eight years as host of a morn­ing show on a local AM radio sta­tion — an unlike­ly career path for the life­long stut­ter­er.

    Fred­er­icks, who declared bank­rupt­cy in 2011 in the wake of the finan­cial cri­sis and lost his family’s home, vowed to make the radio job work. And he turned his host­ing gig at a sin­gle sta­tion into a region­al­ly syn­di­cat­ed radio net­work run out of Rich­mond.

    Part­ly fueled by his bank­rupt­cy and dis­taste for mon­eyed elites, Fred­er­icks is a true believ­er in the Trump agen­da and arrived at his stu­dio on a recent morn­ing to deliv­er the news, deliv­er him­self from career dis­as­ter and deliv­er the coun­try into the hands of four more years of Don­ald Trump.

    Far from the White House and Capi­tol Hill, Fred­er­icks is one of hun­dreds of region­al radio hosts across the coun­try who have found them­selves in the improb­a­ble posi­tion of being show­ered with atten­tion by Trump offi­cials and sur­ro­gates. While grant­i­ng access to local media has long been an impor­tant ele­ment of run­ning a nation­al polit­i­cal cam­paign, Trump offi­cials have made it a cen­tral part of their strat­e­gy.

    Fred­er­icks says he has inter­viewed Trump 12 to 15 times and has host­ed the president’s son Eric and Eric’s wife, Lara, on his radio show.. “Through the cam­paign, every time he would do my show, he’d win a pri­ma­ry,” said Fred­er­icks, sit­ting in his office. “So then he got super­sti­tious and he’s like, ‘I got­ta do John’s show. ... Every time we do your show, some­thing great hap­pens. I got to keep doing it.’?”

    Fred­er­icks has inter­viewed Vice Pres­i­dent Pence; for­mer Trump advis­ers Corey Lewandows­ki, Sean Spicer, David Bossie and Jason Miller; and White House offi­cials Kellyanne Con­way, Stephanie Grisham and Hogan Gid­ley, some of them mul­ti­ple times. (It was on Fredericks’s show that Grisham, Trump’s press sec­re­tary, made her dis­put­ed claim that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s staff left nasty notes for the incom­ing Trump team.)

    Pour­ing atten­tion on region­al talk-radio hosts is a clas­sic Trump­world move: giv­ing rel­a­tive­ly unknown char­ac­ters prox­im­i­ty to the White House has paid off with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of atten­tion and praise lav­ished on the pres­i­dent and his agen­da.

    On a recent Jan­u­ary morn­ing, Fred­er­icks, 61, walked out of the dark morn­ing into the flu­o­res­cent lights of the stu­dio lob­by, past a lone­ly ban­ner fea­tur­ing his air­brushed image and slo­gan, “Truck­ing the Truth.”

    Fred­er­icks loves his job. His only com­plaint is that his ear­ly wake-up, at 3:30 a.m. to pre­pare, grants him so lit­tle sleep that he has put on 30 pounds in recent years. But his girth has also grant­ed him a self-assigned nick­name, “the Godzil­la of Truth,” which he points out dai­ly to lis­ten­ers of his morn­ing dri­ve-time radio show.

    “For a show that goes on at 6 a.m., you can’t pos­si­bly pre­pare the night before,” he said. “It’s a dis­rup­tive pres­i­den­cy, and there’s so much hap­pen­ing. There are so many inter­nal bat­tles and every­one fight­ing with every­one else. It was dif­fer­ent in the Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy.”

    Not that Fred­er­icks miss­es those days. On his web­site, he dis­plays a tes­ti­mo­ni­al from Trump and has giv­en air­time over to Stephen K. Ban­non, the for­mer Trump White House advis­er.

    “They are so dis­re­spect­ed by the polit­i­cal appa­ra­tus in Wash­ing­ton that if you show them any out­reach at all, they will move heav­en and earth to give you accom­mo­da­tion, to give you time to real­ly let you tell your sto­ry,” Ban­non said in an inter­view in his Capi­tol Hill town­house short­ly after he fin­ished tap­ing his War Room pod­cast, which got its start on Fredericks’s radio net­work. “Not only will they have you on, they’ll play the clip all day long and they’ll talk about it for days. .?.?. The amaz­ing thing is this platform’s out there. It gets mas­sive lis­ten­er­ship .?.?. and nobody pays atten­tion to it.”

    The strat­e­gy has been par­tic­u­lar­ly pow­er­ful as Trump and his team have engaged in what Ban­non calls “infor­ma­tion war­fare” over the impeach­ment fight and the 2020 elec­tion, focus­ing on indi­vid­ual Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al rep­re­sen­ta­tives across the coun­try whose seats are in dis­tricts that Trump won in 2016. Region­al hosts can ham­mer on an indi­vid­ual issue or politi­cian far more reg­u­lar­ly than nation­al radio behe­moths, such as Rush Lim­baugh and Sean Han­ni­ty.

    Fred­er­icks takes his place in Trump’s strat­e­gy seri­ous­ly, too. Even though the medi­um would allow for some­thing more casu­al, Fred­er­icks wears a suit every day to work. “It’s a mind-set,” he explains. He leans his head for­ward over his lap­top, his hair thinned on the top of his head to the point of dis­ap­pear­ance. He stares over his glass­es into his lap­top, grasps the edge of the table and starts the day.

    Lis­ten­ing to talk-radio hosts across the coun­try high­lights just how much some of them sound like Trump — or how much Trump sounds like them. Fred­er­icks reg­u­lar­ly grants politi­cians and oth­ers Trumpian nick­names. He calls Rich­mond “Richve­gas” to show his sup­port for a bill that would bring more casi­nos to Vir­ginia, and dubbed for­mer Vir­ginia gov­er­nor Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe, for whom Fred­er­icks says he vot­ed in 2013, “Ter­ry McGe­nius.” Fred­er­icks is a long­time Repub­li­can but said he sup­port­ed McAu­li­ffe because he brought jobs to Vir­ginia and expand­ed Med­ic­aid in the state.

    Unlike Trump, Fredericks’s nick­names are typ­i­cal­ly pos­i­tive. “These are peo­ple I have a rela­tion­ship with,” he said.

    On Wednes­day morn­ing, Fred­er­icks host­ed for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ag­er Corey Lewandows­ki. After bemoan­ing Lewandowski’s deci­sion not to run for a Sen­ate seat in New Hamp­shire, Fred­er­icks quick­ly turned to impeach­ment. Lewandows­ki dis­missed the “sham” impeach­ment tri­al that had just kicked off in the Sen­ate, and Fred­er­icks chimed in that the Democ­rats “went around for three weeks say­ing they had over­whelm­ing evi­dence, and then they get to the Sen­ate [and] they say, ‘we need more wit­ness­es.’ How does that work?” The two men talked about how much all of this was going to help reelect Don­ald Trump.

    “I think he’s going to win New Hamp­shire, Min­neso­ta, Neva­da, I think he’ll win them all,” Fred­er­icks con­clud­ed.

    Bri­an Rosen­wald, an instruc­tor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and the author of the book “Talk Radio Amer­i­ca: How an Indus­try Took Over a Polit­i­cal Par­ty That Took Over the Unit­ed States” argues that talk-radio hosts paved the way for a Trump can­di­da­cy.

    “This is the talk-radio pres­i­den­cy,” he said. It began as far back as 1988, when Rush Limbaugh’s show first became nation­al­ly syn­di­cat­ed. “What Lim­baugh start­ed was a call for a fight­er, which was great for radio. And oth­ers mim­ic­ked that lan­guage and mes­sage,” Rosen­wald said.

    As much as Lim­baugh cre­at­ed the mod­el that hosts around the coun­try emu­late, local hosts can be more pow­er­ful in some cas­es, Rosen­wald said. A local host can repeat­ed­ly bol­ster or attack a local politi­cian, where­as a nation­al host sim­ply doesn’t have the time.

    The pow­er of those local radio hosts has been har­nessed by big con­ser­v­a­tive donors who have helped fuel the rise of local radio net­works such as Salem Radio Net­work, the BOTT Radio Net­work, and Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Radio. Bannon’s impeach­ment pod­cast start­ed when he asked Fred­er­icks to grant him the last hour of Fredericks’s 6‑to-10‑a.m. show.

    Once Ban­non had a cou­ple of dry runs with his co-hosts Miller, a for­mer Trump cam­paign advis­er, and Raheem Kas­sam, the for­mer Lon­don edi­tor of Bre­it­bart and a for­mer chief advis­er to Nigel Farage’s UK Inde­pen­dence Par­ty, Ban­non took over Fredericks’s fourth hour and also expand­ed the show on Salem.

    Fred­er­icks is not part of a cor­po­rate radio net­work, but the rise of such groups has boost­ed many minor radio hosts. Salem start­ed out as a small fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­t­ian oper­a­tion run out of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and has expand­ed aggres­sive­ly in recent years, par­tic­u­lar­ly in swing states. It sup­ports nation­al­ly syn­di­cat­ed hosts such as Den­nis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, and Joe Walsh in addi­tion to a host of region­al per­son­al­i­ties large­ly unknown out­side their areas. Accord­ing to Salem, it now serves more than 2,000 radio sta­tions across the coun­try.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive groups such as the secre­tive Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, backed by bil­lion­aire con­ser­v­a­tive fam­i­lies such as the Kochs, the Mer­cers, and the fam­i­ly of Black­wa­ter founder Erik Prince, whose sis­ter is Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, have fueled that expan­sion, accord­ing to a new book by Anne Nel­son, “Shad­ow Net­work: Media, Mon­ey, and the Secret Hub of the Rad­i­cal Right.”

    “These con­ser­v­a­tive net­works have expand­ed even as local news­pa­pers around the coun­try have dwin­dled,” Nel­son said in an inter­view. They have “gob­bled up inde­pen­dent and local sta­tions, boost­ed their sig­nals, and made them into an unseen pow­er­house in the mid­dle of the coun­try.”

    ...

    ————

    “Trump­world has con­vert­ed the nation’s region­al talk radio hosts into a loy­al army” by Sarah Elli­son; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 01/23/2020

    Far from the White House and Capi­tol Hill, Fred­er­icks is one of hun­dreds of region­al radio hosts across the coun­try who have found them­selves in the improb­a­ble posi­tion of being show­ered with atten­tion by Trump offi­cials and sur­ro­gates. While grant­i­ng access to local media has long been an impor­tant ele­ment of run­ning a nation­al polit­i­cal cam­paign, Trump offi­cials have made it a cen­tral part of their strat­e­gy.”

    The Talk Radio Pres­i­dent is run­ning a Talk Radio reelec­tion strat­e­gy. A strat­e­gy that include fre­quent inter­views with radio hosts most peo­ple have nev­er hear of, with the hope of receiv­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly favor­able cov­er­age from these hosts in return:

    ...
    Fred­er­icks says he has inter­viewed Trump 12 to 15 times and has host­ed the president’s son Eric and Eric’s wife, Lara, on his radio show.. “Through the cam­paign, every time he would do my show, he’d win a pri­ma­ry,” said Fred­er­icks, sit­ting in his office. “So then he got super­sti­tious and he’s like, ‘I got­ta do John’s show. ... Every time we do your show, some­thing great hap­pens. I got to keep doing it.’?”

    Fred­er­icks has inter­viewed Vice Pres­i­dent Pence; for­mer Trump advis­ers Corey Lewandows­ki, Sean Spicer, David Bossie and Jason Miller; and White House offi­cials Kellyanne Con­way, Stephanie Grisham and Hogan Gid­ley, some of them mul­ti­ple times. (It was on Fredericks’s show that Grisham, Trump’s press sec­re­tary, made her dis­put­ed claim that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s staff left nasty notes for the incom­ing Trump team.)

    Pour­ing atten­tion on region­al talk-radio hosts is a clas­sic Trump­world move: giv­ing rel­a­tive­ly unknown char­ac­ters prox­im­i­ty to the White House has paid off with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of atten­tion and praise lav­ished on the pres­i­dent and his agen­da.

    ...

    Bri­an Rosen­wald, an instruc­tor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and the author of the book “Talk Radio Amer­i­ca: How an Indus­try Took Over a Polit­i­cal Par­ty That Took Over the Unit­ed States” argues that talk-radio hosts paved the way for a Trump can­di­da­cy.

    “This is the talk-radio pres­i­den­cy,” he said. It began as far back as 1988, when Rush Limbaugh’s show first became nation­al­ly syn­di­cat­ed. “What Lim­baugh start­ed was a call for a fight­er, which was great for radio. And oth­ers mim­ic­ked that lan­guage and mes­sage,” Rosen­wald said.

    As much as Lim­baugh cre­at­ed the mod­el that hosts around the coun­try emu­late, local hosts can be more pow­er­ful in some cas­es, Rosen­wald said. A local host can repeat­ed­ly bol­ster or attack a local politi­cian, where­as a nation­al host sim­ply doesn’t have the time.
    ...

    But anoth­er rea­son talk radio has been an impor­tant ele­ment for Trump’s reelec­tion strat­e­gy is because right-wing talk radio con­tin­ues to expand thanks to the bil­lion­aires behind the CNP, like Bet­sy DeVos and the Mer­cers, who have been pay­ing for this expan­sion. That’s accord­ing to a new book by Anne Nel­son, “Shad­ow Net­work: Media, Mon­ey, and the Secret Hub of the Rad­i­cal Right”:

    ...
    The pow­er of those local radio hosts has been har­nessed by big con­ser­v­a­tive donors who have helped fuel the rise of local radio net­works such as Salem Radio Net­work, the BOTT Radio Net­work, and Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Radio. Bannon’s impeach­ment pod­cast start­ed when he asked Fred­er­icks to grant him the last hour of Fredericks’s 6‑to-10‑a.m. show.

    ...

    Fred­er­icks is not part of a cor­po­rate radio net­work, but the rise of such groups has boost­ed many minor radio hosts. Salem start­ed out as a small fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­t­ian oper­a­tion run out of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and has expand­ed aggres­sive­ly in recent years, par­tic­u­lar­ly in swing states. It sup­ports nation­al­ly syn­di­cat­ed hosts such as Den­nis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, and Joe Walsh in addi­tion to a host of region­al per­son­al­i­ties large­ly unknown out­side their areas. Accord­ing to Salem, it now serves more than 2,000 radio sta­tions across the coun­try.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive groups such as the secre­tive Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, backed by bil­lion­aire con­ser­v­a­tive fam­i­lies such as the Kochs, the Mer­cers, and the fam­i­ly of Black­wa­ter founder Erik Prince, whose sis­ter is Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos, have fueled that expan­sion, accord­ing to a new book by Anne Nel­son, “Shad­ow Net­work: Media, Mon­ey, and the Secret Hub of the Rad­i­cal Right.”

    “These con­ser­v­a­tive net­works have expand­ed even as local news­pa­pers around the coun­try have dwin­dled,” Nel­son said in an inter­view. They have “gob­bled up inde­pen­dent and local sta­tions, boost­ed their sig­nals, and made them into an unseen pow­er­house in the mid­dle of the coun­try.”
    ...

    ““These con­ser­v­a­tive net­works have expand­ed even as local news­pa­pers around the coun­try have dwindled...They have “gob­bled up inde­pen­dent and local sta­tions, boost­ed their sig­nals, and made them into an unseen pow­er­house in the mid­dle of the coun­try.””

    Yep, even as local news­pa­pers have been dying off, region­al right-wing talk radio has been expand­ing thanks to the invest­ments of these theo­crat­ic oli­garchs who also hap­pen to be key back­ers of Trump. Now here’s an arti­cle from Octo­ber by Anne Nel­son that describes more of what she cov­ers in her new book “Shad­ow Net­work: Media, Mon­ey, and the Secret Hub of the Rad­i­cal Right.” As Nel­son describes, this group of theo­crat­ic bil­lion­aires behind the CNP did­n’t just play a crit­i­cal role in the rise of Don­ald Trump when they effec­tive­ly gave him their bless­ing in 2016. They’ve been back­ing the rise of Mike Pence for years, and Trump’s selec­tion of Pence as a vice pres­i­dent could be seen as pay­back for their sup­port. And fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Barack Oba­ma in 2008, the CNP and the Koch donor net­works large­ly merged. So when Trump plays trib­ute to the CNP, he’s pay­ing trib­ute to a core ele­ment of the the GOP pow­er base. In oth­er words, when Trump pays trib­ute to the theo­crat­ic hard right, he’s pay­ing trib­ute to the true kings of the swamp:

    Salon

    This pow­er­ful group groomed Mike Pence for the White House. Impeach­ment could com­pli­cate their plans
    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, a major boost­er of Pence’s career, brought cru­cial evan­gel­i­cal votes to Trump

    ANNE NELSON
    OCTOBER 25, 2019 11:00AM (UTC)

    With the prospect of an impeach­ment loom­ing over Wash­ing­ton this month, the con­ver­sa­tion has nat­u­ral­ly turned to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence — both as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to the pres­i­den­cy and as a pos­si­ble can­di­date for impeach­ment him­self. Stand­ing in the eye of the storm, on Octo­ber 5 Pence chose to tweet a pho­to of him­self at the podi­um of an orga­ni­za­tion that is unknown to most Amer­i­cans.

    ...

    “The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy is one of the old­est and most effec­tive orga­ni­za­tions in the his­to­ry of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment,” he wrote. He thanked for­mer Ohio con­gress­man (and CNP exec­u­tive direc­tor) Bob McEwen “and the more than 400 fel­low con­ser­v­a­tives for com­ing out & fight­ing for the prin­ci­ples that have made this coun­try great!”

    Pence’s ano­dyne state­ment can be viewed as both life insur­ance for his career and the ongo­ing repay­ment of an old debt. The rea­sons have less to do with Trump than with the inner work­ings of the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

    Over the past few decades the tra­di­tion­al GOP has been over­tak­en by par­ti­sans of the Rad­i­cal Right, now entrenched in the par­ty’s infra­struc­ture. This shad­ow net­work of hard­line orga­ni­za­tions, activists and donors stands ready to out­last the Trump pres­i­den­cy. The sto­ry of the CNP, a hub in this net­work, is a case study in how the dura­bil­i­ty and strate­gic capac­i­ty of right-wing insti­tu­tions have shaped the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal land­scape.

    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy had its ori­gins in the South­west, where the social agen­da of Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists and the eco­nom­ic inter­ests of the oil indus­try con­verged. They found­ed the CNP in 1981 to cap­i­tal­ize on the elec­tion of Ronald Rea­gan; Reagan’s for­mer attor­ney gen­er­al, Edwin Meese III, would serve as the CNP’s pres­i­dent from 1993–1997.

    The orga­ni­za­tion meets sev­er­al times a year, main­tain­ing secre­cy for its mem­ber­ship and its pro­ceed­ings. But a 2014 mem­ber­ship ros­ter was leaked and pub­lished by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, illus­trat­ing the span of the polit­i­cal net­work: major donors such as the DeVos fam­i­ly; evan­gel­i­cal pow­er­hous­es such as South­ern Bap­tist leader Richard Land; and heads of influ­en­tial media inter­ests, includ­ing the Salem Media con­glom­er­ate. Kellyanne Con­way has belonged to the CNP’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and Jay Seku­low, lead attor­ney on Trump’s per­son­al legal team, has served on the board of gov­er­nors. The orga­ni­za­tion also, crit­i­cal­ly, includes the heads of mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tions such as the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion and the Susan B. Antho­ny List (a group that funds anti-choice can­di­dates), whose ground troops can be deployed in coor­di­nat­ed polit­i­cal can­vass­ing. In the words of for­mer CNP pres­i­dent Richard DeVos (father-in-law to Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy), the CNP con­venes the “donors and the doers.”

    The CNP has played the long game in Wash­ing­ton, using its abil­i­ty to acti­vate evan­gel­i­cal vot­ing blocs as its polit­i­cal cap­i­tal, build­ing up influ­ence in the state­hous­es and push­ing the GOP ever far­ther to the right. Over time, the CNP part­ner­ships evolved into a well-oiled machine, in which big mon­ey, region­al broad­cast­ers and ground troops advanced its inter­ests in ways that were often neglect­ed by the nation­al news media. Mike Pence appeared at var­i­ous stages of his career. One co-founder, Mor­ton Black­well, claims to have trained some 200,000 con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates and polit­i­cal activists through his Lead­er­ship Insti­tute — among them Mike Pence. Anoth­er co-founder, ide­o­log­i­cal archi­tect Paul Weyrich, insti­tut­ed a cel­e­brat­ed week­ly lunch not far from the Capi­tol to talk strat­e­gy. Con­gress­man Mike Pence briefed the group on a week­ly basis. In 2006 the New York Times quot­ed Weyrich’s ver­dict on Pence: “He is what I’ve been wait­ing for in terms of lead­er­ship.”

    After Barack Obama’s elec­tion in 2008, the donor net­works of the CNP, fueled by the DeVos family’s Amway for­tune, con­verged with those of the Koch broth­ers. Their dig­i­tal cam­paigns and grass­roots activism con­verged as well. The heads of Koch-backed orga­ni­za­tions — includ­ing Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty and the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots — joined the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, and CNP donors fund­ed Koch ini­tia­tives. In 2012 Democ­rats cel­e­brat­ed Obama’s reelec­tion, but Repub­li­can efforts to cul­ti­vate state-lev­el pol­i­tics were pay­ing off. Despite the Democ­rats gain­ing a nation­al plu­ral­i­ty of over 1.4 mil­lion votes in the House elec­tions, Repub­li­cans won back the House with a mar­gin of 17 seats, giv­ing them pow­er over the bud­getary process.

    The CNP part­ners’ long-term strat­e­gy iden­ti­fied some 17 mil­lion polit­i­cal­ly unen­gaged evan­gel­i­cals, many con­cen­trat­ed in swing states, and sought ways to dri­ve them to the polls. Focus groups found that this demo­graph­ic could be moti­vat­ed by scare tac­tics involv­ing abor­tion and LGBT rights. These vot­ers have been bom­bard­ed with false­hoods: Democ­rats con­spire to “exe­cute babies on the day of their birth”; school­child­ren face a mor­tal dan­ger of sex­u­al assault by trans­gen­der peo­ple using pub­lic restrooms. Swing state vot­ers encoun­tered these cam­paigns on radio broad­casts from CNP part­ner net­works, in church sanc­tu­ar­ies from part­ner “min­istries” and on social media, fueled by part­ner memes. They were com­ple­ment­ed by grass­roots can­vass­ing run by CNP mem­bers, includ­ing the NRA, the Susan B. Antho­ny List and Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty.

    In 2016, CNP mem­bers played a crit­i­cal role in bridg­ing the chasm between the evan­gel­i­cal base and Trump, over­com­ing objec­tions to Trump’s char­ac­ter flaws and spir­i­tu­al deficits.
    CNP mem­bers Mar­jorie Dan­nen­felser and Pen­ny Nance had signed an “any­one but Trump” let­ter to Iowa vot­ers; South­ern Bap­tist Richard Land and his fel­low edi­tors at the Chris­t­ian Post described him as “excep­tion­al­ly bad.” But CNP pres­i­dent Tony Perkins and strate­gist Ralph Reed kept their options open. Trump rode the wave of the pri­maries on the strength of his celebri­ty, but he lacked cam­paign funds, strat­e­gy and ground troops. The CNP part­ners could offer him all three — under cer­tain con­di­tions.

    On June 21, 2016, Perkins host­ed some 1,000 fun­da­men­tal­ist lead­ers at the Mar­riott Mar­quis in Times Square to allow Trump to make his case, shar­ing the stage with a panoply of CNP all-stars. Trump emerged with their full sup­port. In return, CNP mem­bers received an Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board stacked with CNP mem­bers, a lead­ing role in writ­ing the social planks of the Repub­li­can plat­form, and, cru­cial­ly, a deci­sive say in fed­er­al judi­cial nom­i­na­tions — their most pow­er­ful lever for reshap­ing the nation­al land­scape. By mid-July Trump also replaced his pre­vi­ous choic­es for run­ning mate with Mike Pence.

    Pence’s career now hangs in the bal­ance, and much will depend on how close­ly he’s tied to Trump’s actions — even if Trump is only impeached and not con­vict­ed. But the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy has looked ahead. Oper­at­ing on the prin­ci­ple of “an heir and a spare,” it con­spic­u­ous­ly audi­tioned Nicky Haley at its 2018 meet­ing.

    ...

    ————

    “This pow­er­ful group groomed Mike Pence for the White House. Impeach­ment could com­pli­cate their plans” by ANNE NELSON; Salon; 10/25/2019

    Over the past few decades the tra­di­tion­al GOP has been over­tak­en by par­ti­sans of the Rad­i­cal Right, now entrenched in the par­ty’s infra­struc­ture. This shad­ow net­work of hard­line orga­ni­za­tions, activists and donors stands ready to out­last the Trump pres­i­den­cy. The sto­ry of the CNP, a hub in this net­work, is a case study in how the dura­bil­i­ty and strate­gic capac­i­ty of right-wing insti­tu­tions have shaped the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal land­scape.”

    Yes, is the Rad­i­cal Right infra­struc­ture that took over the GOP in recent decades that has become the core sup­port base for Trump. Not just sup­port for Trump in terms of vot­ers but also sup­port from the key pow­er-bro­kers that financed this takeover. A fusion of theocrats and the oil indus­try that goes back to 1981 with Rea­gan’s elec­tion. A merg­er that was com­plet­ed fol­low­ing Barack Oba­ma’s vic­to­ry in 2008 with the merg­er of the CNP and the Koch net­work:

    ...
    The Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy had its ori­gins in the South­west, where the social agen­da of Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists and the eco­nom­ic inter­ests of the oil indus­try con­verged. They found­ed the CNP in 1981 to cap­i­tal­ize on the elec­tion of Ronald Rea­gan; Reagan’s for­mer attor­ney gen­er­al, Edwin Meese III, would serve as the CNP’s pres­i­dent from 1993–1997.

    ...

    After Barack Obama’s elec­tion in 2008, the donor net­works of the CNP, fueled by the DeVos family’s Amway for­tune, con­verged with those of the Koch broth­ers. Their dig­i­tal cam­paigns and grass­roots activism con­verged as well. The heads of Koch-backed orga­ni­za­tions — includ­ing Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty and the Tea Par­ty Patri­ots — joined the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, and CNP donors fund­ed Koch ini­tia­tives. In 2012 Democ­rats cel­e­brat­ed Obama’s reelec­tion, but Repub­li­can efforts to cul­ti­vate state-lev­el pol­i­tics were pay­ing off. Despite the Democ­rats gain­ing a nation­al plu­ral­i­ty of over 1.4 mil­lion votes in the House elec­tions, Repub­li­cans won back the House with a mar­gin of 17 seats, giv­ing them pow­er over the bud­getary process.
    ...

    Oth­er CNP fig­ures close to Trump include Kellyanne Conawy and Jay Seku­low, who is cur­rent­ly part of Trump’s impeach­ment defense team. Mike Pence used to brief the CNP on a week­ly basis when in con­gress:

    ...
    The orga­ni­za­tion meets sev­er­al times a year, main­tain­ing secre­cy for its mem­ber­ship and its pro­ceed­ings. But a 2014 mem­ber­ship ros­ter was leaked and pub­lished by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, illus­trat­ing the span of the polit­i­cal net­work: major donors such as the DeVos fam­i­ly; evan­gel­i­cal pow­er­hous­es such as South­ern Bap­tist leader Richard Land; and heads of influ­en­tial media inter­ests, includ­ing the Salem Media con­glom­er­ate. Kellyanne Con­way has belonged to the CNP’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and Jay Seku­low, lead attor­ney on Trump’s per­son­al legal team, has served on the board of gov­er­nors. The orga­ni­za­tion also, crit­i­cal­ly, includes the heads of mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tions such as the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion and the Susan B. Antho­ny List (a group that funds anti-choice can­di­dates), whose ground troops can be deployed in coor­di­nat­ed polit­i­cal can­vass­ing. In the words of for­mer CNP pres­i­dent Richard DeVos (father-in-law to Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy), the CNP con­venes the “donors and the doers.”

    The CNP has played the long game in Wash­ing­ton, using its abil­i­ty to acti­vate evan­gel­i­cal vot­ing blocs as its polit­i­cal cap­i­tal, build­ing up influ­ence in the state­hous­es and push­ing the GOP ever far­ther to the right. Over time, the CNP part­ner­ships evolved into a well-oiled machine, in which big mon­ey, region­al broad­cast­ers and ground troops advanced its inter­ests in ways that were often neglect­ed by the nation­al news media. Mike Pence appeared at var­i­ous stages of his career. One co-founder, Mor­ton Black­well, claims to have trained some 200,000 con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates and polit­i­cal activists through his Lead­er­ship Insti­tute — among them Mike Pence. Anoth­er co-founder, ide­o­log­i­cal archi­tect Paul Weyrich, insti­tut­ed a cel­e­brat­ed week­ly lunch not far from the Capi­tol to talk strat­e­gy. Con­gress­man Mike Pence briefed the group on a week­ly basis. In 2006 the New York Times quot­ed Weyrich’s ver­dict on Pence: “He is what I’ve been wait­ing for in terms of lead­er­ship.”
    ...

    And in return for their sup­port, the CNP has had immense influ­ence over the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s plat­form and the Trump judi­cial nom­i­na­tions. Recall how, as we’ve see, the far right Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety pret­ty much has unchecked pow­er over Trump’s judi­cial nom­i­na­tion and the fig­ure run­ning that oper­a­tion, Leonard Leo, was also run­ning enti­ties that appear to be set up to facil­i­tate large ‘Dark Mon­ey’ anony­mous polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions to Trump. It’s an exam­ple of how the infra­struc­ture of these move­ments in the post-Cit­i­zens Unit­ed envi­ron­ment often con­sists of cor­po­rate shell com­pa­nies set up for polit­i­cal mon­ey-laun­der­ing to ensure the ‘pay-to-play’ sys­tem of buy­ing politi­cians and pol­i­cy can oper­ate smooth­ly:

    ...
    On June 21, 2016, Perkins host­ed some 1,000 fun­da­men­tal­ist lead­ers at the Mar­riott Mar­quis in Times Square to allow Trump to make his case, shar­ing the stage with a panoply of CNP all-stars. Trump emerged with their full sup­port. In return, CNP mem­bers received an Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board stacked with CNP mem­bers, a lead­ing role in writ­ing the social planks of the Repub­li­can plat­form, and, cru­cial­ly, a deci­sive say in fed­er­al judi­cial nom­i­na­tions — their most pow­er­ful lever for reshap­ing the nation­al land­scape. By mid-July Trump also replaced his pre­vi­ous choic­es for run­ning mate with Mike Pence.
    ...

    And, final­ly, the arti­cle men­tions how the CNP’s long-term strat­e­gy focus­es on iden­ti­fy unmo­ti­vat­ed evan­gel­i­cals and scar­ing them into vot­ing with decep­tive fear-mon­ger­ing cam­paigns that focus abor­tion and LGBT rights:

    ...
    The CNP part­ners’ long-term strat­e­gy iden­ti­fied some 17 mil­lion polit­i­cal­ly unen­gaged evan­gel­i­cals, many con­cen­trat­ed in swing states, and sought ways to dri­ve them to the polls. Focus groups found that this demo­graph­ic could be moti­vat­ed by scare tac­tics involv­ing abor­tion and LGBT rights. These vot­ers have been bom­bard­ed with false­hoods: Democ­rats con­spire to “exe­cute babies on the day of their birth”; school­child­ren face a mor­tal dan­ger of sex­u­al assault by trans­gen­der peo­ple using pub­lic restrooms. Swing state vot­ers encoun­tered these cam­paigns on radio broad­casts from CNP part­ner net­works, in church sanc­tu­ar­ies from part­ner “min­istries” and on social media, fueled by part­ner memes. They were com­ple­ment­ed by grass­roots can­vass­ing run by CNP mem­bers, includ­ing the NRA, the Susan B. Antho­ny List and Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty.
    ...

    Giv­en that much of the GOP’s rhetoric these days large­ly focus on putting out some sort of decep­tive scare-mon­ger­ing mes­sage about a left-wing plot against con­ser­v­a­tives, it’s a reminder that the CNP’s core long-term strat­e­gy is basi­cal­ly the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s core long-term strat­e­gy at this point and a reflec­tion of the extent the CNP real­ly has cap­tured the par­ty. So as this impeach­ment process plays out, keep in mind that one of the pri­ma­ry polit­i­cal forces back­ing Trump has an inter­est in not admit­ting any­thing that might dam­age Mike Pence’s polit­i­cal future and a long-term strat­e­gy of scar­ing vot­ers with lies about dia­bol­i­cal Demo­c­ra­t­ic plots and a vast net­work of right-wing talk radio sta­tions capa­ble of push­ing any decep­tive mes­sag­ing cam­paign it wants across the US. In oth­er words, if you thought the right-wing medi­a’s behav­ior could­n’t get any more damn­ing than the ‘#Piz­za­Gate’ lows of 2016, just get ready for 2020.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2020, 4:32 pm
  9. Now that the acquit­tal of Pres­i­dent Trump is all but cer­tain in the Sen­ate #UkraineGate impeach­ment tri­al fol­low­ing the deci­sion of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans not to allow wit­ness­es, it appears that the Repub­li­can Par­ty is for­mal­ly sanc­tion­ing both the solic­i­ta­tion of for­eign influ­ence in elec­tions (which is what first hap­pened with the Poroshenko gov­ern­ment) and also the use of pres­i­den­tial pow­ers to extort for­eign gov­ern­ments into pro­vid­ing that influ­ence if they weren’t oth­er­wise inclined to do so (which is what hap­pened after Volodymyr Zelen­sky beat Poroshenko). It’s the kind of result to the Sen­ate tri­al that’s going to once again lead to hope­ful calls for some sort of Repub­li­can Par­ty soul search­ing, some­thing that’s becom­ing an increas­ing­ly dark joke.

    So since the Repub­li­can Par­ty appears to now endorse the idea of turn­ing US elec­tions into inter­na­tion­al group efforts, it seems like a good time to remind our­selves that the Repub­li­can Par­ty can increas­ing­ly be viewed as just the US-wing of an increas­ing­ly inter­twined glob­al far move­ment that’s been con­sol­i­dat­ing polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pow­er across the world for decades and rep­re­sents a kind of ‘come out’ phase of inter­na­tion­al fas­cism. It’s one of the grand ironies of the right-wing embrace of ‘nation­al­ism’: it’s an inter­na­tion­al ‘nation­al­ist’ move­ment that brands itself as ‘pop­ulist’ and yet is guid­ed by large­ly the same far right aris­to­crat­ic and patri­ar­chal ide­ol­o­gy and vision. Each coun­try is free to cre­ate its own culture...as long as it’s a far right cul­ture. If not, that inter­na­tion­al move­ment will work in coor­di­na­tion to crush that soci­ety until the far right ‘nation­al­ists’ have regained con­trol. That’s lit­er­al­ly the new ‘New World Order’ we’re see­ing emerge after decades of suc­cess­ful­ly far right net­work­ing and a recon­sol­i­da­tion of pow­er in the post-WWII envi­ron­ment. Glob­al con­trol by a gang ‘nation­al­ist’ far right move­ments that work togeth­er to crush any soci­ety that does­n’t com­ply. It’s the kind of vision that assumes there’s going to be A LOT more solic­i­ta­tion for for­eign influ­ence in elec­tions.

    It’s that con­text of a glob­al far right net­work of move­ments that work togeth­er across bor­der to help each oth­er take pow­er and keep it that makes the fol­low­ing arti­cle from back in April so rel­e­vant today fol­low­ing the end of a Sen­ate impeach­ment tri­al that appears to endorse the pres­i­den­tial recruit­ment of for­eign help. The arti­cle also relates to the recent reports about a pow­er strug­gle at the Vat­i­can led by a group of far right Catholics — includ­ing Steve Ban­non, Ital­ian far right politi­cian Mat­teo Salvi­ni, and the Ger­man Princess Glo­ria of Thurn and Taxis — to repeal var­i­ous reforms by Pope Fran­cis opposed by the Church’s ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive wing. The arti­cle about the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies con­fer­ence that took place in Verona last April. As the arti­cle describes, the con­fer­ence is basi­cal­ly an inter­na­tion­al net­work­ing event for the Chris­t­ian far right. The osten­si­ble theme of the con­fer­ence is the alleged left wing attack on ‘the fam­i­ly’, with much of focus on the threat of fem­i­nism and the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty. There’s also a bare­ly veiled white nation­al­ist alarmism over a per­ceived demo­graph­ic cri­sis of too few white babies. In oth­er words, it was basi­cal­ly an con­fer­ence of the inter­na­tion­al ‘respectable’ reac­tionary far right that hide behind the mask of ‘tra­di­tion­al val­ues’.

    The con­fer­ence includ­ed pow­er­ful fig­ures in the reli­gious, busi­ness, and polit­i­cal world from across the globe and stressed the need for inter­na­tion­al cross-bor­der coop­er­a­tion and coor­di­na­tion in assur­ing the far right takes polit­i­cal pow­er every­where. Salvi­ni and Princess Glo­ria were both fea­tured speak­ers, along with Bri­an Brown, who leads the anti-gay mar­riage group US Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage. Brown now also runs the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly, which coor­di­nates the WCF net­work. It’s an exam­ple of how the WCF is very much tied into the orga­nized US reli­gious right. Recall how, last March, weeks before this con­fer­ence, there was a report about US evan­gel­i­cal groups spend­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars sup­port­ing Euro­pean far right polit­i­cal par­ties and move­ments. This con­fer­ence is the pub­lic face of that increas­ing­ly inter­twined inter­na­tion­al far right net­work. And that inter­na­tion­al far right net­work has big plans to con­tin­ue help­ing itself inter­na­tion­al­ly. Hence the need for grant­i­ng the pres­i­dent the right to solic­it anoth­er gov­ern­ment for help in elec­tions. From the per­spec­tive the far right’s vision of a glob­al con­fed­er­a­tion of far right move­ments that joint­ly con­trol the world, inter­na­tion­al far right coor­di­na­tion is both an ends and a means:

    The Face

    How the far right is weapon­is­ing “the fam­i­ly”

    At the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies, where ultra-con­ser­v­a­tives use “tra­di­tion­al val­ues” to strate­gise resis­tance to repro­duc­tive and sex­u­al rights.

    Claire Provost
    17th April 2019

    A colour­ful ban­ner streams down the elab­o­rate facade of The Gran Guardia palace in cen­tral Verona, Italy. A winged child, his fist raised in the air, hov­ers beneath the words: “The Wind of Change: Europe and the Glob­al Pro-Fam­i­ly Move­ment”.

    Secu­ri­ty is tight: body­guards in black suits hov­er in door­ways, press­ing their ear­pieces while Ital­ian riot police and cara­binieri (para­mil­i­tary offi­cers) encir­cle the build­ing. Princess Glo­ria of Thurn and Taxis, Ger­many is late, I’m told, but the Ital­ian VIPs (includ­ing Mat­teo Salvi­ni, the country’s deputy prime min­is­ter, from the far-right Lega par­ty) are still expect­ed to speak on sched­ule.

    I am at the 13th World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) – a now annu­al con­fer­ence of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive activists and their grow­ing list of polit­i­cal allies. Each year they come togeth­er to strate­gise fights against abor­tion, con­tra­cep­tion, sex edu­ca­tion, and the rights of LGBTQ+ peo­ple – and to pro­mote what Chris­t­ian right activists call “the nat­ur­al fam­i­ly”: a mar­ried man and woman and their (ide­al­ly many) chil­dren.

    At these events, the jet-set­ting reli­gious and polit­i­cal elite – includ­ing priests, bish­ops, gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, ambas­sadors, and aris­to­crats like Prince Louis Alphonse of Bour­bon, duke of Anjou, who is also a great-grand­son of Gen­er­al Fran­co – dis­cuss how to spread “tra­di­tion­al val­ues” and resist or roll back demands for repro­duc­tive and sex­u­al rights.

    They argue that the “nat­ur­al fam­i­ly” has been under attack and that this has brought the world to the precipice of a “demo­graph­ic win­ter” where not enough babies are being born. Who has lead these “attacks”? In their view: fem­i­nists and LGBTQ+ rights activists who have been lead­ing fights for gen­der equal­i­ty and social jus­tice around the world.

    Some speak in mil­i­taris­tic lan­guage, of “cul­ture wars”. Oth­ers empha­sise “love” and sim­ply remove from the frame same-sex par­ents, sin­gle moth­ers, women who end unwant­ed preg­nan­cies – and the unthink­able: teens who have sex.

    The WCF was found­ed in 1997 after meet­ings between right-wing Chris­t­ian lead­ers in the US and ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Russ­ian writ­ers. It has host­ed sev­en inter­na­tion­al meet­ings in Europe over the last decade – though it has large­ly escaped press atten­tion and pub­lic scruti­ny, until now.

    From the US to Italy to Brazil far-right move­ments have put “the fam­i­ly” – and con­trol over women’s bod­ies and lives – at the cen­tre of their pop­ulist pol­i­tics. The polit­i­cal vision nur­tured by this WCF net­work over the years is now fright­en­ing­ly main­stream.

    I came across these meet­ings years ago, but attend­ed my first in Budapest, Hun­gary in 2017. I had just start­ed a new job at the inde­pen­dent media plat­form open­Democ­ra­cy, edit­ing the website’s gen­der and sex­u­al­i­ty sec­tion. As an inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist, I want­ed to see what was going on with­in the organ­ised move­ments oppos­ing women’s and LGBTQ+ rights around the world.

    Vic­tor Orban, Hungary’s prime min­is­ter, from its far-right Fidesz par­ty, spoke at that 2017 meet­ing along with a num­ber of his min­is­ters. Anoth­er speak­er was Jack Han­ick, a for­mer Fox News pro­duc­er who described the hit sit­com Mod­ern Fam­i­ly – with its divorced and remar­ried char­ac­ters, and a same-sex cou­ple who adopt a child – as the lat­est chap­ter in “TV’s role in the destruc­tion of the tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly.”

    This year more jour­nal­ists tried to get inside to cov­er the dis­cus­sions – but many were denied. I have reg­is­tered as a par­tic­i­pant and am under­cov­er, and it seems more cru­cial than ever that I report what I find. At the Euro­pean elec­tions in May, far-right par­ties will seek to cap­ture the world’s largest demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly-elect­ed body with poli­cies and cam­paigns which threat­en the rights of mil­lions. And many of the key cam­paign­ers are gath­ered in Verona this week­end.

    Day 1: ‘Out-breed the left’

    I arrive at the palace short­ly after 8am, walk­ing along pic­turesque streets lined with restau­rants. The sky over­head is cloud­less and a bright, light blue. The area around the venue is calm, though par­tic­i­pants – and a few press – are milling on the stairs.

    I col­lect my par­tic­i­pants pass and a tote bag of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive good­ies, includ­ing a gold­en pin in the shape of tiny feet – a gift from the ProVi­ta Ital­ian anti-abor­tion group that is a key organ­is­er of the event and that has well-doc­u­ment­ed links to the neo-fas­cist par­ty Forza Nuo­va, includ­ing through the fam­i­ly of the party’s leader, Rober­to Fiore.

    I’m struck by some of the stalls inside the build­ing. While most are from Chris­t­ian right groups there is also one from a com­pa­ny called Braz­za­le. Lat­er, I look them up: they claim to be the old­est Ital­ian dairy com­pa­ny, oper­at­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly since 1784. And they’re not the only busi­ness list­ed as a spon­sor of this ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive jam­boree.

    On the con­gress mate­ri­als, there is also the logo of Vil­la San­di, a win­ery that says it’s “one of the lead­ing pro­duc­ers of Pros­ec­co” – and is part of the busi­ness empire con­trolled by the bil­lion­aire Moret­ti Pole­ga­to fam­i­ly. These strike me as stark reminders that, far from being a niche event, the WCF is an elite net­work involv­ing a grow­ing num­ber of pow­er­ful peo­ple.

    At one stand I get a copy of a newslet­ter from an Aus­tralian group with the head­line: “Abor­tion debate: What can we learn from the US.” It shares news from Amer­i­ca where abor­tion rights are under attack in numer­ous states and from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion – reflect­ing how these move­ments learn from and root for each oth­er across bor­ders.

    The Con­gress is spread over four floors in the grand build­ing. Signs mark the way to an audi­to­ri­um, a VIP Lounge, and rooms for work­shops with titles like “Cyber­ac­tivism Con­fronting the Rad­i­cal Left” and “The Beau­ty of Mar­riage.” This is a high-pro­duc­tion event, with simul­ta­ne­ous trans­la­tion via head­sets in Eng­lish, Ital­ian, Russ­ian, and French.

    A stream of anti-abor­tion activists, and local Ital­ian politi­cians, take the podi­um. The seats around me have filled up with del­e­gates – many in suits. I’m struck by the num­ber of men on stage, talk­ing about the babies that oth­er peo­ple must bear. Each one intro­duces him­self by stat­ing how many chil­dren they’ve fathered – three, four, five or more – to grow­ing applause.

    An Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive YouTube star, Steve Tur­ley, elec­tri­fies the crowd. “It’s great to be among such a group of far right rad­i­cals,” he chuck­les, mock­ing “50 dif­fer­ent gen­der options on Face­book” and cel­e­brat­ing “re-awak­ened tra­di­tion­al­ist nation­al­ism” around the world.

    From the US to India there is a “mas­sive reli­gious renew­al” sweep­ing the globe, he says, adding that “the sec­u­lar pop­u­la­tion will begin a steady decline” [as reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives have more chil­dren]. He pro­claims: “Amer­i­ca is basi­cal­ly going to be Evan­gel­i­cal, Mor­mon and Amish.”

    Final­ly, a woman takes the stage – only to read a state­ment from her boss. This is Cristi­na Buga, advi­sor to Igor Dodon, pres­i­dent of Moldo­va – where last year’s WCF was host­ed. The state­ment she reads warns of the “cri­sis” of demo­graph­ic decline and migra­tion threat­en­ing “a nor­mal, nat­ur­al soci­ety” while the fam­i­ly “rep­re­sents the strength of our nation.”

    “This cul­ture war is a glob­al war”, an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Span­ish activist says, in one of the day’s more mil­i­taris­tic speech­es. “Ene­mies,” he explains, have “infil­trat­ed all insti­tu­tions” from polit­i­cal par­ties to the Unit­ed Nations. But, he offers encour­ag­ing­ly, the tide is turn­ing. Now, we must launch glob­al cam­paigns in the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive fight-back, col­lab­o­rat­ing across bor­ders. We must also seize pow­er: direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, by “con­trol­ling the envi­ron­ment” in which politi­cians oper­ate.

    I devour this speech – it’s incred­i­ble. Pow­er­ful, ener­gis­ing – and fright­en­ing. The man on stage is talk­ing about me, and the amaz­ing, empow­er­ing women I’ve met who are work­ing tire­less­ly to build real-life alter­na­tives to patri­archy and gen­der injus­tice. I sink into my chair, in case any­one notices the “ene­my” among them.

    Some of the speak­ers open­ly mix anti-immi­grant and “pro-fam­i­ly” pro­pa­gan­da. For exam­ple, politi­cians from both Italy and Hun­gary promise to address their coun­tries’ “demo­graph­ic declines” by get­ting more (white) women to have babies rather than let­ting more (not-white) peo­ple in. At times, it feels to me as if they’re wrap­ping racism in a “fam­i­ly-friend­ly” blan­ket.

    ...

    Day 2: ‘A VIP event’

    Most of the VIPs are speak­ing today, includ­ing Princess Glo­ria. As they arrive at the Gran Guardia, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are gath­er­ing in the city’s streets to oppose the con­gress and march for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Walk­ing to the palace, I pass posters out­side shops with the day’s local news­pa­per head­lines, includ­ing: “Today the counter protests: Fam­i­ly Con­gress, in Verona divides Italy.”

    So many events have been organ­ised in the city, includ­ing fem­i­nist book pre­sen­ta­tions, talks with schol­ars from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, the pro­jec­tion of a doc­u­men­tary about the strug­gle for LGBTQ+ rights in Ugan­da, the­atre plays, a fem­i­nist assem­bly and the street demon­stra­tion. Peo­ple have trav­elled from across Italy and fur­ther afield in Europe to stand up to the WCF and fas­cisms and fun­da­men­talisms of all stripes

    I want to wit­ness this his­toric mobil­i­sa­tion, but am stuck inside the palace. In the morn­ing, I step out­side as riot police assem­ble around the venue’s entrance, where on its grand steps a neo-fas­cist par­ty, Forza Nuo­va, is hold­ing a press con­fer­ence. Ital­ian jour­nal­ists swarm the par­ty offi­cial – giv­ing him, it seems, pre­cise­ly the atten­tion he wants – as he announces a cam­paign for a ref­er­en­dum on the country’s abor­tion law.

    Princess Glo­ria arrives. One of the event’s most glam­orous speak­ers – though not its only aris­to­crat – she joins a promi­nent Amer­i­can anti-LGBTQ+ rights activist on stage: Bri­an Brown, who leads the US Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage, a group found­ed in 2007 to oppose the legal­i­sa­tion of same-sex mar­riage in that coun­try.

    Brown (who now also runs the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly, which coor­di­nates the WCF net­work) tells us the Verona event was called “The Winds of Change” because “we’re see­ing a lot of good indi­ca­tions” from coun­tries like Hun­gary “stand­ing up for the fam­i­ly.” He intro­duces Glo­ria as a for­mer “punk rock princess” and 1980s cul­tur­al icon who was friends with Michael Jack­son, Elton John, Andy Warhol, but leaves out her more recent biog­ra­phy: the princess’s trans­for­ma­tion into a con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic activist who’s now friends with Steve Ban­non.

    On stage, she crit­i­cis­es the Church for “going along with the mainstream…abandoning the gospel”, and con­nects her cur­rent, hard­line Catholic con­ser­v­a­tive views with her rebel­lious past, say­ing: “It is always more inter­est­ing to be away from the main­stream.”

    Dis­tin­guish­ing her­self from some of the more bla­tant­ly white nation­al­ist del­e­gates in the room, Glo­ria also declares that increased migra­tion into Europe, from Africa, is a good thing because Africans, by her esti­ma­tion, are more con­ser­v­a­tive and could influ­ence soci­eties in the region which have, in her com­par­i­son, lost their way.

    “We work very hard…to unite peo­ple that are very dif­fer­ent around this sim­ple idea of the nat­ur­al fam­i­ly,” Brown stress­es, nod­ding specif­i­cal­ly to the pres­ence of par­tic­i­pants from both Rus­sia and Ukraine, despite Europe’s ongo­ing “ for­got­ten war” in east­ern Ukraine. “We might dis­agree on geopol­i­tics, but unite togeth­er for the fam­i­ly,” he says.

    In oth­er words: this is a broad church of anti-fem­i­nist, anti-LGBTQ+ hate, with room for dis­agree­ment on many issues as long as we’re clear on one thing: the “nat­ur­al fam­i­ly” and the need to defend it against its many ene­mies.

    When he takes to the stage, the Lega’s Mat­teo Salvi­ni (cur­rent­ly deputy prime min­is­ter) receives a hero’s wel­come and per­forms rhetor­i­cal acro­bat­ics in a bid to cast the pro­tes­tors out­side as author­i­tar­i­ans who want to impose their views on oth­ers. The true cri­sis today is that of “emp­ty cribs”, he says, telling us: “You are the vanguard…that keeps the flame alive for what 99.9% of peo­ple want.”

    Day 3: ‘Make Europe Great Again’

    Ahead of the Verona event, we pub­lished a new inves­ti­ga­tion at open­Democ­ra­cy reveal­ing that a group of US Chris­t­ian right organ­i­sa­tions – sev­er­al of which have been con­nect­ed to the WCF before – spent at least $ 50 mil­lion push­ing their agen­das in Europe over the last decade. This is like­ly an under­es­ti­mate of their influ­ence, how­ev­er.

    There is a big Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion at the meet­ing, includ­ing sev­er­al out­spo­ken US Chris­t­ian right sup­port­ers of Don­ald Trump. It’s now Sun­day, day three, and one speak­er takes to the stage in the MAGA hat. “The West will nev­er, ever be bro­ken”, he says, adding that “Brex­it, the bible and bor­ders” can help “make Europe great again” too.

    It’s 11am but when I over­hear that some par­tic­i­pants are going to the Latin mass list­ed in the con­gress pro­gramme, at a church in the old part of town, I decide it’s time to cut out of the con­gress. After two full days, I feel exhaust­ed and over­whelmed.

    I gath­er my things and stuff them back into the WCF can­vas tote bag and head to the most tourist-trav­elled part of Verona, not far from the sup­posed hous­es of the famous star-crossed lovers, Juli­et and Romeo. The San­ta Maria Anti­ca church dates back to the 12th-cen­tu­ry when it was used as a pri­vate chapel for one of Verona’s most pow­er­ful fam­i­lies. From the nar­row street out­side, it doesn’t look big – and I’m not able to get in. What appears to be a line at the door is actu­al­ly over­flow. Peo­ple are strain­ing to lis­ten, even if they can­not see. At 5’2”, I give up.

    Yes, there are a range of extrem­ists in this ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive, transna­tion­al move­ment. No, they are no joke. Where they inter­sect in the Venn dia­gram of fun­da­men­talisms is a scary place for many peo­ple: one where women don’t have con­trol over their bod­ies, LGBTQ+ peo­ple don’t have equal rights and there is only one accept­able type of fam­i­ly.

    I think back to day one when Clau­dio D’Amico, a Lega par­ty offi­cial, referred direct­ly to the upcom­ing and much-antic­i­pat­ed Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions. “When we go to vote…look for can­di­dates that sup­port the fam­i­ly. We must do this all over Europe,” he told us, adding: “We will win!”

    ...

    ———-

    “How the far right is weapon­is­ing “the fam­i­ly”” by Claire Provost; The Face; 04/17/2019

    ““This cul­ture war is a glob­al war”, an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Span­ish activist says, in one of the day’s more mil­i­taris­tic speech­es. “Ene­mies,” he explains, have “infil­trat­ed all insti­tu­tions” from polit­i­cal par­ties to the Unit­ed Nations. But, he offers encour­ag­ing­ly, the tide is turn­ing. Now, we must launch glob­al cam­paigns in the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive fight-back, col­lab­o­rat­ing across bor­ders. We must also seize pow­er: direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, by “con­trol­ling the envi­ron­ment” in which politi­cians oper­ate.

    It’s quite a ral­ly­ing cry: “Now, we must launch glob­al cam­paigns in the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive fight-back, col­lab­o­rat­ing across bor­ders. We must also seize pow­er: direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, by “con­trol­ling the envi­ron­ment” in which politi­cians oper­ate.” And yet that’s pre­cise­ly what we’ve seen increas­ing­ly hap­pen­ing for years. An inter­na­tion­al net­work of author­i­tar­i­an move­ments. It’s what Steve Ban­non has been open­ly devel­op­ing for years now. And as this con­fer­ence makes clear, ‘pop­ulist’ inter­na­tion­al net­work is heav­i­ly backed by some of the wealth­i­est and most pow­er­ful peo­ple on the plan­et. Pow­er­ful peo­ple who view Vic­tor Orban’s Hun­gary as a mod­el soci­ety:

    ...
    At these events, the jet-set­ting reli­gious and polit­i­cal elite – includ­ing priests, bish­ops, gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, ambas­sadors, and aris­to­crats like Prince Louis Alphonse of Bour­bon, duke of Anjou, who is also a great-grand­son of Gen­er­al Fran­co – dis­cuss how to spread “tra­di­tion­al val­ues” and resist or roll back demands for repro­duc­tive and sex­u­al rights.

    ...

    The WCF was found­ed in 1997 after meet­ings between right-wing Chris­t­ian lead­ers in the US and ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Russ­ian writ­ers. It has host­ed sev­en inter­na­tion­al meet­ings in Europe over the last decade – though it has large­ly escaped press atten­tion and pub­lic scruti­ny, until now.

    ...

    Vic­tor Orban, Hungary’s prime min­is­ter, from its far-right Fidesz par­ty, spoke at that 2017 meet­ing along with a num­ber of his min­is­ters. Anoth­er speak­er was Jack Han­ick, a for­mer Fox News pro­duc­er who described the hit sit­com Mod­ern Fam­i­ly – with its divorced and remar­ried char­ac­ters, and a same-sex cou­ple who adopt a child – as the lat­est chap­ter in “TV’s role in the destruc­tion of the tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly.”
    ...

    The con­fer­ence swag even includ­ed a gift from ProVi­ta, an Ital­ian anti-abor­tion group that’s both a key orga­niz­er of the even and has well doc­u­ment­ed ties to the neo-fas­cist Forza Nuo­va par­ty. It’s an exam­ple of the util­i­ty ral­ly­ing around ‘tra­di­tion­al val­ues’ has for the main­stream­ing of fas­cism:

    ...
    Day 1: ‘Out-breed the left’

    I arrive at the palace short­ly after 8am, walk­ing along pic­turesque streets lined with restau­rants. The sky over­head is cloud­less and a bright, light blue. The area around the venue is calm, though par­tic­i­pants – and a few press – are milling on the stairs.

    I col­lect my par­tic­i­pants pass and a tote bag of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive good­ies, includ­ing a gold­en pin in the shape of tiny feet – a gift from the ProVi­ta Ital­ian anti-abor­tion group that is a key organ­is­er of the event and that has well-doc­u­ment­ed links to the neo-fas­cist par­ty Forza Nuo­va, includ­ing through the fam­i­ly of the party’s leader, Rober­to Fiore.

    I’m struck by some of the stalls inside the build­ing. While most are from Chris­t­ian right groups there is also one from a com­pa­ny called Braz­za­le. Lat­er, I look them up: they claim to be the old­est Ital­ian dairy com­pa­ny, oper­at­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly since 1784. And they’re not the only busi­ness list­ed as a spon­sor of this ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive jam­boree.

    On the con­gress mate­ri­als, there is also the logo of Vil­la San­di, a win­ery that says it’s “one of the lead­ing pro­duc­ers of Pros­ec­co” – and is part of the busi­ness empire con­trolled by the bil­lion­aire Moret­ti Pole­ga­to fam­i­ly. These strike me as stark reminders that, far from being a niche event, the WCF is an elite net­work involv­ing a grow­ing num­ber of pow­er­ful peo­ple.

    ...

    An Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive YouTube star, Steve Tur­ley, elec­tri­fies the crowd. “It’s great to be among such a group of far right rad­i­cals,” he chuck­les, mock­ing “50 dif­fer­ent gen­der options on Face­book” and cel­e­brat­ing “re-awak­ened tra­di­tion­al­ist nation­al­ism” around the world.

    From the US to India there is a “mas­sive reli­gious renew­al” sweep­ing the globe, he says, adding that “the sec­u­lar pop­u­la­tion will begin a steady decline” [as reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives have more chil­dren]. He pro­claims: “Amer­i­ca is basi­cal­ly going to be Evan­gel­i­cal, Mor­mon and Amish.”

    ...

    Day 2: ‘A VIP event’

    Most of the VIPs are speak­ing today, includ­ing Princess Glo­ria. As they arrive at the Gran Guardia, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are gath­er­ing in the city’s streets to oppose the con­gress and march for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Walk­ing to the palace, I pass posters out­side shops with the day’s local news­pa­per head­lines, includ­ing: “Today the counter protests: Fam­i­ly Con­gress, in Verona divides Italy.”

    So many events have been organ­ised in the city, includ­ing fem­i­nist book pre­sen­ta­tions, talks with schol­ars from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, the pro­jec­tion of a doc­u­men­tary about the strug­gle for LGBTQ+ rights in Ugan­da, the­atre plays, a fem­i­nist assem­bly and the street demon­stra­tion. Peo­ple have trav­elled from across Italy and fur­ther afield in Europe to stand up to the WCF and fas­cisms and fun­da­men­talisms of all stripes

    I want to wit­ness this his­toric mobil­i­sa­tion, but am stuck inside the palace. In the morn­ing, I step out­side as riot police assem­ble around the venue’s entrance, where on its grand steps a neo-fas­cist par­ty, Forza Nuo­va, is hold­ing a press con­fer­ence. Ital­ian jour­nal­ists swarm the par­ty offi­cial – giv­ing him, it seems, pre­cise­ly the atten­tion he wants – as he announces a cam­paign for a ref­er­en­dum on the country’s abor­tion law.

    ...

    When he takes to the stage, the Lega’s Mat­teo Salvi­ni (cur­rent­ly deputy prime min­is­ter) receives a hero’s wel­come and per­forms rhetor­i­cal acro­bat­ics in a bid to cast the pro­tes­tors out­side as author­i­tar­i­ans who want to impose their views on oth­ers. The true cri­sis today is that of “emp­ty cribs”, he says, telling us: “You are the vanguard…that keeps the flame alive for what 99.9% of peo­ple want.”
    ...

    There’s also Princess Glo­ria, one of the most antic­i­pat­ed speak­ers (who also hap­pens to be orches­trat­ing some sort of ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Pope coup at that Vat­i­can with Steve Ban­non). She was joined on staged by Bri­an Brown, the Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cal who runs the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly, which coor­di­nates the WCF net­work. It’s a reminder of how exten­sive­ly the far right wing of US evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty is involved in build­ing this inter­na­tion­al move­ment:

    ...
    Princess Glo­ria arrives. One of the event’s most glam­orous speak­ers – though not its only aris­to­crat – she joins a promi­nent Amer­i­can anti-LGBTQ+ rights activist on stage: Bri­an Brown, who leads the US Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage, a group found­ed in 2007 to oppose the legal­i­sa­tion of same-sex mar­riage in that coun­try.

    Brown (who now also runs the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for the Fam­i­ly, which coor­di­nates the WCF net­work) tells us the Verona event was called “The Winds of Change” because “we’re see­ing a lot of good indi­ca­tions” from coun­tries like Hun­gary “stand­ing up for the fam­i­ly.” He intro­duces Glo­ria as a for­mer “punk rock princess” and 1980s cul­tur­al icon who was friends with Michael Jack­son, Elton John, Andy Warhol, but leaves out her more recent biog­ra­phy: the princess’s trans­for­ma­tion into a con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic activist who’s now friends with Steve Ban­non.

    ...

    Day 3: ‘Make Europe Great Again’

    Ahead of the Verona event, we pub­lished a new inves­ti­ga­tion at open­Democ­ra­cy reveal­ing that a group of US Chris­t­ian right organ­i­sa­tions – sev­er­al of which have been con­nect­ed to the WCF before – spent at least $ 50 mil­lion push­ing their agen­das in Europe over the last decade. This is like­ly an under­es­ti­mate of their influ­ence, how­ev­er.

    There is a big Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion at the meet­ing, includ­ing sev­er­al out­spo­ken US Chris­t­ian right sup­port­ers of Don­ald Trump. It’s now Sun­day, day three, and one speak­er takes to the stage in the MAGA hat. “The West will nev­er, ever be bro­ken”, he says, adding that “Brex­it, the bible and bor­ders” can help “make Europe great again” too.
    ...

    So that’s all part of the con­text of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s open endorse­ment of solic­it­ing inter­na­tion­al help in domes­tic polit­i­cal elec­tions dur­ing the Sen­ate impeach­ment tri­al. Solic­it­ing inter­na­tion­al help for fel­low trav­el­ers is the plan to seize con­trol and crush the left is the plan. The short-term plan and long-term plan. As George Orwell famous­ly warned, If you want a vision of the future, imag­ine a boot stamp­ing on a human face — for­ev­er. Seiz­ing pow­er and them stamp­ing out all oppo­si­tion for­ev­er. That’s the big plan and it’s going to require a lot of inter­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tion. Indef­i­nite­ly. Inter­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tion the GOP has now for­mal­ly endorsed for the fore­see­able future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2020, 4:57 pm
  10. Pres­i­dent Trump is expect­ed to announce on Sat­ur­day his Supreme Court pick to replace Ruth Bad­er Gins­gurg with fed­er­al judge Amy Coney Bar­rett at the top can­di­date by all accounts.

    So as with all Repub­li­can Supreme Court nom­i­nees, we have to ask what par­tic­u­lar genre of far right judi­cial activist will Bar­rett end up being? Will she be more of a cor­po­ratist? A theo­crat? A gen­er­al author­i­tar­i­an? All of the above? What cor­rupt form of legal and civic insan­i­ty will she inflict upon the US for decades to come?

    Well, based on what we so far about Bar­rett, not only does she have strong theo­crat­ic ten­den­cies but she has spent her entire life as a mem­ber of a small tight-knit far right group, Peo­ple of Praise, that was one of the real life inspi­ra­tions for Mar­garet Atwood’s The Hand­maid­’s Tale. The small euc­u­meni­cal charis­mat­ic move­ment — which is 90 per­cent Catholic but includes many of the prac­tices asso­ci­at­ed with charis­mat­ic protes­tants — has around 1800 adult mem­bers in North Amer­i­ca. Those charis­mat­ic prac­tices includes prac­tices that sound awful­ly close to the “shep­herd­ing” move­ment with­in Chris­tian­i­ty that even Charis­mat­ic lead­ers have acknowl­edged was cult-like. Peo­ple of Praise has mem­bers swear life­long loy­al­ty oaths to each oth­er. The par­ents of both Bar­ret and her hus­band played lead­er­ship roles in the Peo­ple of Praise so she’s appar­ent­ly been with the group her entire life.

    And while there’s a ques­tion over whether or not Atwood was specif­i­cal­ly inspired by Peo­ple of Praise or an ide­o­log­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar Catholic Charis­mat­ic group, Peo­ple of Hope, it’s unde­ni­able that Peo­ple of Praise is exact­ly of group Atwood has said inspired her to write the book. On top of teach­ing that men are the author­i­ty fig­ure in their fam­i­lies, includ­ing over their wives, Peo­ple of Praise lit­er­al­ly assigns per­son­al advis­ers to each mem­ber and call the advis­ers for women “Hand­maids”. Or at least used to do that before the group first received scruti­ny back in 2017 when Bar­rett was seen as a poten­tial selec­tion for Jus­tice Kennedy’s open seat. The “Hand­maids” are now called “Woman Lead­ers”. These per­son­al advis­ers give direc­tion on impor­tant deci­sions like whom to date or mar­ry, where to live, and whether to take a job or buy a home.

    But in addi­tion to ques­tions over Bar­ret­t’s ties to Peo­ple of Praise and what influ­ence a cult-like group like that might have over her deci­sion-mak­ing, there’s also the ques­tion of who else is going to be influ­enc­ing her deci­sions because, as we’re going to see, it sounds like the theo­crat­ic far right Catholic branch of the legal com­mu­ni­ty has been groom­ing Bar­rett to become a pos­si­ble Supreme Court jus­tice since her first year in law school. That’s a lot of groom­ing.

    From a the­mat­ic stand­point it’s kind of per­fect: the judge who will replace Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg and guar­an­tee the end of the Roe v Wade hails from the kind of Catholic cult that lit­er­al­ly inspired The Hand­maid­’s Tale and has been groomed by the legal far right from the very begin­ning of her edu­ca­tion. Keep in mind that since Bar­rett grew up in the Peo­ple of Praise move­ment it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble her “Hand­maid” advised her to go into law. In oth­er words, for all we know her ‘groom­ing’ could have pre­ced­ed law school and based on what we know about Peo­ple of Praise it seems like a near cer­tain­ty that the group played a role in her deci­sion to enter law in the first place. So one of the many ques­tions about the like­ly replace­ment for RBG is the ques­tion of what her “Hand­maid” has been instruct­ing her to do as she’s trav­eled this long path to the Supreme Court:

    Refiney29

    Did Amy Coney Barrett’s Reli­gious Group Inspire The Handmaid’s Tale?

    Sarah Mid­kiff
    Last Updat­ed Sep­tem­ber 22, 2020, 11:14 AM

    By now, the name Amy Coney Bar­rett has like­ly appeared on your news­feed a dozen times since this week­end. Why? The cir­cuit court judge is a spec­u­lat­ed fron­trun­ner to take the open Supreme Court seat left after Jus­tice Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg passed away on Fri­day. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has already vowed to fill the spot, say­ing he could nom­i­nate some­one as ear­ly as the end of this week. And it looks like Bar­rett is at the top of every list of rumored nom­i­nees, which was all but con­firmed when Trump and Bar­rett met on Mon­day after­noon.

    Bar­rett has been on Trump’s short­list for Supreme Court for years now and was among the final­ists con­sid­ered to replace Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy when he retired in July 2018. The seat was filled by Brett Kavanaugh, but accord­ing to a report from Axios, replace Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy when he retired.

    But Bar­rett, who start­ed her career as a clerk for Jus­tice Antonin Scalia and has been described as his “ide­o­log­i­cal heir” due to her staunch­ly con­ser­v­a­tive stance on the sub­jects of abor­tion and health­care, has one affil­i­a­tion that is per­haps most con­cern­ing. Accord­ing to author Mar­garet Atwood, her dystopi­an nov­el The Hand­maid­’s Tale was inspired (read: haunt­ed) by mul­ti­ple reli­gious groups, which many believe includes Peo­ple of Praise, which Bar­rett is report­ed­ly affil­i­at­ed with.

    Bar­rett iden­ti­fies as Catholic, but more specif­i­cal­ly, she is affil­i­at­ed with an ecu­meni­cal Chris­t­ian group, the Peo­ple of Praise. The group believes in a num­ber of Pen­te­costal sta­ples such as prophe­cy, speak­ing in tongues, and divine heal­ings. Found­ed in 1971, the com­mu­ni­ty remains quite small, claim­ing about 1,800 adult mem­bers across North Amer­i­ca, reports the New York Times. Though rough­ly 90 per­cent of mem­bers iden­ti­fy as Catholic, there are a num­ber of doc­tri­nal devi­a­tions.

    For one, mem­bers of the group swear a life­long oath of loy­al­ty to one anoth­er and are assigned a per­son­al advis­er to whom they are held account­able. For men, this advis­er is called a “head,” and for women, a “hand­maid.” Peo­ple of Praise preach­es the idea that men are the author­i­ty fig­ure over the fam­i­ly includ­ing their wives.

    Atwood says that the groups like this served as pri­ma­ry inspi­ra­tion for The Hand­maid­’s Tale — and it’s not hard to see why. In numer­ous inter­views, Atwood allud­ed to the group but did not call them out by name. In an inter­view for the New York Times Book Review in 1986, she said, “There is a sect now, a Catholic charis­mat­ic spin­off sect, which calls the women hand­maids.” Mem­bers of Peo­ple of Praise are assigned account­abil­i­ty advis­ers. For men, they are called a “head;” for women, a “hand­maid.” That is until the pop­u­lar­i­ty of the book and sub­se­quent tele­vi­sion series grew and the group changed the title to “woman leader.”

    It’s also clear how deeply Bar­rett is involved in Peo­ple of Praise. Accord­ing to the NYT, both Bar­rett and her husband’s fathers served as lead­ers in the group. Bar­rett has also appeared in issues of the group’s mag­a­zine, Vine & Branch­es. One appear­ance was an announce­ment that she and her hus­band adopt­ed a child. Anoth­er was a pho­to­graph of Bar­rett attend­ing a Peo­ple of Praise women’s gath­er­ing. But these once-doc­u­ment­ed links have dis­ap­peared since her Cir­cuit Court nom­i­na­tion.

    There are some indi­ca­tions that Bar­rett and Peo­ple of Praise have tried to con­ceal her affil­i­a­tion with the group. When asked, spokes­peo­ple for the com­mu­ni­ty were tight-lipped about Barrett’s con­nec­tion to Peo­ple of Praise. And although Fed­er­al bench nom­i­nees are required to fill out a detailed ques­tion­naire for the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, Bar­rett did not list any reli­gious affil­i­a­tions on her form, which is pub­licly avail­able on the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry web­site.

    ...

    ———-

    “Did Amy Coney Barrett’s Reli­gious Group Inspire The Handmaid’s Tale?” by Sarah Mid­kiff; Refiney29; 09/22/2020

    “But Bar­rett, who start­ed her career as a clerk for Jus­tice Antonin Scalia and has been described as his “ide­o­log­i­cal heir” due to her staunch­ly con­ser­v­a­tive stance on the sub­jects of abor­tion and health­care, has one affil­i­a­tion that is per­haps most con­cern­ing. Accord­ing to author Mar­garet Atwood, her dystopi­an nov­el The Hand­maid­’s Tale was inspired (read: haunt­ed) by mul­ti­ple reli­gious groups, which many believe includes Peo­ple of Praise, which Bar­rett is report­ed­ly affil­i­at­ed with.

    She’s an inspi­ra­tional pick...for dystopi­an nov­el­ists think­ing about writ­ing a book about a cult cap­tur­ing a soci­ety:

    ...
    Bar­rett iden­ti­fies as Catholic, but more specif­i­cal­ly, she is affil­i­at­ed with an ecu­meni­cal Chris­t­ian group, the Peo­ple of Praise. The group believes in a num­ber of Pen­te­costal sta­ples such as prophe­cy, speak­ing in tongues, and divine heal­ings. Found­ed in 1971, the com­mu­ni­ty remains quite small, claim­ing about 1,800 adult mem­bers across North Amer­i­ca, reports the New York Times. Though rough­ly 90 per­cent of mem­bers iden­ti­fy as Catholic, there are a num­ber of doc­tri­nal devi­a­tions.

    For one, mem­bers of the group swear a life­long oath of loy­al­ty to one anoth­er and are assigned a per­son­al advis­er to whom they are held account­able. For men, this advis­er is called a “head,” and for women, a “hand­maid.” Peo­ple of Praise preach­es the idea that men are the author­i­ty fig­ure over the fam­i­ly includ­ing their wives.

    Atwood says that the groups like this served as pri­ma­ry inspi­ra­tion for The Hand­maid­’s Tale — and it’s not hard to see why. In numer­ous inter­views, Atwood allud­ed to the group but did not call them out by name. In an inter­view for the New York Times Book Review in 1986, she said, “There is a sect now, a Catholic charis­mat­ic spin­off sect, which calls the women hand­maids.” Mem­bers of Peo­ple of Praise are assigned account­abil­i­ty advis­ers. For men, they are called a “head;” for women, a “hand­maid.” That is until the pop­u­lar­i­ty of the book and sub­se­quent tele­vi­sion series grew and the group changed the title to “woman leader.”

    It’s also clear how deeply Bar­rett is involved in Peo­ple of Praise. Accord­ing to the NYT, both Bar­rett and her husband’s fathers served as lead­ers in the group. Bar­rett has also appeared in issues of the group’s mag­a­zine, Vine & Branch­es. One appear­ance was an announce­ment that she and her hus­band adopt­ed a child. Anoth­er was a pho­to­graph of Bar­rett attend­ing a Peo­ple of Praise women’s gath­er­ing. But these once-doc­u­ment­ed links have dis­ap­peared since her Cir­cuit Court nom­i­na­tion.
    ...

    Has Amy Coney Bar­rett been faith­ful to the direc­tives of her Hand­maid? Who is her Hand­maid any­way and what kind of advice does this per­son give? These are just a few of the ques­tions first raised back in 2017 when the New York Times first report­ed on her ties to the group. A report that includes warn­ings from legal schol­ars that what we’re learn­ing about Peo­ple of Praise, like its loy­al­ty oaths and “Hand­maids”, that rais­es legit­i­mate ques­tions about ques­tions about her inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty.

    As the arti­cle also notes, when Bar­rett was nom­i­nat­ed for the fed­er­al judge­ship in 2017, she nev­er iden­ti­fied her mem­ber­ship in Peo­ple of Praise and there­fore ques­tions about her rela­tion­ship with the group nev­er came up so we have yet to hear how she’ll answer ques­tions about her mem­ber­ship in what appears to be a reli­gious cult:

    The New York Times

    Some Wor­ry About Judi­cial Nominee’s Ties to a Reli­gious Group

    By Lau­rie Good­stein
    Sept. 28, 2017

    One of Pres­i­dent Trump’s judi­cial nom­i­nees became some­thing of a hero to reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives after she was grilled at a Sen­ate hear­ing this month over whether her Roman Catholic faith would influ­ence her deci­sions on the bench.

    The nom­i­nee, Amy Coney Bar­rett, a law pro­fes­sor up for an appeals court seat, had raised the issue her­self in arti­cles and speech­es over the years. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee zeroed in on her writ­ings, and in the process prompt­ed accu­sa­tions that they were engaged in reli­gious big­otry.

    “The dog­ma lives loud­ly with­in you,” declared Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein, Demo­c­rat of Cal­i­for­nia, in what has become an infa­mous phrase. Sen­a­tor Orrin Hatch, Repub­li­can of Utah, accused his col­leagues of employ­ing an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al “reli­gious test” for office.

    Ms. Bar­rett told the sen­a­tors that she was a faith­ful Catholic, and that her reli­gious beliefs would not affect her deci­sions as an appel­late judge. But her mem­ber­ship in a small, tight­ly knit Chris­t­ian group called Peo­ple of Praise nev­er came up at the hear­ing, and might have led to even more intense ques­tion­ing.

    Some of the group’s prac­tices would sur­prise many faith­ful Catholics. Mem­bers of the group swear a life­long oath of loy­al­ty, called a covenant, to one anoth­er, and are assigned and are account­able to a per­son­al advis­er, called a “head” for men and a “hand­maid” for women. The group teach­es that hus­bands are the heads of their wives and should take author­i­ty over the fam­i­ly.

    Cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers say that the heads and hand­maids give direc­tion on impor­tant deci­sions, includ­ing whom to date or mar­ry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise chil­dren.

    Legal schol­ars said that such loy­al­ty oaths could raise legit­i­mate ques­tions about a judi­cial nominee’s inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty. The schol­ars said in inter­views that while there cer­tain­ly was no reli­gious test for office, it would have been rel­e­vant for the sen­a­tors to exam­ine what it means for a judi­cial nom­i­nee to make an oath to a group that could wield sig­nif­i­cant author­i­ty over its mem­bers’ lives.

    “These groups can become so absorb­ing that it’s dif­fi­cult for a per­son to retain indi­vid­ual judg­ment,” said Sarah Bar­ringer Gor­don, a pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tion­al law and his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. “I don’t think it’s dis­crim­i­na­to­ry or hos­tile to reli­gion to want to learn more” about her rela­tion­ship with the group.

    Ms. Bar­rett, through a spokesman at the Notre Dame Law School, where she is on the fac­ul­ty, declined sev­er­al requests to be inter­viewed for this arti­cle.

    A leader of the Peo­ple of Praise, Craig S. Lent, said that the group was not “nefar­i­ous or con­tro­ver­sial,” but that its pol­i­cy was not to con­firm whether Ms. Bar­rett or any­one else was a mem­ber. Mr. Lent, whose title is over­all coor­di­na­tor and who has belonged to the group for near­ly 40 years, said in inter­views that the group was about build­ing com­mu­ni­ty and long-term friend­ships, and that mem­bers have a “wide spec­trum” of polit­i­cal views.

    “We don’t try to con­trol peo­ple,” said Mr. Lent, who is also a pro­fes­sor of elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing and physics at Notre Dame. “And there’s nev­er any guar­an­tee that the leader is always right. You have to dis­cern and act in the Lord.”

    He lat­er added, “If and when mem­bers hold polit­i­cal offices, or judi­cial offices, or admin­is­tra­tive offices, we would cer­tain­ly not tell them how to dis­charge their respon­si­bil­i­ties.”

    ...

    Ms. Bar­rett, 45, has nev­er served in the judi­cia­ry but has won praise for her legal cre­den­tials. A law clerk for Jus­tice Antonin Scalia, she was hired at 30 at Notre Dame Law School.

    She is a mem­ber of the con­ser­v­a­tive Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, a con­duit for judi­cial nom­i­nees to the Trump White House. More than 70 law pro­fes­sors across the coun­try signed a glow­ing let­ter of endorse­ment. A sep­a­rate let­ter of endorse­ment was signed by all of her fel­low fac­ul­ty mem­bers.

    The sight of Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors grilling Ms. Bar­rett only ele­vat­ed her pro­file. A con­ser­v­a­tive judi­cial group began run­ning dig­i­tal ads tar­get­ing Sen­a­tor Fein­stein. Cheeky T‑shirts and cof­fee mugs soon appeared for sale embla­zoned with Sen­a­tor Feinstein’s remark about dog­ma.

    Ms. Bar­rett was ques­tioned in par­tic­u­lar about a 1998 schol­ar­ly arti­cle in which she and her co-author argued that some­times Catholic tri­al judges should recuse them­selves from the sen­tenc­ing phase of death penal­ty cas­es. At the hear­ing, Ms. Bar­rett backed away from that posi­tion, say­ing she could not think of any class of cas­es in which she would recuse her­self because of her faith.

    Cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers of Peo­ple of Praise said that Ms. Bar­rett and her hus­band, who have sev­en chil­dren, both belong to the group, and that their fathers have served as lead­ers. The com­mu­ni­ty, found­ed in 1971, claims about 1,800 adult mem­bers in 22 loca­tions in North Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean.

    The group believes in prophe­cy, speak­ing in tongues and divine heal­ings, sta­ples of Pen­te­costal church­es that some Catholics have also adopt­ed in a move­ment called charis­mat­ic renewal. The Peo­ple of Praise was an ear­ly leader in the flow­er­ing of that move­ment in North Amer­i­ca. It is ecu­meni­cal, but about 90 per­cent of its mem­bers are Catholic.

    To ful­fill the group’s com­mu­ni­tar­i­an vision, unmar­ried mem­bers are some­times placed to live in homes with mar­ried cou­ples and their chil­dren, and mem­bers often look to buy or rent homes near oth­er mem­bers.

    Some for­mer mem­bers crit­i­cize the group for devi­at­ing from Catholic doc­trine, which does not teach “male head­ship,” in con­trast to some evan­gel­i­cal church­es. The per­son­al advis­ers can be too con­trol­ling, the crit­ics say; they may betray con­fi­dences, and too often they sup­plant the role of priest.

    Mr. Lent said the group’s sys­tem of heads and hand­maids pro­motes “broth­er­hood,” not male dom­i­nance. He said the group recent­ly dropped the term “hand­maid” in favor of “woman leader.”

    “We fol­low the New Tes­ta­ment pat­tern of ask­ing men to take on some spir­i­tu­al respon­si­bil­i­ty for their fam­i­lies,” he said.

    Adri­an J. Reimers, a pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy at Notre Dame, was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Peo­ple of Praise, but he was eject­ed 13 years lat­er after he said he increas­ing­ly ques­tioned the lead­ers’ author­i­ty over mem­bers’ lives and devi­a­tion from Catholic doc­trine. He lat­er wrote a crit­i­cal man­u­script, “Not Reli­able Guides.”

    Mr. Reimers said in an inter­view that the break­ing point came after he object­ed to instruc­tions a hand­maid had giv­en to his wife. When he took his con­cerns to his head, he said he was told that his wife was “try­ing to under­mine God’s plan for her life” and that the cou­ple should fol­low the handmaid’s guid­ance.

    There are some indi­ca­tions that both Ms. Bar­rett and the Peo­ple of Praise may have tried to obscure Ms. Barrett’s mem­ber­ship in the group.

    Links to issues of the group’s mag­a­zine, Vine & Branch­es, that men­tioned her have dis­ap­peared from its web­site, some of them very recent­ly. One includ­ed an announce­ment that Ms. Bar­rett and her hus­band had adopt­ed a child; anoth­er had a pho­to­graph of Ms. Bar­rett attend­ing a women’s gath­er­ing.

    A spokesman for Peo­ple of Praise, Sean Con­nol­ly, said the group was some­times asked by mem­bers to remove links to arti­cles about them, but he would not say whether that had hap­pened in this case. Mr. Lent said he was unaware of any such request con­cern­ing Ms. Bar­rett.

    Every nom­i­nee for the fed­er­al bench is required to fill out a detailed ques­tion­naire for the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee. Ms. Bar­rett did not list any reli­gious affil­i­a­tions on her ques­tion­naire, though many nom­i­nees have in the past.

    Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said on Thurs­day that the White House has been advis­ing all its judi­cial nom­i­nees that they need not list reli­gious affil­i­a­tions on their Sen­ate ques­tion­naires.

    Ms. Bar­rett did, how­ev­er, list that she was a trustee of Trin­i­ty School from 2015 to 2017, giv­ing no fur­ther detail. Many schools have that name, but this one was found­ed and run by Peo­ple of Praise, and trustees must be mem­bers. Mr. Lent con­firmed that Ms. Bar­rett was indeed a Trin­i­ty trustee until very recent­ly.

    The Sen­ate ques­tion­naire also asks nom­i­nees to list their pub­lic speech­es, and to sup­ply the com­mit­tee with record­ings or texts. Ms. Bar­rett list­ed a Trin­i­ty School com­mence­ment address she gave on June 11, 2011, but accord­ing to a com­mit­tee aide, she did not sub­mit a copy of that speech.

    “I’m con­cerned that this was not suf­fi­cient­ly trans­par­ent,” said M. Cath­leen Kave­ny, a pro­fes­sor at Boston Col­lege Law School who stud­ies the rela­tion­ship between law, reli­gion and moral­i­ty. “We have to dis­close every­thing from the Elks Club to the alum­ni asso­ci­a­tions we belong to — why didn’t she dis­close this?”

    ———-

    “Some Wor­ry About Judi­cial Nominee’s Ties to a Reli­gious Group” by Lau­rie Good­stein; The New York Times; 09/28/2017

    “Ms. Bar­rett told the sen­a­tors that she was a faith­ful Catholic, and that her reli­gious beliefs would not affect her deci­sions as an appel­late judge. But her mem­ber­ship in a small, tight­ly knit Chris­t­ian group called Peo­ple of Praise nev­er came up at the hear­ing, and might have led to even more intense ques­tion­ing.

    Some­how she just for­got to list her life­long mem­ber­ship in a reli­gious group that requires its mem­bers to make life­time loy­al­ty oaths to each oth­er when fill­ing out the Sen­ate ques­tion­aire. It must have been an inno­cent mistake...and not an attempt to hide her mem­ber­ship in a creepy cult:

    ...
    Some of the group’s prac­tices would sur­prise many faith­ful Catholics. Mem­bers of the group swear a life­long oath of loy­al­ty, called a covenant, to one anoth­er, and are assigned and are account­able to a per­son­al advis­er, called a “head” for men and a “hand­maid” for women. The group teach­es that hus­bands are the heads of their wives and should take author­i­ty over the fam­i­ly.

    Cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers say that the heads and hand­maids give direc­tion on impor­tant deci­sions, includ­ing whom to date or mar­ry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise chil­dren.

    Legal schol­ars said that such loy­al­ty oaths could raise legit­i­mate ques­tions about a judi­cial nominee’s inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty. The schol­ars said in inter­views that while there cer­tain­ly was no reli­gious test for office, it would have been rel­e­vant for the sen­a­tors to exam­ine what it means for a judi­cial nom­i­nee to make an oath to a group that could wield sig­nif­i­cant author­i­ty over its mem­bers’ lives.

    “These groups can become so absorb­ing that it’s dif­fi­cult for a per­son to retain indi­vid­ual judg­ment,” said Sarah Bar­ringer Gor­don, a pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tion­al law and his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. “I don’t think it’s dis­crim­i­na­to­ry or hos­tile to reli­gion to want to learn more” about her rela­tion­ship with the group.
    ...

    And note that crit­ics of the group include one of the found­ing mem­bers who was kicked out after he ques­tions the direc­tives giv­en to his wife by her “Hand­maid”:

    ...
    To ful­fill the group’s com­mu­ni­tar­i­an vision, unmar­ried mem­bers are some­times placed to live in homes with mar­ried cou­ples and their chil­dren, and mem­bers often look to buy or rent homes near oth­er mem­bers.

    Some for­mer mem­bers crit­i­cize the group for devi­at­ing from Catholic doc­trine, which does not teach “male head­ship,” in con­trast to some evan­gel­i­cal church­es. The per­son­al advis­ers can be too con­trol­ling, the crit­ics say; they may betray con­fi­dences, and too often they sup­plant the role of priest.

    Mr. Lent said the group’s sys­tem of heads and hand­maids pro­motes “broth­er­hood,” not male dom­i­nance. He said the group recent­ly dropped the term “hand­maid” in favor of “woman leader.”

    ...

    Adri­an J. Reimers, a pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy at Notre Dame, was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Peo­ple of Praise, but he was eject­ed 13 years lat­er after he said he increas­ing­ly ques­tioned the lead­ers’ author­i­ty over mem­bers’ lives and devi­a­tion from Catholic doc­trine. He lat­er wrote a crit­i­cal man­u­script, “Not Reli­able Guides.”

    Mr. Reimers said in an inter­view that the break­ing point came after he object­ed to instruc­tions a hand­maid had giv­en to his wife. When he took his con­cerns to his head, he said he was told that his wife was “try­ing to under­mine God’s plan for her life” and that the cou­ple should fol­low the handmaid’s guid­ance.
    ...

    Final­ly, here’s a piece that makes clear how the ques­tions about Bar­ret­t’s loy­al­ties should­n’t be lim­it­ed to her rela­tion­ship with Peo­ple of Praise. Because it turns out her legal edu­ca­tion coin­cid­ed with a peri­od when the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment con­clud­ed fol­low­ing the fail­ure of Robert Bork’s nom­i­na­tion that it need­ed to iden­ti­fy future Supreme Court nom­i­nees when they’re young and ensure they are both ide­o­log­i­cal­ly pure while gen­er­at­ing the kind of resumes that will even­tu­al­ly put them on the court. In oth­er words, they were look­ing for young far right judi­cial Manchuri­an can­di­dates and one them in Neil Gor­such, Brett Kavanaugh, and now Amy Coney Bar­rett:

    Politi­co

    She’s been groomed for this moment’: Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court prepa­ra­tion began ear­ly

    From her first year as a Notre Dame law stu­dent, con­ser­v­a­tives marked her as a future leader in the mold of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety.

    By BEN SCHRECKINGER

    09/20/2020 10:24 PM EDT
    Updat­ed: 09/21/2020 10:07 AM EDT

    Amy Coney Bar­rett was pre­pared for this moment.

    Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg had been seat­ed on the Supreme Court for only a year, in 1994, when a group of pro­fes­sors at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame first rec­og­nized the poten­tial of a first-year law stu­dent and began paving the way for her career as a con­ser­v­a­tive jurist: col­lab­o­rat­ing on schol­ar­ship, help­ing her land a Supreme Court clerk­ship and lat­er recruit­ing her to the law school’s fac­ul­ty.

    The group was part of a grow­ing legal move­ment opposed to the sec­u­lar­iza­tion of Amer­i­can soci­ety gen­er­al­ly and to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade rul­ing in par­tic­u­lar. The 1973 abor­tion-rights deci­sion not only struck many con­ser­v­a­tives as an affront their reli­gious val­ues, but to the prin­ci­ple of judi­cial restraint. To wage what would be a decades-long fight to reverse the activist deci­sions of the court from 1950s to the 1970s, they need­ed young legal minds like Barrett’s.

    The plan worked bet­ter than they could have hoped. Now a judge on the Sev­enth Cir­cuit, Bar­rett is the lead­ing con­tender for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­na­tion to replace Gins­burg on the court. Her ascen­sion would be a coup for Catholic cul­ture war­riors 25 years in the mak­ing and a high point in the right’s decades-long project of reshap­ing the judi­cia­ry.

    “She was kind of the Manchuri­an can­di­date,” said one for­mer col­league at Notre Dame Law School. “She’s been groomed for this moment all the way along.”

    The notion of a new breed of Supreme Court can­di­date – younger, so as to serve a long tenure on the court; ide­o­log­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent but low-key in per­son­al­i­ty; buoyed by out­stand­ing aca­d­e­m­ic stature and expe­ri­ence on the low­er courts – took hold after the sear­ing nom­i­na­tion fight over con­ser­v­a­tive fire­brand Robert Bork end­ed in defeat in 1987. Bork’s abra­sive per­son­al­i­ty and long his­to­ry of stak­ing out con­tentious posi­tions had marked him for defeat. In the future, judi­cial nom­i­nees would need to take greater care to be polit­i­cal­ly appeal­ing and per­son­al­ly pre­sentable.

    There­after, the selec­tion of poten­tial Supreme Court nom­i­nees by pres­i­dents of both par­ties became high-stakes affairs, with aspir­ing jurists tak­ing care to craft spot­less careers for decades in advance. That was when con­ser­v­a­tives, led by the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, began tak­ing a sys­tem­at­ic approach to spot­ting and groom­ing poten­tial jus­tices, includ­ing Trump’s two nom­i­nees to date, Neil Gor­such and Brett Kavanaugh.

    Bar­rett is a prod­uct of the same sys­tem. At 48, she has been prepar­ing for a poten­tial nom­i­na­tion one way or anoth­er for the major­i­ty of her life. A native of New Orleans, she arrived at Notre Dame Law School in the fall of 1994, fresh out of Rhodes Col­lege, a small, lib­er­al arts school in Mem­phis Ten­nessee. Sharp, attrac­tive and devout, she quick­ly gained the notice of polit­i­cal­ly mind­ed pro­fes­sors.

    Promi­nent among them was John Gar­vey, accord­ing to for­mer col­leagues who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss the tight-knit world of Catholic legal schol­ars. Reached on Sat­ur­day, Gar­vey, now the pres­i­dent of Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty, declined to com­ment because of the recent tim­ing of Ginsburg’s death.

    Gar­vey — who had served as assis­tant to Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Ted Olson in Ronald Reagan’s Jus­tice Depart­ment — arrived as a pro­fes­sor at Notre Dame the same year that Bar­rett matric­u­lat­ed as a stu­dent, and began steer­ing the com­po­si­tion of the fac­ul­ty into a more con­ser­v­a­tive, more tra­di­tion­al­ly Catholic direc­tion.

    “They were try­ing to cre­ate a cer­tain pha­lanx of peo­ple main­ly to over­turn Roe, but also to pri­or­i­tize reli­gion,” the for­mer mem­ber of the Notre Dame Law School fac­ul­ty explained of Gar­vey and his allies.

    An obser­vant Catholic and a mem­ber of Peo­ple of Praise — a small, devout­ly spir­i­tu­al Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty known for fos­ter­ing strong bonds among its mem­bers — Bar­rett espous­es a con­ser­v­a­tive approach to inter­pret­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion with a strong def­er­ence to reli­gious val­ues.

    Gar­vey col­lab­o­rat­ed with Coney on a law review arti­cle that argued Catholic judges should recuse them­selves from cap­i­tal cas­es because the church’s oppo­si­tion to the death penal­ty pre­sent­ed an irre­solv­able con­flict with civ­il law. The paper was scru­ti­nized at Barrett’s 2017 Sen­ate hear­ing for her Sev­enth Cir­cuit nom­i­na­tion as pos­si­ble evi­dence that she believed Catholic jurists must either adhere to church teach­ings or recuse them­selves.

    In 1995, the con­ser­v­a­tive legal star Bill Kel­ley joined the Notre Dame fac­ul­ty and became anoth­er cham­pi­on of Bar­rett. Kel­ley, who declined to com­ment, has long been active in the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, help­ing to encour­age future con­ser­v­a­tives legal stars.

    Before com­ing to Notre Dame, Kel­ley had clerked for Judge Ken Starr of White­wa­ter fame on the D.C. Cir­cuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals as well as for Chief Jus­tice War­ren Burg­er and Jus­tice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. More recent­ly, as deputy White House coun­sel under Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, he helped guide the Supreme Court nom­i­na­tions of John Roberts and Samuel Ali­to.

    Patrick Schiltz, now a fed­er­al dis­trict court judge in Min­neso­ta, also joined the Notre Dame law fac­ul­ty in 1995 and cham­pi­oned Bar­rett, accord­ing to for­mer col­leagues. Schiltz, whose cham­bers did not respond to a request for com­ment made over the week­end, had clerked for Scalia as a D.C. appeals court judge, before help­ing pre­pare him for his nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court, where Schiltz then clerked for Scalia again.

    Bar­rett did not dis­ap­point her men­tors, grad­u­at­ing first in her class, and pro­ceed­ing to clerk with Judge Lau­rence Sil­ber­man on the D.C. appeals court. The next year, with the sup­port of her for­mer pro­fes­sors, she clerked for Scalia.

    Scalia, who died in 2016, was among the most promi­nent advo­cates of the the­o­ry of orig­i­nal­ism, in which laws are inter­pret­ed in light of what they meant at the time of writ­ing — an approach that ruled out the kind of inter­pre­ta­tion of evolv­ing stan­dards of jus­tice that led to the Roe deci­sion. He was both a con­ser­v­a­tive icon and a fierce com­bat­ant in the U.S. cul­ture wars. He was also a devot­ed men­tor of younger con­ser­v­a­tives. Scor­ing a clerk­ship with him offered a sure path to the top of the con­ser­v­a­tive legal move­ment.

    It has become com­mon, as com­pe­ti­tion for elite clerk­ships has inten­si­fied, for endorse­ments from pro­fes­sors and for­mer clerks to be instru­men­tal to secur­ing a spot. But Barrett’s peers described the effort that Notre Dame pro­fes­sors put into pro­mot­ing Barrett’s career as extra­or­di­nary.

    “At most schools you see a whole cohort that is groomed this way,” said one for­mer col­league, who explained that when it came to Coney and Notre Dame, the fac­ul­ty pur­sued “a tar­get­ed effort around one par­tic­u­lar per­son.”

    Her com­mit­ment to con­ser­v­a­tive jurispru­dence and the image she cut as a bright and ener­getic young woman with tra­di­tion­al val­ues — she has since gone on to become the moth­er of 7 chil­dren — made her an appeal­ing prospect at a time when the right’s efforts to shape the judi­cia­ry have been asso­ci­at­ed with an image of stodgy men tak­ing away abor­tion rights.

    When her Supreme Court clerk­ship under Scalia end­ed in 1999, Bar­rett began work­ing as an asso­ciate at Miller, Cas­sidy, Lar­ro­ca & Lewin, in Wash­ing­ton, just as a friend from the con­ser­v­a­tive legal world, Rick Gar­nett, was leav­ing the firm to join Notre Dame’s law fac­ul­ty. Gar­nett declined to com­ment, oth­er than to describe Bar­rett as “bril­liant and nice.”

    Just three years lat­er, Bar­rett returned to Notre Dame Law as a pro­fes­sor. At the time, the school had been work­ing for sev­er­al years to raise its aca­d­e­m­ic pro­file, which entailed hir­ing fac­ul­ty who had main­ly grad­u­at­ed from more elite law schools. It was some­what rare, then, for the school to hire one of its own grad­u­ates, accord­ing to two mem­bers of the fac­ul­ty at the time. But Kel­ley and her oth­er cham­pi­ons were deter­mined to bring her back, they said.

    “There was just a huge plan to bring her back onto the fac­ul­ty,” said one for­mer col­league.

    The oth­er for­mer col­league said that by this time, Barrett’s men­tors were already begin­ning to speak of her as a poten­tial Supreme Court jus­tice.

    One pro­fes­sor who joined the fac­ul­ty after Bar­rett dis­put­ed that it was unusu­al to hire a grad­u­ate of the law school at the time Bar­rett came on, point­ing to anoth­er alum­nus who joined the fac­ul­ty the year before, and said that the hir­ing of any pro­fes­sor requires the over­whelm­ing sup­port of the fac­ul­ty – which Bar­rett had in spades.

    As a pro­fes­sor, Bar­rett gen­er­al­ly impressed her col­leagues. “I knew her to be a great teacher and very devot­ed to her work but also very devot­ed to her fam­i­ly,” said Vin­cent Rougeau, now the dean of Boston Col­lege Law School. Bar­rett shares the care of her sev­en chil­dren, two of them adopt­ed, with her hus­band Jesse Bar­rett, a fel­low Notre Dame law grad and for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor who is now in pri­vate prac­tice.

    “She seemed to bal­ance all of those oblig­a­tions very well,” Rougeau said.

    As a pro­fes­sor, Bar­rett offered some crit­i­cism of the court’s deci­sion in Roe and belonged at var­i­ous times to the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, fac­tors that will strong­ly weigh against her among lib­er­als. But they’ve also marked her as an endur­ing prod­uct of the move­ment and insti­tu­tions that cham­pi­oned her career from the start. And they repaid her loy­al­ty.

    ...

    ———–

    ” ‘She’s been groomed for this moment’: Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court prepa­ra­tion began ear­ly” by BEN SCHRECKINGER; Politi­co; 09/20/2020

    The group was part of a grow­ing legal move­ment opposed to the sec­u­lar­iza­tion of Amer­i­can soci­ety gen­er­al­ly and to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade rul­ing in par­tic­u­lar. The 1973 abor­tion-rights deci­sion not only struck many con­ser­v­a­tives as an affront their reli­gious val­ues, but to the prin­ci­ple of judi­cial restraint. To wage what would be a decades-long fight to reverse the activist deci­sions of the court from 1950s to the 1970s, they need­ed young legal minds like Barrett’s.”

    As we can see, the legal move­ment that emerged in the 60s and 70s opposed to the sec­u­lar­iza­tion of Amer­i­can soci­ety gen­er­al­ly has come to fruition. It has now secured a gen­er­a­tion lock on the Supreme Court and cul­ti­vat­ing Manchuri­an can­di­dates has been cru­cial to that endeav­or:

    ...
    “She was kind of the Manchuri­an can­di­date,” said one for­mer col­league at Notre Dame Law School. “She’s been groomed for this moment all the way along.”

    The notion of a new breed of Supreme Court can­di­date – younger, so as to serve a long tenure on the court; ide­o­log­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent but low-key in per­son­al­i­ty; buoyed by out­stand­ing aca­d­e­m­ic stature and expe­ri­ence on the low­er courts – took hold after the sear­ing nom­i­na­tion fight over con­ser­v­a­tive fire­brand Robert Bork end­ed in defeat in 1987. Bork’s abra­sive per­son­al­i­ty and long his­to­ry of stak­ing out con­tentious posi­tions had marked him for defeat. In the future, judi­cial nom­i­nees would need to take greater care to be polit­i­cal­ly appeal­ing and per­son­al­ly pre­sentable.

    There­after, the selec­tion of poten­tial Supreme Court nom­i­nees by pres­i­dents of both par­ties became high-stakes affairs, with aspir­ing jurists tak­ing care to craft spot­less careers for decades in advance. That was when con­ser­v­a­tives, led by the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, began tak­ing a sys­tem­at­ic approach to spot­ting and groom­ing poten­tial jus­tices, includ­ing Trump’s two nom­i­nees to date, Neil Gor­such and Brett Kavanaugh.

    Bar­rett is a prod­uct of the same sys­tem. At 48, she has been prepar­ing for a poten­tial nom­i­na­tion one way or anoth­er for the major­i­ty of her life. A native of New Orleans, she arrived at Notre Dame Law School in the fall of 1994, fresh out of Rhodes Col­lege, a small, lib­er­al arts school in Mem­phis Ten­nessee. Sharp, attrac­tive and devout, she quick­ly gained the notice of polit­i­cal­ly mind­ed pro­fes­sors.

    ...

    It has become com­mon, as com­pe­ti­tion for elite clerk­ships has inten­si­fied, for endorse­ments from pro­fes­sors and for­mer clerks to be instru­men­tal to secur­ing a spot. But Barrett’s peers described the effort that Notre Dame pro­fes­sors put into pro­mot­ing Barrett’s career as extra­or­di­nary.

    “At most schools you see a whole cohort that is groomed this way,” said one for­mer col­league, who explained that when it came to Coney and Notre Dame, the fac­ul­ty pur­sued “a tar­get­ed effort around one par­tic­u­lar per­son.”

    ...

    As a pro­fes­sor, Bar­rett offered some crit­i­cism of the court’s deci­sion in Roe and belonged at var­i­ous times to the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, fac­tors that will strong­ly weigh against her among lib­er­als. But they’ve also marked her as an endur­ing prod­uct of the move­ment and insti­tu­tions that cham­pi­oned her career from the start. And they repaid her loy­al­ty.
    ...

    The move­ment has been high­ly loy­al to Bar­rett and she’s repaid their loy­al­ty. It’s part of why there are so many legit­i­mate ques­tions about her inde­pen­dence. She’s a life-long mem­ber of a cult that includes loy­al­ty oaths and spent vir­tu­al­ly her entire adult life as the mem­ber of the infor­mal con­ser­v­a­tive legal cult that is ded­i­cat­ed to end­ing sec­u­lar­ism in Amer­i­ca. So the ques­tion isn’t whether or not Coney Bar­rett is a mem­ber of a cult. It’s more a ques­tion of how Bar­rett will bal­ance her var­i­ous cult loy­al­ties when they con­flict. Like, what hap­pens in her Hand­maid tells her to vote one way while her Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety fel­lows want a dif­fer­ent rul­ing? Although since the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety is so ide­o­log­i­cal­ly aligned with theo­crat­ic move­ments like Peo­ple of Praise (it’s all one big Cult of Pow­er at some lev­el) there prob­a­bly should­n’t be too many loy­al­ty con­flicts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 23, 2020, 4:42 pm
  11. The ques­tions swirling around Amy Coney Bar­ret­t’s mem­ber­ship in the Peo­ple or Praise reli­gious group sus­pect­ed of being a cult are now set to be at the cen­ter of the nation­al debate over her nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court now that Pres­i­dent Trump has for­mal­ly nom­i­nat­ed her to Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg’s seat. And that in turn rais­es a ques­tion that prob­a­bly has the lead­er­ship of Peo­ple of Praise rather freaked out about right now: will ex-mem­bers now start com­ing for­ward to pub­licly share sto­ries of an abu­sive cult-like cul­ture? It’s the inevitable down­side for secre­tive groups like Peo­ple of Praise when one of their mem­bers reach­es a sta­tion of pub­lic promi­nence.

    So here’s a pair of arti­cles that gives what could be a sort of pre­view of the kinds of sto­ries we might expect to hear. The first arti­cle from a few days ago includes alle­ga­tions from for­mer mem­ber Coral Ani­ka Theill who has called the group a cult and claims that women are expect­ed to be com­plete­ly obe­di­ent to men and inde­pen­dent thinkers are “humil­i­at­ed, inter­ro­gat­ed, shamed and shunned.” The arti­cle also includes an inter­view of schol­ar of com­par­a­tive reli­gion, Thomas Csor­das, who wrote in 1996, “When I first encoun­tered Atwood’s book, I was frankly jolt­ed by the sim­i­lar­i­ty of ter­mi­nol­o­gy to that preva­lent in some of the Catholic charis­mat­ic ‘covenant com­mu­ni­ties’ I had been study­ing,” although Csor­das says that while Peo­ple of Praise is a “very con­ser­v­a­tive” group he would­n’t con­sid­er them an actu­al cult and instead refers to them as an ‘inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty’ and adds that oth­er charis­mat­ic Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty’s he’s stud­ied are more author­i­tar­i­an. It points to what will prob­a­bly be one of the main defens­es of Peo­ple of Praise if its cult sta­tus become a top­ic of nation­al debate: well, at least it’s not the most author­i­tar­i­an charis­mat­ic Chris­t­ian group out there...it’s just a high­ly secre­tive ‘inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty’ and there­fore there’s noth­ing to wor­ry about:

    Reuters

    As U.S. Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion looms, a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty draws fresh inter­est

    By Daniel Trot­ta
    Sep­tem­ber 22, 2020 1:36 PM
    Updat­ed

    (Reuters) — Peo­ple of Praise, a self-described charis­mat­ic Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty, has faced renewed inter­est since U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump put one of its pur­port­ed mem­bers, Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett of the 7th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, on his short list of can­di­dates for ele­va­tion to the Supreme Court.

    The group says on its web­site it is made up of lib­er­als and con­ser­v­a­tives, with a mix­ture includ­ing Roman Catholic and Pen­te­costal tra­di­tions, though at least one expert and a for­mer mem­ber con­sid­er it very con­ser­v­a­tive. Until 2018, it used the term ‘hand­maid’ for its female lead­ers.

    The group has declined to con­firm or deny whether Bar­rett was a mem­ber since a New York Times arti­cle in 2017 said she was in the group, cit­ing unnamed cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers. It says it leaves it to mem­bers to dis­close any involve­ment. At the time, Bar­rett did not respond to requests for com­ment from the Times.

    The group’s spokesman, Sean Con­nol­ly, told Reuters that women are not con­sid­ered sub­servient in Peo­ple of Praise and that many hold lead­er­ship roles, such as direct­ing schools and min­istries.

    ...

    Sharon Lof­tus, a judi­cial assis­tant to Bar­rett, said in an email the judge’s pol­i­cy was not to give inter­views or com­ments to the media.

    Trump has said he plans to nom­i­nate a Supreme Court jus­tice this week to replace Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg, who died last Fri­day. He said he is con­sid­er­ing Bar­rett as well as Bar­bara Lagoa of the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

    Peo­ple of Praise has about 1,700 mem­bers in 22 cities in the Unit­ed States, Cana­da and the Caribbean, accord­ing to its web­site, and was found­ed in 1971 in South Bend, Indi­ana, also the home of the Catholic-led Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame.

    “We admire the first Chris­tians who were led by the Holy Spir­it to form a com­mu­ni­ty,” the web­site says, trac­ing its ori­gins to the late 1960s when stu­dents and fac­ul­ty at Notre Dame expe­ri­enced “a renew­al of Chris­t­ian enthu­si­asm and fer­vor, togeth­er with charis­mat­ic gifts such as speak­ing in tongues and phys­i­cal heal­ing.”

    Its most devot­ed mem­bers make a life­long com­mit­ment to the group, known as a covenant.

    From 1970, women with lead­er­ship roles in the orga­ni­za­tion were called hand­maids, but that changed fol­low­ing the pop­u­lar 2017-to-present Hulu tele­vi­sion series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on a 1985 book by Mar­garet Atwood. The dystopi­an sto­ry is set in a future Unit­ed States where the rules of the male-dom­i­nat­ed soci­ety are based on the lead­ers’ twist­ed inter­pre­ta­tion of Old Tes­ta­ment scrip­tures.

    “Rec­og­niz­ing that the mean­ing of this term has shift­ed dra­mat­i­cal­ly in our cul­ture in recent years, we no longer use the term hand­maid,” the group said in 2018, with­out specif­i­cal­ly attribut­ing the change to the show.

    Coral Ani­ka Theill, a for­mer Peo­ple of Praise mem­ber, has been strong­ly crit­i­cal of the group, call­ing it a “cult” and say­ing in an inter­view women are expect­ed to be com­plete­ly obe­di­ent to men and inde­pen­dent thinkers are “humil­i­at­ed, inter­ro­gat­ed, shamed and shunned.”

    Theill, who last year wrote a blog post enti­tled “I lived the Handmaid’s Tale,” said she planned to call every U.S. sen­a­tor to oppose Bar­rett should she become Trump’s nom­i­nee.

    Reuters could not inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy her account. When asked about Theill’s alle­ga­tions, Peo­ple of Praise spokesman Con­nol­ly said the group fol­lowed Chris­t­ian teach­ings that “men and women share a fun­da­men­tal equal­i­ty as bear­ers of God’s image.”

    “We val­ue inde­pen­dent think­ing,” Con­nol­ly said.

    Thomas Csor­das, a schol­ar of com­par­a­tive reli­gion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, said Peo­ple of Praise was “very con­ser­v­a­tive” but that he would not con­sid­er it a cult, adding that some of the charis­mat­ic Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties he has researched were more author­i­tar­i­an than Peo­ple of Praise.

    In pop­u­lar cul­ture, the word cult can con­note brain­wash­ing and author­i­tar­i­an­ism, he said.

    “My posi­tion to the press was that Peo­ple of Praise is best described not as a cult but as a reli­gious­ly-based ‘inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty,’” Csor­das said in an email.

    “When I first encoun­tered Atwood’s book, I was frankly jolt­ed by the sim­i­lar­i­ty of ter­mi­nol­o­gy to that preva­lent in some of the Catholic charis­mat­ic ‘covenant com­mu­ni­ties’ I had been study­ing,” Csor­das wrote in a 1996 paper called ‘A Handmaid’s Tale,’ with­out specif­i­cal­ly ref­er­enc­ing Peo­ple of Praise.

    ———–

    “As U.S. Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion looms, a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty draws fresh inter­est” by Daniel Trot­ta; Reuters; 09/22/2020

    “Coral Ani­ka Theill, a for­mer Peo­ple of Praise mem­ber, has been strong­ly crit­i­cal of the group, call­ing it a “cult” and say­ing in an inter­view women are expect­ed to be com­plete­ly obe­di­ent to men and inde­pen­dent thinkers are “humil­i­at­ed, inter­ro­gat­ed, shamed and shunned.”

    A group where women are expect­ed to be obe­di­ent and inde­pen­dent thinkers are “humil­i­at­ed, inter­ro­gat­ed, shamed and shunned.” That sure sounds pret­ty cult‑y! But Thomas Csor­das — who notes that more author­i­tar­i­an charis­mat­ic Com­mu­ni­ty groups exist, an appalling­ly low bar — prefers to refer to the group as an ‘inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty’. An inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty that just hap­pens to have a stun­ning degree of sim­i­lar­i­ty to Mar­garet Atwood’s The Hand­maid­’s Tale:

    ...
    Thomas Csor­das, a schol­ar of com­par­a­tive reli­gion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, said Peo­ple of Praise was “very con­ser­v­a­tive” but that he would not con­sid­er it a cult, adding that some of the charis­mat­ic Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties he has researched were more author­i­tar­i­an than Peo­ple of Praise.

    In pop­u­lar cul­ture, the word cult can con­note brain­wash­ing and author­i­tar­i­an­ism, he said.

    “My posi­tion to the press was that Peo­ple of Praise is best described not as a cult but as a reli­gious­ly-based ‘inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty,’” Csor­das said in an email.

    “When I first encoun­tered Atwood’s book, I was frankly jolt­ed by the sim­i­lar­i­ty of ter­mi­nol­o­gy to that preva­lent in some of the Catholic charis­mat­ic ‘covenant com­mu­ni­ties’ I had been study­ing,” Csor­das wrote in a 1996 paper called ‘A Handmaid’s Tale,’ with­out specif­i­cal­ly ref­er­enc­ing Peo­ple of Praise.
    ...

    And note the stance Bar­rett her­self is tak­ing at this point when it comes to these ques­tion: she’s not giv­ing inter­view or com­ments to the media. It’s not exact­ly the kind of strat­e­gy that’s going to dis­pel the cult con­cerns:

    ...
    Sharon Lof­tus, a judi­cial assis­tant to Bar­rett, said in an email the judge’s pol­i­cy was not to give inter­views or com­ments to the media.
    ...

    And now here’s a July 2018 arti­cle in the Nation­al Catholic Reporter about Peo­ple of Praise and Bar­ret­t’s rela­tion­ship with the group that includes more details ex-mem­bers includ­ing Coral Ani­ka Theill. Theill describes an envi­ron­ment with strict gen­der-role divi­sions that empha­sized wom­en’s sub­mis­sion. Secre­cy toward out­siders is anoth­er feature...and some­thing Bar­rett her­self implic­it­ly demon­strat­ed by the fact that she nev­er men­tioned her mem­ber­ship in the group on her Sen­ate ques­tion­naire for her fed­er­al judge­ship when she was nom­i­nat­ed to the posi­tion in 2017 result­ing in the top­ic nev­er com­ing up dur­ing her 2017 Sen­ate hear­ing.

    Theill and oth­ers describe a sys­tem of strict con­trol over mem­bers’ lives by the “heads”. And while the group defends itself by point­ing out that the “heads” (for men) and “hand­maids” (for women) are mere­ly lay advis­er who pro­vide advice and wis­dom to mem­bers, the ex-mem­bers point out that the “heads” are almost always lead­ers in the group and they don’t keep what they’re told in con­fi­dence and share it with the oth­er lead­ers. So what is sup­posed to be a sys­tem for per­son­al coun­sel­ing is in real­i­ty a sys­tem where the group lead­er­ship can col­lec­tive­ly con­trol the group. But don’t call it a cult:

    Nation­al Catholic Reporter

    Prospec­tive Supreme Court nom­i­nee puts spot­light on Peo­ple of Praise

    by Hei­di Schlumpf
    Jul 6, 2018

    It has tak­en Coral Ani­ka Theill 30 years to heal from the phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al abuse she says she suf­fered while a mem­ber of Peo­ple of Praise, one of sev­er­al “covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties” that grew out of the Catholic charis­mat­ic revival in the 1970s.

    And now she’s wor­ried because a woman deeply involved in the group is on a short list of nom­i­nees to the high­est court in the land. Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett is report­ed­ly a mem­ber — and like­ly a “covenant­ed” mem­ber — of Peo­ple of Praise, which means she has entered into a mar­i­tal-like promise of com­mit­ment to oth­er mem­bers. The group’s leader said “a pret­ty high frac­tion” of the 1,700 adult mem­bers are covenant­ed.

    Theill describes her five years in the group’s branch in Cor­val­lis, Ore­gon, as a peri­od of suf­fer­ing under con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy, strict gen­der-role divi­sions that empha­sized wom­en’s sub­mis­sion, and secre­cy toward out­siders. When she asked too many ques­tions, she was shunned and even­tu­al­ly left the group.

    “It still trau­ma­tizes me to this day,” said Theill, who changed her name after leav­ing her hus­band, who ini­tial­ly remained in the group.

    While her expe­ri­ence in the 1970s and ’80s may have been extreme and atyp­i­cal — and Theill admits there may be region­al dif­fer­ences among the now 22 geo­graph­i­cal branch­es of the orga­ni­za­tion — oth­ers who have left Peo­ple of Praise also describe a rigid, con­trol­ling atmos­phere. Some even use the word “cult.”

    But rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Peo­ple of Praise say its mem­bers are mere­ly inspired by the first Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties to live com­mu­nal­ly (some­times, though not nec­es­sar­i­ly, in the same house­holds), “until the day when Jesus will be all in all,” accord­ing to its web­site.

    “The main thing is just liv­ing life with oth­er Chris­tians and see­ing the Lord at work in their faces and their lives,” said Craig Lent, Peo­ple of Praise’s over­all coor­di­na­tor, or high­est leader, who has been a mem­ber for 40 years. He grew up Bap­tist but con­vert­ed to Catholi­cism after get­ting involved in the charis­mat­ic renew­al move­ment.

    “It’s a great bless­ing to me,” said Lent, who is a pro­fes­sor of engi­neer­ing and of physics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indi­ana.

    ...

    Bar­ret­t’s mem­ber­ship in Peo­ple of Praise — which she did not dis­close on her ques­tion­naire for the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee — was not dis­cussed dur­ing her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sev­enth Cir­cuit in Chica­go last Sep­tem­ber.

    But a New York Times arti­cle after her con­fir­ma­tion raised ques­tions about Peo­ple of Praise and those con­cerns have been repeat­ed by oppo­nents of Bar­ret­t’s poten­tial nom­i­na­tion in the past week.

    Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern is the group’s prac­tice of being account­able to a more spir­i­tu­al­ly mature per­son­al advis­er, called a “head” for men and pre­vi­ous­ly called a “hand­maid­en” (now “wom­en’s leader”) for sin­gle women. Mar­ried women — such as Bar­rett — are “head­ed” by their hus­bands. They may also receive spir­i­tu­al advice from the head of their wom­en’s small group, which meets week­ly.

    Peo­ple of Praise lead­ers defend the prac­tice as pas­toral care or spir­i­tu­al direc­tion by fel­low laypeo­ple. “It’s just some­body you can talk to in con­fi­dence,” said Lent, explain­ing that when he was a young father, his “head” gave him advice about mat­ters as var­ied as rais­ing kids and sep­tic sys­tems. He said he has not found the process to feel con­trol­ling.

    Insid­ers and ex-insid­ers

    Cur­rent mem­bers are reluc­tant to talk to the media, but those who have left Peo­ple of Praise often cite the strict con­trol over every­day life in the group and their expe­ri­ences of being shunned when they ques­tion lead­ers’ deci­sions or leave.

    A blog cre­at­ed by an anony­mous ex-mem­ber in 2008 includes crit­i­cal com­ments by adult chil­dren of Peo­ple of Praise mem­bers who no longer belong to the move­ment. While admit­ting that mem­bers can be “some of the nicest and most moral­ly good peo­ple I’ve known,” these ex-mem­bers describe an author­i­tar­i­an atmos­phere in which all of one’s life deci­sions — career, mar­riage, where to live and more — are con­trolled by the lead­ers or “heads.”

    Recruit­ment through evan­ge­liza­tion is stressed and leav­ing the group is strong­ly dis­cour­aged. Those who dis­agree with lead­ers have been told they are influ­enced by Satan and those who leave are “quit­ters,” say ex-mem­bers on that blog as well as in a Face­book group called “Covenant Com­mu­ni­ty: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

    Because of the “covenant­ed” rela­tion­ship, which involves recit­ing the five-sen­tence promise with oth­er covenant­ed mem­bers, the group is tight­ly knit. Peo­ple of Praise lead­ers refused to pro­vide a copy of the covenant, but Lent said it sim­ply says mem­bers agree to “sup­port each oth­er mate­ri­al­ly, spir­i­tu­al­ly and finan­cial­ly.”

    Mem­bers con­tribute at least 5 per­cent of their gross income to the com­mu­ni­ty, Lent said. Their com­mit­ment also may mean not tak­ing a pro­mo­tion or oth­er job in a city that does not have a Peo­ple of Praise branch, although the group does under­stand if covenant­ed mem­bers feel God is call­ing them to some­thing dif­fer­ent, he said.

    “The covenant just means we’re togeth­er for the long run,” said Lent. “These guys who are in my wed­ding will prob­a­bly come to my funer­al.”

    Oth­ers who have left tell a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. “If your fam­i­ly leave[s] while you are a child or you leave POP on your own when grown up, you will most like­ly lose many and pos­si­bly all con­nec­tion and rela­tion­ships you’ve had with­in POP. There is a very clear line between insid­er and ex-insid­er,” a com­menter at the blog wrote.

    Adri­an Reimers was one of the orig­i­nal 29 mem­bers of Peo­ple of Praise, when it was found­ed in 1971 by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles. DeCelles was a pro­fes­sor of physics at Notre Dame, while Ranaghan was a Notre Dame grad­u­ate and pro­fes­sor of the­ol­o­gy at St. Mary’s Col­lege in Indi­ana. Both founders went on to become ordained per­ma­nent dea­cons in the Catholic Church and are still liv­ing.

    Reimers and his wife, Marie, even­tu­al­ly left Peo­ple of Praise, which he describes in a book man­u­script called Not Reli­able Guides: An Analy­sis of Some Covenant Com­mu­ni­ty Struc­tures.

    While Reimers’ crit­i­cisms of the group were pri­mar­i­ly the­o­log­i­cal and eccle­si­o­log­i­cal — in that he sees the group as a par­al­lel church struc­ture not suf­fi­cient­ly obe­di­ent to the Catholic Church — his descrip­tion of the group’s first three decades mir­ror oth­er ex-mem­bers’ cri­tiques about the sub­ju­ga­tion of women and author­i­tar­i­an­ism, espe­cial­ly in the “head­ship” mod­el of pas­toral care.

    That mod­el was adopt­ed from the “shep­herd­ing” dis­ci­ple­ship move­ment cre­at­ed by the evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tant neo-Pen­te­costal move­ment, Reimers and oth­ers say. The shep­herd­ing move­ment has been accused of being author­i­tar­i­an because of its empha­sis on sub­mis­sion to a per­son­al pas­tor or “shep­herd,” as they termed it, accord­ing to an author of a his­to­ry of the move­ment.

    Reimers cri­tiques the lack of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty in this mod­el, as it has been prac­ticed at Peo­ple of Praise, as well as the con­fu­sion of pas­toral care with gov­er­nance of the covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties, since “heads” are also lead­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty.

    “These two aspects of Peo­ple of Praise head­ship are a mat­ter of grave con­cern and must sure­ly give us pause. Tak­en togeth­er they imply that the Peo­ple of Praise mem­ber’s life is not his own, his or her self is not his or her own,” he wrote in Not Reli­able Guides.

    “As in [oth­er covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties], the dis­tinc­tion between the sec­u­lar and the reli­gious is bro­ken down, so that all one’s deci­sions and deal­ings become the con­cern of one’s head, and in turn poten­tial­ly become known to the lead­er­ship,” wrote Reimers.

    Reimers has also cri­tiqued the Peo­ple of Praise in an arti­cle called “Charis­mat­ic Covenant Com­mu­ni­ty: A Failed Promise” that ran in Cul­tic Stud­ies Jour­nal in 1986. He declined to be inter­viewed for this arti­cle, not­ing that he “no longer wants to address my expe­ri­ences in the Peo­ple of Praise.”

    The group’s his­to­ry is inter­twined with oth­er “covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties” that grew out of the charis­mat­ic renew­al move­ment after Vat­i­can II, although Peo­ple of Praise has no for­mal rela­tion­ship with oth­er com­mu­ni­ties. It is not a mem­ber of the Vat­i­can-approved Catholic Fra­ter­ni­ty of Charis­mat­ic Covenant Com­mu­ni­ties and Fel­low­ships, because it is an ecu­meni­cal group, Lent said.

    Beyond prayer meet­ings

    The Catholic charis­mat­ic move­ment began at Duquesne Uni­ver­si­ty in Pitts­burgh, when a small group expe­ri­enced “bap­tism in the Spir­it” in the late 1960s. The move­ment spread quick­ly and blos­somed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame.

    Charis­mat­ic Catholics empha­size indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences of the Holy Spir­it, which may include prophe­cy, speak­ing in tongues and heal­ing — sim­i­lar to those in Pen­te­costal move­ments.

    What start­ed as prayer groups even­tu­al­ly grew into some estab­lished com­mu­ni­ties in the late 1960s and ear­ly ’70s, such as the Word of God (part of which split and joined the “Sword of the Spir­it”) in Ann Arbor, Michi­gan, and Peo­ple of Praise in South Bend. Both groups also claim the Cur­sil­lo move­ment as part of their roots. Cur­sil­lo is a lay move­ment found­ed in Spain in the 1940s, which uses retreats and small groups to build spir­i­tu­al lead­ers.

    NCR has pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed on abus­es at oth­er sim­i­lar covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing the Moth­er of God com­mu­ni­ty in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and a Sword of the Spir­it com­mu­ni­ty in Steubenville, Ohio. In those and oth­er cas­es, bish­ops have stepped in to address what they saw as excess author­i­tar­i­an­ism. How­ev­er, not all charis­mat­ic Catholics belong to covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties.

    Peo­ple of Praise has grown to more than 2,500 mem­bers, includ­ing adults and chil­dren, who live in 22 branch­es in the Unit­ed States, Cana­da and the Caribbean. Fair­ly ear­ly on, the group became ecu­meni­cal and it accepts Protes­tant mem­bers, although about 90 per­cent of mem­bers today are Catholic. It is gov­erned by a board of gov­er­nors, who are elect­ed by an assem­bly com­pris­ing oth­er low­er-lev­el lead­ers.

    Reimers describes how ear­ly in the group’s his­to­ry, Peo­ple of Praise and oth­er covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties moved beyond prayer meet­ings to empha­size “root­ing out sin and grow­ing in holi­ness” in response to an evil world. This led to the head­ship mod­el and result­ed in an empha­sis on obe­di­ence to the group’s author­i­ty.

    Although the group’s “guid­ing prin­ci­ples” have not changed, Peo­ple of Praise today has con­tin­ued to be “always grow­ing up in the Lord,” said Lent.

    That has includ­ed expan­sion of mis­sion­ary out­reach work to the poor in Indi­anapo­lis and Evans­ville, Indi­ana, as well as Shreve­port, Louisiana, where mem­bers “spread the gospel and build com­mu­ni­ty the old-fash­ioned way, face to face and one by one,” accord­ing to a Peo­ple of Praise “Fact Sheet.”

    Out­siders also may have con­tact with Peo­ple of Praise mem­bers through their three Trin­i­ty Schools in South Bend, Min­neapo­lis-St. Paul, and Falls Church, Vir­ginia. The hall­marks of the award-win­ning junior high/high schools are sin­gle-gen­der class­rooms, crit­i­cal think­ing and a sem­i­nar for­mat. Most of the stu­dents and fac­ul­ty are not com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, Lent said.

    The 2018 par­ent hand­book for stu­dents at Trin­i­ty’s South Bend school describes its “cul­ture of Chris­t­ian life,” which includes morn­ing prayer and an empha­sis on chasti­ty and mod­esty.

    “We believe that men and women are cre­at­ed by God equal in dig­ni­ty, and that that the dis­tinc­tion between male and female reflects God’s inten­tion in cre­ation,” said the hand­book.

    “We under­stand that the only prop­er place for human sex­u­al activ­i­ty is mar­riage, where mar­riage is a legal and com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship between one man and one woman,” the hand­book reads, list­ing as prob­lem­at­ic “for­ni­ca­tion, pornog­ra­phy, adul­tery, homo­sex­u­al acts, and advo­cat­ing or mod­el­ing any of these behav­iors.”

    Peo­ple of Praise also has increased its out­reach to youth and young adults in recent years and oper­ates com­mu­ni­ca­tions and web devel­op­ment busi­ness­es in South Bend.

    A group of lay, sin­gle, male Peo­ple of Praise mem­bers live celi­bate lives in the Broth­er­hood of the Peo­ple of Praise, and three have gone on to ordi­na­tion as Catholic priests, includ­ing Aux­il­iary Bish­op Peter Smith of the Arch­dio­cese of Port­land, Ore­gon.

    The Broth­er­hood gained offi­cial sta­tus as a pri­vate asso­ci­a­tion of the faith­ful in the Catholic Church through the assis­tance of the late Car­di­nal Fran­cis George of Chica­go, although four oth­er bish­ops declined to help with that sta­tus.

    Catholics in Peo­ple of Praise attend Mass at their own parish­es, fol­lowed by a week­ly Sun­day after­noon meet­ing with the group. Crit­ics have raised ques­tions about the group’s rela­tion­ship to parish­es. Lent, who is a mem­ber of St. Pius X Parish in Granger, Indi­ana, said Peo­ple of Praise mem­bers are active in their parish­es.

    He admits that the group is dif­fi­cult to label. On the Peo­ple of Praise’s web­site, the “Who We Are” page is sub­ti­tled “Hard to under­stand and that’s OK.”

    But those con­cerned about the pow­er of a Supreme Court jus­tice — espe­cial­ly one who, at 46, could have a long, influ­en­tial impact on the court — are not OK with ambi­gu­i­ty about her involve­ment with Peo­ple of Praise.

    Bar­ret­t’s lack of com­ment about her involve­ment in the group — so far, any­way — is typ­i­cal of the group’s belief that male elders speak for the com­mu­ni­ty, said John Fla­her­ty, a for­mer mem­ber of the Sword of the Spir­it covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ty who believes it was abu­sive and has doc­u­ment­ed its his­to­ry.

    Oth­er for­mer mem­bers of covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties — includ­ing some on the ex-mem­bers’ Face­book group — also would like Bar­rett to address her involve­ment in the group, which they see as dif­fer­ent than hav­ing to defend her Catholi­cism, as she was asked to in last year’s hear­ings.

    “Where she goes to church is a mat­ter of pub­lic record, and the teach­ings of the Catholic Church are a mat­ter of pub­lic record,” Ann Ton­sor Zed­dies, who was a mem­ber of the Word of God group, wrote on a thread about Bar­rett. “But the teach­ings of Peo­ple of Praise are not, and that’s why peo­ple are sus­pi­cious — and not unjust­ly, in my opin­ion.”

    ————-

    “Prospec­tive Supreme Court nom­i­nee puts spot­light on Peo­ple of Praise” by Hei­di Schlumpf; Nation­al Catholic Reporter; 07/06/2018

    “Oth­er for­mer mem­bers of covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties — includ­ing some on the ex-mem­bers’ Face­book group — also would like Bar­rett to address her involve­ment in the group, which they see as dif­fer­ent than hav­ing to defend her Catholi­cism, as she was asked to in last year’s hear­ings”

    Yes, as these ex-mem­bers point out, ask­ing Amy Coney Bar­rett to explain her rela­tion­ship to this group isn’t ask­ing her to defend her Catholi­cism. The group is ecu­meni­cal after all and the teach­ings of Catholi­cism are a mat­ter of pub­lic record. What isn’t a mat­ter of pub­lic record is the nature of the teach­ings of this hyper-secre­tive group:

    ...
    Insid­ers and ex-insid­ers

    Cur­rent mem­bers are reluc­tant to talk to the media, but those who have left Peo­ple of Praise often cite the strict con­trol over every­day life in the group and their expe­ri­ences of being shunned when they ques­tion lead­ers’ deci­sions or leave.

    A blog cre­at­ed by an anony­mous ex-mem­ber in 2008 includes crit­i­cal com­ments by adult chil­dren of Peo­ple of Praise mem­bers who no longer belong to the move­ment. While admit­ting that mem­bers can be “some of the nicest and most moral­ly good peo­ple I’ve known,” these ex-mem­bers describe an author­i­tar­i­an atmos­phere in which all of one’s life deci­sions — career, mar­riage, where to live and more — are con­trolled by the lead­ers or “heads.”

    ...

    Oth­ers who have left tell a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. “If your fam­i­ly leave[s] while you are a child or you leave POP on your own when grown up, you will most like­ly lose many and pos­si­bly all con­nec­tion and rela­tion­ships you’ve had with­in POP. There is a very clear line between insid­er and ex-insid­er,” a com­menter at the blog wrote.
    ...

    And as found­ing mem­ber Adri­an Reimers points out, the “head­ship” mod­el of pas­toral care that the group tries to explain away as mere­ly a sys­tem of mem­bers giv­ing each oth­er pri­vate con­fi­den­tial advice is in real­i­ty a mod­el where per­son­al advis­ers are almost always group lead­ers who share what they’re told with the oth­er lead­ers. So it real­ly is a com­mu­ni­ty were indi­vid­ual mem­bers are told how to live by the group lead­er­ship. But, again, don’t call it a cult:

    ...
    Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern is the group’s prac­tice of being account­able to a more spir­i­tu­al­ly mature per­son­al advis­er, called a “head” for men and pre­vi­ous­ly called a “hand­maid­en” (now “wom­en’s leader”) for sin­gle women. Mar­ried women — such as Bar­rett — are “head­ed” by their hus­bands. They may also receive spir­i­tu­al advice from the head of their wom­en’s small group, which meets week­ly.

    Peo­ple of Praise lead­ers defend the prac­tice as pas­toral care or spir­i­tu­al direc­tion by fel­low laypeo­ple. “It’s just some­body you can talk to in con­fi­dence,” said Lent, explain­ing that when he was a young father, his “head” gave him advice about mat­ters as var­ied as rais­ing kids and sep­tic sys­tems. He said he has not found the process to feel con­trol­ling.

    ...

    Adri­an Reimers was one of the orig­i­nal 29 mem­bers of Peo­ple of Praise, when it was found­ed in 1971 by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles. DeCelles was a pro­fes­sor of physics at Notre Dame, while Ranaghan was a Notre Dame grad­u­ate and pro­fes­sor of the­ol­o­gy at St. Mary’s Col­lege in Indi­ana. Both founders went on to become ordained per­ma­nent dea­cons in the Catholic Church and are still liv­ing.

    ...

    While Reimers’ crit­i­cisms of the group were pri­mar­i­ly the­o­log­i­cal and eccle­si­o­log­i­cal — in that he sees the group as a par­al­lel church struc­ture not suf­fi­cient­ly obe­di­ent to the Catholic Church — his descrip­tion of the group’s first three decades mir­ror oth­er ex-mem­bers’ cri­tiques about the sub­ju­ga­tion of women and author­i­tar­i­an­ism, espe­cial­ly in the “head­ship” mod­el of pas­toral care.

    That mod­el was adopt­ed from the “shep­herd­ing” dis­ci­ple­ship move­ment cre­at­ed by the evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tant neo-Pen­te­costal move­ment, Reimers and oth­ers say. The shep­herd­ing move­ment has been accused of being author­i­tar­i­an because of its empha­sis on sub­mis­sion to a per­son­al pas­tor or “shep­herd,” as they termed it, accord­ing to an author of a his­to­ry of the move­ment.

    Reimers cri­tiques the lack of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty in this mod­el, as it has been prac­ticed at Peo­ple of Praise, as well as the con­fu­sion of pas­toral care with gov­er­nance of the covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties, since “heads” are also lead­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty.

    “These two aspects of Peo­ple of Praise head­ship are a mat­ter of grave con­cern and must sure­ly give us pause. Tak­en togeth­er they imply that the Peo­ple of Praise mem­ber’s life is not his own, his or her self is not his or her own,” he wrote in Not Reli­able Guides.

    “As in [oth­er covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties], the dis­tinc­tion between the sec­u­lar and the reli­gious is bro­ken down, so that all one’s deci­sions and deal­ings become the con­cern of one’s head, and in turn poten­tial­ly become known to the lead­er­ship,” wrote Reimers.

    ...

    Reimers describes how ear­ly in the group’s his­to­ry, Peo­ple of Praise and oth­er covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ties moved beyond prayer meet­ings to empha­size “root­ing out sin and grow­ing in holi­ness” in response to an evil world. This led to the head­ship mod­el and result­ed in an empha­sis on obe­di­ence to the group’s author­i­ty.
    ...

    It’s also worth not­ing that teach­ings in the group include the idea of that sex­u­al activ­i­ty is only appro­pri­ate between mar­ried straight cou­ples, a teach­ing echoed by Bar­rett sign­ing a peti­tion argu­ing against the rule in Oba­macare requir­ing employ­ers to pro­vide access to birth con­trol. It’s a reminder that the com­ing era of ille­gal abor­tion will also be an era of increased unplanned preg­nan­cies:

    ...
    “We under­stand that the only prop­er place for human sex­u­al activ­i­ty is mar­riage, where mar­riage is a legal and com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship between one man and one woman,” the hand­book reads, list­ing as prob­lem­at­ic “for­ni­ca­tion, pornog­ra­phy, adul­tery, homo­sex­u­al acts, and advo­cat­ing or mod­el­ing any of these behav­iors.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note one of the oth­er chill­ing poten­tial expla­na­tions for why Bar­rett has refused to pub­licly dis­cuss her rela­tion­ship with this group: it’s typ­i­cal of the group’s belief that male elders speak for the com­mu­ni­ty:

    ...
    Bar­ret­t’s lack of com­ment about her involve­ment in the group — so far, any­way — is typ­i­cal of the group’s belief that male elders speak for the com­mu­ni­ty, said John Fla­her­ty, a for­mer mem­ber of the Sword of the Spir­it covenant­ed com­mu­ni­ty who believes it was abu­sive and has doc­u­ment­ed its his­to­ry.
    ...

    Per­haps that should be the fol­low up ques­tion for Bar­rett after she refus­es to answer ques­tions about her ties to the group: so are you unable to talk about this because that’s the role of the male elders?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 26, 2020, 3:09 pm
  12. Here’s a sto­ry about a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign being waged in the Ama­zon by evan­gel­i­cal mis­sion­ar­ies who are con­vinc­ing the vil­lagers not to take coro­n­avirus vac­cines. The preach­ers are telling peo­ple they’ll be turned into an alli­ga­tor, echo­ing state­ments made by Brazil’s far right pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro. Bol­sonaro had report­ed­ly been sow­ing doubts about the Chi­nese vac­cine in par­tic­u­lar. Social media access even in the remote cor­ners of the Ama­zon is also play­ing a role in spread­ing the anti-vac­cine, which pre­sum­ably means Brazil­ian social media in the urban cen­ters are also like­ly filled with anti-vac­cine con­tent.

    The sto­ry is like an inter­sec­tion of awful. First, recall how social media and encrypt­ed mes­sage plat­forms like What­sApp have already been aggres­sive­ly used in Brazil to pro­mote anti-vac­cine pro­pa­gan­da against the Zika virus vac­cine. And that was just one exam­ple of how social media have encrypt­ed apps have been ruth­less­ly uti­lized by the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment, pump­ing out con­tent that far right con­tent that’s been described as a “hate machine”. A hate machine that focused its mes­sage at Brazil’s evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty, a rapid­ly com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil that is a core ele­ment of Bol­sonaro’s polit­i­cal base.

    Also recall how the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment has been in bed with Brazil’s pow­er­ful farm­ers and ranch­ers and backed Ama­zon defor­esta­tion prac­tices that put in at direct odds with indige­nous pop­u­la­tions. Indige­nous pop­u­la­tions who are prob­a­bly the tar­get of this very same anti-vac­cine cam­paign. Also keep in mind what we’ve learned about the rela­tion­ship between pre-exist­ing immu­ni­ty to COVID-19 and com­mon cold coro­n­avirus­es, where it appears that past expo­sure to those com­mon cold coro­n­avirus­es might con­fer some degree of immu­ni­ty to COVID. If that’s the case, we have to ask if pop­u­la­tions liv­ing in remote vil­lages might be extra sus­cep­ti­ble to COVID sim­ply by have less expo­sure to com­mon colds.

    And now we have a new pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign spread through evan­gel­i­cal church­es and social media tar­get­ing peo­ple in the Ama­zon with an anti-vac­cine cam­paign that could be very con­ve­nient for those ranch­ers and devel­op­ers after it wipes out the indige­nous lead­er­ship. That’s prob­a­bly not a coin­ci­dence:

    Reuters

    Indige­nous lead­ers warn of mis­sion­ar­ies turn­ing Ama­zon vil­lages against vac­cines

    By Antho­ny Boa­dle
    Feb­ru­ary 11, 20212:15 PM
    Updat­ed 13 hours ago

    (This Feb 11 sto­ry cor­rects Purus to trib­u­tary of the Ama­zon, not Xingú)

    BRASILIA (Reuters) — Med­ical teams work­ing to immu­nize Brazil’s remote indige­nous vil­lages against the coro­n­avirus have encoun­tered fierce resis­tance in some com­mu­ni­ties where evan­gel­i­cal mis­sion­ar­ies are stok­ing fears of the vac­cine, say trib­al lead­ers and advo­cates.

    On the São Fran­cis­co reser­va­tion in the state of Ama­zonas, Jama­ma­di vil­lagers sent health work­ers pack­ing with bows and arrows when they vis­it­ed by heli­copter this month, said Claudemir da Sil­va, an Apur­inã leader rep­re­sent­ing indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties on the Purus riv­er, a trib­u­tary of the Ama­zon.

    “It’s not hap­pen­ing in all vil­lages, just in those that have mis­sion­ar­ies or evan­gel­i­cal chapels where pas­tors are con­vinc­ing the peo­ple not to receive the vac­cine, that they will turn into an alli­ga­tor and oth­er crazy ideas,” he said by phone.

    That has added to fears that COVID-19 could roar through Brazil’s more than 800,000 indige­nous peo­ple, whose com­mu­nal liv­ing and often pre­car­i­ous health­care make them a pri­or­i­ty in the nation­al immu­niza­tion pro­gram.

    Trib­al lead­ers blame Brazil’s far-right Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro and some of his avid sup­port­ers in the evan­gel­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty for stok­ing skep­ti­cism about coro­n­avirus vac­cines, despite a nation­al death toll that lags only the Unit­ed States.

    “Reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists and evan­gel­i­cal mis­sion­ar­ies are preach­ing against the vac­cine,” said Dina­mam Tuxá, a leader of APIB, Brazil’s largest indige­nous orga­ni­za­tion.

    The Asso­ci­a­tion of Brazil­ian Anthro­pol­o­gists denounced unspec­i­fied reli­gious groups in a state­ment on Tues­day for spread­ing false con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries to “sab­o­tage” the vac­ci­na­tion of indige­nous peo­ple.

    Many pas­tors of Brazil’s urban evan­gel­i­cal megachurch­es are urg­ing fol­low­ers to get vac­ci­nat­ed, but they say mis­sion­ar­ies in remote ter­ri­to­ries have not got­ten the mes­sage.

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, some pas­tors who lack wis­dom are spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion to our indige­nous brethren,” said Pas­tor Mario Jorge Con­ceição of the Assem­bly of God Tra­di­tion­al Church in Man­aus, the cap­i­tal of Ama­zonas state.

    ...

    Bol­sonaro has played down the sever­i­ty of the virus and refused to take a vac­cine him­self. He has aimed spe­cial deri­sion at the country’s most wide­ly avail­able shot, made by China’s Sino­vac Biotech, cit­ing doubts about its “ori­gins.”

    At an event in Decem­ber, the pres­i­dent ridiculed vac­cine mak­er Pfiz­er because he said the com­pa­ny had refused to assume lia­bil­i­ty for col­lat­er­al effects in talks with his gov­ern­ment.

    “If you take the vac­cine and turn into an alli­ga­tor, it’s your prob­lem. If you turn into Super­man or women grow beards, I have noth­ing to do with that,” Bol­sonaro said sar­cas­ti­cal­ly.

    Pfiz­er has said it pro­posed stan­dard con­trac­tu­al guar­an­tees to the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment that oth­er coun­tries accept­ed before using its vac­cine.

    Access to social media even in remote cor­ners of Brazil has fanned false rumors about the coro­n­avirus vac­cines.

    For instance, 56-year-old trib­al chief Fer­nan­do Katuk­i­na, of the Nôke Kôi peo­ple near the Peru bor­der, died Feb. 1 of car­diac arrest relat­ed to dia­betes and con­ges­tive heart fail­ure. Word spread rapid­ly on social media and radio that the COVID-19 vac­cine he received in Jan­u­ary had caused his death.

    The Butan­tan bio­med­ical cen­ter, which is pro­duc­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing the Sino­vac vac­cine, scram­bled to con­vince indige­nous peo­ple that was not the case.

    “The social media mes­sages say­ing that Fer­nan­do Katuk­i­na died after tak­ing a COVID-19 vac­cine are fake news,” Butan­tan wrote in a tweet.

    COVID-19 has killed at least 957 indige­nous peo­ple, accord­ing to APIB, out of some 48,071 con­firmed infec­tions among half of Brazil’s 300 native eth­nic groups. The num­bers could be much high­er, because health agency Sesai only mon­i­tors indige­nous peo­ple liv­ing on reser­va­tions.

    ————

    “Indige­nous lead­ers warn of mis­sion­ar­ies turn­ing Ama­zon vil­lages against vac­cines” by Antho­ny Boa­dle; Reuters; 02/11/2021

    “The Asso­ci­a­tion of Brazil­ian Anthro­pol­o­gists denounced unspec­i­fied reli­gious groups in a state­ment on Tues­day for spread­ing false con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries to “sab­o­tage” the vac­ci­na­tion of indige­nous peo­ple.”

    Reli­gious groups are sab­o­tag­ing the vac­ci­na­tion of indige­nous peo­ple. But not all reli­gious groups. Only vil­lages with mis­sion­ar­ies or evan­gel­i­cal chapels:

    ...
    “It’s not hap­pen­ing in all vil­lages, just in those that have mis­sion­ar­ies or evan­gel­i­cal chapels where pas­tors are con­vinc­ing the peo­ple not to receive the vac­cine, that they will turn into an alli­ga­tor and oth­er crazy ideas,” he said by phone.

    ...

    Bol­sonaro has played down the sever­i­ty of the virus and refused to take a vac­cine him­self. He has aimed spe­cial deri­sion at the country’s most wide­ly avail­able shot, made by China’s Sino­vac Biotech, cit­ing doubts about its “ori­gins.”

    At an event in Decem­ber, the pres­i­dent ridiculed vac­cine mak­er Pfiz­er because he said the com­pa­ny had refused to assume lia­bil­i­ty for col­lat­er­al effects in talks with his gov­ern­ment.

    “If you take the vac­cine and turn into an alli­ga­tor, it’s your prob­lem. If you turn into Super­man or women grow beards, I have noth­ing to do with that,” Bol­sonaro said sar­cas­ti­cal­ly.
    ...

    And then there’s the fact that social media can now reach these vil­lages. So anti-vac­cine pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns that must be sat­u­rat­ing Brazil’s cities are now reach­ing the remote reach­es of the Ama­zon. What kind of impact are these pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns hav­ing on indige­nous pop­u­la­tions? We don’t real­ly, because Brazil’s gov­ern­ment only mon­i­tors peo­ple liv­ing on reser­va­tions:

    ...
    Access to social media even in remote cor­ners of Brazil has fanned false rumors about the coro­n­avirus vac­cines.

    ...

    COVID-19 has killed at least 957 indige­nous peo­ple, accord­ing to APIB, out of some 48,071 con­firmed infec­tions among half of Brazil’s 300 native eth­nic groups. The num­bers could be much high­er, because health agency Sesai only mon­i­tors indige­nous peo­ple liv­ing on reser­va­tions.
    ...

    Note that it’s the indige­nous peo­ple not liv­ing on reser­va­tions who the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment would most pre­fer to see wiped away as a favor to ranch­ers and devel­op­ers, since those lands would pre­sum­ably few­er legal bar­ri­ers to com­mer­cial exploita­tion.

    Also note that, giv­en the selec­tive­ly heavy bur­den of COVID on elder­ly pop­u­la­tions, hav­ing this virus run through vil­lages won’t kill off the whole vil­lage — which could lead to a broad­er pub­lic out­cry — but it will selec­tive­ly kill off the vil­lage elders. It’s some­thing that could hold obvi­ous appeal to inter­ests look­ing to extract coop­er­a­tion from the locals. Odds are the younger lead­ers will be more will­ing to sign away rights to ances­tral lands.

    So the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­men­t’s evan­gel­i­cal allies appears to be set­ting up the indige­nous pop­u­la­tions for an unre­strict­ed COVID culling thanks to pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign con­sis­tent with the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­men­t’s wide­ly panned pan­dem­ic response. It does­n’t bode well for these vil­lages. Also keep in mind that the Bol­sonaro gov­ern­ment appears to be try­ing to accel­er­ate the extinc­tion of Brazil’s endan­gered species, so if the vac­cines do end up turn­ing peo­ple into wild ani­mals there’s at least a sil­ver lin­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 13, 2021, 3:45 pm
  13. This arti­cle shows how the Chris­t­ian Nation­al­ists have been manip­u­lat­ed by lies such as stop the steal (protest­ing the false claims of fraud for the 2020 Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion) and QAnon to dis­re­gard demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es and to become mil­i­tant evan­gel­i­cals in a cause that sup­ports their Chris­t­ian faith. It is con­sis­tent with the Nazi strat­e­gy dur­ing World War II to tar­get the Patri­ot­ic Chris­t­ian Fun­da­men­tal­ists for their polit­i­cal pur­pos­es. Also, in the book “Serpent’s Walk” this fac­tion was referred to as Chris­t­ian Fas­cists.

    https://www.npr.org/2021/02/21/969539514/disinformation-fuels-a-white-evangelical-movement-it-led-1-virginia-pastor-to-qu

    Dis­in­for­ma­tion Fuels A White Evan­gel­i­cal Move­ment. It Led 1 Vir­ginia Pas­tor To Quit
    NPR Rachel Mar­tin Feb­ru­ary 21, 20215:00 AM ET

    PHOTO CAPTION: Pro­test­ers gath­er at the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan. 6. Lat­er that day, the Capi­tol build­ing was breached by a vio­lent mob dri­ven by what’s com­mon­ly known as “the big lie”: that Pres­i­dent Biden was­n’t legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed. Jack Gruber/USA Today Net­work via Reuters

    Jared Sta­cy is still pro­cess­ing his deci­sion to leave Spotswood Bap­tist Church in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., last year. Until Novem­ber, he was min­is­ter­ing to young parish­ioners in their 20s and 30s.

    But in the four years since he had joined the church as a pas­tor, Sta­cy had found him­self increas­ing­ly up against an invis­i­ble, pow­er­ful force tak­ing hold of mem­bers of his con­gre­ga­tion: con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, dis­in­for­ma­tion and lies.

    Sta­cy has seen the real con­se­quences of these lies build up over the years; he says it has taint­ed the name of his faith.

    “If Chris­tians in Amer­i­ca are seri­ous about help­ing peo­ple see Jesus and what he’s about and what he claims, then the label ‘evan­gel­i­cal’ is a dis­trac­tion because it bears, unfor­tu­nate­ly, the weight of a vio­lence,” he told NPR. “I would not use that term because of its asso­ci­a­tion with Jan. 6.”

    That’s the day the U.S. Capi­tol was attacked and invad­ed by a vio­lent mob dri­ven by what’s com­mon­ly known as “the big lie”: that Pres­i­dent Biden was­n’t legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed. The riot­ers moved toward the Capi­tol fol­low­ing a ral­ly held by then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, dur­ing which he repeat­ed that big lie. Riot­ers say they were com­pelled to stop Con­gress’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s elec­tion, which was hap­pen­ing at that time at the Capi­tol.

    The lie is so pow­er­ful that a recent sur­vey by the con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute shows that 3 in 5 white evan­gel­i­cals say Biden was not legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed.
    Among them is Pas­tor Ken Peters, who found­ed the Patri­ot Church in Knoxville, Tenn., last year.

    “I believe that right now we have an ille­git­i­mate pres­i­dent in the White House and he was not elect­ed by the peo­ple,” Peters told NPR. “I believe the tru­ly ‘We the People’-elected, should-be pres­i­dent is resid­ing in Flori­da right now.”

    On its web­site, the Patri­ot Church is described as a move­ment: “a church inter­ced­ing on behalf of her nation.” That move­ment has a name: Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism. Some con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal cir­cles have incu­bat­ed and spread these kinds of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries — some of which have led to vio­lence – for years.
    Andrew White­head, who has spent sev­er­al years research­ing Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism at Indi­ana University–Purdue Uni­ver­si­ty Indi­anapo­lis, defines it as the belief that Amer­i­ca is a Chris­t­ian nation, one that should priv­i­lege white, native-born polit­i­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians.

    “We do find evi­dence that Amer­i­cans who embrace Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism are much more like­ly to embrace con­spir­a­to­r­i­al think­ing,” White­head told NPR. “The lead­ers of those move­ments have con­tin­u­al­ly cast doubt on who you can real­ly trust or even the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.”

    Trump seized on the oppor­tu­ni­ty to exploit their dis­trust for his own polit­i­cal sur­vival. He made him­self a cham­pi­on for evan­gel­i­cal social issues — abor­tion being at the top of the list. He won their con­fi­dence — and their blind loy­al­ty.

    For Sta­cy, the vio­lence at the Capi­tol on Jan. 6 is not some­thing he fath­omed when he decid­ed to step away from his main­stream church in Novem­ber.

    Rather, it was a slow burn of oth­er con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that had been churn­ing at his church and oth­ers for years.

    PHOTO CAPTION: Jared Sta­cy was a pas­tor at Spotswood Bap­tist Church in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., until last year.

    The dan­ger of ambiva­lence
    Dur­ing the protests last sum­mer after George Floy­d’s killing, Sta­cy noticed his con­gre­ga­tion mak­ing a turn toward a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry about child sex traf­fick­ing.
    “I began to see on social media peo­ple ignor­ing or push­ing away Black Lives Mat­ter by say­ing, you know, oh, well, no one’s over here talk­ing about traf­fick­ing,” Sta­cy told NPR. He said the con­cern about child traf­fick­ing start­ed out as legit­i­mate — it is an awful truth that exists. But he quick­ly noticed that his parish­ioners start­ed using it as short­hand for a lie: that Democ­rats with promi­nent roles in busi­ness, media and gov­ern­ment are run­ning child traf­fick­ing rings.

    It was that con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that com­pelled a man named Edgar Mad­di­son Welch to fire inside a fam­i­ly pizze­ria in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in Decem­ber 2016.

    That false notion became preva­lent again near­ly a year lat­er at the cen­ter of QAnon, an umbrel­la of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that has ampli­fied false ideas about an evil lib­er­al agen­da and that casts Trump as a sav­ior. QAnon has coa­lesced since then, per­pe­trat­ing the lie that Pres­i­dent Biden’s elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate.

    Sta­cy was afraid of what he saw tak­ing root in his church. “This is about a whole­sale view of real­i­ty — what is real, what is true,” he said.

    He saw some peo­ple in his own con­gre­ga­tion — most­ly the par­ents or elders of the young adults he worked with — ele­vat­ing the idea of sex traf­fick­ing of kids and what he called “Demo­c­rat pedophil­ia.”

    “It was peo­ple who I respect­ed, and that’s even more com­pli­cat­ed because they were [my] elders,” Sta­cy said.
    “The crack, the split was kitchen tables, where you have two com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent infor­ma­tion streams, one that the par­ents use and one that their kids use,” he said. Those two streams of infor­ma­tion divid­ed fam­i­lies: Old­er mem­bers of the church were enter­tain­ing con­spir­a­cies, and younger mem­bers were push­ing back.

    Sta­cy tried to have con­ver­sa­tions with the mem­bers who believed these false­hoods. He saw it as his duty, even though the church he worked for avoid­ed these dis­cus­sions.

    “As a church we’re not in that dis­cus­sion,” a mem­ber of Spotswood Bap­tist Church lead­er­ship told NPR. “We have no inter­est being involved in that. It’s not some­thing that’s been in any way dis­cussed or on our agen­da.”
    But Sta­cy could­n’t sep­a­rate his role as pas­tor from the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that were putting a strain on the younger parish­ioners he worked with. “The dan­ger was of them being giv­en a co-opt­ed Jesus, a Jesus who believed in Q, a Jesus who believed in deep state, a Jesus who auto­mat­i­cal­ly vot­ed Repub­li­can.”

    He said he could see sev­er­al out­comes, none of which was any good: Either the younger mem­bers would leave the church alto­geth­er, or they’d buy into the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries or they’d just learn to tol­er­ate them.

    That tol­er­ance — and ambiva­lence — could be what do the most dam­age. They’re how con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries spread.

    A threat to democ­ra­cy
    When asked about the QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that polit­i­cal lead­ers run a sex traf­fick­ing ring, Peters of the Patri­ot Church in Knoxville, Tenn., would­n’t dis­avow it.
    “I don’t know if they’re right or wrong — I have no evi­dence per­son­al­ly to go one way or the oth­er,” Peters said. “Let’s inves­ti­gate that instead of inves­ti­gat­ing preach­ers who were at the [Jan. 6] ral­ly as if we start­ed some sort of insur­rec­tion.” Peters was among those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Jan. 6 ral­ly with Trump.

    What can come off as a benign plea of igno­rance and a feigned desire to learn the truth is enough to keep the the­o­ry going — and have it gain steam. Accord­ing to a recent study by Life­way Research, 49% of Protes­tant pas­tors say they fre­quent­ly hear mem­bers of their con­gre­ga­tions repeat­ing base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.
    The recent study by the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute showed that 27% of white evan­gel­i­cals — the most of any reli­gious group — believe that the wide­ly debunked QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry about polit­i­cal lead­ers run­ning a child sex traf­fick­ing ring is “com­plete­ly” or “most­ly accu­rate,” and that 46% say they’re “not sure.”

    If Peters pleads igno­rance about that con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, he ful­ly embraces the big lie that led to the insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. In a video of a ser­mon on Jan. 24, he shouts from the pul­pit, “Biden was ille­gal­ly put in as pres­i­dent, [the] fake pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.”
    Mix­ing God and coun­try in this way is a dan­ger to the Amer­i­can way of life as we know it, researcher

    White­head explained.
    “Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism is a threat to a plu­ral­is­tic, demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety because it sees par­tic­u­lar ends, like keep­ing a cer­tain per­son in the pres­i­den­cy, as that is what God has desired and that God wants. It’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to ever come to the con­clu­sion of ‘We should share pow­er or com­pro­mise or even abide by the demo­c­ra­t­ic process’ because if God does desire to, who are we to stand in the way of that?”

    Tak­ing dis­tance to gain clar­i­ty
    Sta­cy need­ed dis­tance to fig­ure out what was hap­pen­ing in his church. He’s liv­ing in Scot­land with his wife and kids and earn­ing a Ph.D. in the­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen.
    He even­tu­al­ly wants to come back to the U.S. and pas­tor a church again.

    He reflect­ed back on the con­ver­sa­tions he had with his old­er parish­ioners: “It’s almost like putting a peb­ble in some­one’s shoe, and even­tu­al­ly you just got to stop walk­ing and you’ve got to sit down. You have to take your shoe off and you have to fig­ure out what in the world is it that is mak­ing me limp for­ward here?”

    “That is what those con­ver­sa­tions were designed to do.”
    But he’s going to have to fig­ure out if plant­i­ng peb­bles of truth is enough to dis­man­tle a moun­tain of lies.

    Posted by Mary Benton | February 21, 2021, 10:17 am
  14. Here’s one of those arti­cles where the most inter­est­ing ‘who, what, why’s in the piece aren’t found in the arti­cle. They’re found in the head­line and byline of the piece. Which is not to say this arti­cle con­tent isn’t inter­est­ing. It’s quite an inter­est­ing arti­cle about the grow­ing “Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date” move­ment with­in con­tem­po­rary con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tian­i­ty, a move­ment that is found­ed on a per­ceived Bib­li­cal man­date for Chris­tians to cap­ture the reigns of pow­er of gov­ern­ment. Recall how, back in 2013, the Sev­en Moun­tain move­ment received a bit of pub­lic scruti­ny after Ted Cruz’s father pub­licly hint­ed that Ted was actu­al­ly among the evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians who are anoint­ed as “kings” to take con­trol of all sec­tors of soci­ety. If you want to learn more about the move­ment, the doc­u­men­tary “Jesus Camp” will give you an idea

    As the fol­low­ing piece describes, while this move­ment is rel­a­tive­ly unknown in the broad­er Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty, its sig­nif­i­cance in the polit­i­cal realm grew remark­able dur­ing the Trump pres­i­den­cy in part because the move­ment seemed to draw legit­i­ma­cy from Trump’s pres­i­den­cy. And Trump him­self played into the move­ment by mak­ing Paula White — a Sev­en Moun­tain adher­ent — arguably his clos­est spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, select­ing her as chair of his Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board and appoint­ing her as spe­cial advi­sor to the White House Faith and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    As the fol­low­ing piece also describes, it was this Sev­en Moun­tain move­ment that arguably lost the most — from a the­o­log­i­cal cred­i­bil­i­ty per­spec­tive — when Trump lost the White House. It was as if God’s man­date was­n’t ful­filled, some­thing that isn’t sup­posed to hap­pen. In oth­er words, when Trump con­tin­ues to assert that the elec­tion was stolen, he’s claim­ing a kind of divine injus­tice took place. So the fol­low­ing arti­cle actu­al­ly con­tains some pret­ty impor­tant infor­ma­tion about one of the most rad­i­cal­ize, and grow­ing, far right the­o­log­i­cal move­ments. A move­ment that is poised to grow more rad­i­cal­ized and poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous as Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to insist the elec­tion was stolen.

    But it’s the fact that it’s David French, an arch-tra­di­tion­al Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive, who wrote the piece that is per­haps the most inter­est­ing aspect of this piece. No sane per­son could call French a ‘RINO squish’ mod­er­ate. The guy is as hard core a con­ser­v­a­tive ide­o­logue as you’ll find. But he’s also an unre­pen­tant Nev­er-Trumper who nev­er capit­u­lat­ed like so many of the now-for­mer Nev­er-Trumpers of yes­ter­year. In oth­er words, he’s an actu­al hard right ide­o­logue as opposed to a Trump wor­shiper. He’s like GOP Clas­sic. And the sad real­i­ty is that if move­ments like the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date are even going to be mean­ing­ful­ly reformed, that reform­ing force is going to have to come from their fel­low con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians. No one else will have the nec­es­sar­i­ly cred­i­bil­i­ty and there sim­ply aren’t a large num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian voic­es ready and will­ing to pub­licly call out their brethren the way French does so in in the piece. That’s what makes this piece both a source of hope and also despair: it both vital­ly nec­es­sary and increas­ing­ly rare in the age of Trump:

    The Dis­patch

    How a Ris­ing Reli­gious Move­ment Ratio­nal­izes the Chris­t­ian Grasp for Pow­er
    On the dan­gers of the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date.

    David French
    Feb 28, 2021

    One of the great chal­lenges of the present age is decid­ing when ideas or con­cepts that are seem­ing­ly far from the main­stream are worth high­light­ing and cri­tiquing. On the one hand, there’s the dan­ger of “nutpicking”—of high­light­ing fringe voic­es and wrong­ly describ­ing them as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of your oppo­nents’ beliefs.

    On the oth­er hand—in part because of the stress and pres­sure of the pan­dem­ic and the inten­si­ty of polit­i­cal polarization—there are pre­vi­ous­ly obscure (and even crazy) ideas that have become sud­den­ly and vio­lent­ly rel­e­vant to Amer­i­can life. QAnon is a prime exam­ple.

    Today I’m going to talk about some­thing called the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date. While it’s a term that few peo­ple know, the core con­cept is deeply influ­en­tial to the way in which mil­lions of Evan­gel­i­cals approach cul­ture and pol­i­tics. It’s a con­cept that has its uses, but it’s also sub­ject to pro­found abuse. In short, it often con­fus­es Chris­t­ian pow­er with bib­li­cal jus­tice, and it cre­ates incen­tives for Chris­tians to not just seek pow­er but to feel a sense of fail­ure and emer­gency when they are not in posi­tions of cul­tur­al or polit­i­cal con­trol.

    The ori­gin of the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date rests with an alleged divine rev­e­la­tion shared by Bill Bright, founder of Cam­pus Cru­sade for Christ, Loren Cun­ning­ham, founder of Youth With a Mis­sion, and the the­olo­gian and philoso­pher Fran­cis Scha­ef­fer. Not one of those men is fringe. They’re among the most influ­en­tial Evan­gel­i­cals of the mod­ern age. And what was that rev­e­la­tion? Cun­ning­ham explains it in the short YouTube below:

    [see video]

    In its dis­tilled essence, the Sev­en Moun­tain con­cept describes sev­en key cultural/religious insti­tu­tions that should be influ­enced and trans­formed by Chris­t­ian believ­ers to cre­ate “God­ly change” in Amer­i­ca. The key to trans­form­ing the nation rests with reach­ing the fam­i­ly, the church, edu­ca­tion, media, arts, the econ­o­my, and the gov­ern­ment with the truth of the Gospel.

    At one lev­el, this analy­sis seems less like rev­e­la­tion and more like log­ic. Each of these men accu­rate­ly described impor­tant are­nas of life, and if Chris­tians tru­ly want to be “salt and light” in the world, they should want to com­pre­hen­sive­ly cul­ti­vate true bib­li­cal val­ues in Amer­i­can cul­ture.

    To put it anoth­er way: If God asks mankind to “do jus­tice, and to love kind­ness, and to walk humbly with your God,” He does not intend that those virtues be con­fined to church. The fruits of the spir­it—“love, joy, peace, patience, kind­ness, good­ness, faith­ful­ness, gen­tle­ness, self-control”—are not mere Sun­day School val­ues. They should per­vade our inter­ac­tions with the wider world.

    More­over, if and when those sev­en key insti­tu­tions become instru­ments of injus­tice, Chris­tians should respond. To take some obvi­ous exam­ples, if the “moun­tain” of gov­ern­ment turns against its cit­i­zens, Chris­tians have an oblig­a­tion to stand with the oppressed. If the moun­tain of pop­u­lar cul­ture trans­forms the beau­ty of art into the per­ver­sion of porn, Chris­tians must resist. And if the moun­tain of edu­ca­tion teach­es false­hoods, Chris­tians have an oblig­a­tion to tell the truth.

    The com­mand to “do jus­tice” has real force, and it’s incum­bent on Chris­tians to seek jus­tice across the length and breadth of Amer­i­can life.

    But there is an immense and impor­tant dif­fer­ence between seek­ing jus­tice and seek­ing pow­er. In fact, the quest for pow­er can side­line or derail the quest for jus­tice. And that’s where we get to the real problem—the dif­fer­ence between a Sev­en Moun­tain con­cept and a Sev­en Moun­tain man­date or Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism.

    In 2013, Bethel Church pas­tor Bill John­son and author Lance Wall­nau co-authored a short book called Invad­ing Baby­lon: The 7 Moun­tain Man­date. In that book, here’s how Wall­nau described the stakes:

    Each of these sev­en moun­tains rep­re­sents an indi­vid­ual sphere of influ­ence that shapes the way peo­ple think. These moun­tains are crowned with high places that mod­ern-day kings occu­py as ide­o­log­i­cal strong­holds. These strong­holds are, in real­i­ty, hous­es built out of thoughts. These thought struc­tures are for­ti­fied with spir­i­tu­al rein­force­ment that shapes the cul­ture and estab­lish­es the spir­i­tu­al cli­mate of each nation. I sensed the Lord telling me, “He who can take these moun­tains can take the har­vest of nations.” (Empha­sis added.)

    “We don’t real­ly have a choice in the mat­ter,” he writes. “It will require noth­ing less than the gov­ern­ment of God to dis­pos­sess and occu­py the ter­ri­to­ry dom­i­nat­ed by the gates of hell.” He con­tin­ued, “The sober truth is that every­where the Church fails to exer­cise her author­i­ty, a vac­u­um opens for dark­ness to occu­py.”

    Wall­nau went on to describe the impor­tance of “moun­tain kings”—those indi­vid­u­als who have a “posi­tion in a high place” and who wield influ­ence over “their own sphere direct­ly and oth­er spheres indi­rect­ly.” It is thus of urgent impor­tance for Chris­tians to reach, influ­ence, or even become these “moun­tain kings.”

    At its most extreme edges, Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism holds that Christ will not return unless and until the church suc­cess­ful­ly invades or “occu­pies” each of the sev­en key spheres of life.

    Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism is com­mon with­in the so-called “New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion,” a term that describes a charis­mat­ic move­ment that is attempt­ing to restore the so-called “lost offices” of apos­tle and prophet. These new apos­tles and prophets place great store in their abil­i­ty to dis­cern the will of God for indi­vid­u­als and for the nation. A num­ber of these “prophets” accu­rate­ly pre­dict­ed the rise of Don­ald Trump and then con­fi­dent­ly pre­dict­ed anoth­er Trump vic­to­ry in 2020.

    One of those Sev­en Moun­tain adher­ents, Paula White, became arguably Trump’s clos­est spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, chair of his Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board, and a spe­cial advi­sor to the White House Faith and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    Astute read­ers will by now have noticed two things. First, you’ll note the extent to which the heart of this strat­e­gy (or man­date) isn’t based on clear scrip­tur­al com­mands but rather on claimed spe­cial rev­e­la­tions from God. Sec­ond, you’ll note how much it empha­sizes the impor­tance of plac­ing peo­ple in posi­tions of pow­er and con­trol.

    Tak­en togeth­er, these real­i­ties explain at least some of the hys­te­ria sur­round­ing Trump’s elec­toral loss. Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism joins with oth­er forms of Protes­tant Chris­t­ian domin­ion­ism, Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism, and new­ly emer­gent strains of Catholic inte­gral­ism (which seeks to inte­grate Catholic “reli­gious author­i­ty with polit­i­cal pow­er”) to place an immense amount of spir­i­tu­al impor­tance on polit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

    In Invad­ing Baby­lon, Wall­nau makes this explic­it. He says, “The busi­ness of shift­ing cul­ture or trans­form­ing nations does not require a major­i­ty of con­ver­sions.” What does it require? “We need more dis­ci­ples in the right places, the high places.”

    To put it anoth­er way, when Trump lost the elec­tion, the church not only lost a “moun­tain king,” alleged apos­tles and prophets lost their own access to the “high places.” They also lost a por­tion of their spir­i­tu­al cred­i­bil­i­ty. The post-elec­tion chal­lenges weren’t just the path to pre­serve the presidency—for some of Trump’s most fer­vent and promi­nent Evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, they were a means of pre­serv­ing the integri­ty of their divine pro­nounce­ments.

    Yet belief in those pro­nounce­ments dies hard. When Jere­mi­ah John­son, a man who claims to pos­sess a “prophet­ic anoint­ing,” pre­dict­ed Trump’s win in 2015 had the integri­ty to apol­o­gize for false­ly proph­esy­ing that Trump would win re-elec­tion, the back­lash was immense. The New York Times’s Ruth Gra­ham tells the sto­ry:

    On Face­book, [John­son] report­ed that he received “mul­ti­ple death threats and thou­sands upon thou­sands of emails from Chris­tians say­ing the nas­ti­est and most vul­gar things I have ever heard toward my fam­i­ly and min­istry.” He also said he had lost fund­ing from donors who accused him of being “a cow­ard, sell­out, and trai­tor to the Holy Spir­it.”

    There’s also a tragedy inher­ent in Chris­t­ian sup­port for Don­ald Trump as our “moun­tain king.” There’s lit­tle evi­dence that he brought bib­li­cal jus­tice to our land. Quite the con­trary. He left us dis­eased and divid­ed. He drenched Amer­i­ca in a tidal wave of lies.

    What is the alter­na­tive to the pur­suit of pow­er? I pre­fer the wis­dom of Mar­tin Luther King Jr. “The church must be remind­ed that it is not the mas­ter or the ser­vant of the state, but rather the con­science of the state. It must be the guide and the crit­ic of the state, and nev­er its tool.”

    ...

    ————–

    “How a Ris­ing Reli­gious Move­ment Ratio­nal­izes the Chris­t­ian Grasp for Pow­er” by David French; The Dis­patch; 02/28/2021

    “Today I’m going to talk about some­thing called the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date. While it’s a term that few peo­ple know, the core con­cept is deeply influ­en­tial to the way in which mil­lions of Evan­gel­i­cals approach cul­ture and pol­i­tics. It’s a con­cept that has its uses, but it’s also sub­ject to pro­found abuse. In short, it often con­fus­es Chris­t­ian pow­er with bib­li­cal jus­tice, and it cre­ates incen­tives for Chris­tians to not just seek pow­er but to feel a sense of fail­ure and emer­gency when they are not in posi­tions of cul­tur­al or polit­i­cal con­trol.”

    Bib­li­cal Jus­tice = Chris­tians MUST be in polit­i­cal con­trol. That’s the divine con­fu­sion at the heart of the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date. It’s a lit­tle rec­og­nized con­cept that still plays a pro­found role in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. A lit­tle rec­og­nized con­cept that effec­tive­ly ele­vat­ed Don­ald Trump to the lev­el of a divine­ly installed ‘moun­tain king’ in the minds of mil­lions of vot­ers who form his polit­i­cal base:

    ...
    In its dis­tilled essence, the Sev­en Moun­tain con­cept describes sev­en key cultural/religious insti­tu­tions that should be influ­enced and trans­formed by Chris­t­ian believ­ers to cre­ate “God­ly change” in Amer­i­ca. The key to trans­form­ing the nation rests with reach­ing the fam­i­ly, the church, edu­ca­tion, media, arts, the econ­o­my, and the gov­ern­ment with the truth of the Gospel.

    ...

    The com­mand to “do jus­tice” has real force, and it’s incum­bent on Chris­tians to seek jus­tice across the length and breadth of Amer­i­can life.

    But there is an immense and impor­tant dif­fer­ence between seek­ing jus­tice and seek­ing pow­er. In fact, the quest for pow­er can side­line or derail the quest for jus­tice. And that’s where we get to the real problem—the dif­fer­ence between a Sev­en Moun­tain con­cept and a Sev­en Moun­tain man­date or Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism.

    ...

    At its most extreme edges, Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism holds that Christ will not return unless and until the church suc­cess­ful­ly invades or “occu­pies” each of the sev­en key spheres of life.
    ...

    So when Don­ald Trump lost the elec­tion, the New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion move­ment did­n’t just lose an ally in the White House. It seem­ing­ly lost spir­i­tu­al cred­i­bil­i­ty. Espe­cial­ly all of the reli­gious lead­ers who were pub­licly proph­e­siz­ing a Trump reelec­tion. It was like a rebuke from heav­en:

    ...
    Sev­en Moun­tain domin­ion­ism is com­mon with­in the so-called “New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion,” a term that describes a charis­mat­ic move­ment that is attempt­ing to restore the so-called “lost offices” of apos­tle and prophet. These new apos­tles and prophets place great store in their abil­i­ty to dis­cern the will of God for indi­vid­u­als and for the nation. A num­ber of these “prophets” accu­rate­ly pre­dict­ed the rise of Don­ald Trump and then con­fi­dent­ly pre­dict­ed anoth­er Trump vic­to­ry in 2020.

    One of those Sev­en Moun­tain adher­ents, Paula White, became arguably Trump’s clos­est spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, chair of his Evan­gel­i­cal Advi­so­ry Board, and a spe­cial advi­sor to the White House Faith and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    Astute read­ers will by now have noticed two things. First, you’ll note the extent to which the heart of this strat­e­gy (or man­date) isn’t based on clear scrip­tur­al com­mands but rather on claimed spe­cial rev­e­la­tions from God. Sec­ond, you’ll note how much it empha­sizes the impor­tance of plac­ing peo­ple in posi­tions of pow­er and con­trol.

    ...

    To put it anoth­er way, when Trump lost the elec­tion, the church not only lost a “moun­tain king,” alleged apos­tles and prophets lost their own access to the “high places.” They also lost a por­tion of their spir­i­tu­al cred­i­bil­i­ty. The post-elec­tion chal­lenges weren’t just the path to pre­serve the presidency—for some of Trump’s most fer­vent and promi­nent Evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, they were a means of pre­serv­ing the integri­ty of their divine pro­nounce­ments.
    ...

    When Trump lost, God’s true believ­ers lost too. It’s one of the under­ly­ing fac­tors in the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion: Trump had to win or God los­es. Which can’t hap­pen. Which is also part of the rea­son why the­o­ries about how Trump did­n’t actu­al­ly lose, and secret­ly won and is plan­ning on arrest­ing all of his oppo­nents, are so tan­ta­liz­ing right now. After all, if the mil­lions of Sev­en Moun­tain fol­low­ers do even­tu­al­ly give up on the idea of Trump retak­ing the White House, they might also start giv­ing up on all the preach­ers who shared their ‘mes­sages from God’ that QAnon is all true and Trump real­ly is going to defeat Satan in a final bat­tle of good vs evil:

    Right Wing Watch

    John­ny Enlow Mar­ries Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism to the QAnon Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry

    By Kyle Manty­la | Sep­tem­ber 18, 2020 11:43 am

    Pas­tor John­ny Enlow, a lead­ing pro­po­nent of Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism, appeared on the “Up Front In The Prophet­ic” YouTube pro­gram Tues­day, where he linked Sev­en Moun­tains the­ol­o­gy to the far-right QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.

    ...

    >It turns out that Enlow, who has writ­ten sev­er­al books pro­mot­ing Sev­en Moun­tains ide­ol­o­gy, is also a full-blown QAnon believ­er and sees a direct con­nec­tion between the two.

    Enlow said that he had been told by God that Trump will be a “hinge of his­to­ry” who will sep­a­rate human his­to­ry into two eras: “Before Trump” and “After Trump.”

    “That means some­thing huge is tak­ing place that’s even big­ger than what we can imag­ine,” Enlow said, claim­ing that when he got this word from God, he had not even heard of QAnon. “I gave a word. I was like, ‘You haven’t seen noth­ing yet. It is way deep­er. The swamp runs way deep­er.’ But I did it by the Spir­it. I did not even have details for it, just the Lord telling me, ‘You haven’t seen any­thing yet. It goes way deep­er.’”

    After deliv­er­ing that mes­sage, Enlow said that peo­ple start­ed telling him to look into QAnon and when he did, he said “it con­firmed the rev­e­la­tion” he had received from God.

    “It con­nects to our over­all mes­sage on the Sev­en Moun­tain Man­date,” Enlow said. “When you aban­don soci­ety, or when you just don’t have a vision for the church show­ing up any­where but the moun­tain of reli­gion, then you essen­tial­ly don’t apply salt and light to the oth­er sec­tors of soci­ety. … And when you don’t occu­py until He returns, there are con­se­quences, and it allowed mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional deep dark­ness [to take con­trol of the Sev­en Moun­tains.’]”

    “What we didn’t expect was to have almost whole­sale Lucifer­ian child-sac­ri­fic­ing pedophiles in a world­wide net­work at the tops of the moun­tains where we were lit­er­al­ly being run by crim­i­nals,” Enlow assert­ed. “And not just sim­ple criminals—high satan­ic crim­i­nals.”

    Enlow claimed the Trump’s pres­i­den­cy was “the inter­ven­tion of God” and a “res­cue oper­a­tion from Heav­en, stop­ping it from going any fur­ther.”

    ———–

    “John­ny Enlow Mar­ries Sev­en Moun­tains Domin­ion­ism to the QAnon Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry” by Kyle Manty­la; Right Wing Watch; 09/18/2020

    “Enlow claimed the Trump’s pres­i­den­cy was “the inter­ven­tion of God” and a “res­cue oper­a­tion from Heav­en, stop­ping it from going any fur­ther.””

    Trump’s pres­i­den­cy was a res­cue oper­a­tion from Heav­en. John­ny Enlow knows this because, like so many Sev­en Moun­tain preach­ers, he got a direct mes­sage from God. A direct mes­sage that QAnon was real and Trump was going to sep­a­rate his­to­ry into the “Before Trump” and “After Trump” eras:

    ...
    Enlow said that he had been told by God that Trump will be a “hinge of his­to­rywho will sep­a­rate human his­to­ry into two eras: “Before Trump” and “After Trump.”

    “That means some­thing huge is tak­ing place that’s even big­ger than what we can imag­ine,” Enlow said, claim­ing that when he got this word from God, he had not even heard of QAnon. “I gave a word. I was like, ‘You haven’t seen noth­ing yet. It is way deep­er. The swamp runs way deep­er.’ But I did it by the Spir­it. I did not even have details for it, just the Lord telling me, ‘You haven’t seen any­thing yet. It goes way deep­er.’”
    ...

    And notice the addi­tion­al impli­ca­tion of adding QAnon ideas to Sev­en Moun­tains: If the ‘good’ peo­ple aren’t in con­trol at the ‘top’, it’s going to be a world­wide net­work of Lucifer­ian child-sac­ri­fic­ing pedophiles instead:

    ...
    What we didn’t expect was to have almost whole­sale Lucifer­ian child-sac­ri­fic­ing pedophiles in a world­wide net­work at the tops of the moun­tains where we were lit­er­al­ly being run by crim­i­nals,” Enlow assert­ed. “And not just sim­ple criminals—high satan­ic crim­i­nals.”
    ...

    What kind of tur­moil and increased rad­i­cal­iza­tion is tak­ing place with­in the QAnon world at this point? It’s a trag­i­cal­ly impor­tant ques­tion. And as we can see, it’s the kind of ques­tion that heav­i­ly over­laps with the ques­tion of what kind of tur­moil and increased rad­i­cal­iza­tion is tak­ing place with­in the Sev­en Moun­tain move­ment and the broad­er New Apos­tolic Ref­or­ma­tion move­ment.

    So good luck to David French in try­ing to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly address the psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al rot man­i­fest­ing in both his polit­i­cal par­ty and faith. It’s quite a chal­lenge. But at least the rot in his faith and par­ty appears to be the same under­ly­ing rot so that might make things a lit­tle eas­i­er.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2021, 5:32 pm
  15. Well that was fast. And sleazy: They final­ly did it. Sort of. The Supreme Court effec­tive­ly killed Roe v Wade. Or at least opened the door to that even­tu­al­i­ty. Those are the con­se­quences of the Supreme Court’s deci­sion to deny a peti­tion to strike down a new Texas law that bans abor­tions after six weeks of preg­nan­cy. Keep in mind most women don’t learn they’re preg­nant until after six weeks, so this real­ly is effec­tive­ly an abor­tion ban.

    So how did this law get around the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of such a ban? This is the sleazy part: the Texas bill was writ­ten in a man­ner designed to push off the respon­si­bil­i­ty for enforc­ing the six week abor­tion ban off the state and onto pri­vate indi­vid­u­als. Yes, it will be up to pri­vate par­ties to sue those involved with offer­ing abor­tion ser­vices. Vig­i­lante abor­tion legal jus­tice. That was the big legal ‘inno­va­tion’ in this Texas law. But it’s not like this was some sure fire legal gim­mick. It was a stunt many were expect­ing the Supreme Court to strike down, at least tem­porar­i­ly while the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the gim­mick was worked out by the courts. But that did­n’t hap­pen. Instead, in a 5–4 rul­ing — with Jus­tice Roberts sid­ing with the three lib­er­als — the court upheld the Texas law. While it’s long appears that if Roe dies in Amer­i­ca it will be a ‘death by a thou­sand cuts’ kind of end, we’re get­ting a dif­fer­ent more per­verse end of Roe. A vig­i­lante jus­tice end­ing, which, while dis­turb­ing, you have to admit sure fits the zeit­geist of the times:

    New York Mag­a­zine
    Intel­li­gencer

    Supreme Court Lets Texas Ban Abor­tion With Vig­i­lante Jus­tice

    By Ed Kil­go­re
    09/02/2021 12:17 A.M.

    In what three dis­sent­ing jus­tices appro­pri­ate­ly called a “stun­ning” deci­sion, a 5–4 major­i­ty of the Supreme Court denied a peti­tion to strike down a Texas law ban­ning abor­tions after six weeks of preg­nan­cy. As a result, Texas has pro­hib­it­ed the vast major­i­ty of what have been con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pro­tect­ed abor­tions since 1973’s Roe v. Wade. That it was done in an unsigned order issued at mid­night, with no oral argu­ments at any lev­el of the fed­er­al courts, is appro­pri­ate in a twist­ed way. The deci­sion will go down in his­to­ry as a judi­cial Pearl Har­bor and a day of infamy.

    The law in ques­tion was inge­nious­ly designed by Texas Repub­li­cans to evade inter­dic­tion by the courts by mak­ing indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens, not the gov­ern­ment, the enforce­ment mech­a­nism for the law, giv­ing them boun­ties to snitch on clin­ics and even on “abet­ters” of abor­tions after six weeks of preg­nan­cy (at a time when many women do not even real­ize they are preg­nant).

    The law was ini­tial­ly put on hold by a fed­er­al dis­trict court that sched­uled a hear­ing to con­sid­er its con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty. But then a three-judge pan­el of the con­ser­v­a­tive Fifth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals can­celed the low­er court’s hear­ing and dis­solved the stay. It was wide­ly expect­ed SCOTUS would at least stop the law’s imple­men­ta­tion long enough to review both the enforce­ment mech­a­nism and the law’s bla­tant vio­la­tion of abor­tion prece­dents set in Roe and lat­er Planned Par­ent­hood v. Casey. The affect­ed clin­ics in Texas had no choice but to peti­tion SCOTUS, and when the Court let the law take effect at mid­night on Sep­tem­ber 1, it was unclear what was hap­pen­ing oth­er than an expres­sion of dis­re­spect for the urgency of the sit­u­a­tion. Now it’s clear that five jus­tices want­ed to okay the law, alleged­ly on pro­ce­dur­al grounds, while four jus­tices fran­ti­cal­ly wrote dis­sents.

    The majority’s order (sup­port­ed with­out indi­vid­ual elab­o­ra­tion by Jus­tices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Ali­to, Neil Gor­such, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Bar­rett) basi­cal­ly accept­ed the trick Texas played in pre­tend­ing the state was not cre­at­ing and enforc­ing an abor­tion ban. The order might as well have con­clud­ed with the words “well played”:

    The appli­cants now before us have raised seri­ous ques­tions regard­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the Texas law at issue. But their appli­ca­tion also presents com­plex and nov­el antecedent pro­ce­dur­al ques­tions on which they have not car­ried their bur­den. For exam­ple, fed­er­al courts enjoy the pow­er to enjoin indi­vid­u­als tasked with enforc­ing laws, not the laws them­selves. […] And it is unclear whether the named defen­dants in this law­suit can or will seek to enforce the Texas law against the appli­cants in a man­ner that might per­mit our inter­ven­tion.

    So the major­i­ty threw up its hands and let an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al abor­tion ban enforced via vig­i­lante jus­tice remain in force, disin­gen­u­ous­ly claim­ing it was not address­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al argu­ment at all. The dis­hon­esty is of a piece with the pre­tens­es of these jus­tices when they were con­firmed that they had no firm­ly formed inten­tion to over­turn repro­duc­tive rights. The Court was already sched­uled to ful­ly hear a direct chal­lenge by Mis­sis­sip­pi to Roe and Casey in its next term, in the case of Dobbs v. Jack­son Women’s Health Orga­ni­za­tion. You have to assume that five of the six con­ser­v­a­tives on the cur­rent Court decid­ed to take advan­tage of the con­fus­ing pro­ce­dur­al land­scape of the Texas law to jump the gun.

    Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who has often expressed con­cerns for the Supreme Court’s dig­ni­ty, inde­pen­dence, and respect for prece­dents, broke with his fel­low con­ser­v­a­tives in dis­sent­ing against this order, though he only went so far as to object to the irre­spon­si­bil­i­ty of the major­i­ty in rub­ber-stamp­ing Texas’s devi­ous enforce­ment scheme:

    The State defen­dants argue that they can­not be restrained from enforc­ing their rules because they do not enforce them in the first place. I would grant pre­lim­i­nary relief to pre­serve the sta­tus quo ante — before the law went into effect — so that the courts may con­sid­er whether a state can avoid respon­si­bil­i­ty for its laws in such a man­ner.

    The Court’s three lib­er­als went fur­ther in a dis­sent penned by Jus­tice Stephen Brey­er that made the obvi­ous point that the major­i­ty was allow­ing the vio­la­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights via its trans­par­ent­ly eva­sive enforce­ment scheme. But the full fury and exas­per­a­tion of the lib­er­als was giv­en vent in Jus­tice Sonia Sotomayor’s dis­sent, in which Brey­er and Jus­tice Ele­na Kagan joined:

    Pre­sent­ed with an appli­ca­tion to enjoin a fla­grant­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al law engi­neered to pro­hib­it women from exer­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­al rights and evade judi­cial scruti­ny, a major­i­ty of Jus­tices have opt­ed to bury their heads in the sand. Last night, the Court silent­ly acqui­esced in a State’s enact­ment of a law that flouts near­ly 50 years of fed­er­al prece­dents. Today, the Court belat­ed­ly explains that it declined to grant relief because of pro­ce­dur­al com­plex­i­ties of the State’s own inven­tion. Ante, at 1. Because the Court’s fail­ure to act rewards tac­tics designed to avoid judi­cial review and inflicts sig­nif­i­cant harm on the appli­cants and on women seek­ing abor­tions in Texas, I dis­sent.

    While defend­ers of the order will claim it has no effect beyond Texas, there is zero ques­tion oth­er states with Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nors will fol­low suit instant­ly. So long as they copy the Texas law faith­ful­ly, they have been giv­en a green light by SCOTUS to over­turn Roe and Casey in their own juris­dic­tions. Court-watch­ers had been debat­ing whether the con­ser­v­a­tives would use Dobbs to grad­u­al­ly unrav­el the right to an abor­tion via approval of so-called TRAP laws harass­ing abor­tion providers, or an ero­sion of the via­bil­i­ty stan­dard. Now a more rad­i­cal step has been tak­en by the cow­ard­ly expe­di­ent of bless­ing a ban that we are sup­posed to refuse to acknowl­edge as a ban. Not since Bush v. Gore has the Court so aggres­sive­ly shamed its tra­di­tions.

    ...

    ———–

    “Supreme Court Lets Texas Ban Abor­tion With Vig­i­lante Jus­tice” by Ed Kil­go­re; New York Mag­a­zine; 09/02/2021;

    “The law in ques­tion was inge­nious­ly designed by Texas Repub­li­cans to evade inter­dic­tion by the courts by mak­ing indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens, not the gov­ern­ment, the enforce­ment mech­a­nism for the law, giv­ing them boun­ties to snitch on clin­ics and even on “abet­ters” of abor­tions after six weeks of preg­nan­cy (at a time when many women do not even real­ize they are preg­nant).”

    Vig­i­lante abor­tion jus­tice. That’s what the Supreme Court’s con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty just gave its bless­ings to. A legal gim­mick designed to get get around the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of an abor­tion ban by tak­ing the state itself out of the enforce­ment of the ban. Instead, it will be up to indi­vid­u­als to wage the law­suits that will effec­tive­ly ban abor­tion. That gim­mick appar­ent­ly passed legal muster:

    ...
    The majority’s order (sup­port­ed with­out indi­vid­ual elab­o­ra­tion by Jus­tices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Ali­to, Neil Gor­such, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Bar­rett) basi­cal­ly accept­ed the trick Texas played in pre­tend­ing the state was not cre­at­ing and enforc­ing an abor­tion ban. The order might as well have con­clud­ed with the words “well played”:

    The appli­cants now before us have raised seri­ous ques­tions regard­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the Texas law at issue. But their appli­ca­tion also presents com­plex and nov­el antecedent pro­ce­dur­al ques­tions on which they have not car­ried their bur­den. For exam­ple, fed­er­al courts enjoy the pow­er to enjoin indi­vid­u­als tasked with enforc­ing laws, not the laws them­selves. […] And it is unclear whether the named defen­dants in this law­suit can or will seek to enforce the Texas law against the appli­cants in a man­ner that might per­mit our inter­ven­tion.

    So the major­i­ty threw up its hands and let an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al abor­tion ban enforced via vig­i­lante jus­tice remain in force, disin­gen­u­ous­ly claim­ing it was not address­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al argu­ment at all. The dis­hon­esty is of a piece with the pre­tens­es of these jus­tices when they were con­firmed that they had no firm­ly formed inten­tion to over­turn repro­duc­tive rights. The Court was already sched­uled to ful­ly hear a direct chal­lenge by Mis­sis­sip­pi to Roe and Casey in its next term, in the case of Dobbs v. Jack­son Women’s Health Orga­ni­za­tion. You have to assume that five of the six con­ser­v­a­tives on the cur­rent Court decid­ed to take advan­tage of the con­fus­ing pro­ce­dur­al land­scape of the Texas law to jump the gun.
    ...

    And as they not­ed, while defend­ers of this rul­ing argue that its impact is only going to be lim­it­ed to Texas, this rul­ing is basi­cal­ly a tem­plate for states all around the US. It’s anoth­er con­se­quence of the Supreme Court’s rul­ing. Vig­i­lante abor­tion jus­tice is set to be the law of the land:

    ...
    While defend­ers of the order will claim it has no effect beyond Texas, there is zero ques­tion oth­er states with Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nors will fol­low suit instant­ly. So long as they copy the Texas law faith­ful­ly, they have been giv­en a green light by SCOTUS to over­turn Roe and Casey in their own juris­dic­tions. Court-watch­ers had been debat­ing whether the con­ser­v­a­tives would use Dobbs to grad­u­al­ly unrav­el the right to an abor­tion via approval of so-called TRAP laws harass­ing abor­tion providers, or an ero­sion of the via­bil­i­ty stan­dard. Now a more rad­i­cal step has been tak­en by the cow­ard­ly expe­di­ent of bless­ing a ban that we are sup­posed to refuse to acknowl­edge as a ban. Not since Bush v. Gore has the Court so aggres­sive­ly shamed its tra­di­tions.
    ...

    Vig­i­lante abor­tion jus­tice is set to be one of Tex­as­’s biggest exports. At least for the next few years. After all, how can Repub­li­can state offi­cials resist the temp­ta­tion? Ban­ning abor­tion is the one of the exis­ten­tial rea­sons for the con­tem­po­rary GOP’s exis­tences, at least in the minds of its evan­gel­i­cal vot­er base. And Repub­li­can-con­trolled states have been pass­ing uncon­sti­tu­tion­al extreme abor­tion restric­tions with no chance of com­ing into effect for years. Texas and the Supreme Court just hand­ed all those states a tem­plate for an enforce­able abor­tion ban. Enforced by legal vig­i­lantes.

    So should we expect Repub­li­can-run states and Repub­li­can state-lev­el can­di­dates to begin aggres­sive­ly run­ning on a plat­form of repli­cat­ing the Texas abor­tion ban? Well, that’s where this sto­ry gets extra inter­est­ing. Because as the fol­low­ing Politi­co arti­cle reminds us, it’s not like an abor­tion ban is actu­al­ly a net-pop­u­lar posi­tion across the US gen­er­al­ly speak­ing. The Repub­li­can evan­gel­i­cal base is extreme­ly keen on ban­ning abor­tion but that’s real­ly the core con­stituen­cy for the issue. And that’s why it’s look­ing like it’s the Democ­rats who are going to be talk­ing the most about abor­tion in the the 2022 races.

    Oh, and as the arti­cle also points out, the Texas law had anoth­er fea­ture that Democ­rats are going to eager to share with vot­ers: the Texas abor­tion ban does­n’t include an exemp­tion for rape or incest. So, in the­o­ry, you could be raped, impreg­nat­ed, and your rapist or their asso­ciates could sue to ensure the preg­nan­cy goes to term. These are the kinds of polit­i­cal dynam­ics that have been unleashed head­ing into the 2022 elec­tion cycle.

    But let’s keep in mind that this is all also tak­ing in the con­text of a Repub­li­can Par­ty that is increas­ing­ly invest­ed in ‘stolen elec­tion’ nar­ra­tive where some sort of vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion is becom­ing the unspo­ken plat­form of the par­ty. So while this abor­tion rul­ing has cre­at­ed a polit­i­cal ‘win’ for the GOP that could end up becom­ing a polit­i­cal alba­tross for the par­ty, we have to keep in mind that it’s a par­ty that’s increas­ing­ly mov­ing towards a post-democ­ra­cy insur­rec­tion­ist plat­form any­way, so lack of pop­u­lar­i­ty of the GOP’s extreme pol­i­tics may not be rel­e­vant in the post-democ­ra­cy Amer­i­ca of the future:

    Politi­co

    Abor­tion becomes a ‘huge moti­va­tor’ in gov­er­nor races

    Democ­rats in Cal­i­for­nia and Vir­ginia seized on a restric­tive new law in Texas to moti­vate the party’s base vot­ers in elec­tions this fall.

    By ZACH MONTELLARO
    09/01/2021 08:50 PM EDT

    The new Texas abor­tion ban is refo­cus­ing both par­ties’ atten­tion on races for state office over the next year, set­ting the stage for a clash over abor­tion rights at the bal­lot box.

    On Wednes­day, out­raged Democ­rats sought to drag the issue of abor­tion rights into elec­tions across the coun­try, par­tic­u­lar­ly in two key, blue-state governor’s races this fall: Cal­i­for­nia and Vir­ginia.

    “It will be a huge moti­va­tor for indi­vid­u­als to come out and vote,” Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe, the for­mer Vir­ginia gov­er­nor who is run­ning again, said in an inter­view. He repeat­ed­ly described him­self as a “brick wall” on wom­en’s rights.

    Between the Supreme Court’s inac­tion in the Texas case — allow­ing a law that bans abor­tion after six weeks of preg­nan­cy to take effect ear­li­er Wednes­day — and a loom­ing high court case chal­leng­ing the Roe v. Wade prece­dent, abor­tion rights are mov­ing to the fore­front of the 2022 midterms. The Supreme Court’s next major abor­tion case will be heard in the court’s new term begin­ning this fall and is like­ly to be decid­ed by next sum­mer, months before the elec­tion.

    “We’re in this his­toric moment where the court has cho­sen to take up a major abor­tion case. There’s been a crescen­do,” Mal­lo­ry Quigley, a vice pres­i­dent of the anti-abor­tion group Susan B. Antho­ny List, said of Dobbs v. Jack­son Wom­en’s Health Orga­ni­za­tion. “A lot will depend on what the out­come of the Dobbs case is. All of us on the pro-life side, we’re hop­ing that the out­come is that gov­er­nors’ hand­cuffs will be tak­en off.”

    Even before this week’s devel­op­ments, McAu­li­ffe has sought to ele­vate his sup­port of abor­tion rights. Vir­ginia is one of three guber­na­to­r­i­al con­tests this year, along with New Jer­sey and the Cal­i­for­nia recall, and has long been seen as a polit­i­cal bell­wether.

    Ear­li­er this week, McAu­li­ffe launched a new TV ad attack­ing Glenn Youngkin, his Repub­li­can oppo­nent, fea­tur­ing a doc­tor who said Youngkin had a “far-right agen­da” on abor­tion. AdIm­pact, a polit­i­cal ad track­ing ser­vice, report­ed over $92,000 in spend­ing on the ad since it launched on Tues­day, air­ing over 200 times across the state in two days. The ad, along with an old­er sec­ond ad also attack­ing Youngkin on abor­tion, account­ed for 50 per­cent of the campaign’s total air­ings in that time­frame, includ­ing prime­time spots like dur­ing ABC’s “Bach­e­lor in Par­adise.”

    When asked for com­ment or an inter­view about the Texas ban, Youngkin’s cam­paign point­ed to audio of a press gag­gle at a Tues­day event host­ed by Vir­ginia FREE, a busi­ness group, where Youngkin did not direct­ly answer if he sup­ports the Texas ban when asked. “I’m most focused on keep­ing Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe from his extreme agen­da” on abor­tion, he says in the clip shared by the cam­paign. “I’m pro-life. I believe in excep­tions in the case of rape, in the case of incest and in the case when the mother’s life is in jeop­ardy.”

    The Texas law does not have exemp­tions for rape or incest.

    McAu­li­ffe ham­mered Youngkin as duplic­i­tous on the issue, point­ing to a video secret­ly record­ed by The Under­cur­rent, a lib­er­al “grass­roots polit­i­cal web-show,” and shared with the web­site the Amer­i­can Inde­pen­dent. (The Inde­pen­dent is fund­ed, in part, by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion research group Amer­i­can Bridge.)

    In the video, which was first pub­lished in ear­ly July and lat­er fea­tured in a McAu­li­ffe ad, Youngkin says “when I’m gov­er­nor, and I have a major­i­ty in the [state] House, we can start going on offense. But as a cam­paign top­ic, sad­ly, that in fact won’t win my inde­pen­dent votes that I have to get.” In a state­ment at the time, Youngkin spokesper­son Matt Wolk­ing said in an email to The Wash­ing­ton Post that “this decep­tive­ly record­ed audio demon­strates that Glenn Youngkin says the same thing no mat­ter who he is talk­ing to,” and attacked McAu­li­ffe.

    Jeanne Manci­ni, the pres­i­dent of March for Life, which hosts a major anti-abor­tion ral­ly in Wash­ing­ton every year, wrote in an email that she expect­ed her home state of Vir­ginia “will be impor­tant when it comes to a debate about abor­tion,” attack­ing both McAu­li­ffe and his suc­ces­sor, Gov. Ralph Northam, for com­ments the sit­ting gov­er­nor made dur­ing a fight over abor­tion in 2019.

    March for Life is plan­ning on hold­ing a Vir­gina ral­ly in Rich­mond, the state cap­i­tal, lat­er this month, it’s third annu­al march in the state. “We are antic­i­pat­ing that the event will inspire vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion in November’s elec­tion,” she wrote. Speak­ers have not yet been announced.

    And in Cal­i­for­nia, Democ­rats have sought to ele­vate the ban ahead of this month’s recall elec­tion, less than two weeks away. Embat­tled Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov. Gavin New­som tweet­ed that the Supreme Court had “evis­cer­at­ed the pro­tec­tion of a woman’s right to choose,” and allies quick­ly tied it to the recall.

    The head of Planned Par­ent­hood in Cal­i­for­nia used the moment to urge vot­ers to reject the recall. Abor­tion rights activists have been acti­vat­ing their sup­port­ers in recent weeks, using the threat to gal­va­nize oppo­si­tion to the recall. “There is no ques­tion that access to abor­tion is on the bal­lot in two weeks,” Jodi Hicks, pres­i­dent and CEO of Planned Par­ent­hood Affil­i­ates of Cal­i­for­nia, said in a state­ment.

    Many of the Repub­li­can recall can­di­dates oppose abor­tion or have been silent on the issue, with the excep­tion of for­mer San Diego May­or Kevin Faulcon­er, who sup­ports abor­tion as a legal option. It’s also unclear how much a Repub­li­can gov­er­nor could chip away at abor­tion rights in Cal­i­for­nia, giv­en that the state has some of the strongest abor­tion pro­tec­tions in the coun­try and both hous­es of the state leg­is­la­ture have Demo­c­ra­t­ic super­ma­jori­ties — some­thing radio host Lar­ry Elder, the lead­ing Repub­li­can can­di­date in the recall elec­tion, not­ed dur­ing a Wednes­day press con­fer­ence.

    “This is not any­thing that’s on my pri­or­i­ty list,” Elder said of abor­tion. “And in the unlike­ly event that Roe v. Wade is over­turned … we have 2/3rds super­ma­jori­ties in the [leg­is­la­ture] … and there’s zero pos­si­bil­i­ty that all of a sud­den, those two-thirds are going to sud­den­ly become pro-life like Lar­ry Elder.”

    Can­di­dates and oper­a­tives on both sides said they believe that the Texas deci­sion, com­bined with the loom­ing Dobbs case, said abor­tion pol­i­tics could moti­vate vot­ers to turn out. “It will be a cor­ner­stone of races in ‘21. And I expect that it will have a sig­nif­i­cant role in many races in ‘22,” said New Mex­i­co Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the chair of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion, who is up for reelec­tion her­self in 2022.

    Lujan Grisham said the issue would be par­tic­u­lar­ly salient among col­lege edu­cat­ed women, a key part of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic coali­tion, along with women in sub­ur­ban and urban areas. She not­ed that it was a par­tic­u­lar­ly strong issue among the Demo­c­ra­t­ic base, say­ing that she “ran sole­ly” on repro­duc­tive rights dur­ing her 2012 con­gres­sion­al pri­ma­ry vic­to­ry.

    Between 2021 and 2022, 36 states will hold elec­tions for gov­er­nor, and all but two states will vote for state leg­is­la­ture. Nation­al­ly, 54 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think abor­tion should be legal in most cas­es, while 42 per­cent think it should be ille­gal, accord­ing to a recent NBC News poll.

    But while the 2022 land­scape won’t just be fought in blue-lean­ing ter­ri­to­ry like Cal­i­for­nia and Vir­ginia, Lujan Grisham said she believed the issue “has become rel­e­vant now for women and their fam­i­lies every­where, in every pock­et” of the coun­try. She said to expect the DGA to high­light the issue in adver­tis­ing and oth­er out­reach.

    Quigley, of SBA List, said her orga­ni­za­tion would focus on turn­ing out two dif­fer­ent kind of vot­ers: “Peo­ple who are strong­ly pro-life who per­haps are maybe fatigued over the last few elec­tion cycles,” and those who sup­port restric­tions on abor­tions but may be con­sid­er­ing vot­ing for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates for oth­er issues.

    “Whether it’s cli­mate change or health care or immi­gra­tion or in 2020, just per­son­al­i­ty,” Quigley said. “When we explain to them the dif­fer­ence that exists between the two can­di­dates on this issue, and those sharp, sharp con­trasts that exist, they can be per­suad­ed to vote pro-life.”

    The anti-abor­tion group has already begun knock­ing on doors in Geor­gia and Ari­zona, two states that have com­pet­i­tive Sen­ate and guber­na­to­r­i­al races in 2022. The group has also been involved in efforts to cre­ate new restric­tions for vot­ing in sev­er­al states.

    ...

    ———-

    “Abor­tion becomes a ‘huge moti­va­tor’ in gov­er­nor races” by ZACH MONTELLARO; Politi­co; 09/01/2021

    “Between the Supreme Court’s inac­tion in the Texas case — allow­ing a law that bans abor­tion after six weeks of preg­nan­cy to take effect ear­li­er Wednes­day — and a loom­ing high court case chal­leng­ing the Roe v. Wade prece­dent, abor­tion rights are mov­ing to the fore­front of the 2022 midterms. The Supreme Court’s next major abor­tion case will be heard in the court’s new term begin­ning this fall and is like­ly to be decid­ed by next sum­mer, months before the elec­tion.

    It’s been build­ing towards this for decades and it final­ly hap­pened. In Texas. But it’s not going to stay in Texas. This was a tem­plate. A tem­plate that does­n’t even have exemp­tions for rape or incest. This is now law in Texas, with the bless­ing of the Supreme Court. It’s the kind of rul­ing that makes abor­tion a nation­al issue for the com­ing elec­tion cycles. And based on polling, while the idea of giv­ing states the pow­er to ban abor­tion might be extreme­ly pop­u­lar with the Repub­li­can base, it’s not so pop­u­lar with the elec­torate as a whole. It’s the kind of dynam­ic that’s going to force the GOP to engage in even more decep­tive and dis­ori­ent­ing cam­paign­ing tac­tics than nor­mal:

    ...
    When asked for com­ment or an inter­view about the Texas ban, Youngkin’s cam­paign point­ed to audio of a press gag­gle at a Tues­day event host­ed by Vir­ginia FREE, a busi­ness group, where Youngkin did not direct­ly answer if he sup­ports the Texas ban when asked. “I’m most focused on keep­ing Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe from his extreme agen­da” on abor­tion, he says in the clip shared by the cam­paign. “I’m pro-life. I believe in excep­tions in the case of rape, in the case of incest and in the case when the mother’s life is in jeop­ardy.”

    The Texas law does not have exemp­tions for rape or incest.

    McAu­li­ffe ham­mered Youngkin as duplic­i­tous on the issue, point­ing to a video secret­ly record­ed by The Under­cur­rent, a lib­er­al “grass­roots polit­i­cal web-show,” and shared with the web­site the Amer­i­can Inde­pen­dent. (The Inde­pen­dent is fund­ed, in part, by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion research group Amer­i­can Bridge.)

    In the video, which was first pub­lished in ear­ly July and lat­er fea­tured in a McAu­li­ffe ad, Youngkin says “when I’m gov­er­nor, and I have a major­i­ty in the [state] House, we can start going on offense. But as a cam­paign top­ic, sad­ly, that in fact won’t win my inde­pen­dent votes that I have to get.” In a state­ment at the time, Youngkin spokesper­son Matt Wolk­ing said in an email to The Wash­ing­ton Post that “this decep­tive­ly record­ed audio demon­strates that Glenn Youngkin says the same thing no mat­ter who he is talk­ing to,” and attacked McAu­li­ffe.
    ...

    And don’t for­get one of the quirks of US fed­er­al­ism: the vast major­i­ty of states hold their guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tions dur­ing mid-term years. So 36 state gov­er­nor­ships are going to be up for elec­tion in 2022. So abor­tion rights could end up becom­ing a sig­nif­i­cant issue in the vast major­i­ty of all the states in 2022. Not just Texas:

    ...
    Between 2021 and 2022, 36 states will hold elec­tions for gov­er­nor, and all but two states will vote for state leg­is­la­ture. Nation­al­ly, 54 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think abor­tion should be legal in most cas­es, while 42 per­cent think it should be ille­gal, accord­ing to a recent NBC News poll.
    ...

    Final­ly, we have to keep in mind how the anti-abor­tion move­ment real­ly is just one com­po­nent of a much larg­er con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal move­ment in the US and basi­cal­ly a tool of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. It’s why we should­n’t be sur­prised to learn some of the biggest anti-abor­tion orga­ni­za­tions have also been involved with the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s push to restrict vot­ing rights:

    ...
    The anti-abor­tion group has already begun knock­ing on doors in Geor­gia and Ari­zona, two states that have com­pet­i­tive Sen­ate and guber­na­to­r­i­al races in 2022. The group has also been involved in efforts to cre­ate new restric­tions for vot­ing in sev­er­al states.
    ...

    And as we’ve seen, there is no sep­a­rat­ing the con­tem­po­rary anti-abor­tion move­ment from its exten­sive white suprema­cist roots. It’s part of what makes the vig­i­lante nature of Tex­as­’s new law so dis­turb­ing.

    And that brings us to a new report on a very dif­fer­ent sto­ry that is nonethe­less part of this larg­er sto­ry of a con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment increas­ing­ly gripped by a far far Christo­fas­cist white nation­al­ist iden­ti­ty: the head of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty’s Office of Intel­li­gence and Analy­sis, John Cohen, held a con­fer­ence call with local and state law enforce­ment offi­cials last week shar­ing con­cerns about the nar­ra­tives and chat­ter they’re see­ing on white suprema­cists forums in response to the US with­draw­al of Afghanistan. Accord­ing to Cohen, neo-Nazis have been express­ing a mix of glee and admi­ra­tion for the Tal­iban and the type of soci­ety they achieved — where misog­y­ny, homo­pho­bia, and anti-Semi­tism are part of offi­cial law and dis­senters are exe­cut­ed — cou­pled with fear and anger over the prospect of Afghan refugees com­ing to the West. The “Great Replace­ment The­o­ry” is report­ed­ly at the core of these fears, and that idea as appar­ent­ly the over­ar­ch­ing nar­ra­tive dri­ving the neo-Nazi chat­ter. In oth­er words, the “White ISIS” fan base is pre­dictably over­joyed.

    This is all part of the con­text of how the pol­i­tics of a vig­i­lante abor­tion legal jus­tice par­a­digm will play out in the US. At the same time abor­tion is once again thrust into the cen­ter of the US polit­i­cal dis­course, we’re see­ing the GOP morph into an open­ly insur­rec­tion­ist par­ty that views the jailed insur­rec­tion­ists as polit­i­cal pris­on­ers who might need to be bro­ken out of jail vio­lent­ly. And of course the par­ty remains as vir­u­lent­ly anti-immi­grant has any point since its Trumpian takeover in 2016. And, of course, there’s the endur­ing appeal of QAnon inside the GOP, a nar­ra­tive where Satan­ic Com­mu­nist Democ­rats are secret­ly sac­ri­fic­ing chil­dren. And now, fol­low­ing this rul­ing, abor­tion vig­i­lante pol­i­tics have been inject­ed into the sit­u­a­tion. That’s why these warn­ings about the neo-Nazi response to the Tal­iban’s vic­to­ry can’t real­ly be inter­pret­ed sep­a­rate­ly from all the warn­ings about the GOP’s anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic extrem­ism. The world­views of neo-Nazis and the GOP base are merg­ing, with “The Great Replace­ment” and “stolen elec­tion” nar­ra­tives dri­ving this merg­er:

    CNN

    White suprema­cist praise of the Tal­iban takeover con­cerns US offi­cials

    By Gene­va Sands
    Updat­ed 4:50 PM ET, Wed Sep­tem­ber 1, 2021

    (CNN)As the Unit­ed States-backed gov­ern­ment in Afghanistan fell to the Tal­iban and US troops raced to leave the coun­try, White suprema­cist and anti-gov­ern­ment extrem­ists have expressed admi­ra­tion for what the Tal­iban accom­plished, a wor­ry­ing devel­op­ment for US offi­cials who have been grap­pling with the threat of domes­tic vio­lent extrem­ism.

    That praise has also been cou­pled with a wave of anti-refugee sen­ti­ment from far-right groups, as the US and oth­ers rushed to evac­u­ate tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from Afghanistan by the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s August 31 dead­line.

    Sev­er­al con­cern­ing trends have emerged in recent weeks on online plat­forms com­mon­ly used by anti-gov­ern­ment, White suprema­cist and oth­er domes­tic vio­lent extrem­ist groups, includ­ing “fram­ing the activ­i­ties of the Tal­iban as a suc­cess,” and a mod­el for those who believe in the need for a civ­il war in the US, the head of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty’s Office of Intel­li­gence and Analy­sis, John Cohen, said on a call Fri­day with local and state law enforce­ment, obtained by CNN.

    Cohen said on the call that DHS has also ana­lyzed dis­cus­sions cen­ter­ing on “the great replace­ment con­cept” a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that immi­grants, in this case the relo­ca­tion of Afghans to the US, would lead to a loss of con­trol and author­i­ty by White Amer­i­cans.

    “There are con­cerns that those nar­ra­tives may incite vio­lent activ­i­ties direct­ed at immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, cer­tain faith com­mu­ni­ties, or even those who are relo­cat­ed to the Unit­ed States,” he added.

    Far-right extrem­ist com­mu­ni­ties have been invig­o­rat­ed by the events in Afghanistan, “whether by their desire to emu­late the Tal­iban or increas­ing­ly vio­lent rhetoric about ‘inva­sions’ by dis­placed Afghans,” accord­ing to recent analy­sis from SITE Intel­li­gence Group, an Amer­i­can non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion that tracks online activ­i­ty of White suprema­cist and jihadist orga­ni­za­tions.

    Some peo­ple are com­mend­ing the Tal­iban’s takeover as “a les­son in love for the home­land, for free­dom, and for reli­gion,” SITE said in its week­ly bul­letin on far-right extrem­ists.

    Neo-Nazi and vio­lent accel­er­a­tionists — who hope to pro­voke what they see as an inevitable race war, which would lead to a Whites-only state — in North Amer­i­ca and Europe are prais­ing the Tal­iban for its anti-Semi­tism, homo­pho­bia, and severe restric­tions on wom­en’s free­dom, SITE found.

    For exam­ple, a quote tak­en from the Proud Boy to Fas­cist Pipeline Telegram chan­nel, said: “These farm­ers and min­i­mal­ly trained men fought to take back their nation back from globo­ho­mo. They took back their gov­ern­ment, installed their nation­al reli­gion as law, and exe­cut­ed dis­senters ... If white men in the west had the same courage as the Tal­iban, we would not be ruled by Jews cur­rent­ly,” SITE found.

    “Globo­ho­mo” is a deroga­to­ry word used to insult “glob­al­ists,” the term used by con­spir­a­cy pro­mot­ers to describe their ene­my (the evil glob­al elite who con­trol the media, finance, polit­i­cal sys­tem etc), accord­ing to SITE.

    For months, US offi­cials have warned that domes­tic vio­lent extrem­ism is the great­est threat to the home­land, point­ing to the Jan­u­ary 6 attack at the US Capi­tol as a stark illus­tra­tion of the poten­tial for vio­lence that can occur when con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and false nar­ra­tives flour­ish.

    A sig­nif­i­cant part of the cur­rent threat envi­ron­ment comes from indi­vid­u­als who are influ­enced by what they see online, Cohen told CNN in an inter­view last month.

    At this time, Anti-Defama­tion League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism, is not see­ing any observed cred­i­ble threats, or mobi­liza­tion of online extrem­ist activ­i­ty, but is con­cerned that the cur­rent online rhetoric high­lights ide­o­log­i­cal con­cerns and pos­si­ble threats to pub­lic safe­ty, said Joan­na Mendel­son, asso­ciate direc­tor of the cen­ter.

    Extrem­ists often take cur­rent events and weave them into their own nar­ra­tive and world­view, said Mendel­son, which is what is tak­ing place in the after­math of the with­draw­al from Afghanistan and amid the human­i­tar­i­an and mil­i­tary cri­sis.

    “They’re tak­ing the same kind of core tropes and themes, and kind of big­ot­ed views of the world, and inject­ing them into this cur­rent event,” Mendel­son told CNN.

    There has been a lot of Islam­o­pho­bia and xeno­pho­bia echoed by White suprema­cists and anti-Mus­lim activists, claim­ing that pub­lic safe­ty and nation­al secu­ri­ty is threat­ened because they see refugees through a stereo­typ­i­cal lens as being dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals or ter­ror­ists, accord­ing to Mendel­son.

    A core con­spir­a­cy guid­ing White suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy is the “the great replace­ment,” the belief that ulti­mate­ly, the White race is fac­ing its ulti­mate extinc­tion, she said.

    There is also “almost this infat­u­a­tion and admi­ra­tion” of the Tal­iban, Mendel­son said, point­ing to the notion that an under-equipped insur­gent group could suc­cess­ful­ly defeat a glob­al pow­er.

    “The fact that the Tal­iban at the end of the day could claim vic­to­ry over such a world pow­er is some­thing that White suprema­cists are tak­ing note of,” she said.

    Megan Squire, a pro­fes­sor of Com­put­er Sci­ence at Elon Uni­ver­si­ty, who research­es US-based domes­tic extrem­ist groups, has seen three main Afghanistan-relat­ed trends emerge in plat­forms used by a range of far-right groups, such as White suprema­cists, neo-Nazis and Proud Boys-style forums.

    The first nar­ra­tive to emerge among the extreme far-right groups was “rev­el­ing in the humil­i­a­tion” of the US with­draw­al from Afghanistan as images emerged of Tal­iban fight­ers tak­ing over city after city, along with US equip­ment left behind, Squire said, both cel­e­bra­tions of defeat and feel­ings humil­i­a­tion as Amer­i­cans.

    When one goes deep­er into the neo-Nazi groups, you see some cel­e­bra­tion of the Tal­iban, usu­al­ly relat­ed to extreme­ly misog­y­nis­tic or extreme­ly anti-Semit­ic dis­cus­sion, she added.

    This type of cross-ide­o­log­i­cal praise has his­tor­i­cal prece­dent, accord­ing to Squire, cit­ing as an exam­ple, a meme that cir­cu­lat­ed in neo-Nazi com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly misog­y­nist peri­od about “white Sharia,” the con­cept that women should be treat­ed the way the Tal­iban treats women.

    There have been recent exam­ples of right-lean­ing groups sup­port­ing move­ment over­seas that appear ide­o­log­i­cal­ly dis­tant. For instance, ear­li­er this sum­mer, QAnon and Don­ald Trump-sup­port­ing online forums cel­e­brat­ed the dead­ly mil­i­tary coup in Myan­mar and sug­gest­ed the same should hap­pen in the Unit­ed States so Trump could be rein­stat­ed as Pres­i­dent. CNN also spoke to fol­low­ers of the for­mer Pres­i­dent in Ven­tu­ra, Cal­i­for­nia, in Feb­ru­ary who said they want­ed to see a Myan­mar-style coup hap­pen here.

    How­ev­er, the most com­mon nar­ra­tive is around the idea that the US is “import­ing the Tal­iban” through the relo­ca­tion of Afghans and that Afghan refugees are too dif­fer­ent to become real cit­i­zens, accord­ing to Squire.

    “It’s real­ly an anti-Mus­lim idea, anti-immi­gra­tion idea,” she said.

    The Pen­ta­gon announced Mon­day that the last US mil­i­tary planes left Afghanistan, depart­ing after weeks of chaot­ic and dead­ly evac­u­a­tion efforts that were punc­tu­at­ed by the dev­as­tat­ing sui­cide attack last Thurs­day that killed more than 170 peo­ple, in addi­tion to the 13 US ser­vice mem­bers who were also killed.

    Some of the Afghanistan nar­ra­tives are focused on “the Tal­iban did it right” and that it should be a “les­son learned” for how we should oper­ate in the US, a US law enforce­ment offi­cial told CNN about the rapid rise of the Tal­iban as the US with­drew troops.

    “That’s got us a lit­tle con­cerned,” because it sug­gests an esca­la­tion in vio­lence, the offi­cial added. For exam­ple, there were ref­er­ences to the fact that only 80,000 Tal­iban were able to defeat an Afghan army of sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand sup­port­ed by the US, the offi­cial said.

    As of Feb­ru­ary, the Afghan forces num­bered 308,000 per­son­nel, accord­ing to a Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil report released in June — well above the esti­mat­ed num­ber of armed Tal­iban fight­ers, which ranged from 58,000 to 100,000, CNN pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed. Though num­ber of Afghan forces has been con­sid­ered by many to be inflat­ed.

    “There are some sig­nif­i­cant dis­cus­sions,” in which peo­ple are express­ing sup­port of what the Tal­iban has done and are look­ing at it as an exam­ple of what anti-gov­ern­ment extrem­ists should be doing in the US, the offi­cial said, adding that the reac­tion has been a “lit­tle bit sur­pris­ing.”

    In Europe and the US, there has also been an “out­pour­ing” of anti-refugee com­men­tary from White nation­al­ists and Neo-Nazis respond­ing to the Tal­iban’s takeover, SITE found.

    Com­men­tary on anony­mous forums has been par­tic­u­lar­ly vio­lent, accord­ing to SITE, which found users dis­cussing tak­ing up arms, and in one case, threat­en­ing attacks on refugee assis­tance orga­ni­za­tions in Flori­da.

    The hate­ful rhetoric is sim­i­lar to that seen amid Libyan and Syr­i­an refugee waves in the 2010s, which paved the way for vio­lent ter­ror­ist attacks in Christchurch and Pitts­burgh, accord­ing to SITE.

    ...

    ———–

    “White suprema­cist praise of the Tal­iban takeover con­cerns US offi­cials” by Gene­va Sands; CNN; 09/01/2021

    “Far-right extrem­ist com­mu­ni­ties have been invig­o­rat­ed by the events in Afghanistan, “whether by their desire to emu­late the Tal­iban or increas­ing­ly vio­lent rhetoric about ‘inva­sions’ by dis­placed Afghans,” accord­ing to recent analy­sis from SITE Intel­li­gence Group, an Amer­i­can non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion that tracks online activ­i­ty of White suprema­cist and jihadist orga­ni­za­tions.”

    It’s like some sort of far right fear fetish. The neo-Nazis love what the Tal­iban have accom­plished: they lit­er­al­ly cap­tured and enslaved an entire soci­ety. Women are basi­cal­ly prop­er­ty and anti-Semi­tism and homo­pho­bia are offi­cial state law. The “White Sharia” neo-Nazi fan­ta­sy sce­nario is play­ing out in real-time in Afghanistan:

    ...
    Neo-Nazi and vio­lent accel­er­a­tionists — who hope to pro­voke what they see as an inevitable race war, which would lead to a Whites-only state — in North Amer­i­ca and Europe are prais­ing the Tal­iban for its anti-Semi­tism, homo­pho­bia, and severe restric­tions on wom­en’s free­dom, SITE found.

    For exam­ple, a quote tak­en from the Proud Boy to Fas­cist Pipeline Telegram chan­nel, said: “These farm­ers and min­i­mal­ly trained men fought to take back their nation back from globo­ho­mo. They took back their gov­ern­ment, installed their nation­al reli­gion as law, and exe­cut­ed dis­senters ... If white men in the west had the same courage as the Tal­iban, we would not be ruled by Jews cur­rent­ly,” SITE found.

    ...

    When one goes deep­er into the neo-Nazi groups, you see some cel­e­bra­tion of the Tal­iban, usu­al­ly relat­ed to extreme­ly misog­y­nis­tic or extreme­ly anti-Semit­ic dis­cus­sion, she added.

    This type of cross-ide­o­log­i­cal praise has his­tor­i­cal prece­dent, accord­ing to Squire, cit­ing as an exam­ple, a meme that cir­cu­lat­ed in neo-Nazi com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly misog­y­nist peri­od about “white Sharia,” the con­cept that women should be treat­ed the way the Tal­iban treats women.

    There have been recent exam­ples of right-lean­ing groups sup­port­ing move­ment over­seas that appear ide­o­log­i­cal­ly dis­tant. For instance, ear­li­er this sum­mer, QAnon and Don­ald Trump-sup­port­ing online forums cel­e­brat­ed the dead­ly mil­i­tary coup in Myan­mar and sug­gest­ed the same should hap­pen in the Unit­ed States so Trump could be rein­stat­ed as Pres­i­dent. CNN also spoke to fol­low­ers of the for­mer Pres­i­dent in Ven­tu­ra, Cal­i­for­nia, in Feb­ru­ary who said they want­ed to see a Myan­mar-style coup hap­pen here.
    ...

    But while they love the idea of repli­cat­ing a Tal­iban-like sys­tem in the West, the idea of all these Afghan refugees com­ing to the West are only fuel­ing the “Great Replace­ment” nar­ra­tive that oper­ates at the core of the far right’s nar­ra­tives. Fears of waves of non-white immi­grants flood­ing the West, as artic­u­lat­ed in the Camp of the Saints tout­ed by Steve Ban­non. For all of the cel­e­brat­ing over the Tal­iban’s vic­to­ry, it’s fears of Afghan refugees that dom­i­nates far right dis­cus­sions boards:

    ...
    Cohen said on the call that DHS has also ana­lyzed dis­cus­sions cen­ter­ing on “the great replace­ment con­cept” a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that immi­grants, in this case the relo­ca­tion of Afghans to the US, would lead to a loss of con­trol and author­i­ty by White Amer­i­cans.

    “There are con­cerns that those nar­ra­tives may incite vio­lent activ­i­ties direct­ed at immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, cer­tain faith com­mu­ni­ties, or even those who are relo­cat­ed to the Unit­ed States,” he added.
    ...

    It’s also worth keep­ing in mind that, with a poten­tial civ­il war devel­op­ing inside Afghanistan between the Tal­iban and the even more extreme ISIS, the 2020 sto­ry about Ethan Melz­er, a Satan­ic Atom­waf­fen mem­ber of the US mil­i­tary who was report­ed­ly work­ing with Islamist extrem­ists to help facil­i­tate attacks on US troops, in the hopes of trig­ger­ing a deep US involve­ment in the Mid­dle East. This sto­ry was part of a ‘Satanist dra­ma’ that was roil­ing ISIS, with some ISIS mem­bers not shar­ing oth­ers’ Satan­ic ambi­tions. Yes, along­side the Chris­t­ian Iden­ti­ty mem­bers of these neo-Nazi move­ments, we’re also going to find plen­ty of Satan­ic neo-Nazis pin­ing for a “White Sharia” home­land of their own. And its get­ting hard­er and hard­er to dis­tin­guish between the world­views of these neo-Nazis and those of the rad­i­cal­ized anti-abor­tion move­ment fused at the hip with the Repub­li­can Par­ty. An umbrel­la move­ment Uni­fied by the “Great Replace­ment The­o­ry” and a lethal desire to ‘own the libs’. It’s a warn­ing that the end stage of ‘own­ing the libs’ will involve the effec­tive own­er­ship of women. Again. So as the pol­i­tics of vig­i­lante abor­tions pol­i­tics spreads from state to state in the US over the com­ing elec­tion cycles, it’s going to be impor­tant to keep in mind that the under­ly­ing “Great Replace­ment” nar­ra­tive fuel­ing this move­ment is the same umbrel­la nar­ra­tive fuel­ing a broad coali­tion of move­ment that have the Tal­iban-style sub­ju­ga­tion of the world as their end goal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 2, 2021, 5:09 pm
  16. The ques­tion of how much black­mail and extor­tion runs DC is one of those ques­tions rarely asked as much it should be asked despite a seem­ing­ly end­less flood of cor­rup­tion sto­ries that paint a pic­ture of a Repub­li­can Par­ty that is more or less run as an orga­nized crime rack­et. So when sto­ries about explic­it mass black­mail rings pop up it’s always extra inter­est­ing to see how much wider inter­est there is in the gen­er­al top­ic. Will news out­lets dogged­ly track the sto­ry or let it qui­et­ly die? Will a sto­ry about a blackmail/extortion ring actu­al­ly cap­ture the pub­lic’s imag­i­na­tion? Or is the US pub­lic so inured to cor­rup­tion sto­ries that noth­ing mat­ters any­more?

    These are the kinds of ques­tions that get put to the test by the explo­sive new round of alle­ga­tions made by a Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date in Penn­syl­va­nia who just gave a press con­fer­ence describ­ing a pro­posed blackmail/extortion ring that he was offered to help devise and deploy. An intra-GOP blackmail/extortion ring called the “Patri­ot Cau­cus” financed by bil­lion­aire Koch-net­work mega-donor Al Hart­man and led by Michael Fly­nn. Yes, the for­mer head of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency is now run­ning a blackmail/extortion ring accord­ing to these claims.

    But it gets much worse. It’s not just a blackmail/extortion ring. The “Patri­ot Cau­cus” was try­ing to set up a blackmail/extortion ring tar­get­ing GOP­ers who are not already ful­ly on board with the ‘Stop the Steal’ nar­ra­tive, so it’s intend­ed to be a kind of final inter­nal purge of any­one who isn’t ready to play ball on the push to rig elec­tions once and for all under the guise of ‘elec­tion integri­ty’. And accord­ing to these alle­ga­tions, it’s a plot that goes beyond black­mail and extor­tion and explic­it­ly includ­ed pos­si­ble use of domes­tic ter­ror­ism.

    So a cur­rent Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date made these incred­i­bly explo­sive pub­lic claims. How believ­able are they? This is where this sto­ry gets extra dis­turb­ing. Because while the sto­ry sounds rather out­landish on the sur­face giv­en the extreme nature of the claims, it becomes a lot more plau­si­ble when we look at who is mak­ing these claims and who they are talk­ing about. Because it turns out it’s Everette Stern mak­ing these alle­ga­tions. And Everette Stern just hap­pens to be the same fig­ure who alert­ed the world back in Jan­u­ary of this year to a high­ly dis­turb­ing new fas­cist group that set up a non-prof­it in Palm Beach, Flori­da, not far from Trumps Mar-a-Lago resort. The group calls itself the Sov­er­eign Amer­i­can Project, although it has inter­na­tion­al ties includ­ing ties to Ukrain­ian fas­cists. The group appears to spe­cial­ize in gen­er­at­ing sophis­ti­cat­ed pro-sep­a­ratist pro­pa­gan­da tar­get­ing US con­ser­v­a­tives. The idea is to first pro­pose a peace­ful sep­a­ra­tion for ‘the Left’. There are strong hints of vio­lence should the ‘peace­ful’ option not pre­vail. What form of gov­ern­ment would this group impose? Well, some­thing pret­ty sim­i­lar to what Al Hart­man would prob­a­bly love: Lib­er­tar­i­an­ism for busi­ness but gov­ern­ment pow­er to impose reli­gious val­ues on indi­vid­u­als. Theo­crat­ic fas­cism.

    And because this Sov­er­eign Amer­i­can Project group was oper­at­ing under non-prof­it sta­tus in Flori­da, dona­tions to the group can remain shel­tered from the pub­lic. In oth­er words, this new sophis­ti­cat­ed pro­pa­gan­da group that is push­ing a ‘sep­a­ratism or else’ agen­da could be financed by the Koch net­work mega-donors and we would nev­er know. Or for­eign donors. It’s all a giant secret.

    That’s the pic­ture paint­ed by Stern’s pri­vate intel­li­gence firm “Tac­ti­cal Rab­bit” back in Jan­u­ary. A few months lat­er, Stern announc­ing he’s run­ning for the Sen­ate in Penn­syl­va­nia to replace Repub­li­can Pat Toomey. And dur­ing one of these cam­paign events, he’s approached by two peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing the “Patri­ot Cau­cus” who alleged­ly float this plot. A plot to extort not just his oppo­nent but GOP­ers in mul­ti­ple states, using domes­tic ter­ror­ism if need be, with the ulti­mate goal of elim­i­nat­ing any GOP­ers who don’t agree with the ‘Stop the Steal’ Big Lie.

    Oh, and it also turns out Stern has a his­to­ry of whistle­blow­ing. He blew the whis­tle on HSBC’s bil­lions of dol­lars in mon­ey-laun­der­ing. So this was not some­one you want to approach with a pro­pos­al to run a trea­so­nous black­mail/­do­mes­tic-ter­ror cam­paign. And yet, if true, it appears this “Patri­ot Cau­cus” did just that. Did the “Patri­ot Cau­cus” not do their home­work and mere­ly think Everette was just a ran­dom cor­rupt­ible Toomey oppo­nent who also con­ve­nient­ly hap­pens to run the kind of pri­vate intel­li­gence firm they were look­ing for? Because if you ignore Stern’s back­ground as a prin­ci­pled whistle­blow­er, he’s kind of exact­ly what they were look­ing for: a Repub­li­can with a pri­vate intel­li­gence oper­a­tion who had a motive to take down one of their top tar­gets. It’s part of what makes this whole sto­ry so intrigu­ing. On the one hand, it’s an insane sto­ry. But on the oth­er hand, it does seem like a plau­si­ble insane sto­ry. Michael Fly­nn was pub­licly call­ing for a Myan­mar-style coup in the US back in June. It’s not like he’s not open­ly act­ing in an open­ly trea­so­nous man­ner. Pri­vate trea­so­nous over­tures aren’t exact­ly implau­si­ble from a char­ac­ter like this.

    Anoth­er very intrigu­ing aspect to this sto­ry is Stern’s alle­ga­tion that at one point dur­ing the pitch, one of the “Patri­ot Cau­cus” men told Stern At one point, one of the men alleged­ly told Stern that they had retained the ser­vices of active intel­li­gence offi­cials “both domes­tic and for­eign.” Part of what makes that alle­ga­tion so intrigu­ing is the grow­ing scan­dal involv­ing the glob­al cyber-mer­ce­nary indus­try, where com­pa­nies like NSO Group and Can­diru tell gov­ern­ments around the world pow­er­ful spy­ware with the abil­i­ty to secret­ly infect almost any smart­phone. And as we’ve seen, while this indus­try has long assured the world that US phone num­bers can’t be tar­get­ing by these hacks, that does­n’t appear to actu­al­ly be true if we look at the fact that UK num­bers were indeed hack­able despite these same assur­ances. It’s a reminder that that inclu­sion of for­eign intel­li­gence agents on this oper­a­tion might include for­eign spy­ing on US offi­cials using these unstop­pable spy­ware tools.

    At this point one of the big ques­tions is whether or not this “Patri­ot Cau­cus” has any ties to the “Sov­er­eign Amer­i­can Project” group Stern’s firm warned us about ear­li­er this year. And as we’re going to see, while Stern only noti­fied the pub­lic of this group very recent­ly, he alleged­ly warned fed­er­al offi­cials and the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP of the plot imme­di­ate­ly. So in addi­tion to ques­tions of what this group is up, there’s the urgent ques­tion of whether or not any­thing is being done it or if this group is going to be allowed to plot its coups with impuni­ty like the rest of MAGA-land:

    Salon

    GOP can­di­date: Michael Fly­nn try­ing to run extor­tion plot on U.S. offi­cials to rein­stall Trump

    Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­ate can­di­date Everett Stern made the bomb­shell accu­sa­tion in a press con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day

    By Brett Bach­man
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 31, 2021 3:09PM (EDT)

    A Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date alleged over the week­end that for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Gen. Michael Fly­nn is attempt­ing to run an extor­tion plot on elect­ed offi­cials in a num­ber of states, with the appar­ent end goal of push­ing con­spir­a­to­r­i­al elec­tion audits that will ulti­mate­ly pro­pel for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump back into office.

    Everett Stern, a busi­ness­man who owns a pri­vate intel­li­gence firm called “Tac­ti­cal Rab­bit” and is run­ning for U.S. Sen­ate in Penn­syl­va­nia, held a press con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day to share what he had found, lat­er tweet­ing out a link to the video of his remarks titled, “Everett Stern Releas­es New Evi­dence of Ongo­ing Domes­tic ter­ror Threat Links to Gen­er­al Michael T. Fly­nn.”

    “I’m here today not as a can­di­date run­ning for U.S. Sen­ate, I’m here as a cit­i­zen who is gen­uine­ly con­cerned about our coun­try, sin­cere­ly con­cerned about the under­min­ing of our democ­ra­cy,” Stern says in the open­ing moments of his state­ment. He also claimed to be in touch with fed­er­al law enforce­ment about the sit­u­a­tion.

    Because of his intel­li­gence back­ground, Stern claims at least two peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing a Fly­nn-linked group called “Patri­ot Cau­cus” approached him ear­li­er this year after a speech with an offer to hire his firm to gath­er “dirt” on offi­cials and recruit oth­ers to assist in the plot. At one point, one of the men alleged­ly told Stern that they had retained the ser­vices of active intel­li­gence offi­cials “both domes­tic and for­eign.”

    “They want­ed to gath­er intel­li­gence on sen­a­tors, judges, con­gress­men, state Reps, to move them towards the audit. The word ‘move’ was empha­sized tremen­dous­ly,” Stern said. “It was clear to me what they want­ed was not tra­di­tion­al oppo­si­tion research — what they want­ed was to extort and to lit­er­al­ly move peo­ple towards the audit with dirt.”

    Everett Stern Releas­es New Evi­dence of Ongo­ing Domes­tic ter­ror Threat Links to Gen­er­al Michael T. Fly­nn https://t.co/LVxZbhaf2s— Everett Stern (@EverettStern1) Octo­ber 31, 2021

    Stern added that he was tar­get­ed in par­tic­u­lar because of his polit­i­cal ties in Penn­syl­va­nia, a key swing state tar­get­ed by elec­tion con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists who want­ed to over­turn the state’s 2020 elec­tion results. Patri­ot Cau­cus appar­ent­ly want­ed Stern to focus on two state offi­cials in par­tic­u­lar: Repub­li­cans Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Bri­an Fitz­patrick (Stern is cur­rent­ly run­ning for Toomey’s seat).

    He said to me, ‘PA GOP bet­ter move towards the audit, or we will crush them,’ ” Stern said, adding that he played along for a time to gath­er doc­u­ments and audio record­ings that could be used to expose the group.

    Accord­ing to Stern, Patri­ot Cau­cus is fund­ed large­ly by bil­lion­aire Texas real estate mogul Al Hart­man, and has oper­a­tions in Okla­homa, Nebras­ka and Vir­ginia, among oth­er places. Hart­man became con­tro­ver­sial recent­ly as an ear­ly cru­sad­er against basi­cal­ly any form of COVID-19 pre­cau­tions: lock­down orders, mask and vac­cine man­dates.

    And even beyond the goals that Patri­ot Cau­cus was chas­ing, it was the meth­ods Fly­n­n’s group encour­aged Stern to use that made him uncom­fort­able.

    He claims that he was told, point-blank, “accom­plish the mis­sion even if you have to use domes­tic ter­ror­ism.”

    “I believe that Gen­er­al Fly­nn has com­mit­ted trea­son against the Unit­ed States,” Stern said on Sat­ur­day. “Based on what I have seen and wit­nessed, I tru­ly believe that’s the case.”

    Stern said he was moved to expose Fly­n­n’s deal­ings out of a moral imper­a­tive — some­thing he is famil­iar with as a whistle­blow­er at HSBC, where he exposed the bank’s bil­lion-dol­lar mon­ey laun­der­ing scheme. The case end­ed with a $1.92 bil­lion fine against HSBC.

    This is just the lat­est con­spir­a­cy that Fly­nn, a retired lieu­tenant gen­er­al in the U.S. Army who was par­doned by Trump for pos­si­ble crimes relat­ing to Robert Mueller’s wide-rang­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s ties to Rus­sia, has embraced after leav­ing his post as Trump’s first nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er. He was pic­tured last sum­mer swear­ing alle­giance to QAnon, the wild con­spir­a­cy that posits a group of can­ni­bal­is­tic, pedophilic Satan-wor­ship­ping elites con­trol the gov­ern­ment and that Trump was secret­ly fight­ing the “cabal” dur­ing his tenure as pres­i­dent.

    He has also advo­cat­ed pub­licly for the vio­lent over­throw of the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, say­ing a Myan­mar-style coup “should” hap­pen here fol­low­ing Trump’s loss to Joe Biden last Novem­ber.

    ...

    ———–

    “GOP can­di­date: Michael Fly­nn try­ing to run extor­tion plot on U.S. offi­cials to rein­stall Trump” by Brett Bach­man; Salon; 10/31/2021

    Because of his intel­li­gence back­ground, Stern claims at least two peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing a Fly­nn-linked group called “Patri­ot Cau­cus” approached him ear­li­er this year after a speech with an offer to hire his firm to gath­er “dirt” on offi­cials and recruit oth­ers to assist in the plot. At one point, one of the men alleged­ly told Stern that they had retained the ser­vices of active intel­li­gence offi­cials “both domes­tic and for­eign.””

    A mys­te­ri­ous “Patri­ot Cau­cus” approached Stern’s “Tac­ti­cal Rab­bit” pri­vate intel­li­gence firm ear­li­er this year after a speech with an offer to hire Stern’s firm to gath­er “dirt” on elect­ed offi­cials. Elect­ed Repub­li­can offi­cials. It was alleged­ly an intra-GOP plot. Sen­a­tors, judges, con­gress­men, state Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Any­one Repub­li­can involved with over­see­ing the elec­toral process, it would seem. Although giv­en that this is a black­mail oper­a­tion they were pitch­ing it’s hard to see why they would lim­it their tar­gets to fel­low Republicans...unless, of course, it’s just known inside the GOP that fel­low GOP­ers are gen­er­al­ly more eas­i­ly black­mailed and cor­rupt­ed and there­fore safer tar­gets for such an oper­a­tion. It points to one of the big ques­tions about this whole sto­ry: why did this group think it was safe to approach Stern with this plan? They clear­ly thought they could trust him if what is claim­ing is true, and yet Stern was him­self a high-pro­file whistle­blow­er who turned in HSBC. The guy obvi­ous­ly does­n’t have a prob­lem blow­ing the whis­tle.

    But we might par­tial­ly get our expla­na­tion for why they felt it was safe to approach Stern with this plot when we fac­tor in that Stern is run­ning to replace one of their two top tar­gets: Sen­a­tor Pat Toomey. So they were approach­ing him with a offer to team up on gath­er­ing intel­li­gence on his oppo­nent, which might explain the remark­ably cav­a­lier atti­tude about approach­ing some­one with a plot this extreme. Because, again, Toomey was just one of the two top tar­gets. This was a much big­ger plot that includ­ed far more poten­tial tar­gets than just Toomey and Fitzger­ald:

    ...
    “They want­ed to gath­er intel­li­gence on sen­a­tors, judges, con­gress­men, state Reps, to move them towards the audit. The word ‘move’ was empha­sized tremen­dous­ly,” Stern said. “It was clear to me what they want­ed was not tra­di­tion­al oppo­si­tion research — what they want­ed was to extort and to lit­er­al­ly move peo­ple towards the audit with dirt.”

    ...

    Stern added that he was tar­get­ed in par­tic­u­lar because of his polit­i­cal ties in Penn­syl­va­nia, a key swing state tar­get­ed by elec­tion con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists who want­ed to over­turn the state’s 2020 elec­tion results. Patri­ot Cau­cus appar­ent­ly want­ed Stern to focus on two state offi­cials in par­tic­u­lar: Repub­li­cans Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Bri­an Fitz­patrick (Stern is cur­rent­ly run­ning for Toomey’s seat).

    ...

    Stern said he was moved to expose Fly­n­n’s deal­ings out of a moral imper­a­tive — some­thing he is famil­iar with as a whistle­blow­er at HSBC, where he exposed the bank’s bil­lion-dol­lar mon­ey laun­der­ing scheme. The case end­ed with a $1.92 bil­lion fine against HSBC.
    ...

    But it’s the extreme nature of this plot, which went well beyond intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and black­mail, that are the most dif­fi­cult to believe. And yet, when we look at the cast of char­ac­ters Stern claims was involved, it’s depress­ing­ly believ­able. Stern claims Michael Fly­nn was quite explic­it on the goal of the project. Win­ning at all costs, includ­ing the use of domes­tic ter­ror­ism. As Stern describes it, Fly­nn was propos­ing trea­son. The same Michael Fly­nn who was pub­licly call­ing for a Myan­mar-style coup in the US at a QAnon ral­ly back in June. And as we’re going to see below, the bil­lion­aire financ­ing the oper­a­tion, Al Hart­man, appears to believe Trump was sent by God (and also that God pri­or­i­tizes low tax­es). That’s what makes this sto­ry so dis­turb­ing. Stern is pre­sent­ing an over-the-top sto­ry that we are being asked to believe. A sto­ry that would be dif­fi­cult to believe it was­n’t for the that Michael Fly­nn has been so pub­licly trea­so­nous in recent years and Al Hart­man appears to be some sort of gen­uine reli­gious zealot. It’s an over-the-top yet entire­ly believ­able sto­ry:

    ...
    Accord­ing to Stern, Patri­ot Cau­cus is fund­ed large­ly by bil­lion­aire Texas real estate mogul Al Hart­man, and has oper­a­tions in Okla­homa, Nebras­ka and Vir­ginia, among oth­er places. Hart­man became con­tro­ver­sial recent­ly as an ear­ly cru­sad­er against basi­cal­ly any form of COVID-19 pre­cau­tions: lock­down orders, mask and vac­cine man­dates.

    And even beyond the goals that Patri­ot Cau­cus was chas­ing, it was the meth­ods Fly­n­n’s group encour­aged Stern to use that made him uncom­fort­able.

    He claims that he was told, point-blank, “accom­plish the mis­sion even if you have to use domes­tic ter­ror­ism.”

    “I believe that Gen­er­al Fly­nn has com­mit­ted trea­son against the Unit­ed States,” Stern said on Sat­ur­day. “Based on what I have seen and wit­nessed, I tru­ly believe that’s the case.”

    ...

    He has also advo­cat­ed pub­licly for the vio­lent over­throw of the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, say­ing a Myan­mar-style coup “should” hap­pen here fol­low­ing Trump’s loss to Joe Biden last Novem­ber.
    ...

    So will we ever seen any clear evi­dence of this plot? That brings us to Stern’s tan­ta­liz­ing hint: he claims he played along to gath­er doc­u­ments and audio record­ings. Did he man­aged to col­lect any of that evi­dence?

    ...
    He said to me, ‘PA GOP bet­ter move towards the audit, or we will crush them,’ ” Stern said, adding that he played along for a time to gath­er doc­u­ments and audio record­ings that could be used to expose the group.
    ...

    And that brings us to anoth­er piece cov­er­ing Stern’s speech that gives us a cou­ple oth­er details. In par­tic­u­lar, we learn that Stern claims he went to both the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP imme­di­ate­ly about this plot. So both the FBI and the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP already know about this. What steps have been tak­en? Did the GOP warn­ing Toomey? Or per­haps warn Fly­nn? It’s one of the many ques­tions that have yet to be answered about this:

    Newsweek

    GOP Sen­ate Can­di­date Says Michael Fly­nn Group Asked Him to ‘Gath­er Intel­li­gence’ on Law­mak­ers

    By Natal­ie Colarossi
    On 10/31/21 at 12:54 PM EDT

    Everett Stern, a Repub­li­can can­di­date run­ning to rep­re­sent Penn­syl­va­nia in the U.S. Sen­ate, revealed Sun­day that aides to for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn alleged­ly asked him to “gath­er intel­li­gence” on var­i­ous law­mak­ers and judges for extor­tion pur­pos­es.

    Speak­ing to a group of reporters, Stern said rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Fly­nn approached him through his Patri­ot Cau­cus group ear­li­er this year with the objec­tive to influ­ence law­mak­ers to sup­port elec­tion audits in favor of for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    ...

    Everett Stern Releas­es New Evi­dence of Ongo­ing Domes­tic ter­ror Threat Links to Gen­er­al Michael T. Fly­nn https://t.co/LVxZbhaf2s— Everett Stern (@EverettStern1) Octo­ber 31, 2021

    Stern, who owns the pri­vate intel­li­gence agency Tac­ti­cal Rab­bit, alleged that Fly­nn and oth­ers sought to use his com­pa­ny in April to gath­er infor­ma­tion and recruit intel­li­gence offi­cers “both domes­tic and for­eign.” Stern said he believes he was approached by the group because his firm had access to a wide range of law­mak­ers.

    Stern said the Patri­ot Cau­cus was run­ning oper­a­tions out of mul­ti­ple states, includ­ing Okla­homa, Nebras­ka and Vir­ginia, using the finan­cial sup­port of Texas bil­lion­aire Al Hart­man. In Penn­syl­va­nia, Stern said he was giv­en two main tar­gets to focus on: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Pat Toomey and Repub­li­can Con­gress­man Bri­an Fitz­patrick.

    In con­ver­sa­tions about those law­mak­ers, Stern was told to gath­er intel­li­gence and to “accom­plish the mis­sion even if you have to use domes­tic ter­ror­ism.”

    “The sever­i­ty and the dan­ger of domes­tic ter­ror­ism in this group became very very appar­ent to me. It was extreme­ly dis­turb­ing,” Stern said.

    He said he imme­di­ate­ly alert­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP about the group’s oper­a­tions and did not com­ply with their requests.

    “I believe that Gen­er­al Fly­nn has com­mit­ted trea­son against the Unit­ed States,” Stern said on Sun­day. “Based on what I have seen and wit­nessed, I tru­ly believe that’s the case.”

    ...

    ———-

    “GOP Sen­ate Can­di­date Says Michael Fly­nn Group Asked Him to ‘Gath­er Intel­li­gence’ on Law­mak­ers” by Natal­ie Colarossi; Newsweek; 10/31/2021

    He said he imme­di­ate­ly alert­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP about the group’s oper­a­tions and did not com­ply with their requests.”

    Is Stern’s word going to be the last word on this top­ic? Are we ever going hear from the FBI? Or the Penn­syl­va­nia GOP? Prob­a­bly not, but accord­ing to Stern they’ve know about what amounts to a domes­tic ter­ror plot. A domes­tic ter­ror plot led by the for­mer head of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency. And financed by a bil­lion­aire mem­ber of the Koch donor net­work who is was open­ly say­ing “God gave us one more chance by allow­ing him to be in office,” about Don­ald Trump in 2017. What was it that Trump was doing that God val­ued so much that was on the Trump agen­da? Cut­ting tax­es and reg­u­la­tions and gut­ting Oba­macare. Because God appar­ent­ly shares the pri­or­i­ties of Charles Koch:

    USA TODAY

    ‘God gave us one more chance’ with Trump, Koch donor says

    Fre­dreka Schouten
    Pub­lished 7:19 a.m. ET June 26, 2017 | Updat­ed 9:54 a.m. ET June 27, 2017

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — To Al Hart­man, Pres­i­dent Trump is a heav­en-sent leader, expert­ly car­ry­ing out a con­ser­v­a­tive agen­da to roll back reg­u­la­tions and lim­it the size and scope of gov­ern­ment.

    “He’s work­ing right out of the Her­itage play­book,” said Hart­man, a Hous­ton real-estate exec­u­tive, refer­ring to the con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton think tank. “God gave us one more chance by allow­ing him to be in office.”

    To Liz Wright of Den­ver, Trump is an imper­fect vehi­cle for imple­ment­ing the small-gov­ern­ment poli­cies she seeks. “He doesn’t have a con­sis­tent gov­ern­ing phi­los­o­phy,” said Wright, who vot­ed for Lib­er­tar­i­an pres­i­den­tial con­tender Gary John­son last Novem­ber.

    Yet, Wright and Hart­man, both donors to the con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­cy and polit­i­cal net­work tied to bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ist Charles Koch, view Trump’s pres­i­den­cy and the Repub­li­can major­i­ty in the Con­gress as their best hope of pass­ing an over­haul of the tax code, repeal­ing the Afford­able Care Act and enact­ing oth­er pri­or­i­ties dear to the network’s wealthy con­ser­v­a­tives.

    “We have maybe 10 months, a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty in at least a decade, to shrink the influ­ence of the gov­ern­ment in the econ­o­my,” said Wright’s hus­band, Chris. But with a pres­i­dent who seems unable to deliv­er a “clear, con­sis­tent direc­tion from the top” and a slen­der 52–48 major­i­ty in the Sen­ate, “we are thread­ing the nee­dle” on see­ing that goal achieved, he said.

    As Wright and some 400 Koch-aligned donors wrapped up a three-day sem­i­nar and strat­e­gy retreat here, the net­work pledged to spend unprece­dent­ed amounts to advance their pol­i­cy and polit­i­cal agen­da and gird­ed for fresh fights over health care and tax cuts.

    The net­work lead­ers are lob­by­ing hard to bury a pro­pos­al pushed by House Speak­er Paul Ryan, R‑Wis., that would impose a bor­der tax on imports, which Koch says would result on high­er prices on con­sumer goods.

    North Car­oli­na Rep. Mark Mead­ows, chair­man of the con­ser­v­a­tive Free­dom Cau­cus and one of 18 elect­ed offi­cials who attend­ed the pri­vate Koch con­clave, told reporters that the debate with­in the GOP over the bor­der tax is jeop­ar­diz­ing efforts to pass a tax over­haul this year.

    Net­work offi­cials also are with­hold­ing sup­port for the health care bill slat­ed for a Sen­ate vote this week, say­ing it stops short of the goal of doing away with the Afford­able Care Act. Koch offi­cials say they are lob­by­ing behind the scenes to change it.

    Doug Dea­son, a top Repub­li­can donor from Dal­las, said he and about “eight or 10” oth­er Dal­las-area polit­i­cal con­trib­u­tors have opt­ed to ignore con­tri­bu­tion requests from Sen­ate Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Ky., until the cham­ber moves to pass a tax over­haul and ful­ly repeal the Afford­able Care Act.

    ...

    He did con­cede, how­ev­er, that even if Sen­ate Repub­li­cans failed to achieve those objec­tives, he would open his check­book again next year to save the party’s hold on the cham­ber.

    Dea­son, the son of IT bil­lion­aire Dar­win Dea­son, gen­er­al­ly praised Trump’s moves in Wash­ing­ton, most effu­sive­ly for the nom­i­na­tion of solid­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil Gor­such.

    Any Trump accom­plish­ment beyond the Gor­such con­fir­ma­tion “is gravy,” Dea­son said. “He picked Gor­such. He can go play golf for the rest of his term.”

    ———–

    “ ‘God gave us one more chance’ with Trump, Koch donor says” by Fre­dreka Schouten; USA TODAY; 06/26/2017

    ““He’s work­ing right out of the Her­itage play­book,” said Hart­man, a Hous­ton real-estate exec­u­tive, refer­ring to the con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton think tank. “God gave us one more chance by allow­ing him to be in office.””

    This is a good time to recall that, for all of the atten­tion in the inves­ti­ga­tion around the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion paid to the fig­ures in the imme­di­ate cir­cle around then-Prsi­dent Trump, the years-long efforts to dele­git­imize the elec­toral process and push fake vot­er fraud claims in the US has been broad­ly fund­ed by the Koch net­work. God gave the US Trump for one last chance to do the right thing and gut health­care:

    ...
    To Liz Wright of Den­ver, Trump is an imper­fect vehi­cle for imple­ment­ing the small-gov­ern­ment poli­cies she seeks. “He doesn’t have a con­sis­tent gov­ern­ing phi­los­o­phy,” said Wright, who vot­ed for Lib­er­tar­i­an pres­i­den­tial con­tender Gary John­son last Novem­ber.

    Yet, Wright and Hart­man, both donors to the con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­cy and polit­i­cal net­work tied to bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ist Charles Koch, view Trump’s pres­i­den­cy and the Repub­li­can major­i­ty in the Con­gress as their best hope of pass­ing an over­haul of the tax code, repeal­ing the Afford­able Care Act and enact­ing oth­er pri­or­i­ties dear to the network’s wealthy con­ser­v­a­tives.
    ...

    Also recall how Trump and the GOP nev­er actu­al­ly suc­ceed­ed in gut­ting Oba­macare. That major God­ly agen­da item is still yet to be com­plet­ed. So when Hart­man tells us Trump is the US’s last chance, what does that tell us about the psy­chol­o­gy of Hart­man after Trump lost. Just how far is he will­ing to go to achieve ‘God’s’ will?

    It’s also worth recall­ing that the chair­man of the con­ser­v­a­tive Free­dom Cau­cus who was one of the 18 elect­ed offi­cials who attend­ed this 2017 Koch retreat, Mark Mead­ows, went on to become Trump’s chief-of-staff and remains a major fig­ure in the coup plot. More and more, we are learn­ing that the insur­rec­tion real­ly was, in part, a Koch-net­worked backed affair with major dark mon­ey back­ing years in the mak­ing:

    ...
    North Car­oli­na Rep. Mark Mead­ows, chair­man of the con­ser­v­a­tive Free­dom Cau­cus and one of 18 elect­ed offi­cials who attend­ed the pri­vate Koch con­clave, told reporters that the debate with­in the GOP over the bor­der tax is jeop­ar­diz­ing efforts to pass a tax over­haul this year.
    ...

    Final­ly, here’s a 2004 Hous­ton Chron­i­cle arti­cle that gives us a bet­ter sense of Al Hart­man’s idea of how pub­lic pol­i­cy mesh’s with God’s will. As the arti­cle describes, Hart­man was one of two main financiers for Propo­si­tion 2, a bal­lot ini­tia­tive that would lim­it how the cit of Hous­ton could raise tax mon­ey. It was one of two tax-lim­it­ing bal­lot pro­pos­als that year. Both passed. As Hart­man described at the time, “I’m doing this because it’s right ver­sus wrong,” who claims he was called to serve oth­ers and help in his Chris­t­ian faigth. Fur­ther lim­it­ing Hous­ton’s abil­i­ty to raise tax­es is his ver­sion of help­ing oth­ers. He paid $260,000 back­ing the pro­pos­al. So how did the pro­pos­al help oth­ers? Hart­man believed it would help “Joe Six-pack” as much as busi­ness own­ers as him­self because low­er tax­es and small gov­ern­ment lead to eco­nom­ic growth. Yep, he gave the clas­sic ‘sup­ply-side’ joke answer, claim­ing this was a man­date from heav­en. To help the poor. Is Hart­man stu­pid? Evil? It’s not a pleas­ant ques­tion to have to ask. But when bil­lion­aires start describ­ing their sup­ply-side tax cuts as man­na from heav­en for the poor, we have to ask:

    Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

    Hart­man says faith fueled Propo­si­tion 2 bat­tle
    Devel­op­er says faith placed him in anti-tax con­flict with may­orHart­man ready to finance a legal fight to val­i­date his Propo­si­tion 2

    RON NISSIMOV
    Nov. 26, 2004

    It may involve com­plex eco­nom­ic issues, but Al Hart­man sees his fight with City Hall over how to lim­it city rev­enues in sim­ple terms:

    “I’m doing this because it’s right ver­sus wrong,” says Hart­man, 52, an atten­tive, mild-man­nered real estate devel­op­er who pro­claims he has been “on fire for the Lord” since becom­ing a born-again, evan­gel­i­cal Bap­tist 10 years ago.

    Hart­man says his reli­gious con­vic­tions fueled his lead­ing role in orga­niz­ing the anti-tax ini­tia­tive Propo­si­tion 2 that put him at odds with May­or Bill White and many in the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty.

    Hart­man backed his faith with mon­ey, con­tribut­ing $260,000 — about 60 per­cent of the total fund­ing — to the cam­paign for Propo­si­tion 2, one of two rev­enue-lim­it­ing bal­lot ini­tia­tives vot­ers approved Nov. 2.

    White and his sup­port­ers spent about $800,000 in urg­ing vot­ers to approve his alter­na­tive Propo­si­tion 1 and reject Propo­si­tion 2.

    Propo­si­tion 1 was approved with 64 per­cent of the vote and Propo­si­tion 2 with 56 per­cent.

    White con­tends that the two propo­si­tions are mutu­al­ly exclu­sive and that city law requires Propo­si­tion 1 to take effect because it received more votes. He says Propo­si­tion 2 could force the city to cut basic ser­vices.

    ‘Called to serve oth­ers’

    Hart­man and oth­er Propo­si­tion 2 back­ers say the may­or’s plan does­n’t do enough to curb city spend­ing and argue that both mea­sures can be part of the city char­ter. They have threat­ened legal action to force the issue.

    Hart­man said he prob­a­bly will help fund a law­suit if one is filed.

    “In my Chris­t­ian faith, we’re called to serve oth­ers and help,” Hart­man said dur­ing an inter­view at Hart­man Man­age­ment, a com­pa­ny he found­ed with the mis­sion state­ment of build­ing “a world-class real estate invest­ment firm that glo­ri­fies the Lord by oper­at­ing and deal­ing with its share­hold­ers in a man­ner con­sis­tent with bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples.”

    He believes Propo­si­tion 2 would help “Joe Six-pack” as much as busi­ness own­ers such as him­self because low­er tax­es and small gov­ern­ment lead to eco­nom­ic growth.

    “This last elec­tion was dri­ven by peo­ple who have faith,” Hart­man said, refer­ring to exit polls indi­cat­ing that many vot­ers viewed “val­ues and morals” as top issues.

    White, a Methodist, said he deeply appre­ci­ates reli­gious faith but does­n’t under­stand what it has to do with com­pet­ing rev­enue caps.

    “In my faith, there’s not too much about air­port rev­enues in the Scrip­tures,” he said.

    God in the work­place

    Hart­man says his wife, Lisa, whom he first dat­ed at Sun­day school at Sec­ond Bap­tist Church, has inspired his faith.

    Hart­man decid­ed to “bring God into the work­place” six years ago.

    He start­ed Bible stud­ies at his com­pa­ny, and min­is­ters vis­it every week for one-on-one meet­ings with his employ­ees.

    He said his com­pa­ny was expe­ri­enc­ing morale prob­lems, which have been resolved through the vol­un­tary reli­gious activ­i­ties.

    ...

    Reli­gious role down­played

    Though Hart­man describes Propo­si­tion 2 as a grass-roots ini­tia­tive, it was large­ly fund­ed by two peo­ple. Bruce Hotze, whom Hart­man calls “a good Chris­t­ian broth­er,” donat­ed $60,000. Even though Hotze is part of a fam­i­ly that is promi­nent in the local Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, he says reli­gion played no role in his sup­port of the ini­tia­tive.

    “I’m Catholic and proud of it; I’m a great fol­low­er of the pope,” Hotze said. “But none of this is real­ly a reli­gious kind of expe­ri­ence for me. I love free­dom and lib­er­ty, and I don’t like social­ism.”

    The two men pro­vid­ed almost three-fourths of the cam­paign chest for Propo­si­tion 2.

    “That is cer­tain­ly more mon­ey than I’ve seen those gen­tle­men put up in the past,” said Allen Blake­more, a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant who typ­i­cal­ly works for Repub­li­cans but served on Demo­c­rat White’s Propo­si­tion 1 team.

    “Cer­tain­ly the fund­ing that they pro­vid­ed was instru­men­tal to its (Propo­si­tion 2’s) lev­el of pas­sage. I think it would not have passed with­out so much mon­ey. Their cam­paign had results and impact.”

    ———

    “Hart­man says faith fueled Propo­si­tion 2 bat­tle” by RON NISSIMOV; Hous­ton Chron­i­cle; 11/26/2004

    “I’m doing this because it’s right ver­sus wrong,” says Hart­man, 52, an atten­tive, mild-man­nered real estate devel­op­er who pro­claims he has been “on fire for the Lord” since becom­ing a born-again, evan­gel­i­cal Bap­tist 10 years ago.”

    Is Hart­man such a delu­sion­al lunatic that he gen­uine­ly believed he was help­ing the poor? Or is he so cyn­i­cal and jad­ed that he’s will­ing to engage in these pub­lic dis­plays of reli­gios­i­ty out of a troll­ish sense of rub­bing the pro­les’ noses in it? The guy is clear­ly nuts, but we don’t know what kind of nuts. Is he a cal­cu­lat­ing fas­cist or delu­sion­al theo­crat? A bit of both?

    ...
    Hart­man says his reli­gious con­vic­tions fueled his lead­ing role in orga­niz­ing the anti-tax ini­tia­tive Propo­si­tion 2 that put him at odds with May­or Bill White and many in the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty.

    Hart­man backed his faith with mon­ey, con­tribut­ing $260,000 — about 60 per­cent of the total fund­ing — to the cam­paign for Propo­si­tion 2, one of two rev­enue-lim­it­ing bal­lot ini­tia­tives vot­ers approved Nov. 2.

    ...

    “In my Chris­t­ian faith, we’re called to serve oth­ers and help,” Hart­man said dur­ing an inter­view at Hart­man Man­age­ment, a com­pa­ny he found­ed with the mis­sion state­ment of build­ing “a world-class real estate invest­ment firm that glo­ri­fies the Lord by oper­at­ing and deal­ing with its share­hold­ers in a man­ner con­sis­tent with bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples.”

    He believes Propo­si­tion 2 would help “Joe Six-pack” as much as busi­ness own­ers such as him­self because low­er tax­es and small gov­ern­ment lead to eco­nom­ic growth.

    “This last elec­tion was dri­ven by peo­ple who have faith,” Hart­man said, refer­ring to exit polls indi­cat­ing that many vot­ers viewed “val­ues and morals” as top issues.
    ...

    Would the guy who financed extra tax cuts ‘to help the poor’ and who called Trump the US’s last chance from God also be will­ing to finance a blackmail/domestic ter­ror oper­a­tion in order to put Trump back into pow­er? The answer pre­sum­ably depends on whether or not God sup­ports more tax cuts and final­ly end Oba­macare once and for all above all else. So, yes, at least for Hart­man’s god.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 1, 2021, 4:10 pm
  17. Here’s a pair of arti­cles relat­ed to Steve Ban­non’s ongo­ing net­work­ing efforts with the glob­al net­work of far right Chris­t­ian move­ments:

    Fas­cist trolls just scored anoth­er legal vic­to­ry. Steve Ban­non and Milo Yiannopou­los, in this case, who won the right to hold a ral­ly in Bal­ti­more in a cou­ple weeks. The two fig­ures will head­line a ral­ly being held by a fringe Catholic news out­let St. Michael’s Media at the city-owned MECU Pavil­ion. St. Michael’s Media is oth­er­wise know as “Church Mil­i­tant”, which give us a clue as to the source of the legal con­flict here.

    The offi­cial rea­son for the ral­ly is as a kind of intra-Catholic protest and the Catholic Church’s lead­er­ship and the role it played in the mas­sive sex abuse cov­er ups. Yes, Milo Yiannopolous — who was basi­cal­ly kicked out of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment in 2017, tem­porar­i­ly, after he open­ly endorsed sex between chil­dren and adults and thanked the priest he alleged­ly had sex with as a teenag­er — is now head­lin­ing anti-Catholic sex abuse ral­ly. Things get weird on the far right.

    And it sounds like the ral­ly would have been allowed to pro­ceed with­out an objec­tion if city offi­cials believed that the ral­ly would indeed be lim­it­ed to rail­ing against the Catholic Church hier­ar­chy. The prob­lem is city offi­cials had a hard time believ­ing a ral­ly head­lined by Yiannopoulous and Ban­non was­n’t going to get polit­i­cal. And giv­en that both Yiannopolous and Ban­non have a his­to­ry of insti­gat­ing polit­i­cal vio­lence, city offi­cials end­ed up object­ing to the ral­ly over con­cerns it would be used to pro­voke polit­i­cal vio­lence. Keep in mind that Steve Ban­non remains one of the cen­tral fig­ures in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion inves­ti­ga­tion. You almost could­n’t come up with a more com­pelling fig­ure to invoke fears of polit­i­cal vio­lence.

    But, in the end, a fed­er­al judge ruled that it would be dis­crim­i­na­to­ry against Yiannopoulous and Ban­non to hold their past incite­ment of polit­i­cal vio­lence against them on this mat­ter. That rul­ing is what the 4th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals just upheld. So as of now, the “Church Mil­i­tant” ral­ly is going for­ward under the pre­tense that it’s not at all going to be polit­i­cal in nature and will instead be a pure­ly intra-Catholic church affair.

    But as we’re going to see in the sec­ond excerpt below — from Decem­ber 2016 — this very same St. Michael’s Media group was at that point already on the radar of observers of reli­gious extrem­ism as a group that was infus­ing a far right Catholic the­ol­o­gy with con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics. Extrem­ism that views both Islam and Judaism as fake reli­gion and views mod­ern life a war between the reli­gious and non­re­li­gious. Impor­tant­ly, St. Michael’s Media man­aged to take the tra­di­tion “Church Mil­i­tant” con­cept — the idea of a per­son­al strug­gle against sin — and turn it into a call for that war between the reli­gious and non­re­li­gious. So when we hear the excuse that there should be no con­cerns that this ral­ly will devolve into polit­i­cal vio­lence, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that St. Michael’s Media has lit­er­al­ly been build­ing an inter­net media busi­ness over the last decade that’s focused on devolv­ing Catholi­cism into a war between the con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians and every­one else:

    Bal­ti­more Sun

    Bal­ti­more los­es appeal to stop Inner Har­bor ral­ly fea­tur­ing Milo Yiannopou­los, Steve Ban­non

    By Emi­ly Opi­lo
    Nov 03, 2021 at 7:30 PM

    The U.S. 4th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals has upheld a deci­sion by a fed­er­al judge to allow a prayer ral­ly head­lined by Milo Yiannopou­los and Steve Ban­non to pro­ceed at Baltimore’s Inner Har­bor this month over the objec­tions of Bal­ti­more offi­cials.

    The deci­sion, filed late Wednes­day, does not delve into a legal dis­cus­sion about the case, stat­ing only that the rul­ing of U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Ellen Hol­lan­der has been affirmed.

    Hol­lan­der issued an injunc­tion last month bar­ring Bal­ti­more offi­cials from inter­fer­ing with the ral­ly to be host­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic news out­let St. Michael’s Media at the city-owned MECU Pavil­ion. St. Michael’s Media, also known as Church Mil­i­tant, sued Bal­ti­more and var­i­ous city offi­cials in Sep­tem­ber after they were informed that they would be denied access to the water­front pavil­ion.

    The event, billed as a ral­ly and prayer meet­ing, is sched­uled to coin­cide with a U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops meet­ing at the near­by Mar­riott Bal­ti­more Water­front on Nov. 16. City offi­cials object­ed to adver­tised appear­ances by Yiannopou­los and Ban­non, both well-known polit­i­cal provo­ca­teurs, argu­ing that there was a “legit­i­mate fear” the ral­ly “would incite vio­lence in the heart of down­town Bal­ti­more.”

    St. Michael’s Media argued that the city’s move vio­lat­ed the group’s First Amend­ment rights to free speech, expres­sion of reli­gion and assem­bly.

    In her 86-page opin­ion, Hol­lan­der sided with St. Michael’s Media, say­ing the group was like­ly to pre­vail in its argu­ment that the rally’s can­cel­la­tion by the city would infringe upon the group’s rights to free speech and assem­bly.

    While the 3,000-seat MECU Pavil­ion is a non­pub­lic forum to which access can be restrict­ed based on a speaker’s sub­ject mat­ter, that restric­tion is only allowed if the rea­son­ing is “rea­son­able” and “view­point neu­tral,” Hol­lan­der found. The city’s use of the speak­ers’ past con­tro­ver­sial and inflam­ma­to­ry speech as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for can­cel­ing the ral­ly sug­gest­ed “view­point dis­crim­i­na­tion,” Hol­lan­der said.

    Bal­ti­more appealed Hollander’s deci­sion, send­ing the case to the 4th Cir­cuit.

    ...

    City offi­cials and St. Michael’s Media have con­tin­ued to spar over the deci­sion in Hollander’s court­room as the days left until the event con­tin­ue to wind down. Last month, St. Michael’s Media filed and lat­er with­drew a motion ask­ing Hol­lan­der to hold the city in con­tempt of court for vio­lat­ing the injunc­tion. Last week, the group filed a motion ask­ing Hol­lan­der to enforce the injunc­tion, argu­ing the city has not been nego­ti­at­ing a con­tract for the event in “good faith.” The judge has held phone con­fer­ences with both par­ties, and anoth­er is set for Thurs­day.

    At a two-day court hear­ing last month, attor­neys and wit­ness­es for St. Michael’s Media argued that the group pos­es no threat and argued that the loca­tion of the pavil­ion is crit­i­cal to send­ing their mes­sage against cler­gy sex­u­al abuse to the Catholic bish­ops gath­ered near­by.

    Yiannopou­los him­self appeared in court and tried to assure Hol­lan­der that the event will not devolve into vio­lence as some of his past speak­ing engage­ments have. Those were “polit­i­cal speech­es to polit­i­cal audi­ences in a fraught polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment,” he said, argu­ing that the events were “almost half a decade ago.”

    St. Michael’s Media held a sim­i­lar protest at the MECU Pavil­ion dur­ing the 2018 gath­er­ing of the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops with­out inci­dent. That event, which did not include speak­ers Ban­non and Yiannopou­los, attract­ed about 1,000 peo­ple.

    ————-

    “Bal­ti­more los­es appeal to stop Inner Har­bor ral­ly fea­tur­ing Milo Yiannopou­los, Steve Ban­non” by Emi­ly Opi­lo; Bal­ti­more Sun; 11/03/2021

    “The event, billed as a ral­ly and prayer meet­ing, is sched­uled to coin­cide with a U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops meet­ing at the near­by Mar­riott Bal­ti­more Water­front on Nov. 16. City offi­cials object­ed to adver­tised appear­ances by Yiannopou­los and Ban­non, both well-known polit­i­cal provo­ca­teurs, argu­ing that there was a “legit­i­mate fear” the ral­ly “would incite vio­lence in the heart of down­town Bal­ti­more.”

    Are fears of polit­i­cal vio­lence at a ral­ly head­lined by Steve Ban­non and Milo Yiannopou­los legit­i­mate fears? Not accord­ing to the judges rul­ing, which was just upheld by the U.S. 4th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals. Accord­ing to judge Hol­lan­der, the city of Bal­ti­more’s use of the past ‘con­tro­ver­sial and inflam­ma­to­ry speech’ as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for can­cel­ing the ral­ly sug­gest­ed “view­point dis­crim­i­na­tion”. Again, Steve Ban­non remains a cen­tral fig­ure in the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion inves­ti­ga­tion. A his­toric act of polit­i­cal vio­lence that took place less than a year ago. But it would appar­ent­ly be dis­crim­i­na­to­ry against Steve Ban­non to hold that against him:

    ...
    In her 86-page opin­ion, Hol­lan­der sided with St. Michael’s Media, say­ing the group was like­ly to pre­vail in its argu­ment that the rally’s can­cel­la­tion by the city would infringe upon the group’s rights to free speech and assem­bly.

    While the 3,000-seat MECU Pavil­ion is a non­pub­lic forum to which access can be restrict­ed based on a speaker’s sub­ject mat­ter, that restric­tion is only allowed if the rea­son­ing is “rea­son­able” and “view­point neu­tral,” Hol­lan­der found. The city’s use of the speak­ers’ past con­tro­ver­sial and inflam­ma­to­ry speech as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for can­cel­ing the ral­ly sug­gest­ed “view­point dis­crim­i­na­tion,” Hol­lan­der said.

    Bal­ti­more appealed Hollander’s deci­sion, send­ing the case to the 4th Cir­cuit.
    ...

    And note how Milo Yiannopou­los even acknowl­edges that, yes, he has in the past spo­ken at events that devolved into vio­lence, but that was a total­ly dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion, accord­ing to Yian­npolou­los because those past events were “polit­i­cal speech­es to polit­i­cal audi­ences in a fraught polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment,” which is appar­ent­ly is sup­posed to be in con­trast with what will be a com­plete­ly non-polit­i­cal planned event in Bal­ti­more:

    ...
    At a two-day court hear­ing last month, attor­neys and wit­ness­es for St. Michael’s Media argued that the group pos­es no threat and argued that the loca­tion of the pavil­ion is crit­i­cal to send­ing their mes­sage against cler­gy sex­u­al abuse to the Catholic bish­ops gath­ered near­by.

    Yiannopou­los him­self appeared in court and tried to assure Hol­lan­der that the event will not devolve into vio­lence as some of his past speak­ing engage­ments have. Those were “polit­i­cal speech­es to polit­i­cal audi­ences in a fraught polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment,” he said, argu­ing that the events were “almost half a decade ago.”
    ...

    So with Ban­non and Yiannopou­los assert­ing that their ral­ly with St. Michael’s Media, a.k.a “Church Mil­i­tant”, has noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics and is instead sole­ly focused on chastis­ing the Catholic church over sex­u­al abuse coverups, here’s a look back at a Decem­ber 2016 NY Times piece on retool­ing of this “Church Mil­i­tant” the­o­log­i­cal con­cept by Ban­non and with St. Michael’s Media from a tra­di­tion­al call to per­son­al piety into a call for theo­crat­ic fas­cism. As the arti­cle describes, the founder of St. Michael’s Media, Michael Voris, does­n’t just infuse his rhetoric with polit­i­cal con­tent and cast Catholi­cism as a war against mod­ern sec­u­lar­ism. He explic­it­ly casts his sec­u­lar ene­mies as oper­at­ing from a “lib­er­al Jew­ish mind-set”, a view that takes on a much dark­er sig­nif­i­cance when you also include Voris’s propen­si­ty to assert that the Roman destruc­tion of the Sec­ond Tem­ple end­ed God’s covenant with the Jews and Judaism has mere­ly been a “man-made reli­gion” ever since. In oth­er words, Voris is the kind of Catholic extrem­ists who has declared a war between the reli­gious and non­re­li­gious while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly defin­ing every­one who isn’t a Chris­t­ian as not being gen­uine­ly reli­gious. And he’s man­aged to merge this the­o­log­i­cal world­view with the con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal mes­sag­ing favored by the Repub­li­can Par­ty, where sec­u­lar soci­ety is por­trayed as a kind of glob­al­ist con­spir­a­cy against ‘real Amer­i­ca’ ulti­mate­ly led by Satan.

    And as the arti­cle describes, is the “Church Mil­i­tant” rhetoric of Voris that Steve Ban­non has been echo­ing dur­ing his intra-Catholic war on the lib­er­al wing of the Catholic Church. For exam­ple, in 2014, when Ban­non spoke at a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence for con­ser­v­a­tive Catholics, Ban­non called on the “church mil­i­tant” to fight a glob­al war against a “new bar­bar­i­ty” of “Islam­ic fas­cism” and inter­na­tion­al finan­cial elites, with 2,500 years of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion at risk. Flash for­ward to today and we find Ban­non active­ly ral­ly­ing with the group. And this is all, of course, just part of the broad­er con­text of Steve Ban­non’s efforts to build an inter­na­tion­al net­work of far right insti­tu­tions and reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions. A move­ment heav­i­ly financed by oli­garchs like the Koch. In oth­er words, while Ban­non might be the lead­ing fig­ure at this ral­ly, we should­n’t assume that this is a pure­ly Ban­non-led affair. There’s like­ly some big mon­ey behind this. So the group that just won the right to hold its ral­ly in Bal­ti­more is the same group that was pro­filed in 2016 for pro­vid­ed the tem­plate Steve Ban­non was look­ing to for com­ing up with the­o­log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for wag­ing a polit­i­cal war under the guise of a reli­gious war:

    The New York Times

    Church Mil­i­tant’ The­ol­o­gy Is Put to New, and Politi­cized, Use

    By Samuel G. Freed­man
    Dec. 30, 2016

    A week after Stephen K. Ban­non helped engi­neer the pop­ulist revolt that led to Don­ald J. Trump’s elec­tion, Buz­zfeed unearthed a record­ing of him speak­ing to a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence of con­ser­v­a­tive Catholics in 2014.

    In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Mr. Ban­non, then the head of the hard-right web­site Bre­it­bart News and now Mr. Trump’s chief strate­gist, called on the “church mil­i­tant” to fight a glob­al war against a “new bar­bar­i­ty” of “Islam­ic fas­cism” and inter­na­tion­al finan­cial elites, with 2,500 years of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion at risk.

    While most lis­ten­ers prob­a­bly over­looked the term “church mil­i­tant,” knowl­edge­able Catholics would have rec­og­nized it as a con­cept deeply embed­ded in the church’s teach­ing. More­over, they would have noticed that Mr. Ban­non had tak­en the term out of con­text, invok­ing it in a call for cul­tur­al and mil­i­tary con­flict rather than for spir­i­tu­al war­fare, par­tic­u­lar­ly with­in one’s soul, its long­stand­ing con­no­ta­tion.

    As the Trump admin­is­tra­tion pre­pares to take office, the use of Church Mil­i­tant the­ol­o­gy has gone well beyond its reli­gious mean­ing and has tak­en on a polit­i­cal res­o­nance. To ful­ly grasp what “church mil­i­tant” means in this high­ly politi­cized atmos­phere, it helps to exam­ine the broad­er move­ment and the role of a tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic web­site called — to no sur­prise — ChurchMilitant.com.

    The site’s right-wing stances against glob­al­ism, immi­gra­tion, social-wel­fare pro­grams and abor­tion, as well as its depic­tion of an exis­ten­tial war against rad­i­cal Islam, mesh with many of the posi­tions espoused by Mr. Trump and his inner cir­cle. (Mr. Ban­non did not respond to ques­tions sub­mit­ted to the Trump tran­si­tion office.)

    Michael Voris, the senior exec­u­tive pro­duc­er of ChurchMilitant.com, said the website’s posi­tions were a right­eous defense of patri­o­tism and moral­i­ty on behalf of peo­ple who believe those virtues have been attacked by lib­er­als, sec­u­lar­ists and glob­al elites.

    “This is break­ing down into forces that believe in God and those that don’t,” he said, adding, “Large­ly, I would say this is a war of reli­gion ver­sus non­re­li­gion.”

    For some Catholic schol­ars and anti-hate advo­cates, the emer­gence of Church Mil­i­tant the­ol­o­gy in a politi­cized and high­ly par­ti­san way is dis­turb­ing.

    “This is a hard-core group, and the ques­tion is whether the num­ber is grow­ing,” said the Rev. John T. Paw­likows­ki, a pro­fes­sor of social ethics at the Catholic The­o­log­i­cal Union in Chica­go, refer­ring to the broad­er move­ment that includes ChurchMilitant.com. “If the Trump elec­tion bap­tizes this stuff as more authen­tic Catholic teach­ing, that would be a dis­as­ter.”

    The term has roots in the ear­ly cen­turies of the church, when the Catholic com­mu­ni­ty — liv­ing and dead — was envi­sioned as hav­ing three parts. These were lat­er called the Church Tri­umphant (com­posed of those in heav­en), the Church Suf­fer­ing or Church Pen­i­tent (those in pur­ga­to­ry) and the Church Mil­i­tant (those on earth).

    Catholic teach­ing held that the spir­i­tu­al efforts of the Church Mil­i­tant would has­ten the ascent into heav­en of the souls in pur­ga­to­ry. But how is a con­cept that was formed dur­ing Roman per­se­cu­tion of ear­ly Chris­tians and took on a mar­tial con­no­ta­tion dur­ing the Cru­sades meant to be under­stood in a demo­c­ra­t­ic, cap­i­tal­ist, poly­glot, mul­ti­me­dia soci­ety like the mod­ern Unit­ed States?

    “When you heard the expres­sion ‘the Church Mil­i­tant,’ it didn’t bring to mind a call to arms or some kind of mobi­lized, mil­i­tant action in the way we under­stand the term now,” said John C. Cava­di­ni, a pro­fes­sor of the­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame. “A lot of the strug­gle of the Church Mil­i­tant is against inte­ri­or temp­ta­tions that lead you to greed and all kinds of spir­i­tu­al patholo­gies. And it’s about engag­ing in acts of mer­cy. Part of the vic­to­ry of the Church Mil­i­tant is the vic­to­ry of love. It didn’t have the tri­umphal­ist and mil­i­ta­rized con­no­ta­tion that’s been attached to it now.”

    While the term remains in the Roman cat­e­chism, which was pro­mul­gat­ed by the Coun­cil of Trent in the mid-1500s, the offi­cial cat­e­chism pro­duced under Pope John Paul II in 1992 replaced “Church Mil­i­tant” with “pil­grims on earth.” The adult cat­e­chism then devised by Catholic bish­ops in the Unit­ed States adopt­ed those words, and they are over­whelm­ing­ly the norm in Catholic prac­tice in the Unit­ed States and abroad.

    Patrick J. Buchanan, one of Mr. Trump’s pre­cur­sors in run­ning for pres­i­dent on a plat­form of right-wing pop­ulism, embraced Church Mil­i­tant the­ol­o­gy in a 2009 essay in the con­ser­v­a­tive mag­a­zine Human Events. After delin­eat­ing con­flicts between Catholic lead­ers and Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians over issues like abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion, Mr. Buchanan made a more sweep­ing asser­tion:

    “Catholi­cism is nec­es­sar­i­ly an adver­sary faith and cul­ture in an Amer­i­ca where a tri­umphant sec­u­lar­ism has cap­tured the heights, from Hol­ly­wood to the media, the arts and the acad­e­my, and rel­ish­es noth­ing more than insults to and blas­phe­mous mock­ery of the Church of Rome.”

    The words could serve as a mis­sion state­ment for Mr. Vorsi’s ChurchMilitant.com. A tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er who renounced his ear­li­er life as a gay man, Mr. Voris, 55, has devel­oped a media oper­a­tion from ChurchMilitant.com’s stu­dio in sub­ur­ban Detroit that pro­duces books, online arti­cles, YouTube videos, pod­casts and a dai­ly talk show. These cumu­la­tive­ly attract about 1.5 mil­lion views a month, he said.

    In an ear­li­er iter­a­tion, ChurchMilitant.com oper­at­ed as Real Catholic TV, until the Arch­dio­cese of Detroit forced it to stop using the name because it had no per­mis­sion. While some of the core issues for ChurchMilitant.com are sta­ples of tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholics — advo­cat­ing the Latin Mass, for instance — oth­ers map neat­ly onto the sec­u­lar polit­i­cal land­scape. And they do so in a high­ly stri­dent way.

    ChurchMilitant.com, for exam­ple, has dis­missed cli­mate change as a hoax. It likened the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment to “the new fas­cism.” Hillary Clin­ton, whom it rou­tine­ly calls “Kil­lary,” was “Satan’s mop for wip­ing up the last remain­ing resis­tance to him in Amer­i­ca.” Mr. Voris has described social-wel­fare pro­grams as a sys­tem in which “half the peo­ple of Amer­i­ca” pay no tax­es and “get things hand­ed to them.”

    Con­trary to the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Council’s endorse­ment of inter­re­li­gious dia­logue, Mr. Voris views Islam as “entire­ly dif­fer­ent” from Chris­tian­i­ty and por­trays Judaism in out­dat­ed ter­mi­nol­o­gy that experts in Catholic-Jew­ish rela­tions con­sid­er anti-Semit­ic. (The Trump cam­paign was accused at times of indulging in and even dis­sem­i­nat­ing anti-Jew­ish rhetoric and imagery.)

    In a state­ment that echoed one made by Mr. Ban­non when he was still with Bre­it­bart, Mr. Voris main­tained that Amer­i­can Catholic bish­ops sup­port­ed immi­gra­tion sole­ly to “shore up flag­ging num­bers of Catholics” and rebuild a “shrink­ing, shriv­el­ing church” with both legal and ille­gal arrivals from Mex­i­co.

    More broad­ly, Mr. Voris blames Car­di­nal Joseph Bernardin, the arch­bish­op of Chica­go who died in 1996, for his “seam­less gar­ment” the­ol­o­gy, which unit­ed such stances as oppo­si­tion to abor­tion, euthana­sia, nuclear arms and the death penal­ty under a “con­sis­tent eth­ic of life.” To Mr. Voris, that for­mu­la­tion is “a total white­wash of Catholic social teach­ing.”

    Not all of Mr. Voris’s crit­i­cisms are aimed at Catholics. He has also sin­gled out the lib­er­al phil­an­thropist George Soros and the deceased com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er Saul Alin­sky, famil­iar tar­gets for con­ser­v­a­tive activists like Newt Gin­grich and Glenn Beck. Mr. Voris, though, goes a sig­nif­i­cant step fur­ther by promi­nent­ly iden­ti­fy­ing both Mr. Soros and Mr. Alin­sky as Jew­ish.

    Why is their reli­gion rel­e­vant, par­tic­u­lar­ly as nei­ther man was obser­vant? Mr. Voris respond­ed, “The fuel, as it were, for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has come from a lib­er­al Jew­ish mind-set.”

    Such a com­ment might not sound so offen­sive were it not for Mr. Voris’s over­ar­ch­ing views of Jews, which con­tra­vene Catholic pol­i­cy since the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil. In a 2010 episode of ChurchMilitant.com’s web­cast “The Vor­tex,” he con­tend­ed that the Roman destruc­tion of the Sec­ond Tem­ple end­ed God’s covenant with the Jews. Sub­se­quent Judaism, he said, is mere­ly a “man-made reli­gion.”

    Asked about the state­ments, Mr. Voris said: “I’m not anti-Semit­ic at all. I’m just speak­ing on the­o­log­i­cal grounds.”

    The expla­na­tion did not impress Mark Weitz­man, an expert in hate groups for the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter, who has stud­ied ChurchMilitant.com. “What he says about Jews is clas­si­cal super­s­es­sion­ist anti-Semi­tism,” Mr. Weitz­man said, “and if he doesn’t repu­di­ate it, that’s a prob­lem.”

    Repu­di­a­tion does not appear like­ly for any of ChurchMilitant.com’s extrem­ist posi­tions, espe­cial­ly now that kin­dred spir­its are about to take con­trol of the exec­u­tive branch of the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment.

    ...

    ————-

    “Church Mil­i­tant’ The­ol­o­gy Is Put to New, and Politi­cized, Use” by Samuel G. Freed­man; The New York Times; 12/30/2016

    “Catholic teach­ing held that the spir­i­tu­al efforts of the Church Mil­i­tant would has­ten the ascent into heav­en of the souls in pur­ga­to­ry. But how is a con­cept that was formed dur­ing Roman per­se­cu­tion of ear­ly Chris­tians and took on a mar­tial con­no­ta­tion dur­ing the Cru­sades meant to be under­stood in a demo­c­ra­t­ic, cap­i­tal­ist, poly­glot, mul­ti­me­dia soci­ety like the mod­ern Unit­ed States?

    It was prob­a­bly inevitable that the “Church Mil­i­tant” con­cept would get repur­posed by fas­cists like Ban­non. It’s kind of pro­pa­gan­dis­tic gold for a theo­crat. Instead of a call for resist­ing per­son­al temp­ta­tions and sins, the Church Mil­i­tant con­cept has been warped into a call for a reli­gious war against mod­ern sec­u­lar soci­ety. A war between reli­gion vs non­re­li­gions, as Michael Voris puts it. A retool­ing and warp­ing of the con­cept Ban­non was appar­ent­ly been work­ing with Volis on back in 2016 as he was about to enter the Trump White House:

    ...
    In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Mr. Ban­non, then the head of the hard-right web­site Bre­it­bart News and now Mr. Trump’s chief strate­gist, called on the “church mil­i­tant” to fight a glob­al war against a “new bar­bar­i­ty” of “Islam­ic fas­cism” and inter­na­tion­al finan­cial elites, with 2,500 years of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion at risk.

    While most lis­ten­ers prob­a­bly over­looked the term “church mil­i­tant,” knowl­edge­able Catholics would have rec­og­nized it as a con­cept deeply embed­ded in the church’s teach­ing. More­over, they would have noticed that Mr. Ban­non had tak­en the term out of con­text, invok­ing it in a call for cul­tur­al and mil­i­tary con­flict rather than for spir­i­tu­al war­fare, par­tic­u­lar­ly with­in one’s soul, its long­stand­ing con­no­ta­tion.

    As the Trump admin­is­tra­tion pre­pares to take office, the use of Church Mil­i­tant the­ol­o­gy has gone well beyond its reli­gious mean­ing and has tak­en on a polit­i­cal res­o­nance. To ful­ly grasp what “church mil­i­tant” means in this high­ly politi­cized atmos­phere, it helps to exam­ine the broad­er move­ment and the role of a tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic web­site called — to no sur­prise — ChurchMilitant.com.

    The site’s right-wing stances against glob­al­ism, immi­gra­tion, social-wel­fare pro­grams and abor­tion, as well as its depic­tion of an exis­ten­tial war against rad­i­cal Islam, mesh with many of the posi­tions espoused by Mr. Trump and his inner cir­cle. (Mr. Ban­non did not respond to ques­tions sub­mit­ted to the Trump tran­si­tion office.)

    Michael Voris, the senior exec­u­tive pro­duc­er of ChurchMilitant.com, said the website’s posi­tions were a right­eous defense of patri­o­tism and moral­i­ty on behalf of peo­ple who believe those virtues have been attacked by lib­er­als, sec­u­lar­ists and glob­al elites.

    “This is break­ing down into forces that believe in God and those that don’t,” he said, adding, “Large­ly, I would say this is a war of reli­gion ver­sus non­re­li­gion.”

    ...

    “This is a hard-core group, and the ques­tion is whether the num­ber is grow­ing,” said the Rev. John T. Paw­likows­ki, a pro­fes­sor of social ethics at the Catholic The­o­log­i­cal Union in Chica­go, refer­ring to the broad­er move­ment that includes ChurchMilitant.com. “If the Trump elec­tion bap­tizes this stuff as more authen­tic Catholic teach­ing, that would be a dis­as­ter.”
    ...

    And it’s a ver­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty that not only views itself as being at fun­da­men­tal war with Islam but also views Judaism is a “man-made” reli­gion while iden­ti­fy­ing their pri­ma­ry con­tem­po­rary ene­mies — sec­u­lar lib­er­als — as hav­ing come from “a lib­er­al Jew­ish minde-set”. It’s bare­ly-veiled clas­sic far right anti-Semi­tism dog-whistling:

    ...
    Not all of Mr. Voris’s crit­i­cisms are aimed at Catholics. He has also sin­gled out the lib­er­al phil­an­thropist George Soros and the deceased com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er Saul Alin­sky, famil­iar tar­gets for con­ser­v­a­tive activists like Newt Gin­grich and Glenn Beck. Mr. Voris, though, goes a sig­nif­i­cant step fur­ther by promi­nent­ly iden­ti­fy­ing both Mr. Soros and Mr. Alin­sky as Jew­ish.

    Why is their reli­gion rel­e­vant, par­tic­u­lar­ly as nei­ther man was obser­vant? Mr. Voris respond­ed, “The fuel, as it were, for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has come from a lib­er­al Jew­ish mind-set.”

    Such a com­ment might not sound so offen­sive were it not for Mr. Voris’s over­ar­ch­ing views of Jews, which con­tra­vene Catholic pol­i­cy since the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil. In a 2010 episode of ChurchMilitant.com’s web­cast “The Vor­tex,” he con­tend­ed that the Roman destruc­tion of the Sec­ond Tem­ple end­ed God’s covenant with the Jews. Sub­se­quent Judaism, he said, is mere­ly a “man-made reli­gion.”

    Asked about the state­ments, Mr. Voris said: “I’m not anti-Semit­ic at all. I’m just speak­ing on the­o­log­i­cal grounds.”

    The expla­na­tion did not impress Mark Weitz­man, an expert in hate groups for the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter, who has stud­ied ChurchMilitant.com. “What he says about Jews is clas­si­cal super­s­es­sion­ist anti-Semi­tism,” Mr. Weitz­man said, “and if he doesn’t repu­di­ate it, that’s a prob­lem.”
    ...

    Will an angry mob of Catholics go on a ram­page in a cou­ple of weeks in Bal­ti­more? We’ll find out, but keep in mind we’re talk­ing about ral­ly that’s just one small part of a much larg­er move­ment designed to rad­i­cal­ize peo­ple under the idea that they need to go to war against the rest of the world. So sure, vio­lence might break out. It’s plau­si­ble giv­en the track record of the fig­ures involved. But it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the kind of vio­lence we should expect to emanate from a ral­ly like this isn’t direct vio­lence from a mob like we saw on Jan­u­ary 6. When you’re hold­ing a ral­ly to cel­e­brate a the­o­log­i­cal world­view that calls you to go to war with the rest of the world, the vio­lence that fol­lows might take a lit­tle while to man­i­fest. That’s how slow-boil soci­ety-destroy­ing pro­pa­gan­da tends to works.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 4, 2021, 4:38 pm

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